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Equipment

How to Pack Knives for Travel

Whether you’re moving, camping, or vacationing, here’s the safest way to take your chef’s knives with you, according to ATK’s gadget experts and test cooks.
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Published Aug. 25, 2023.

Whether you’re moving to a new house, getting your gear together for a camping trip, or heading to a rental home on vacation, bringing a set of knives with you is a must for the enthusiastic home cook.

But packing them for travel can be tricky—what is the safest way to tote them around, both for yourself and for your much-loved knives? Some of America's Test Kitchen's equipment experts and test cooks weighed in with their top tips.

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Knife-Packing Essentials

1. A knife guard

No matter how you end up packing your knives, having a knife guard—especially for the bigger ones—is the best way to ensure safe transport. A knife guard is essentially a holster for your knife that fits snugly around the blade to avoid it coming into contact with fingers or poking through travel bags.

The very best knife guards have a secure, tight fit, which means there’s no such thing as a best overall choice . . . just the best choice for your knife. ATK Reviews Senior Editor Miye Bromberg put together a guide on how to find the right guard for your knife.

2. A knife roll

Miye also suggests that once you’ve secured your larger knives in a knife guard, you’ll want another layer of protection from a knife roll. Knives tend to rattle around in knife rolls, meaning the knife guard will prevent them from dulling.

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How to Pack Knives Without a Knife Guard or Knife Roll

If you've found yourself with travel plans but without these specific knife-packing items, that's OK. There are still safe ways to transport your precious knives without needing to take a trip to the kitchen supply store (prepping for travel is tough enough on its own!).

If you find yourself in the midst of packing without a knife guard, for example, you can make one yourself. All you’ll need is a manilla folder or sheet of thick cardboard.

Cook’s Country Senior Editor Matthew Fairman also gets in the DIY mood when packing knives. “I've used both corrugated cardboard and heavy paper from shopping bags to wrap up the blades of my knives,” he said.

To use cardboard, Matthew simply cuts the sheet to size, folds it in half, and tapes it closed over the knives, ensuring the sharp blades are facing towards the folded cardboard. For the heavy paper technique, he wraps the blades in multiple layers of the paper, rolls the knives in an apron or kitchen towel, and secures the bundle with rubber bands.

For those who like to plan ahead, Senior Editor Jessica Rudolph keeps her knives’ packaging for times like this. “I keep the original packaging that my good knives came in and put them back in their wrapping and boxes for big moves,” she said.

Finally, America’s Test Kitchen cast member Lawman Johnson suggests using an item of clothing for maximum safety: “I wrap an old undershirt around my knives, securing it with rubber bands when they’re fully rolled up,” he said.

Knife-Packing Tips

Once you’ve secured the essentials, here are five more tips to ensure a safe trip with your knives:

  1. While you should take every precaution with larger knives, you can skip guarding your smaller knives before packing them in a knife roll. “I'm generally not super careful about smaller knives (like paring knives)—they tend not to bang into other knives in a knife roll the way the larger ones do,” Miye notes.
  2. Ensure your knives are clean and dry before you pack them to avoid the possibility of rusting or dulling.
  3. Label any boxes that contain knives or knife rolls. You wouldn’t want to be absentmindedly rifling around in a box with knives, no matter how secure they are.
  4. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, immediately unpack your knives and set them out in a designated location away from moisture or where they cannot be accidentally bumped into.
  5. When repacking your knives, don’t be lazy about those knife guards—pack them away the same way you brought them, and they’ll arrive back home as sharp as when they left.

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