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. i have a bigger knife says:

    I have alot of knives but my gerber is the best,u should buy one

  2. mr.daring says:

    buck is the best, the grip and blade are incredible.

  3. #1 says:

    I think gerber knives are the best my grandpa has had his for several years and it is still great!!!!!!!!

  4. vigor87 says:

    i use my dads cub scout knife, i think it is vintage and they dont make the color or the decoration on it anymore

  5. d dog says:

    i love multi tool kives

  6. Nick says:

    Schrade knives are the Bomb

  7. DCmac says:

    Victorinox has THE BEST pocket knives EVER. I’ve had mine for 4 years and it’s still great.

  8. biker says:

    get a browning 3.5 inch folding lockback i have had one for 4 years and still works like new.

  9. knifelover says:

    wincheser is the BEST u should get 1

  10. says:

    i own ka bar knives that i use for canping with the scouts is that to big to use

  11. campin dude says:

    Gerber has great knives. check out the gerber paraframe 2 partially serrated

  12. esdx says:

    swiss is the best

  13. T-Man says:

    i’ve got an old lockback llbean knife

  14. Sccouter32 says:

    I just got a Gerber single blade locking knife and it is the best!!!

  15. coolman555 says:

    I am saving up for a 45 dollar gerber tool.

  16. Sog101 says:

    Get a SOG or don’t get anything, I have a trident a field pup and their multitool, the field pup even saved my life.

  17. need one says:

    i have a jagwire multi tool and it great

  18. bin says:


  19. boby jr says:


  20. zachtroop503 says:

    i find the bst knives by going to bass pro. my fav. is Gerber multi knife. becaus has alot of multi tools.

  21. anymous says:

    I have three knives.a gerber lockblade, a generic leatherman and a multi-tool.when i’m whittling i use the gerber and for other stuff the leatherman and multi-tool.

  22. Mr sharp blade says:

    I just bought an m16 knife from crkt for $25 and it is the bomb! Well maybe not the bomb because those are dangerous, but buy any m16 knife model. They’ve got a double lock and is almost impossible to have to fold onto ones hand. It’s the shizzle!

  23. knife guy says:

    get an aegis from SOG. IT IS AWSOME

  24. 373Dude says:

    I prefer single blade lockblades the only multi tool I’d get would be
    a military grade leatherman

    • jsfd says:

      get the leatheman wave black oxide with bit kit it is so worth it it is an amazing knife with an amazing warrenty

  25. 373 Dude says:

    I prefer single blade lockblades

  26. foohyboy says:

    i collect knives. i got swiss army knives, pocket knives and multi tools. i have 12 knives and there still comin!

  27. stlscouter says:

    I have used the Buck 110 exclusively for the past 10 years. It is heavy, but I hardly notice it in my nylon belt sheath.

  28. Wave rave says:

    The “Wave” from Leatherman is great in that it has “one thumb” opening and closing lock blades. Carry it on your belt and you’ll find many uses for the pliers around camp.

  29. Tuck says:

    I find the best knives are the swiss made Victorinox. they are the original makers of knifes for the Swiss army. I like them so much I bought a 31 tool one while visiting switzerland!

  30. pikachu says:

    At Mejer they are expensive but very good!

  31. slick says:

    I have a good Appalachian Trail lock blade knife I got at Lowes home emprovement it is easy to sharpen -and stays sharp! So if you want a low matananance knife you’d want to get one.

  32. nic 909 says:

    i have a swiss multi function all purpose tool. it’s great you have all of the standards that are in this article .

  33. scoutman 6 says:

    all of you need to get a case double x they are great

  34. nateman says:

    i carry a gerber clutch and a good locking blade will be getting a spyderco tenacious when i carry a sheath knife its the mora clipper

  35. c rad says:

    i collect knives and my favorite knife for scouts is a Winchester from my grampa i want to get a case hobo knife

  36. MOONMAN200 says:

    I Got 2 PocketKnifes

  37. hippiescout151 says:

    Yo guys i just got a virtually indestructible ARMY RANGER knife @ the gun show in marlboro its so cool! EPIC AWESOMENESS STRIKES AGAIN!

  38. OAKLEYANDREW says:

    get the buck safespin its an mazing knife! cuts through anything on a campout i cut through a small tree with it and you can beat the life out of it and its perfect cost:30$

  39. 1234 says:

    I love the website!!!!!!!!!!

  40. SargeBSA says:

    most state have laws that do not permit switch blades BSA does not allow them do to safety concerns I recamend small buck knives also dacor does a very good job

  41. fluteman says:

    If you own a Leatherman, you need look no further.

  42. guy with a big knife says:

    switchblades are perfectly leagal in any stete, if there is a law about them it is unconstatutinal…..we have the right to bear arms

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      Actually switchblades are illegal.(take it form an expert!)it is STATE LAW that you are not allowed to posses a switchblade. however autos and assisted opening knifes are allowed.

  43. king killer says:

    if your looking for a good knife get a gerber knife i have one and i’m not getting a new knife unless it’s a gerber

  44. bobthecactus says:

    i have a CRKT M16-01KZ and it works great. I just need to find a good sharpener for it.

  45. perry97 says:

    i love switchblades on pocket knives it so awsome and cool,i feel like to buy all of the switch blades……

  46. PaisleyLady says:

    For the trail:
    1. A belt clip or big hole for carabiner
    2. Less than 4″ blade
    3. Lockback stainless
    4. Part serration
    5. Sharpen daily
    6. Cheap to replace

  47. Bama says:

    Swiss army all the way

    • cornflakes says:

      i also have a original pocket knife a well abot inch long and has a blade a file thing and pliers in the side as well as a scredriver in the side and a curved knife u wear around neck on chain never pops open and i would say its perfect

    • I Love Camping Hammocks says:

      amen to that

  48. boy1278 says:


  49. future-eagle-52 says:

    I have a few knives belive it or not i have about 45 my dad gave me every single one he has and my mom bought me acouple.some are full of gadgets but there really heavy i have 2 that are one bladed but im looking to $buy$ a nice boy sout kinve but there all exspenzive except for the little ones but i need one that could be used for any subject and i could carry on my whole life wich one would you subjest?

  50. AA55 says:

    i have a Gerber suspension Tool it is awesome

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