Types of Knife Sheaths You Should Know (With Pictures)

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 09/27/21 •  6 min read

Carrying a knife safely is very important.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, there is a large chance you carry a knife around during your adventures.

They can be a great safety tool as well as have a ton of different uses when exploring the outdoors.

But when you’re walking around and exploring, it’s best to have an ergonomic and safe way to carry your knife.

And for most people, that means getting quality sheaths.

If you check out the market, you’ll find tons of different sheaths, which can be very overwhelming.

So, to make things clearer for you, we’re going to go through the different types of these sheaths out there.

Read on to learn more.

How Many Different Types of Knife Sheaths Are There?

The thing about these sheaths is that they don’t have an objective categorization.

Many enthusiasts have their own way of distinguishing the different types of sheaths, so it’s hard to find an objective list of sheath types.

Instead, they prefer to categorize these sheaths based on their carry methods and materials.

There are tons of brands and manufacturers that make different sheaths with different designs, which is why classifying them into different types is very hard.

So, we’ll be taking a look at the different ways enthusiasts categorize sheaths, starting with the carry method.

Carrying Methods

One of the easiest ways to distinguish different sheaths is through their carry method.

Below are the most popular carry methods that manufacturers use;

Belt Carry

This is the most common carry method for knives.

Most manufacturers make belt carry sheaths, and the most common designs involve the knife facing down.

Horizontal Carry

This method is preferred for bushcrafters and other outdoorsmen.

As the name suggests, these sheaths have the knife positioned horizontally on the belt.

This gives you more room on the hip for movement and also allows you to carry more tools on your belt.

On top of giving you more movement, this conceals the knife better, which might be a game-changer depending on the situation you’re facing.

Inside Waistband Carry

This is the most concealed method of carrying a knife.

With an inside waistband sheath, you tuck the blade behind your waistband on the hip.

This is a great way to conceal fixed blade knives and could be the best way to carry larger blades that need to be concealed.

With that said, this carry method sacrifices speed and convenience to conceal the blade better.

Sheath Materials

Manufacturers use a wide variety of materials for these sheaths, and it’s arguably the most important factor of a sheath’s construction.

Remember, most blades are made out of steel, which doesn’t react well to corrosive materials.

So, when creating a knife sheath, most manufacturers try to use non-corrosive materials.

And while there is an endless list of sheath materials out there, here are some of the most popular options;


This is the most traditional choice for manufacturers.

However, in this day and age, wooden sheaths aren’t recommended for most holders.

While a wooden sheath offers a rustic and classic aesthetic, it isn’t an ideal sheath material.

Wood is very hard, and when you slide your blade in and out, you risk dulling the edge every time.

This is also why wooden knife blocks aren’t recommended for most kitchen knives.

Wood also holds water for a long time, and if you put your knife into a wet sheath for an extended period of time, there’s a high risk that your blade will rust.

So, while they offer a cool aesthetic, we do not recommend using wooden sheaths for your favorite knives.


Leather is a material that has been used for sheaths for a long time, and it’s arguably the best choice out there.

Good leather is tough, lightweight, and stiff enough to work as a knife sheath.

Another advantage of leather sheaths is that they are quiet, which is very important for most tactical situations.

If you’re out hunting, the sound that comes from you removing a knife from the sheath can be heard by many animals, scaring them away.

But with a leather sheath, you barely have to worry about sound.

Another advantage is that leather has a great rustic aesthetic to it since it’s one of the oldest sheath materials that manufacturers use.

However, leather isn’t the most durable material out there.

After some time, your leather sheath will eventually need restitching or replacing, which is why a fair amount of knife users avoid these sheaths.


Kydex is a plastic material that’s affordable, stiff, and tough.

This makes a great option for sheath manufacturers since it’s easy to produce.

Kydex can do a great job of keeping moisture at bay, so if you have an oiled blade, you can leave your knife in a Kydex sheath for a long time without any worries.

However, Kydex can be pretty loud, which is why they aren’t ideal for tactical situations.

And while the material is very durable, it does dull your blade because it is very tough, so you might need to resharpen your knives more often with a Kydex sheath.


Many manufacturers also use nylon, but it is far from the best material.

Nylon sheaths lack the toughness and stiffness to hold a knife, so they feel very flimsy.

So, your knives won’t exactly be protected from bending and other damage when you keep them in a nylon sheath.


And with that, our guide comes to an end.

Researching about these sheaths is hard, especially since there are no objective categories for them.

Instead, you have to distinguish these sheaths based on their carry method and the materials used to make them.

We highly recommend a leather knife sheath as this material treats your knife kindly, even if it isn’t the most durable option.

Kydex is also a great material that’s more durable than leather, but the material can also take a significant toll on your blades, so keep that in mind.

But once you find the right sheath for you, you’ll find that it’s much easier for you to carry your knife with you on adventures and take them out to use at just the right time.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.