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Pocketknife and Multitool Buying Guide

Getting your first knife is one of those cool life events that makes you feel grown up. But knives are more than self-affirming pieces of personal property. You’ll use one in the backcountry for everything from slicing cheese to cleaning fish (and so much more).

The size and design of your knife — whether its blade is fixed or folding — should be determined by how you’ll use it. Here is some advice, along with seven knives that are best of class.

knife-featured

THE BASICS

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.

Swiss Army Hiker

There’s a reason for the enduring popularity of lightweight folding Swiss Army knives: They do a lot. The Swiss Army Hiker ($30, swissarmy.com) gives you 13 tools, including two steel blades, three screwdrivers, bottle and can openers, tweezers and even a small wood saw. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value in a small folding knife. 2.7 oz.

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.

Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite EDC

For a folding knife, the heat-treated interchangeable 3.5-inch blade on the Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite EDC ($35, outdooredge.com) is as sharp as a straight razor. The molded Grivory handle’s rubberized inserts and forefinger groove provide a secure, natural grip, and the blade opens with one hand, locks with a reassuringly loud click and closes securely. When the blade becomes dull, replace it with one of the five additional blades that come with the knife. 3 oz.

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.

Ruger Cordite Compact

Made with high-quality steel, the Ruger Cordite Compact ($60, shopruger.com) has a 2.5-inch fixed blade for cutting and chopping. The paracord-wrapped handle is full tang, meaning the part of the blade that extends into the handle (the “tang”) runs the length of the handle, making it stronger and more durable. 4 oz. (with sheath, not shown)

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.

Leatherman Leap

Some multitools are designed for experts, but the Leatherman Leap ($50, leatherman.com) aims squarely at newbies. Safety locks prevent accidental finger injuries. Its 13 tools include scissors, two kinds of pliers and three screwdrivers, wire cutters, a saw, and a sharp knife installed by Mom or Dad when the user is ready for extra responsibility. 5 oz.

FOLDING OR FIXED? KNOW THE POLICY

Before you buy a new knife, you should be familiar with state and local laws related to knives, as well as any restrictions imposed by your Scouting unit or council. When it comes to types of knives, the Guide to Safe Scouting recommends “choosing the right equipment for the job at hand.”

Outdoor Edge Le Duck

As a lightweight multipurpose utility knife, the Outdoor Edge Le Duck ($35, outdooredge.com) sports a razor-sharp heat-treated 2.5-inch fixed blade and a handle shaped like a duck head with a comfortable feel. The hard sheath’s removable clip rotates 360 degrees and has a locking feature to prevent accidental deployment — perfect for clipping to a backpack strap. 3 oz. (with sheath)

BLADES

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.

BSA Case Peanut

The BSA Case Peanut ($53, wrcase.com) weighs barely more than an ounce and isn’t quite 3 inches long, but this folding knife’s quality outshines its size. With two surgical-steel blades and a handle curved in the shape of a peanut — a great fit for smaller hands — this is a solidly built, durable and safe first cutting tool for learning to handle knives responsibly.

PRICE AND QUALITY

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.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE

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.

Buck Metro

When all you need in a knife is, well, a knife, get the tiny folding Buck Metro ($25, buckknives.com). Safely and unnoticeably carried in any pocket, it locks open and has a sharp blade slightly longer than an inch that can handle basic duties from slicing pepperoni to cutting cord. 1.5 oz.

CARRY IT

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.

JUST FOR FUN

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, leatherman.com) combines fashion and function. Weight: 5.9 ounces.

Wenger Giant Knife

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

82 Comments on Pocketknife and Multitool Buying Guide

  1. outdoorsman13 // July 26, 2015 at 11:29 am // Reply

    I carry a Gerber Swagger and has been all I e.ver needed at a good price. Go Troop 35

  2. Happyfish11 // July 24, 2015 at 7:01 pm // Reply

    I have a regular swiss army knife.

  3. Coolguy2457 // July 20, 2015 at 9:54 am // Reply

    I use a Army Sheffield😊

  4. Jascar-boy // July 16, 2015 at 6:29 pm // Reply

    this is my favorite:Victorinox Super Tinker Swiss Army Knife

  5. I carry around a machete on my belt because it’s good for both cutting and chopping.

  6. beachboy12 // June 19, 2015 at 12:48 pm // Reply

    I like the giant one:)

  7. I use the Buck 110, a classic, and the Victorinox (Swiss Army) Huntsman. They are all you will ever need.

  8. GtheSwimmer007 // May 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm // Reply

    Does anyone have the Victorinox Huntsman knife? Would you recommend it?

    • I do! the Huntsman is a great choice for a boy scout, absoloutly recommend it! I used it today actually. hope this helps. 🙂

  9. sog knife is awesome

  10. I have the Morakniv knife. I would highly recommend it to an older scout only because it is a decently large blade and is very sharp. The one down side would be the “scout safe” tip only because when you are trying to pierce something with your knife it becomes very difficult.

  11. Knife Xpert 157(aka Chad 101) // January 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm // Reply

    Regarding Water Displacement- Formula 40 (WD-40): Now before anyone jumps all over me saying “Its Toxic, its toxic!” let me just say that consumption of WD-40 in small amounts, (such as a thin coating on a knife blade) while not recommended, will NOT make you ill. WD-40, while not as long lasing at 3 in 1 or Smiths Multi-purpose knife oil, will work fine as far as lubrication, and will be twice as good as the mentioned brands when it comes to rust removal. So go ahead and use it on your knives and tools. Concerning the ingredients of WD, the truth is WD-40s main ingredient is not fish oil either. If it was, it would stink really bad and would expire. As I stated before, NOBODY but the makers of WD-40 know what the ingredients are. Go to the WD-40 website and look at the WD-40 facts. All I have said is repeated there. Thank you.

    K.X. 101

  12. Roughrider404 // January 5, 2015 at 11:01 pm // Reply

    If you want a good knife that is relatively cheap, then buy the Smith and Wesson First Response, it is very durable, have had mine for 8 years, never sharpened it and it can cut through paper like butter.

  13. If you have had a spring assist-open knife, you know as well as I do that if you store it closed, the spring doesn’t open the blade as well as when it was purchased. I have found the solution to this problem is simply to store it with the blade open. (this should only be done in a safe place where the knife(or knives) have no chance of falling onto something(or someone).

  14. Scouting Dad // November 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm // Reply

    Maybe I’m out of touch, but the cost of the Case knife with the fork and spoon shouldn’t be more than $25. 00. With all that a scout needs with a uniform, handbook, and other items, the knife needs to be affordable to be able to use and not just put on a shelf because it’s too expensive to use if it breaks. Just like the 22 rifles; priced for collectors, not for scouts.

  15. too bad you didn’t feature the original multi-tool that was designed by a Scout… the legendary Leatherman. I proudly own several. Best knife and tool made.

  16. Oh one more thing even though I already have one pocket knife and a multi tool it would be nice to get a new cool pocket knife and a multitool with more tools but I don’t need it i want it but it would be nice to get that stuff

  17. my family is saving up to go to Disney-world and I won’t get a whole lot of presents but that’s fine I really don’t mind and to be honest we aren’t the wealthiest family (at all) so I thought me and my sister could share the stuff she likes and I like so it’s a win win win win for me my dad my mom and my sister

  18. gear for me to get the best of all of my favorite song on my way to the game and the rest is a good idea but I think it’s a great way to the gym with the same thing over and over again in a statement issued after I finish my work and the rest of the day before I get a follow back on my way home and sleep all night and the rest of my favorite part of the day before I get a follow back on my phone and the rest of my favorite part of the year and the rest of my life and the rest of my favorite part of a sudden it was the best of the best way to the best thing to say it was the best thing to say it is not.

  19. I think I need a new multitool any ideas

  20. At cabelas you can find them cheep at the checkout

  21. Scoutingaround // November 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm // Reply

    Just remember, even though larger pocket knifes may seem cool, they can be difficult to carry around. A smaller reliable knife is easier to carry around in your pocket

  22. Geezer Patrol // July 20, 2014 at 11:53 am // Reply

    Too bad BSA Supply Division, like Wal Mart can’t sell any USA made items. Keeping the economy going. Smokey Mountain has USA made BSA knives.

  23. Bear is awsome // July 20, 2014 at 3:41 am // Reply

    Are sheath knifes legal in scouts

    • Yes. Fixed blade knives are completely legal and authorized by BSA. Check with your local troop to see if they are authorized at the local level.

    • philmont crew 2 // October 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm // Reply

      Yes it’s ok to carry a sheath knife
      (Some people will however try to tell you otherwise )

      For an excellent sheath knife I would recommend any mora knife
      They make great knives that are very affordable around $10-$30

  24. Owned a leatherman sidekick for almost a year, best knife I ever had. the only reason I don’t own it todsy is it fell into a latrine on a campout

  25. I hear all the talk about leathermen… I prefer the gerber multitools instead. they are easier to open and close one handed and with the locking handle, you don’t have to worry about the knife closing on your hand

  26. The 20$ Smith & Wesson Oasis knife is a pretty good knife.

  27. Odd…no official BSA knives? Still have my Camillus BSA knife that I got in 87…great knife at a good price….

  28. I carry an Ontario RAT 1 in my pocket and I’ve got a Leatherman Wave on my hip in a belt sheath.

    • I love the Ontario Rat 1. It is pretty fast, and has AUS-8 steel. This steel is a budget steel, but a regular steel, like S30v steel can run you over 100 bucks. AUS8 steel has an okay rust resistance, has pretty good edge retention and is a softer steel, resulting in easy sharpening. I am also thinking about getting a Leatherman Wingman. I would also recommend the spyderco tenacious, but I feel that 8Cr13Mov steel is just a little bit lower grade than AUS-8. The spyderco tenacious is around 35 bucks and the Ontario Rat 1 has a 3.5 inch blade, weighs around 5 ounces and is around 27 dollars on amazon

  29. Personally, I’ve had better luck getting knives at either Bass Pro Shops or Cabelas.

  30. Shotgun Scout // June 7, 2014 at 10:14 am // Reply

    Alright. I own around 30 knives (not including kitchen knives). I never leave home without my gerber paraframe tanto(at least) and/or my buck bantam lockback (at most). Thats pocket knives. On outings of hunting,hiking,camping or more depends on what kind of blade you should use.

    • Shotgun Scout // June 7, 2014 at 10:21 am // Reply

      Also on outings you are gonna wanna have a coleman (or a durable brand like that) utensill pack. It has a food knife,spoon,fork,and bottle opener all compact in 1 tool. Also you should get a little case for it. I have a case for mine. I have used the coleman for 4 yrs and never replaced it (its a really helpful tool). Tell me if this helps.

    • Knife master // December 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm // Reply

      Buck bantam bbw is good

  31. I have the ll bean multitool

  32. Personally, I love my P.E.C.K. single blade titanium knife best of all (Owned 7 different knives over the years) it’s light, stays sharp a long time and sharpens easily. That’s what you want anyways. You’re not going to stop a bear with it (2″ blade) but that’s why I have a 4# axe.

  33. Buy a leatherman Rebar It’s a Good all around tool

  34. the cuttin' cubmaster // February 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm // Reply

    I have a Kershaw Ken Onion pocket knife and a Gerber Scout multi-tool. Thats all i ever need. They’re both about $50, and they have a lifetime warranty. And FYI, WD-40 is NOT oil, it is a lubricant that removes oil. The best lubricant that I have found is 3-in-1 oil. If your tired of searching for the perfect pocket knife, just go ahead and get you a Kershaw.

  35. Swissarmy knives are great and long lasting.

  36. I have the leatherman Skeletool and I think it is pretty good I just wish it had saw blade on it

  37. I’m thinking of getting the spyderco tenacious. Does anyone have any experience with this knife?

  38. I’m thinking of either getting the spyderco tenacious, the spyderco resilience or the leather man crater c33L

  39. does anyone have any experiance with the bg folding scout knife?????

    • Thank you for considering my knives.
      Perfect for a boy scout like yourself would be the sheath folding knife.
      Stay safe.
      Bear Grylls

      • Happy Gilmor // April 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm //

        I had an experience with that particular knife, own a Scharade now; enough said.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // May 15, 2014 at 12:01 am //

        I have the knife. It’s an okay knife but I prefer a Kershaw Assisted over it.

      • I love the Gerber Dime multi-tool. Since I use it for fixing odd jobs around school and campouts. It seems mine is better than my fellow scouts with their fancy sheath blades and tools.

      • gerberguy201 // December 2, 2014 at 3:14 pm //

        gerber and bg knives are THE best

  40. you should try to get a knife made in the usa as they are usually better quality
    my choices are anything from the scout store, spyderco, and kershaw

  41. NEVER USE WD-40 ON A KNIFE BLADE!!! WD-40 is not an oil, it is light kerosene- which disperses water and is slightly corrosive, thereby stripping any protective layers of oil OFF the blade. Use a light machine oil for lawnmowers or blades instead!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm // Reply

      I’ve been using WD-40 on my knives for years. They all work fine. The fact that Wd-40 is slightly corrosive is a good thing because that is what helps it remove rust and gunk from knife blades. It’s not corrosive enough to do any damage to your knife.

    • Knife Xpert 157(aka Chad 101) // February 12, 2014 at 11:32 am // Reply

      Actually no one but the people who make WD-40 know what the ingredients are. It’s a closely guarded company secret. So you are incorrect about the kerosene.

      • Sargesbrat // October 7, 2014 at 4:21 am //

        WD-40’s main ingredient is fish oil. WD stands for Water Displacement. Designed to spray moisture out of military radios in Vietnam. Great for loosening up old, rusted knives. It will lube ok. Feel more comfortable with real oil such as 3-in-1. Just sayin’

      • Knife Xpert 157(aka Chad 101) // January 12, 2015 at 1:26 pm //

        Wrong. The fish oil thing is a myth. go to the WD40 web and look at their “WD-40 myths”

    • Copied this from the WD-40 site in regards to weather the product is toxic or not:
      “If swallowed, call physician or poison control center immediately” Any questions now?

      • Knife Xpert 157(aka Chad 101) // September 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm //

        That Irrelevant. Nobody said anything about toxicity. But since you bring it up. WD-40 is not toxic enough to kill you if you swallow a few drops. I know because I have when cutting an apple with my freshly oiled knife. I experienced no ill effects. As long as you dont go around drinking it you’ll be fine.

      • knife guy // January 7, 2015 at 9:55 pm //

        i want a carbon fiber zero tolerance blade if u want a real knife get a ZT they are great and are made in the USA they are expensive though

  42. make sure your knife is legal

  43. my knife is a CRKT M16 01kz and i got it for $18 on sale and it’s awesome

  44. Eatingcookiedoughfereva! // December 18, 2013 at 1:00 am // Reply

    The leatherman sidekick is a pretty durable multitool. I have been able to take apart and put back together my bike for travel using just the multitool itself. I think that it could use a few more tools, but it covers all of the basics. It’s also fantastic for making arrows considering it has a saw, blade, and a file. Would recommend if you’re looking for a multitool.

  45. swiss army knives are the BEST! I never leave home without it! But my gerber lockback is awesome too.

  46. Swiss Army knives are cool, but WAY too bulky. You are way better off with a Leatherman tool.

  47. Is this a test? // November 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm // Reply

    Which one should I get?

  48. want… leatherman sidekick… but… can’t…afford

  49. shotgun scout // November 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm // Reply

    Hey delta force it sounds cool being a para rescue man. Tell me about it.

  50. shotgun scout // November 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm // Reply

    As you can tell by my name i hunt and when doing so i use a gerber dagger.

    P.S you are right delta force.

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