Choosing The Right Knife Sheath
There is a lot of information on knives. How they are made, how you choose one etc, etc. But, there are very few to no good guides to what you need in a knife sheath. Because let’s be honest. A knife that you can’t easily carry is no good. There is also no point having a knife that is constantly getting damaged and therefore unusable when you actually need it.
A good sheath should do a number of things: It should protect your knife. It should also allow you to easily be able to carry and transport your knife. Finally it should also be functional, by that we mean you can get your knife out easily, use it, and then stow it away securely. It also helps if your sheath looks nice, but at the end of the day it quality we are really looking for in this post.
On a final note, we are in particular focussing on the three most popular types of sheath: Leather, Nylon and Kydex.
Leather knife sheaths are extremely popular. Especially amongst bushcrafters and general outdoors folk. In particular for those who are carrying a fixed blade knife. Why are they so popular? Well they look good. Above that though they are also extremely durable. If you properly look after your sheath it will last an awfully long time. Another good advantage of leather sheaths is their usability. They are simply very easy to use, and shaped almost perfectly for the blade your using (if you buy the right sheath that is). Many leather sheaths also come with a snap fastener which helps keep your knife secure in the sheath. What’s also really cool about leather sheaths are that they can be designed and shaped a whole range of different shapes and styles. Each one can be unique, and you can if you wanted make your own sheath.
On the negative side leather generally isn’t waterproof unless it’s treated. But, even these treated forms are not full proof. If you were to leave or buy untreated leather, and then used it in the rain, the leather would soak up water and stain. Some people like this look, others don’t.
The final thing to note is the difference between split and real leather. Split is a much cheaper option and far inferior in terms of quality. Unfortunately though when you are looking at pictures online, it’s extremely hard to tell the difference. Therefore you need to look at two things: cost and whether it’s a reputable manufacturer. This isn’t full proof, but it’s the best we can recommend
Nylon sheaths are some of the most common knife and tool sheaths you will see. This is because they are extremely good value for money. They aren’t necessarily designed specifically for an individual knife or tool (they can be though), and can be used as a very versatile carry case. People like nylon because it’s a really hardy material and really hard wearing. It’s used in thing like seatbelts, which are designed to be used often and last. It is also resistant to moulds and fungi, which is useful if you are likely to use it in damp/humid conditions. However, it’s not waterproof and can hold moisture which could have a negative effect on your blade. It can also lose its shape when wet which can deform the sheath, making it unusable.
Kydex is a thermoplastic, and probably the most popular form of thermoplastic used for knife sheaths. We wrote an in-depth piece specifically looking at Kydex Sheaths previously in the blog. As a summary though Kydex is extremely strong and versatile, and is moulded around the knife to ensure the best possible fit. The plastic itself is extremely hard and scratch-resistant. It’s also waterproof and very low maintenance. You definitely don’t have the aesthetic appeal of leather or even to some nylon sheaths, but if you look at the other potential advantages then, you’d say for many people Kydex could be a good choice.
As with many things there are different grades of Kydex plastic sheets, but even the most budget friendly version is still extremely good quality, and because of the quality and workmanship that goes into each sheath they aren’t cheap.
Be aware of fakes. There are hundreds of types and variations of thermoplastics out there, and many call themselves Kydex in order for people to think they are genuine, and then charge a higher price for the knock offs.
A knife should have a sheath, to protect both it and you. A sheath should be made from a strong material, such as leather or Kydex, and have a tunnel belt loop. Also, the handle should have a strap to stop it sliding out of the sheath. Some sheaths will also include small extra pouches for things like sharpening stones or a rod, which can be a useful addition, but not always essential.
This is a very basic guide, and we will be coming out with more specific guides over the coming weeks and months, so keep your eyes peeled!!