High quality knives are easily some of the most critical tools in a kitchen. But keeping your knives safe, clean, and organized is also important.
Sure, a knife block might be useful at home, but for all of us cooks out there, traveling to work or between jobs, we need something that allows us to transport our knives effectively.
Chef knives cost a pretty penny, so you’ll want to safeguard them by finding a knife roll that stands the test of time. Our ultimate knife roll guide will walk you through the most critical features to consider when choosing a new knife roll.
When choosing a knife roll, consider the size, capacity, material durability, design, accessories, and price. The best option is a leather knife roll with sufficient space and compartments to keep your knives and tools in separate slots. Leather is flexible, stain-resistant, and weather resistant.
What is a Knife Roll?
Before we get started, it is worth quickly discussing what exactly a knife roll is.
A knife roll is simply a storage container for knives, typically used by professional chefs who need to transport their utensils from one location to another.
The roll’s main functionality is to
- Make it easy to carry the knives safely
- Protect the knives from wear and tear
A knife roll usually consists of a flat piece of material with slots or pockets for knives of various sizes. The knives are inserted into these slots and the material is then rolled up, creating a compact and portable package. Knife rolls often also have a flap or fabric or a cover that folds over the knives to secure them.
What to look for when buying a Knife Roll
Whether you’re a professional chef, hosting people, working at a catering gig, or simply need a handy accessory for transporting your premium knives to a family BBQ, a knife roll is the perfect storage tool to transport your knives safely and securely.
Even if you stick to one kitchen, offering your knives and noble utensils a worthy home keeps them well cared for and beautiful for years to come.
Choosing the best knife roll is the second most important decision, second to selecting a set of quality kitchen knives. When making your choice, you’ll want to carefully consider the five key attributes: size, material durability, design, accessories, and price.
Let’s take a look.
Size and Capacity
The amount of kitchen knives and accessories you plan to store in your knife roll is the most significant determining factor of the perfect size and capacity.
Ideally, you’ll want a knife roll big enough to keep the knives and equipment from touching when transported. It should also offer sufficient pocket space to keep each knife in a designated knife slot to prevent them from scratching, chipping, and premature dulling. You will also need sufficient pockets to handle the varying shapes and lengths of your kitchen knives and equipment.
If you’re a novice chef with a small collection, feel free to opt for a basic knife roll with several slots. However, if you have a grander collection or plan to expand your knife collection, consider upsizing it to a roll with sufficient pockets for your knives, essential tools, and future knives.
We recommend choosing a knife roll with a few special pockets and compartments for other utensils and accessories you might want to bring along – a thermometer, scraper, peeler, scissors, tweezer, and grater. Some knife rolls even feature a special slot for your apron.
Material Quality and Durability
The second most important feature to consider when choosing a knife roll is the type of material and its durability. It goes without saying that knives are sharp – especially chef knives. Traveling also means that your kit will be exposed to dirt, grime, stains, and elements that cause wear and tear.
Nobody wants to worry about having their precious knife collection spilling everywhere due to an unsteady and poor-quality carrier. You will need to know that the knife roll you choose is made to last – here are the most common types of materials, including their quality, durability, and cleaning ease.
Leather hits the top of the list as the best quality material for a knife roll. It has a timeless design and robust qualities – it is flexible, stain-resistant, weather-resistant, and semi-water resistant. You only need a damp cloth for easy dirt removal to clean leather.
Leather does wear over time, giving it a rustic look. While some people appreciate a more weathered look, not everybody does, so you’ll need to keep that in mind. Leather knife rolls may also require some maintenance as the leather dries out over time. Apply a high-quality leather conditioner to the knife roll at least once a year.
When choosing a leather knife roll, you can choose between two popular options:
|Full grain leather rolls||Top grain leather rolls|
|The highest quality grade leather.||The second highest quality grade leather.|
|Comes from the hide’s top layer and is extremely thick and hard to manipulate.||Has the outermost hide layer removed and is thinner and easier to manipulate.|
|Surface tells a unique story through the natural grain marks and imperfections.||Top surface is sanded away to remove the blemishes and is imprinted with an imitation grain for a more uniform appearance.|
|Full grain leather burnishes and beautifies rather than wears out as it ages – the more it’s used, the better it looks. It develops a patina and unmatchable character over time. However, it is more susceptible to staining.||Top grain leather has a finishing coat that protects it from stains that would damage full grain leather. But the refinishing prevents the leather from developing a patina.|
In a close second, canvas fabric is a sturdy material perfect for knife roll bags. It features a thick cotton weave and a relatively smooth surface, making it durable and highly resistant to snags and tears.
Canvas is exceptionally durable and should last years throughout your cooking career. Most canvas knife rolls are already waxed, but you may need to wax them occasionally to maintain their durability and waterproof properties.
Waxed canvas knife rolls are tough, durable, and resistant to grime and stains. Like full grain leather, a waxed canvas knife roll develops a fine patina as it ages, looking and feeling better over time. You’ll also often find a canvas knife roll combined with leather adornments.
Ballistic nylon is a specific nylon fabric commonly used in knife roll designs. In World War II, it was believed to help protect soldiers from bullets. Although sadly unsuccessful in the war, ballistic nylon became a popular robust material used for its strength, durability, and unrivaled abrasion resistance.
Ballistic nylon is easy to clean and resists stains and chemicals. This material isn’t waterproof, but nylon dries fast if you want to give it a good scrub after a messy day in the kitchen.
On the low end of the material quality spectrum, you get knife rolls made of high-quality polyester.
Polyester is highly waterproof and easy to clean, which is terrific for a full day of cooking when food splatters go around. Most brands use lightweight and puncture-resistant polyester, but this material is still susceptible to damage and won’t last as long as other options.
Although mainly functional, a knife roll can be enjoyed as an accessory too. That said, compare several brands, materials, and styles to ensure you choose a classy knife role that matches your personality and style preference.
Polyester, nylon, and canvas knife bags allow limitless color options – try sticking with a color you know you won’t get tired of. Whereas leather knife rolls are timeless, classy, and seem to only get better with age.
Some companies even allow customers to personalize their roll-up bags with engraved initials or slogans.
The Right Price
It doesn’t help to break the bank for a knife roll. However, spending a tad extra on one that will last you a long time is worth it. You can find knife rolls from $25 to upwards of $100. The price will depend on the material, style, and knife capacity.
Polyester is your cheapest option, but ballistic nylon would be better for those on a tight budget. Thanks to its durability and slow wear-and-tear properties, most chefs and culinary knife owners prefer a high-quality leather or canvas knife roll.
The Best Knife Rolls 2023
Keep your knife collection in top-notch condition with our list of the best knife rolls – we’ve included an option to suit any budget.
Best Premium Leather Knife Roll: Dalstrong
A premium, handcrafted knife roll made from top and full grain Brazilian leather. The Dalstrong bag is perfect for buyers looking for a charming piece that will last a lifetime. It features ten knife slots, three interior utility pockets, military-grade buckles, hand-stitched pockets, and a detachable strap.
Best Canvas Knife Roll
The Everpride Canvas Knife Roll Bag is a handcrafted knife roll made with the finest waxed canvas, resilient brass buckles, and premium rivets to ensure durability and maximum safety. The bag holds ten kitchen knife slots and a zippered pocket for other kitchen tools.
Best Budget Knife Roll
The Asaya Chef Knife Roll is a lightweight, durable option made from high-quality nylon. The Asaya Chef knife roll features twelve knife slots and pockets for other utensils.
Best for Small Kits
Shun offers a sturdy, durable chef knife bag perfect for chefs or home cooks with a small knife selection. The knife roll offers four cut and puncture-resistant pockets that keep your knives from scratching or chipping. It has an easy-carry handle, allowing you to carry your knives with safety and ease.
Best for a Large Knife Set
This knife roll is made with a high-quality, rugged synthetic material to ensure optimal protection for your knives. The Carhartt Legacy Tool Roll fits up to 18 knives and still gives you plenty of space for other culinary tools.
Best Vintage Knife Roll
The Aaron Leather Goods Vendimia Estilo Store Knife Roll is made with handcrafted premium buff calf leather and two classy vintage buckles. It stores up to ten knives and other kitchen accessories.
Best Synthetic Leather Knife Roll
Everpride makes handcrafted knife rolls with the finest thick and waterproof synthetic leather. The bag features a lightweight design, premium rivets and resilient buckles and comfortably holds ten kitchen knives and zippered pockets for accessories.
Authentic Japanese Knife Roll
The Musashi Japanese Style Kitchen Knife Roll is a unique, hand-sewn knife roll created from carefully selected and durable materials. The knife roll features excellent stitching and pristine embroidery of highly decorative traditional Japanese patterns. The knife is a special gift to hold up to knives securely when working or camping.
Wrapping It Up
Choosing the perfect knife roll to keep your knives in tip-top condition is straightforward with our ultimate guide. Ensure you select a knife roll made from durable material with sufficient compartments to keep each knife in a separate slot – and, of course, a few extra cases for future knives.