How to Scout Carry a Knife

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Whether you have a utility knife to cut boxes or a tactical knife for self defense, how you carry that knife is important.

Scout carry, also called horizontal carry, is a comfortable way of carrying a fixed blade knife. It helps conceal your tool while leaving it easy to draw.

So, how do you scout carry a knife? Do you need to be a Boy Scout or in the military?

Not at all!

All you need is a belt and the right type of sheath.

Related: The Best Fixed Blade Knives for Scout Carry

How to Scout Carry a Knife

Scout carry is simple. You wear the sheath horizontally on your belt.

To do this, you need a sheath set up for horizontal carry.

Some knives are set up like this natively, such as the Gerber Ghostrike. Others let you rotate the clip.

Failing that, you can lash the sheath to your belt through eyelets, though this is not a quick attachment method.

You also need to consider where you want to carry the knife.

Most people who scout carry their knife attach it to their belt in either the small of their back or on their front side, slightly to the left. 6 o’clock or 11 o’clock.

Either way, make sure the handle points toward your dominant hand!

Some people do scout carry their knife on the side of their hip. However, this causes the handle to stick out, eliminating one of the reasons to scout carry a knife.

Gerber Ghostrike EDC Scout Carry Knife how to
The Gerber Ghostrike practically blends into belts (when the colors match!)

Reasons to Scout Carry a Knife

So, why would you want to carry your blade horizontally on your belt?

Comfort, concealment, and being snag-free are the three main reasons.

Let’s look at those in detail.


Knives are long, thin tools. You want them to match your body’s lines as much as possible so they don’t jab into you or rub against you.

Your standard vertical carry matches the line your body makes from leg to torso when you’re standing up. How about if you need to bend to the side? Or sit down?

Even if the knife doesn’t poke into you it may get pushed up by a chair, lifting your belt and causing discomfort.

Scout carry puts the knife in a plane alongside your body where it matches your body. You can bend your waist and sit down all you want without the knife jabbing you!


A horizontal knife blends in with your horizontal belt.

Also, if you wear your shirt untucked, the knife’s tip won’t stick out underneath your shirt.

So, scout carry offers more concealment than other OWB styles while leaving the knife easier to draw than if you were carrying it inside your pocket.

Reducing Snag

A knife on the side of your hip loves to reach out and grabs innocent branches as they pass by[1].

When carrying a knife parallel to your belt on your front or back, though, the sheath hangs out much less.

I won’t promise that scout carrying a knife will reduce all drag but it does greatly reduce the chances of snagging some underbrush.

ESEE Izula II vertical or horizontal carry scout advantages tips
Some knives, such as the ESEE Izula-II, come with a modular sheath that facilitates both vertical and horizontal carry

Alternative Knife Carry Methods

Scout carry is a good choice for some knives and some situations but, like all carrying methods, isn’t the best every time.

Let’s look at when other carrying options are better.

  • Pocket Carry – Keeping the knife in your pocket is a great choice for folding knives. They disappear inside, offering great concealment, though deploying a pocket knife is slow and may be impossible if you need to use your offhand.
  • OWB Carry – Vertical carry outside the waistband is still a great choice for large fixed blades that don’t work with scout carry.
  • IWB Carry – Carrying a knife inside the waistband is how you want to do it if you’re worried about people observing your knife and don’t care about deployment time or comfort.
  • Neck Carry – A knife on a sheath hanging from a necklace can be hidden under the shirt in the city and left on top of your clothes in the woods. This is a great ambidextrous carry method, though it only works with smaller knives, and running can cause the sheath to bang around.
  • Boot Carry – If you want to comfortably conceal a blade then inside your boot is a surprisingly good choice, especially for larger knives. Deployment, however, does require you to kneel down low!
  • Strapped to Your Arm – Strapping a sheath to your upper arm may sound cool but it’s not a practical option.
  • Attached to Shoulder Straps – An excellent choice for hunting, hiking, and backpacking, you can attach a knife to your pack’s shoulder strap. This keeps it accessible to either arm and quick to grab in an emergency without letting it bounce around.

Tips for Scout Carrying a Knife

If you choose to scout carry a knife then follow these tips to improve your results.

First, scout carry is a good option for small to medium-sized fixed blades. Large knives don’t work as well. You can do it with folding knives in a pouch but I hesitate to call that “scout carry.”

Next, make sure to test your sheath placement. Draw and return the knife multiple times, from multiple angles.

Try it with your offhand, too.

11 o’clock carry makes this easier than does 6-o’clock carry.

This ensures you have the sheath in a comfortable place and that it won’t be hard to use in the field if your main hand gets trapped[2].

You can draw a knife from a horizontal sheath with either an upright or reverse draw, so be sure to practice both.

Also, if you like carrying the knife in the small of your back, find a different position when you’re using a backpack.

You don’t want your bag pushing the knife into your spine!

Other people don’t like the 6-o’clock carry because it represents a health risk if you fall onto your back, even without a backpack[3].


Scout carry is a good method for keeping a hunting or backup self-defense knife with you.

I don’t use scout carry for my EDC knives but I’ve found it a good choice for when I tromp through the woods.

Much more comfortable than a knife hanging off the side of my belt!

Did you enjoy reading about scout carry? Do you have a tip or anecdote of your own to add? Let me know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to share this info with your friends if you found it helpful!



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