Reviews You Can Rely On

CRKT Drifter Review

A solid, everyday carry knife that is ready to receive your logo or inscription
crkt drifter pocket knife review
Credit: Amazon
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $45 List | $39.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Logo-ready, excellent materials, sophisticated blade
Cons:  Blade concavity complicates sharpening, on the small end of optimum size
Manufacturer:   CRKT
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 25, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 18
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 6.0
  • Ergonomics - 20% 6.0
  • Portability - 20% 7.0
  • Construction Quality - 20% 7.0
  • Other Features - 10% 0.0

Our Verdict

On its own, the CRKT Drifter is a solid compact blade, perfect for daily use or any outdoor adventures. When you discover that it is optimized for engraving or a logo badge, its value cements further. The Drifter is head-and-shoulders above the competition between others in our best pocket knife review, is great as a gift or promotional item. Most knives built to receive customized messaging are far lower in quality. We like the blade, the construction, and the optimized ergonomics. It could be better in some ways, but then it would be more expensive and/or less optimized for logo display.

Editor's Note: We updated this review for CRKT Drifter on August 25, 2022, with an unbiased assessment of value and suggestions for other directly comparable products that may better suit your needs.

Compare to Similar Products

 
crkt drifter pocket knife review
This Product
CRKT Drifter
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $45 List
$39.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$46.85 at Amazon
$30 List
$29.95 at REI
$20.15 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$10.00 List
$9.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
58
65
56
52
49
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Logo-ready, excellent materials, sophisticated bladeBeautifully constructed, assisted open, good valueSerrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steelSmall, portable, well-constructedInexpensive, functional, heavily featured
Cons Blade concavity complicates sharpening, on the small end of optimum sizeSlender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragileRudimentary construction, primitive lockbackNot made for heavy-duty useUnremarkable construction, low quality steel, bulky
Bottom Line A solid, everyday carry knife that is ready to receive your logo or inscriptionA slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable valueThe best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbingA tiny, multi-function pocket knifeA fully-featured tactical pocket knife at an unbeatable price, but it lacks high quality construction
Rating Categories CRKT Drifter Kershaw Leek Petzl Spatha Victorinox Classic... Albatross EDC Tactical
Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
Ergonomics (20%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
3.0
5.0
Portability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Construction Quality (20%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Other Features (10%)
0
0
0
6.0
4.0
Specs CRKT Drifter Kershaw Leek Petzl Spatha Victorinox Classic... Albatross EDC Tactical
Weight 2.3 oz 3.1 oz 1.5 oz 0.8 oz 3.8 oz
Blade Length 2.8 in 2.9 in 2.7 in 1.4 in 2.5 in
Blade Material 8Cr13MoV stainless steel Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420) 440 stainless steel
Handle Material Plastic 410 stainless steel Nylon Plastic Stainless steel
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes No No No
Opening Style Ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab Ambidextrous thumb hole; ridged traction ring Fingernail Assisted, flipper
Lock Mechanism Liner lock Frame lock Lock back None Liner lock
Carry Style Pocket clip and lanyard hole Pocket clip and lanyard hole Carabiner hole Keyring Pocket clip
Closed Length 3.5 in 4.0 in 4.2 in 2.3 in 3.9 in
Overall Length 6.4 in 7.0 in 7.0 in 3.8 in 6.5 in
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) 0.4 in 0.3 in 0.5 in 0.4 in 0.4 in
Other Features or Functions None None None Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring Seatbelt cutter, glass breaker

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Drifter is a high-quality, basic folding pocket knife. We found it to be excellent for everyday carry and basic utility use. CRKT markets it as a "good logo knife." You can have it imprinted or engraved with branding, monogram, or other personalized messaging. It is good for this because of the relatively large and relatively flat areas on the handle and blade. We did not personalize our test model but can vouch for the presence of areas suitable for marking up.

Performance Comparison


crkt drifter pocket knife review - the drifter is just big enough for some effective whittling. it...
The Drifter is just big enough for some effective whittling. It could be a little bigger and rounder for optimum hard-task grip.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Blade and Edge Integrity


CRKT blades are well regarded. This particular one is 8Cr14MoV steel, coated with titanium nitride and shaped to a modified drop point and a narrow edge angle. The factory grind is razor-sharp and readily re-tuned at home on all but flat stones. The main part of the blade is concave. Other online reviewers point out that this looks cool, but they and we found that the concavity complicates sharpening on a flat stone. The blade is relatively thin overall, and the edge is cut at a low angle. It "feels" sharp but could be fragile in heavier tasks. Understand this, adapt, and you shouldn't have a major problem.

crkt drifter pocket knife review - any of these pictured drifter surfaces can be customized with your...
Any of these pictured Drifter surfaces can be customized with your own imagery or text. The blade can be engraved or the handle can be fitted with a printed or molded plaque.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


The Drifter is what we'd call a "compact full size" pocket knife. Yeah, that doesn't make a ton of sense on its own. A handle length of around 3.5 inches is just enough to fill most adult fists. A knife handle in a full fist gets all the fingers in on cutting tasks. This is good for heavy use. Up closer to 4 inches lends even more support. Longer than 4 inches is required to house a longer blade but doesn't dramatically increase handle power.

The Drifter opens with one thumb, locks with a tight liner lock, and pivots smoothly between all the potential positions. A bit of jimping low on the back of the blade lends further traction for your thumb. Our only wish for the ergonomics of the Drifter is that the handle was a little more rounded. An oblong, rounded handle cross-section is what we've found to be the most comfortable for extended heavy use.

crkt drifter pocket knife review - simple, slim, and matte look of the crkt drifter. this is a solid...
Simple, slim, and matte look of the CRKT Drifter. This is a solid, small, affordable knife. If you want to put a logo on a knife, this is a good one to choose.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Portability


The Drifter weighs 2.3 ounces and is 3.5 inches when closed. These measurements are appropriate for everyday carry in almost any setting. The pocket clip closes a little low on the handle, leaving more of the knife exposed than other options. The pocket clip is fixed and optimized for only right-pocket, tip-down carry.

crkt drifter pocket knife review - the pocket clip of the drifter is very secure, but leaves some of...
The pocket clip of the Drifter is very secure, but leaves some of the knife visible. In some cases this might tip the balance of dress code suitability.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


The materials are strong, the construction is tight, and all the parts are joined with user-serviceable hardware. This is good news for the construction quality of the CRKT. Compared to some, the blade hinges open easily. We never had any problems with it, but it isn't impossible to imagine the blade hinging open in your pocket. The tip-down arrangement leverages gravity to keep that blade closed when clipped to a pocket rim.

crkt drifter pocket knife review - this photo is an attempt to show that the main portion of the blade...
This photo is an attempt to show that the main portion of the blade is a little concave. This offers little to no performance advantage, but does hamper sharpening on a flat stone.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Other Features


There are no other features on the Drifter. It is a basic, single-blade pocket knife.

Should You Buy the CRKT Drifter?


CRKT seeks a unique market niche and advertises the Drifter as a billboard for your message or brand. Although it is an excellent knife, it is much more expensive than similarly customizable options available through certain channels. But the quality is infinitely better, and for what you get, this is a good value. If you want to make a statement to discerning users, the Drifter is a top-notch customizable gift or promotional item.

What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?


If you are considering the Drifter for its intended "logo" purpose, you are on the right track. Otherwise, there are better options, even at this price point. The Ontario Knife Company RAT II] includes a higher quality blade on an otherwise similarly designed knife. But if you're seeking an outstanding value, it is well worth investing in a knife like the Kershaw Leek.

Jediah Porter
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More