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Pocketknife and Multitool Buying Guide

A quality knife or multitool is one of the handiest things you can carry in your pack. It’ll help you spread peanut butter, carve a tent stake, fillet a rainbow trout, maybe even save your life. But you have to pick the right tool for the job.

The Gear Guy is currently researching new models and writing an update to this article. Watch for his updated tips and reviews in the February 2017 issue of Boys’ Life.



There are several types of knives.

All-purpose folding pocketknives are common in Scouting. Most come with tools such as a can opener, screwdriver, tweezers and, of course, knife blades — all in one compact package. Though they can be extremely handy, a downside is the knife blade doesn’t lock into place, so it may fold up on your hand while you’re using it.

Victorinox Swiss Army Evogrip 11

Swiss army knives are time-tested favorites, and this new update on the classic is a good bet. The Victorinox Swiss Army EvoGrip 11 ($40; has grippy rubber inlaid handles and nine handy tools, including a 2.5-inch blade, three screwdrivers, a can opener, tweezers and more. Weight: 2.15 ounces.

Lockbacks are simple folding knives with a single blade that can be locked. So you get the benefits of a sturdy fixed blade-style knife but in a convenient pocket-size package that can be folded open with just one hand.

Sog Autoclip

A simple, high-quality lockback folder, the SOG AutoClip ($30; features a 3.5-inch-long straight-edge stainless steel blade with a grippy nylon handle. Weight: 3 ounces. For about $7 less, you can get the AutoClip Mini with a shorter 2.68-inch blade. Weight: 1.7 ounces.

Fixed blades, are no-nonsense knives with a beefy handle and stationary blade. If you need a knife to accomplish the everyday tasks you come across in the outdoors, from whittling on things and cutting materials to spreading peanut butter on your sandwiches, a short, no more than four-inch-long, fixed-blade knife will accomplish all of that. Avoid large sheath knives; they are heavy and awkward to carry.

Morakniv Classic Scout 39 Safe

Many outdoorsmen swear by sturdy fixed-blade knives, but Mom and Dad might not always agree. That’s why the birchwood-handled Morakniv Classic Scout 39 Safe ($28; is a good choice. It has a rounded tip and finger protection for safety and stays put inside its black leather sheath. Weight: 2.4 ounces.

You’ll also find specialty knives such as river rescue knives with serrated blades for slicing rope, whittling knives designed for carving wood, and multitools, which are compact, handheld tool boxes. Most are built around a pair of folding pliers.

BSA Supply Four-Inch Multitool

The BSA Supply Four-Inch Multitool ($40; includes a nifty LED flashlight and 11 different implements, including two knife blades, a couple of screwdrivers, a saw and pliers. This cool tool also features the BSA logo on its rubberized handle. Weight: 10 ounces.


Most blades are made from strong and durable stainless steel. Blades are available in straight edge, serrated (jagged like a saw) or both. Bigger is not always better. A small, sharp four-inch-or-smaller blade can cut just as well as bigger knives but is much safer to handle and easier to maneuver in tight spots.

Spyder ClipItTool

The Spyderco Clipitool Serrated Blade ($40; is a handy stainless steel folder with a pair of 2-inch-long blades: One is plain-edged, while the other is serrated for easy cutting of cords and strings. Weight: 1.8 ounces.


You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality tool. Often, an inexpensive knife will do everything you want it to do. As prices go up, you’ll see small improvements in the quality and size of the blade.

Gerber Bear Grylls Compact

The Gerber Bear Grylls Compact II ($21; has a 2.6-inch fine-edge locking blade with an extra grippy and durable rubberized handle that’s easy to hold on to even in wet conditions. And it’s so lightweight, you won’t even notice it in your pack. Weight: 1 ounce.


The only good knife is a sharp knife. A blunt knife requires you to put so much force on it that it could slip, and you could drive the blade into your leg.

As needed, run the edge of your blade across a sharpening stone a few times. Wipe the tool clean after every use and lubricate any hinges with a light oil like WD-40.


The smartest, safest place to stash your knife is in an easy-access spot in your backpack. You’re asking for trouble by wearing a fixed-blade knife on your belt. If you fall, the knife could rotate inward and you could land right on the blade.


Whether you’re looking for your first knife or a tool that’s ready to tackle lots of tasks, here are more of the best tools and knives on the market.

Nite Ize Doohickey

While not exactly a knife or a multitool, at just five bucks and less than half an ounce, this tiny little tool packs a lot of punch. The stainless steel Nite Ize DoohicKey ($5; includes a screwdriver, wrench, box cutter and more, and is a great key chain. Weight: 0.4 ounces.

Biologic Fixkit Multitool

If you’re a bike lover, then you’ll love the BioLogic FixKit Multitool ($35; This lightweight tool includes 20 tools for fixing bicycles, including lots of wrenches and screwdrivers. Comes with a neoprene cover and fits in your saddlebag or pocket. Weight: 5.6 ounces.

LL Bean Double L Pocket Knife

This classic compact folder looks a lot like a knife that my grandfather always seemed to have in his pocket. The L.L.Bean Double L Pocket Knife, One Blade ($20; is equipped with a rosewood handle and a 2-inch stainless steel clip blade. Comes with a leather sheath. Weight: 3 ounces.

BSA Hobo from W.R. Case

Come mealtime, you’ll be glad you carry the BSA Hobo from W.R. Case. In addition to a Tru-Sharp surgical steel knife, you also get a fork and spoon, all easily detachable for use and cleaning. The Navy Blue Bone model ($95; is aimed at collectors, but you can find models that retail for around $55. Weight: 7.7 ounces.


Here are two multitools that totally break all the rules, but still, they’re really awesome.

Leatherman Tread

With 29 tools and an optional watch, the Leatherman Tread ($165 – $220, combines fashion and function. Weight: 5.9 ounces.

Wenger Giant Knife

With 87 implements and 141 functions, the Wenger Giant Knife ($2,150, is too unwieldy to be very useful. But it would totally impress your friends! Weight: 2 pounds.

15 Comments on Pocketknife and Multitool Buying Guide

  1. Theburntbiscuit123 // November 12, 2016 at 10:12 pm // Reply

    Dear gear guy,
    I am looking for a new multitool what are your tips about the brands of multitool

  2. A very sturdy folding knife is the Cold Steel Spartan and With a 4.5″ locking Blade it can handle just about job big or small.

  3. the blonde bomber // September 6, 2016 at 8:50 am // Reply

    the multitool bracelet also comes in black and you can also add a watch face

  4. Lyonsdigital // August 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm // Reply

    I carry a Leatherman Freestyle. It has one blade with a liner lock and a pair of pliers with a wire cutter. I find that in the real world, I often need to hold something still or cut it loose. Compact tool kits are great and I keep one on my bicycle where I might need it, but my Freestyle is the tool I keep with me.

  5. Funny, Scouts for decades carried a slip joint knife—-that is, one without a locking blade—-with no problems. It all comes down to keeping in mind how to use the knife safely. I guess a lock would be better for some but don’t forget—any lock on a blade can fail, don’t depend too heavily on them.

  6. Snipa-X-Killer // April 27, 2016 at 10:19 am // Reply

    Hey, I’m looking for a new knife. My old one is worn down, and isn’t of much use anymore. Anybody know any good places to look? Thanks in advance!

    • Anonymous // May 20, 2016 at 8:04 pm // Reply

      A knife that i would recommend is he CRKT M16-01KZ. it is an inexpensive but durable knife from a great company

  7. The Gerber gator is the best knife ever I just kneed to sharpen it

  8. For general eveday carry to meetings and outings, we recommend our youth be able to core an apple with their knife. When did BSA approve a fixed blade sheath knife for carry? I have seen these promoted in BL and Council Camps.

  9. Spyderco Manix 2, best knife I have ever owned, had it for 3 year and still going strong.

  10. they should have more leathermans they are such good tools to have

  11. the leatherman freestyle is a wonderful tool, with just a locking blade and pliers it isn’t bulky but is very handy!

  12. Actually I have a Ka-bar and it is not awkward to carry, in fact it can double as an ax and is a great tool.

  13. the Leatherman Tread is the coolest multitool i have ever seen

  14. Hockey_Moo // July 30, 2015 at 7:39 pm // Reply

    Well, these are all great knives, except for the Morakniv. (No tip on a knife? Really?)But they don’t really compare to some of the classics. I’m not seeing any Case knives or Bucks, which are the classics. I carry my good o’l custom Buck 110 and a custom Swiss. (Hey, i like costom outdoors gear.)

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