Guy Gear

Pocketknives and multitools 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.

Outdoor survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt will show you how.



There are several types of knives. Kummerfeldt’s favorite, fixed blades, are no-nonsense knives with a beefy handle and stationary blade.

“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,” he says. “And 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.

Then there are all-purpose folding pocketknives. 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, Kummerfeldt says a downside is the knife blade doesn’t lock into place, so it may fold up on your hand while you’re using it.

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.

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.


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.


You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality tool.

“My $15 knife does everything I want it to do,” Kummerfeldt says.

As prices go up, you’ll see small improvements in the quality and size of the blade.


“The only good knife is a sharp knife,” Kummerfeldt says. “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.


Kummerfeldt says 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.


You did it! You finally earned your Whittling Chip or Totin’ Chip, and your parents gave you the green light to get a new knife. Now’s the really tough part: figuring out which one you should get. There’s a dizzying number of options out there, but your Gear Guy did the shopping for you to bring you eight great and affordable knives and multitools.

WAIT! Although the following are still great knives and multitools, the Gear Guy is currently researching new models. Watch for his updated reviews in the December 2014 issue of Boys’ Life.

Comments about “Pocketknives and multitools buying guide”

  1. Geezer Patrol says:

    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.

  2. Bear is awsome says:

    Are sheath knifes legal in scouts

    • Anonymous says:

      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 says:

      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

  3. devcon says:

    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

  4. Wolfpack says:

    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

  5. Mr. Lind says:

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

  6. Slim says:

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

  7. 71 says:

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

  8. Mr. Lind says:

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

  9. Shotgun Scout says:

    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 says:

      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.

  10. swag123 says:

    I have the ll bean multitool

  11. Sly Fox says:

    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.

  12. K_K_Hawk says:

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

  13. the cuttin' cubmaster says:

    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.

  14. cwd says:

    Swissarmy knives are great and long lasting.

  15. MobKillr101 says:

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

  16. Bob1012 says:

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

  17. Bob1012 says:

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

  18. outdoorsman says:

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

    • Bear Grylls says:

      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 says:

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

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

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

  19. Imaknifeguy says:

    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

  20. Alex M. says:

    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) says:

      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) says:

      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 says:

        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’

    • FYI says:

      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) says:

        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.

  21. nicknack says:

    make sure your knife is legal

  22. RexMaximus says:

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

  23. Eatingcookiedoughfereva! says:

    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.

  24. 100 K says:

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

  25. ZMeister10 says:

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

  26. Is this a test? says:

    Which one should I get?

  27. troodon09 says:

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

  28. shotgun scout says:

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

  29. shotgun scout says:

    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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