We all know that a person needs a knife on them at all times. In the past, options rested with either a fixed blade in a belt sheath, a folding knife in a belt pouch or pocket, or—in the rare instance that it was more convenient—a boot knife.

In recent years, the popularity of neck knives has grown exponentially, that is, small, sturdy fixed blades that hang from the neck on a sheath suspended from a cord or chain in the tip-up position.

Drawn with one hand, neck knives offer the sturdiness and versatility of a fixed-blade knife and the convenience and portability of a folder. They can be designed for defense, utility or both, and are equally adept at both.

Neck knives have to be sharp for the simple reason that they’re short knives and there isn’t much edge real estate to go around. You can’t afford for the sharpness to “fall off” at the belly or near the tip because that’s a large percentage of your cutting space. But if you have a wickedly sharp edge, a small blade is all you need to accomplish almost any cutting task, and it can be plenty to defend yourself in dire circumstances.