Everything You Need to Know About Pocket Clips

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When looking for the perfect gear, sometimes it's not all about the specs. It can be something as seemingly simple as the pocket clip. A pocket clip could make or break how you carry your gear, and there are a few good reasons why.

A good clip makes retrieving your gear easier, saving you time by keeping things securely within reach. A bad clip on a great tool could make you stop carrying it altogether. It slows you down and makes the tool inconvenient to carry, and an inconvenient tool is an unused one.

Pocket clips also affect how you handle the tools themselves. If you've heard of the term “hotspot” when referring to a clip on knives or flashlights, this means that the clip digs into your hand when holding the tool, causing discomfort over time.

And then there's the fact that clips give you options with how you carry your EDC. When clipped to your pocket, you won't have to waste time fishing for gear at the bottom of it or in the recesses of your bag. Tools get the most use when clipped to an outer pocket where they're much easier to grab.

Clips also play a part when dealing with knife laws. Certain locales won't let you carry a knife if any part of the knife itself is sticking out of your pocket, so in those cases a deep-carry clip that completely conceals it would let you carry it. The clip in this case spelled the difference between carrying your favorite knife and leaving it at home.

The Benefits of a 4-Way Pocket Clip on Knives

So we know that pocket clips are useful, but how do they work on actual tools? Let's take a standard 4-way clip on a knife as an example to show the above benefits and usage cases.

As the name implies, with a 4-way clip, you have 4 orientations with which to carry the knife. You can attach the clip on either of its sides to match your dominant or preferred hand (great for lefties like me), or remove it altogether if that's the most comfortable (or legal).

The 4-way clip also lets you choose between tip-up and tip-down carry for the knife. While for most use cases this won't matter, it helps for opening mechanisms like the Emerson Wave feature that lets you rapidly open a knife straight out of a pocket when clipped and positioned tip-up.

And for flipper-type opening mechanisms, ease and speed of use comes down to where the clip is and how the knife tip is positioned. As a lefty, a flipper with a fixed pocket clip in the tip-down position on the handle side meant for righties is practically unusable. It's backwards with how I would want to open the knife (lefty side, tip-up).

With these 4 positions you can already see how much of an impact a clip has on carrying and basic use, without even touching the features of the knife itself! Below I'll go a bit more in-depth with how a pocket clip benefits specific EDC tools.

Pocket Clips on Lights

While most flashlights don't get a 4-way clip because of their shape, 2-way clips (bezel up or down) still gives you options for usability. Having a clip that can flip how a light faces in your pocket gives you a choice in comfort and ease of use depending on where its switch lies.

In a more tactical flashlight where the switch is on its tail, having a clip that lets you carry it bezel-down means you have faster access to the switch with your thumb. Conversely, if you have a light with a side switch designed for overhand use, having it bezel-up in your pocket puts the switch nearer to your thumb when pulling it out.

And one underrated feature for bezel-up clips: this clip lets you attach the light to the brim of a hat for hands-free use. Instant headlamp!

Pocket Clips on Pens

A pocket clip on a pen is the most relatable and common example for most people. Basically, it's the only thing keeping you from losing your pens all the time. Good pocket clips also makes a pen comfortable to write with for long periods (no hotspots!) and stops it from rolling off the table when setting it down.

The position of the clip also affects how the pen functions. A clicky pen benefits the most from a tip-down clip so you can pull it out and click it in one motion, while fountain pens benefit most being tip-up with the clip on the cap so the ink doesn't keep flowing down the nib.

Now think about how much something as popular and useful as the Fisher Space Pen can become even better with a clip. It makes it easier to carry, prevents it from rolling off your desk, and adds to its usefulness as an EDC pen.

Pocket Clips on Keys

Finally, keeping things handy doesn't have to end with your tools. With accessories like a suspension hook, even things that are usually left in a pocket or bag become much more accessible. A keychain with a suspension hook like the above means quicker access to your keys or tools. Another good example is a Swiss Army Knife. A versatile keychain tool like a Manager or Classic becomes much more useful with a suspension hook, since it's always at your side.

What EDC tool do you carry has benefited the most from a pocket clip and how? Let us know in the comments below!

#pocket-clips #carry-smarter #knives-that-dont-stick-out-of-pocket see all



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Discussion (22 total)

I never, ever thought so much could be said about clips. Very clever!
Casey Lynch clip! Best around!
I despise pocket clips on knives; I remove them straight away. Too many knives are ruined by having one, and some of those are further ruined by the stupid indent left in the handle scale.
You will never want to remove a Shirogorov knife clip
LOL At those prices, I doubt I'll ever actually own a Shirogorov knife!
I had a pocket clip on my leatherman wave for only two months before it got caught on a fence I was walking past in a spot and snapped it off. Needless to say, I was rather annoyed that it wasn't covered by their usually excellent warranty.
I had never actively thought of this, but it's spot on. The items I carry every day have fantastic clips: Benchmade Barrage Mini, BigIDesign Ti pen, Gerber Impromptu, Karas Kustoms EDK...all feature strong, steel clips.

I also can't stand weak clips. This is the reason my Fisher Bullet and Caran D'ache (849.069) live at my desk: the clips are severely lacking. The Bullet falls off, the D'ache is thin and flimsy. They are otherwise fantastic items. Now, if someone has any suggestions on a clip solution that allows secure pocket carry for these, I'm all ears...
Find the right spot for the space pen clip and then superglue / epoxy it into place. The shape of the space pen allows you to write in any position. Mine seems to stay on just fine without the glue. ( So far - been a year so..)
Interesting: never thought of glueing or adhering another way. I guess I would search for something that works without modification. Might make me love my Space Pen again though...
Bullet space pen clip falls off EVERY TIME. I use the pen and just put it back in my pocket. Not a desk pen.
I used to carry a Mini Mag Lite AA LED. As soon as upgraded to my Thrunite TN12 (2016) I realized how awesome a light with a pocket clip is. Got my eye on a titanium one piece multitool that functions as a suspension clip. I already use carabiners for my keys but I need a good EDC pry bar to replace my Mac Tools one.
Clips are great! I agree 100%!
Nice selection. I participated in the suspension hook Kickstarter project, but was unhappy at the lack of give, when clipping it on jeans. For me, this was a case of form, over function, and a disappointing lose. However, it is nice looking, and should last forever. My favorite, is the minimalist Titanium HangKey, from Cogent Industries: http://cogentindustries.com/products/hangkey/
Works well for me too, never malfunctioned or fallen outa my pocket so far.
I have a AAA Mini-Mag light that I wish had a better Clip. Anybody got any ideas? My work light is an O light, I love that one.
very interesting
I used to carry my keys and a small pocket knife in my pants pocket, and over time would wear out where they were located, making a frayed spot at the bottom of my pocket. Got a larger knife (Kershaw Cryo II) and didn't even notice it in my pocket, deep carry works well and completely concealed. After that I decided to buy a pocket clip for my keys and problem solved, no more worn out pockets and easy access, should have done this many years before, but better late than never. Small flashlight with a pocket clip is also a must.
While i have quite a few knives, the Kersahw for the cost and durability aspect is one of my favorite brands. A little info they recommend concerning their clips and the speed safe knives.

Many Kershaw knives come pre-drilled for a variety of carry options. The safe pocket carry positions for these various options should always snug the blade toward the seam of your pocket.

Options include:

1. Tip down, rear right pocket

2. Tip up, rear left pocket

3. Tip down, front left pocket

4. Tip up, front right pocket
GYYAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Awesome column! I love pocket clips. It helps organize stuff on our pockets plus making them easier to access. 👍
Love the simple design of these clips. Where is the James clips?
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