How to Wear a Boot Knife And Choose One

Knife sticking out of a tree

Boot knives tend to have several ways of wearing them such as:

  • Side clip to attach to the top of the boot.
  • Holes to lace them onto the boot.
  • Straps (String or heavy-duty velcro works great.)
  • Storing it inside the boot (usually with the clip)

My preferred method is the side clip that most of them have.

It’s easy and doesn’t require any other kind of lacing that may interfere with my hiking. Some folks even wear them inside their boot, but I find that to not work well for me. My boots don’t have any extra room for it!

Additionally, it’s important to consider which side of your body you want to keep the knife on for easy access.

Since I’m right-handed, I like to keep mine on the outside of my right boot. That makes it simple for me to grab if I need it, without any additional thought.

How to pick the right boot knife

There are a couple of factors to consider when you’re looking at boot knives. The first one is whether you want a folding or fixed blade.

This is important because if you’re in a survival situation, every second matters. If you have to unfold a blade, that’s taking seconds that matter away from you.

However, with a fixed blade you are ready to go at a moment’s notice, so I have a strong preference for them.

Secondly, you’ll want to have the right size knife.

A boot knife that is too small will be hard to reach and possibly get lost. But one that is too large, will be cumbersome and get in the way of enjoying the activity at hand.

The ideal blade size for me is 3 inches or less, with a total length of fewer than 6 inches.

Anything else starts to look cartoony and does not work as well. Remember, these are supposed to be small back up knives, not make you look like a terminator out on the trails.

How to practice using it properly

Now that you’ve got your knife and you know how to wear it, it’s time to get familiar with it. Choose the most comfortable position to wear it, and practice drawing out.

It’s crucial to practice so you don’t have to think if you ever need to use it.

Just reacting on pure instinct will be much faster than anything else. Start as slowly as you need to, then work on speeding up the motion. Be aware of your surroundings while you practice.

Wearing it in advance and getting that figured out will also make your trips more enjoyable.

If you’re hiking with other people, no one wants to get slowed down because your knife is bothering you.

Pair of boots with a coffee mug next to them

Frequently asked questions about boot knives


How large should a boot knife be?”

Ideally, less than 7 inches in total.

A boot knife is a backup knife that isn’t meant to replace larger ones.

Smaller sizes work best because they are easier to handle and attach to your boot. I find anything past that to be a nuisance.

Where can I wear a boot knife?”

This is an excellent question because laws vary depending on the state/country.

Concealed knives are usually fine to carry, but always verify that the campground/laws allow you to do so. I also wouldn’t consider wearing one outside of my outdoor adventures.

Here’s a great resource for checking state knife laws.

How much should I spend on one?”

This is a bit subjective, but I recommend no more than thirty dollars.

A boot knife is never going to be your primary knife for camping, so it’s okay to not have the top of the line. As long as it is relatively sharp and decently maintained, that’s all you need.

Do I have to use my sheath?”

Yes, without a doubt. The risk of cutting yourself is too large otherwise and it’s the safe thing to do. Never wear a boot knife without a sheath.

To sum up why you should have one on the trail

Boot knives are an underrated safety option to have around. They aren’t just for people that want to act tough out on the trail!

Knowing how to wear a boot knife before you go out with one is crucial to getting the most use out of it.

They’re no good if they aren’t attached properly to your boot because that probably isn’t comfortable AND hard to reach. There’s no shortage of ways to wear them, and there is definitely a way to do it that will work for you.

I’d love to hear about your experiences and what boot knives have worked for you in the comments. As always, thanks for reading!



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