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. J man says:

    A really awesome knife is the Pazorada by CRKT amazing or any big name brands are great too but i recommend the pazorda

  2. Turtle says:

    I’m not a scout but I’m really need a knife for a survival kit any suggestions on what type, I like ka bar and gerber, but any ideas

    • Knife Overlord says:

      Go swiss Army with 2 blades and a mini saw/ file combo. 2 blades in case one breaks missusing it in a survival circumstance, the file can be used as a sparker and the saw to cut tough things like animal bones.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      I would go with a Bear Grylls compact fixed blade or a Gerber LMF II ($70 amazon)

    • it wont blend says:

      a good knife is benchmade mini griptilian. it is expenseve but better than others.

  3. Ninjaman123 says:

    If you want a good knife if you are a scout get a ka-bar i own 6.

  4. i guy says:

    i know what knife that i want, but i can’t find one that won’t fall apart… where should i buy one that wont fall apart as i’m useing my magniesem fire starter?

  5. Off-Trail Monkey says:

    Hey Scouts:
    WD-40 is not an oil, it’s purpose is to loosen rusty bolts and similar items (Please read the label). 3 in 1 oil will work for knives but can be toxic to some people. Always use a knife oil as it offers superior lubrication and protection and is not dangerous if minimumly consumed. Also, never use food oils, they will gum up the pivot and can spoil like any food source item; again causing illness.

  6. Knife overlord says:

    Swiss Army all the way baby!!!

  7. Denner1 says:

    Their is this one great BSA multitool that is very nice for scouts, Their is a bigger simaler one that leaders would like, I have the smaller one and my dad has the bigger
    one. They are green and come in a case. I would have a hard time describeing it.

  8. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

    I just finished a backpacking trip and I found a Gerber EVO jr while hiking! I oiled it up with some WD-40 and now it works good as new. It has an awesome flipper on it and is a good little tactical knife.

  9. Bert67 says:

    If you are looking for a knife, then get one you really like.

  10. Bert67 says:

    If you want a good, quality knife then get a kershaw chive!
    I do not own one, but i have held one( in the smoky mountain knife works in tennesee).

  11. thomasa51 says:

    what i like is a winchester or remington or northwest trail

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      Both Winchester and Remington make great fire-arms, I myself have a Rem. 870 Express 12 gauge. However both companies make low quality knives. Winchester makes very junky multi-tools. Go with a Leatherman, Gerber or Buck.

  12. J-Dog says:

    Leatherman Charge TTi, it is expensive but it is amazing.

  13. skeptical says:

    No Boy Scouts are allowed to carry a fixed blade knife (on troop/pack activities). Cub Scouts are not allowed to carry aknife with a blade longer than 3 inches on pack activities. (I’m pretty sure.) It is implied in the artical that you can do both of the above.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      How many times do I need to explain this… The BSA handbook says they PREFER you not carry a fixed blade.
      I carry a fixed on every camp out.

    • Knife xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      Any boy scout can carry a fixed blade. It is up to the troop to decide if their boys are responsible enough to carry a fixed blade.

  14. jak says:

    i will choose the gerber dime

    • josh7776 says:

      get a schrade team primos folding knife. I have one and it’s never failed me, schrade is a good American brand

  15. prongs365 says:

    AppalationTrail is good

  16. starscout says:

    ive had 2 gerbers and they fell apart
    best folding knife -buck
    best multitool-leatherman
    best small sheath -old timer

  17. Knife overlord says:

    Go swiss baby !!!!

  18. scout T41 says:

    Go gerber, theyre sharp and inexpensive. You can get them at walmart same place where I got my ozark trail multi-tool

  19. hippiescout151 says:

    A good place to find relatively cheap and very good quality knives is a local gun show/ expo.I got a US Army Ranger folding survival knife at one and it has served me well in my years of scouting.

    • Delta Force says:

      Where exactly did you get this “paratrooper” knife. If it’s not an auto or assisted knife then you probably got a cheap knock off. Also wheres it made, and by what company.
      My dad served for eight years as an elite paratrooper in the USAF and he had a genuine jumper knife. It was cool but he couldn’t keep it when he was discharged. He would know if it was real or not if you could discribe it.

  20. Hotrod says:

    Buck and Gerber.

  21. toaster says:

    my case xx really keeps its edge and is very useful

  22. usmc says:

    my sons troop allows the use of fixed blade knives and he uses my ka bar usmc knife and I have used it for over 10 years and it works great for him

  23. CARL007 says:

    Bear Gryles ultimit knife 50$ or more but worth i also recommend a cheap 5$ swiss army knife

  24. serious says:

    go swiss knives

  25. awsome says:

    A mora companion, and an swiss army fieldmaster make an exelent combination for me. But for you maybe not. The knife (or knives) you carry should be based upon what you feel you should carry.

  26. Sniffinindakitchen says:

    Get a Buck x tract

  27. Navy Wolf says:

    Got my multy tool last October for $5.50. For a hunting season bonus Very sharp Saw and knife blades perfect for scouts

  28. Navy Wolf says:

    Had my multy tool for since last October 4 hunting. sturdy handle and great sharp saw and blad . perfect 4 for scouter on the go!

  29. awesomeness says:

    Yay for Swiss army knives!!!

  30. Sly Fox says:

    Check out Schrade’s carbon knives. Sharp, inexspencive and tough. Made in USA too.
    I prefer the “Leader”.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      The bad thing about carbon steel is that it cannot hold its edge and will rust very quickly.

  31. Dragon says:

    Swiss army knives are really awesome, so if you don’t have one, you should get one.

  32. omni-wolf says:

    someone needs to make a survivle gear guide.

  33. boy scout says:

    get a good one that you think is perfect. if you do not know or are sure which than get a good one that is nice and sharp,easy to handle,and has lots of functions.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Get a cold steel machete

  35. Boy Lead says:

    3 in One oil is better choice for lubricating a knife. (It is made by the same company that makes WD-40).

    WD-40 is a lubricant and a solvent – it breaks things down. It can ruin a lock or the inner workings of delicate equipment. It can also remove finish or paint. It can also irritate the skin.

    • boy scout says:

      way to go

    • Delta Force says:

      hmmmmmm… well how come all my knives and machetes are in great shape and I have been using WD-40 on them for 20+ years?!

      • Off-Trail Monkey says:

        WD-40 is not an oil, it’s purpose is to loosen rusty bolts and similar items (Please read the label). 3 in 1 oil will work but can be toxic to some people. Always use a knife oil as it offers superior lubrication and protection and is not dangerous if minimumly consumed. Also, never use food oils, they will gum everything up and can spoil like any food source item; again causing illness.

    • Hotrod says:

      WD-40 can lubricate and clean a bike chain, too.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      Your totally wrong dude! Yes WD-40 is toxic and i wouldn’t go around drinking it. But it is perfectly fine to use on knifes… It works especially good when sprayed into the locking mechanizium

  36. Argonian says:

    A leather man sidekick is your best bet

  37. Off-Trail Monkey says:

    Hurray for Swiss Army Knives!!!!!!!

  38. Delta 8 says:

    Attention: I am changing my name to Delta 8 since that was my squad’s call sigh while I was a Special-ops paratrooper.

  39. bearknife says:

    my troop alows fixed blades and the hand book discuregis them


    The best knife you could possibly ever get is a swiss army knife. I had my Tinker for 3 years know and its still like it has just been took out of the package. (With some scratches on the handle, of course).

  41. Delta Force says:

    I agree, an ax is the ultimite camping tool.

  42. Ax Xpert 666 says:

    An 3/4 ax is the ultimite campers tool; you can chop, cut, and hammer most anything with it. My ax also has a knife in the handle for little things. Best thing about an ax is it’s better for staring down a bear; we’ve had to do that once.

  43. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

    A Gerber Bear Grylls Parang machete can beat an ax 100 times over! I have one and it rocks! The razer sharp blade can hack thru a 8 inch thick log in half the time an ax could! I am comparing it to my Gerber pack Pax which has lasted me 5 years now but the parang is much better and can clear brush as well while an ax cant!

  44. HAiLSTORM says:

    Axes are awesome but a good knife will never let you down

  45. Delta Force says:

    Any knife less then $30 and made in china is not worth buying.

  46. backpackin dude says:

    a swiss army knife is what I have and it has lasted me for a long time without dulling, get one with a lot of attachments though

    • Delta Force says:

      Swiss knives are handy but most do not lock and me and my thumb have a grudge on non locking blades! Sure some of them lock but those cost a TON!(up to $240)

      • Sly Fox says:

        Time to buy a swiss army knife at new location. I bought a new S.A. Fireman – lockblade
        w/ additional surrated blade, sissor and saw for $28.00 on e-bay. I then bought a second in a store for $36.00 for my son. The avarage swiss army lock blade cost around $44.00.

      • Kilcannon says:

        My SAK trekker has a one handed open lock blade, and only set me back 31 dollars. It comes with a free classic on Amazon, and is a quality tool.

      • Delta Force says:

        Ok ok! I was wrong! BUT… your average every day Swiss knife does not lock. e.g. Spartan, Tinker etc… I even carried one in my kit bag while a para-trooper! But I cut myself more with that knife then with any other knife.

  47. brickman says:

    Smith and Wesson extreme ops CK105H knife is really great, and less then $15.

  48. mace says:

    i want to buy one off those but my mom said i cant by one and i read the hole thing and
    i relly want it

  49. Off trail monkey says:

    Carry an ax, knives are for wimps. You can open anything with an ax. If sharpened correctly you can whittle with it too.

  50. Mopolopo says:

    Get a Kershaw!!!

Write a comment about “Pocketknives and multitools buying guide”


Type your comment: