If You Just Want Utility, Folding Pocket Knife Cleavers are a Good Way to Go
Cleaver-style folding knives have been kind of a slow burning trend for a few years. There’s a whole mess of opinions about whether they’re actually a good design or not, and ultimately I think people buy them because cleaver blades bring a refreshing break from the non-stop hurricane of drop-point EDCs.
But whether cleavers are under-appreciated alternatives to a new world of knife uses, or they’re just a way to set yourself apart from the basic drop-point bitches of the knife world, it’s worth taking stock of some of the better designs out there. For the sake of unnecessary organization we designated our top picks for folding pocket cleavers as either EDC or food prep.
EDC Folding Cleavers in this Article
- Gerber Flatiron – 3.8″ Blade | 8Cr17MoV Steel | Thumbhole Open | G-10 or Aluminum Handle | Read More…
- Spyderco Roc – 3.12″ Blade | VG-10 Steel | Thumbhole Open | G-10 Handle | Read More…
- CRKT Ripsnort – 3.0″ Blade | 8Cr13MoV Steel | Flipper Open | Polymer Handle | Read More…
- Kershaw Static – 2.8” Blade | 8Cr13MoV Steel | Flipper Open | Stainless Steel Handle | Read More…
- Off Grid Knives Cleaver Assisted EDC – 2.5″ Blade | Aus-8 Steel | Flipper / Thumbstud Open | G-10 Handle | Read More…
Folding Cleavers for Food in this Article
- Miki Folding Chef Pocket Knife – 5.0″ Blade | 440A Steel | Thumbhole Open | G-10 Handle | Read More…
- Boker Magnum Outdoor Cuisine Knife Iii – 4.75″ Blade | 440 Steel | Thumbhole Open | Rosewood Handle | Read More…
Why Carry a Folding Cleaver
Without throwing a hat into the never-ending semantic circle jerk about how a folding cleaver is different from a sheepsfoot/wharncliffe blade, I like the idea of having a cleaver in my pocket for a few different reasons:
- The shape tends to be tougher
- Flat ends and hard corners on a knife blade have their own uses
- Most of my EDC uses need more edge than tip anyway
- People are less scared of things that aren’t pointy for some reason (looking at you, England)
Cleaver-style pocket knives tend to emphasize the “tool” function of knives, although some designs go out of their way to look aggressive. They actually remind me a lot of some Japanese folding knives in that sense. The overwhelming majority of folding cleaver knives look like something you would just take out to sharpen a pencil or cut up vegetables on a camping trip.
EDC Folding Cleavers
These are the designs that don’t seem to have a specific purpose beyond being a knife in your pocket. It covers a broad range of which aren’t technically cleavers, but have enough of a flat blade going on that I’m willing to count it. Food-focused knives are down at the bottom.
|Handle Material:||G-01 or Aluminum|
|Carry System:||Tip-up clip|
|Price Range:||$30 – 40|
This was the knife that made me realize cleavers were getting popular. Gerber did a great job of turning this blade shape into something that looks and feels like a normal carry. They set out to design something you can beat up and pack comfortably, and I think they did a pretty good job.
They make the Flatiron with G-10 scales and aluminum if you have planer tastes. The aluminum version usually runs about $10 cheaper, but I can personally attest to the G-10 version having some good, grippy ergonomics. It’s a good camping blade that’s well suited to a little bit of high-impact work, and comfortable enough to carve something up for a while.
|Carry System:||Tip-up clip|
On the other side of the price spectrum is, of course, Spyderco. But the Roc is also one of the designs I see recommended the most. It has a good chunk of VG-10 steel with a thick stock, so the blade really feels like it can take a beating.
I’d personally feel nervous about swinging $200 worth of VG-10 steel in a sabre grind too hard, but Spyderco know what they’re doing. If they say it’s a tough knife, then it’s a tough knife. Plus, the designer, Serge Pancheko, has a decent history of collaborating with companies to make strong knives. This is also one of the few folders on this list with a blade size that actually feels like a cleaver.
|Carry System:||Tip-down clip|
Again, not strictly a folding cleaver. It’s more of a sheepsfoot, but it was made with something of a cleaver mentality. The knife is meant to be tough enough to get smacked around. It has a generous bladestock with a flat grind and a thick handle that feels comfortable in hand when you’re chopping down or slicing into something.
Plus, for being kind of an overbuilt knife, it has a surprisingly classy profile with the black polymer handles and stainless steel accents. So if you’re getting a pocket cleaver to look cool you could just drop the $40 on this and call it a day, since you’re not going to use for anything other than a conversation piece anyway.
|Handle Material:||Stainless steel|
|Carry System:||Tip-up clip|
|Price Range:||$36 – 40|
The Static is more in the tradition of the Spyderco Roc cleaver but much smaller and cheaper.
The blade feels a lot more like a cleaver than a sheepsfoot, the bladestock is still nice and wide, but you get a heavily textured all-stainless steel handle with a frame lock and ball bearings so the whole thing really lends itself to a tough, ergonomic build with snappy action.
Kershaw really excels in the area of budget flippers, though. They’re good at finding that perfect compromise between decent material, good design, and reasonable pricing. Which is cool for them, but creates a dangerous situation for certain people who sit in front of the computer with $40 in their pocket and think “Yeah I could swing that” the equivalent of $160 times a day.
Off Grid Knives Cleaver Assisted EDC
|Carry System:||Tip-up clip|
|Price Range:||$60 – 80|
Update: This knife is discontinued, but Off Grid is releasing an updated version soon.
I’m not a fan of the tactical-oriented marketing around this knife, but the design, fit, and finish on it are pretty stellar by all accounts. Off Grid clearly put some careful attention to the the way the handle fits in the hand and plays with the weight of the blade. They give you plenty of blade depth to chop and slice or even do some kind of wood shaving if you have survival tasks in mind.
They’ve put a fantastically sharp edge and a decent grind on the blade too. The only problem is it seems like they have a heat treatment problem with their Aus-8 steel. Normally this stuff should be fairly tough with moderate edge retention if you get the process down well, but a lot of people have been getting minor chips in the edge. They like to talk about they’re“Cryo” method of cooling the steel. I suspect whatever that entails is making the the steel harder (and therefore more brittle) than is normal for Aus-8
All that to say is this knife is more of a slicer. It might be tough everywhere else, but the edge on this thing should be treated more like a kitchen knife than a survival knife.
Folding Cleavers for Food
The pocket cleaver, I think, makes a lot more sense for people who regularly use their folding knives for cutting or cooking food on the go. Sure it’s possible to cut up some lunch meat slices with your drop point around the camp fire, but anyone who’s actually tried that knows it never comes out pretty. These knives are geared more toward making that kind of thing a little easier.
Miki Folding Chef Pocket Knife
|Carry System:||Nylon sheath|
MIKI is an odd company in that they seem to be focused primarily on kitchen cutlery, but from a mixed, folding EDC standpoint. Everything they make, as far as I can tell is a folder made for the kitchen except for two or three designs that seem to be varied copies of classic friction folders and camping knives.
They epitomize budget company confusion, but the fact remains that they make a halfway-decent, low risk folding cleaver.
It’s 440A stainless steel with G-10 scales and straight-edge design that seems almost too simple to really get anything wrong. The steel is far softer than you’ll get from even most other $30 knives, but that means it’ll also take a much sharper edge, and really that’s what you want for cutting of fruit and vegetables. I won’t say you’ll love this knife, or that it’ll change your life. But you’ll definitely find it more useful than something like and Emerson folder when it comes to cooking outdoors.
Boker Magnum Outdoor Cuisine Knife Iii
|Price Range:||$18 – 20|
I’ve talked about the budget nuance of Boker’s Magnum line before. It’s one of those labels you just have to accept as hit or miss. Most of their knives are subpar at best, but they’re never expensive enough for it to matter that much, and every now and then you get a design that just feels good.
There’s nothing especially spectacular about the Outdoor Cuisine besides the fact that it exists. There just aren’t many companies making these Nakiri-inspired folders. It’s unfortunate that Magnum uses 440 steel, but rosewood handles are nice and it’s well within the price range that makes losing or breaking the knife a low-cost risk. It’ll be a nice tool to throw in alongside your camping stove, though. If you only use it on food and keep a honing rod handy, you should get plenty of miles out of the Outdoor Cuisine.