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. c-rad says:

    if your goin to get a knife get a buck you get a life time waranty and their acome i have a buck redpoint 750

  2. SwissKnifeDude says:

    i prefer the victorinox pocket pal. a small, sharp blade, and a big, mean, ol’, sharp blade (big blade, sharp too.)

  3. outdoorsman says:

    Now after doing a ton of research i am thinking about buying a Leatherman Charge TTi. Would this multi-tool be better suited for outdoor use?

  4. outdoorsman says:

    i am thinking about buying a Powerplay pt-540. I have two questions. First of all what does a lifetime limited warranty mean? Secondly is this a good multi-tool for me? I have been reading and some sites say it is more for indoor usage. I want to use this mulit-tool outside and i am not sure if this is the right tool for me. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions. I would also appreciate it if anyone would give me suggestions on what a good tool would be for an outdoors man like myself.

  5. keet man says:

    I have a bsa knife. It is real good. Also I have five more knifes!!!!!

  6. dontbeanick says:

    i got a winchester fixed blade knife four years ago. it came out of the box razor sharp, and ive kept that keen up as long as i’ve had it. its heavy enough to be used as a hand axe of sorts which suits my needs. it is a fixed blade belt knife, and so is banned by most troops, but this is a long hasting, hard working knife.

  7. Mr. Skunkmeadowjr says:

    i have a swiss army recruit knife that i really like. no locking blade though. and i thought that sheath knives are not allowed in boy scouts.
    -Mr. Skunkmeadowjr

  8. kountryboy says:

    i have a frounter it has a irish made blade it super sharp
    i cut my figure on it and had 4 stites haha true

  9. Apostle says:

    I love Swith and Wesson it has cool designs and a good blade

  10. spyscout123 says:

    I perfer a multie tool

  11. residentevilpsycho says:

    i have a victoronix kbnfe BSA has 42 tools does everything from cutting to cooking. im age 9.

  12. sonicX says:


  13. knifey says:

    ihave 5 knives there all good but 1 is very good it has a shaped handle its xtremly sharp

  14. knifeman says:

    i have 5 knives there all great but one has a curved handle it realy fits your hand

  15. SwissArmyGuy says:

    I have the Swiss Army SwissChamp. I watched a video on Youtube about all the tools and features it has. I learned about a few I didn’t even know were on there! It’s a little expensive, but you’ll won’t need another knife again!

  16. red says:

    i love knives

  17. Delta/2 says:

    I have a walmart knive it is a ozark trails.It works prity good if you yose it right.I recamend ozark knives.

  18. powerchimp says:

    be careful on what you buy at walmart! it may be cheap but some things are just junk in a plastic box with a price sticker on it (nothin’ agains’t walmart though). when it comes to things like knives i would get one that is made from a quality knife maker such as Gerber, Leatherman, SOG, Kershaw, CRKT, Victorianox,and so on. in my opinion you get what you pay for. eitherway be careful and keep em’ sharp.

  19. knifeman says:

    kershaw knives work pretty well for normal camp use. the victornox camper is a very good multi-tool. I found the Buck Diamondback knife for 16 bucks plus 8 bucks shipping with insurance

  20. lalaLAnd says:


  21. gerberlover says:

    i have a gerber bolt action knife my dad gave to me, it’s 25+ years old and he only had to sharpen it once. it holds an edge well and is very durable i reccomend GERBER legendary blades as a knife choince

  22. spark says:

    if you do whitling alot get a knife with a lock. a regular one could slip a chop off your finger.

  23. D says:

    unforunately, the gear guy doesnt mention that most troops forbid fixed blades. not all, but most.

  24. dan says:

    I love my leatherman charge al.

  25. skyrock51 says:

    i already have a Victorianox multi-tool, but this is the great for anyone who does not have knife yet

  26. Survivorman wanna be says:

    I just got a Buck Multi-tool,and it is great.The blade is 3 inches and razor sharp.It is really comfortable to hold and I guess that it will serve me well.I payed 30 dollars for it and has a rugged sheath.Blade open it is 7inches long and 4inches closed,overall. I think that it,the unit was a good investment.What I really like about it is that it feels comfortable to wear it on the waist.The Buck Multi-tool is comprised of Screwdriver,Pliers,Sissors,and a 3inch razor sharp blade.It weighs about half a pound.Maybe,a little less,I do not know for sure.This is a good buy for sure,and I would recamend it for sure.

  27. knife man says:

    ruko is the way to go i have used them at every camp i go to they have durible blades and long lasting sharpness.

  28. Super Randy says:

    I have a Leatherman Surge. It’s really cool because it can almost anything and all the attachments lock. I use it for everything. It weighs about as much as a brick though.

  29. Camper123 says:

    I have Buck Prince and it is nice

  30. life long camper says:

    You are able to open most (if not all) GERBER multi-tools to the pliers function with one hand. This Is a very useful feature when one hand is holding something else. I have not seen this is any other multi tool. My GERBER is 10+ years old and with me every day. I have needed replacement sheathes and a latch mechanism replaced which GERBER shipped to me with out cost. I was able to replace latch myself but they offered to do so with out cost for me. I would recomend this multi tool to anyone.
    As for pocket knives there is only one choice for a durable unit, a VICTIORINOX swiss army knife. Also owned and carried daily by me for too many years to count.

  31. Bob says:

    Get a USMC Ka-Bar short. Best knife in the world!

    • sweet says:

      haha Ka-bar’s are amazing, they are made by Cutco which also makes a nice Pocket knife, (Cutco’s guarentee is the best in the world as well.)

  32. T@troop 127 says:

    I perfer the GERBER brand the most.

  33. Benguy says:

    If you want an awesome knife get a SOG!

  34. Thatoneguy says:

    I am an eagle scout, and I have a Gerber Auto-plier that has been on literally every campout I have been on since I got it 6 years ago. (except philmont.) It has everything I need, except possibly a saw, and is very sturdy, but heavy. and it is very entertaining to watch people try to put away the spring loaded pliers.

  35. d says:

    hey guy named me, leatherman has a 25 year warranty! not 50!

  36. Cow says:

    If I had to recommend a multitool brand, go with the Leatherman Wave. It has 3 fold out locking blades which is a got-to-have because sometimes when you wital the blade folds back and you could cut yourself.(I had to learn that the hard way)It comes with a 25 year warranty and my friend seems to love it.And if you think the Wave is to exspensive, think about getting the Blast.

  37. Bob says:

    I got the best multitool for christmas. At $30 it is no exactly cheap but the Gerber suspension is awesome. It also has locking tools.

  38. babyking21 says:

    For This 08 Christmas I Got 3 Set Of Winchester Knifes.In It There Was 2 Folding Knifes And One Knife that Has to be held in a sheath.I also got a Victorianox swiss army knife that came with a small classic swiss army knife.And the longest lasting knife I have ever used is a winchester knife. And If you going to buy a knife buy a winchester knife. From , babyking21

  39. countryboy says:

    i have a bsa knife cost 55 bucks and icut my self twice and got it taken away

  40. cow says:

    i think all knives are cool insamium in the cranium ! dawg!!!

  41. farmboy says:

    i got a sweet $50 bsa knife but i aint used it thouge

  42. legonerfkid22 says:

    I have a pocket knife that I got for $9 at walmart and it has sooooo many different tools on it. the only problem was that when i bought it, the knife was so dull it was literally rounded on the blade! but i sharpened it and it works great!

  43. bo says:

    swiss army knives are okay i juss found mine and its okay……….. but i still like my buck the best and my case knives

  44. bo says:

    okay i have somethin to say about tomahawk pocket knifes….. if you get one of those there a pretty good knife. but you do not neeed to flip it open very hard because if you do that it will break. i did that and mine broke into pieces. i really like gerber utilitiey knifes they are pretty good for utilities with the plires and the mini saw and the screw drivers and what not. i also like my buck knife a lot it works good on the farm and i like case knifes to carry around

  45. Mr.sir says:

    I like to use a swiss army. All the bells and stuff are good

  46. e says:

    I like knifes!!!!!!!!

  47. pyromaniac says:

    and another note is that the Gerber was only like 10 bucks. IDK how much the Skeletool is because i got it as a gift but i think its $50 or 60

  48. pyromaniac says:

    I have a LEatherman Skeletool. Its a really good knife because it has the pliers, screw driver ETC, but it has a large enough locking balde on the outside. Most have nonlocking plades that you need to open and close the pliers to get at it. I used to have a swiss but sombody stole it. I also have a gerber lock back with a serrated blade that is pretty good.

  49. eagleorbust says:

    i had a swiss army knife but i lost it :(

  50. explorer52 says:

    I have a Victorianox knife, an old BSA knife, and an SOG knife. SOG is good if you want a pocket knife that lasts for a while and is bigger.

Write a comment about “Pocketknives and multitools buying guide”


Type your comment: