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. darkshadyperson says:

    looks like good stuff. single blade knives are good for doing the dirty work

  2. mactheknife says:

    I havev my dad’s 50 year old boy scout knife and it is my sharpest knife

  3. the quartermaster says:

    I went to smoky mountain knife works and went out side to the blacksmiths shp an made an awsome railroad spike knife the old fasion way with a hamer and anvil

  4. Knifeguy03 says:

    I have a Kershaw burst ($20), a victorianox officer Suisse ($40-50), classic blue handled
    Scout knife ($0), a random multitool, and a random lockback knife.

  5. Off-Trail Monkey says:

    Swiss army knives for life! Go Scouts!

  6. doctorawesome247 says:

    I found a $1 dollor locking blade at walmart the brand? ozark trail 3 in a half inch blade and it’s serated to. also has a clip & a black heavy duty handel. good knife easy to open and easy on the wallet to.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      No offense but those knives are junk. I own a knife restoration company and I buy those knives so I can practice taking them apart and removing rust. The blade is extremely wobbly and the locking mechanizum is very cheap and unreliable. I would get another knife if I where you.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      doctorawesome247, make me.

    • cowboy says:

      I got one to I tried to cut a weed with it the knife broke.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

        well i dont think that they are that weak. but they are very cheap non the less

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

    I just got a custom S30V steel, engraved, rubber handle Buck Alpha Hunter!

  8. sniper says:

    my dad got me a spyderco knife i want to keep it in my room but my dad says i’m not responsible enough so he keeps it his room.what can i do so my dad thinks i’m reponsible?

    • swiss army man says:

      You should do stuff like doing things without being asked and be extra careful with it when he is around

    • me says:

      If you have your Toten Chip then show all the things you’ve learned by earning it. Also be very serious when he lets you use it and maybe after time he’ll understand that your responsible.

  9. outdoorsman says:

    i found a knife while hiking and it has scratches on the blade. What should i do to fix it?

  10. buckknives says:

    #folding110hunter by buck is by far the best!

  11. asdf says:

    The all in one tolls are great for camping.

  12. Off-Trail Monkey says:

    Swiss Army Victorinox; use it for life.

  13. Knife boy says:

    Do not get boy scout knives they are horrible quality!

    • nicknack says:

      Why are they horrible? Mine has never eve b roken on me and what you say is hard to beleive, unless you were whittling on rebar or something.

      • Will says:

        The steel is low quality compared to a similarly priced knife. Though BSA does have a full replacement warranty.

  14. hay says:

    leatherman multitools rock ( I got a sidekick it rules)

  15. boyscout2143 says:

    i like gerber knives because of the type of blade and strength of the blade

  16. knifeguy123 says:

    Kabar and buck are both companies that make more than one model Of knife. And also kabar is older than buck it has just had several names.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      Of course they make more than one knife! Buck and Ka-Bar are equally good companies however I believe Buck has been around longer

  17. Sp1derfang says:

    I like the Swiss Army Tinker Boy Scout Edition. And I also like the Boy Scout Huntsman (Swiss Army).

  18. lacrosse says:

    I have a yellow & green knife which says “Venturing BSA” on the blade anybody know what brand it is?

  19. ? says:

    I got a mora scout knife
    its fixed bladed with a 3 and 7/8 inch blade
    it also has a nice brass studed leather sheath
    $30 new on e bay!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      I found it on Amazon for $16.00. sounds like you got ripped off. moras are a good brand though.

  20. Stupid says:

    My knife is a bear grylls sheath knife and it works just fine!

  21. knife guy says:

    I have a benchmade 530 $89 at rei

  22. dart says:

    i like a verity of knives from my benchmade to my cammileus i love them all

  23. troop 228 says:

    swiss army. period.

    • pal mowhawk says:

      I agree not only are they usefull they are easy to use. End of story period.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

        you cant use a swiss army to baton, or skin a deer, how bout break plexi glass! No matter how functional swisses are remember they cannot do everything. If you are headed into the wilderness, ( i dont mean to some public campground!) a heavy duty folder or or fixed blade is the way to go.

      • B-29 SuperFortress says:

        agreed. i have a variaty of small knives and multitools and i find that i prefer small multitools with pliers, file, screwdrivers, a knife or two, etc. as opposed to large knives or multitools.

    • nicknack says:


  24. Chinese 101 says:

    i prefer Gerber pocket kines because it come with life time warranty and the trust able

  25. Rossi says:

    Try a Leatherman.They are Great!

  26. crafty says:

    I have a rusty pocet knife and it’s rusty. My dad says it’s to expensive to buy rust remoiver.What should I do. :]

    • Buddy says:

      I say that you should ask someone who is willing to remove the rust for free.

    • Sly fox says:

      Soak it in “Coke” for a few days; rub it down well with a plastic scrubber and then wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water. Dry it off and rub it down with knife oil (only) and wipe it down again. Might not get all of the rust but should remove most of it. May repeat it again for even better results.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      apply WD-40 and let it sit for a minute or two. then rub it with a cloth. remove thick rust with WD-40 soaked steel-wool.

    • Nicknack says:

      Try sanding it all off with a normal piece of heavy duty sandpaper. Or, if you have a wire wheel, try that, but be careful!! :-)

  27. Captain Scout says:

    Swiss Army knives, buy it for life.

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

    I just got a new SOG Tactical Tomahawk. its pretty darn good.

  29. The choiler says:

    Check out the buck bravo,buck csar-t,cold steel

  30. jj55 says:

    I just got a sog autoclip mini(2.68 in blade) very light and comfortable to carry(1.7 oz) it has a coil sprig tensioned pocket clip that works well on any surface thickness. The adjustable thumstud can fit my hand nicely, my only complaint is its so light, i forget it is in my pocket, i have lost a knife because of that, but thats what the pocket clip is for. — nice to carry, easy one hand open, and reasonably priced

  31. The hamburgler says:

    Cold steel rajah 3 is a amazing knife, its 45$ on the Internet and has a kukri blade style for most exelent chopping.

  32. Bigfoot says:

    Kershaws are great knives

    • The hamburgler says:

      I greatly dislike kershaw I have owned 3 all have broken within months,best one is the tremor.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

        Kershaw has an ecelant warranty and will gladly replace all of your broken knives. Give them another chance!

  33. anonymous says:

    Cold Steel Recon1 is the best. It is expensive, but it is worth it.

  34. anonymous says:

    Cold Steel Recon 1 is the best. I own it. It is $60, but it is worth it!

  35. Knife Expert says:

    The Kershaw skyline is an awesome knife!

  36. Kershaw says:

    Kershaw volt 2 is the only way to go. 30$ at bass pro! I have it my self, I love the Assisted Opening!!!

  37. Boy scout 455 says:

    The gerber para frame is a sharp small good knife all round

  38. knifeguy says:

    Benchmade and Spyderco make great folding knives, and if you look online you can find them for good prices.

  39. Aj says:

    is frost cutlery a good brand?

  40. Featherlite Fan says:

    If your looking for a great knife thats light,tough,and some what inexspenive. Should check out the A.G Russel Feather lite one hand knife. It’s around 35 dollars but it gets great reviews. And is really easy to open with one hand. Also if you buy it from his website you get a garuntee that you choose how long it last and what covers it.

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

    Whats your guys take on the SOG SEAL Pup? Looks like a solid knife to me but I would like some feed back. Please respond!

  42. Alpha 5 says:

    Gerber daggers are the best! they are so much better then ka-bars! My dagger could tear your ka-bars apart!

  43. Knife Overlord says:

    I’d go with swiss Army with 2 blades and a mini saw/ file combo (Fireman). It has 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.

  44. me12345 says:

    get a scharade or an eye brand. both german made with carbon steel

  45. 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.

  46. banjoboy says:

    I have a kabar. I use it for skinning and gutting coons and rabbits.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      A ka bar will work for skinnig, but that is not what it was designed for so it will not do it as well as a Buck knife

      • Ninjaman123 says:

        ka-bars are way awseomer than that buck whatever

      • Sharpshooter 68 says:

        BUCK ROCKS!!!!

      • Sharpshooter 68 says:

        chad is right in this case… a buck is superior to ka-bar when it comes to skinning. Buck is a renowned company that his been in business a lot longer then Ka-bar. if I was to take a ka-bar and a buck and compare how well they did skinning a deer, the Buck would be sharper,and could do the job quicker then any ka-bar. Buck has and will always remains the number one hunting knife company, and one of the top 5 knife companies.

    • Sharpshooter 68 says:

      You have no idea what you are talking about dude.

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

    Just shot two ducks today. Used my Buck 110 to dress them(which by the way ninja works way better then a Ka-bar) Time to make them into duck jerky!

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

    Look ninjaman123 ka-bars are good fighting knives. but for hunting/skinning a Buck knife is the BEST choice.PERIOD. And please stop insulting Gerber they are a great company.

    • Ninjaman123 says:

      ka-bars can do everything and gerber cannot

      • Delta Force says:

        I had a Ka-Bar for a while when I was a Para rescue man. But I switched it out for a Gerber dagger. I still use that dagger today…almost seven years after I was discharged. I’m afraid you’re wrong, Gerbers can do just as many things as Ka-bars. Take it from a Veteran.

      • Boy scout 453 says:

        A ka-bar is a killing knife designed for the military it is a knife ment for stabbing ever noticed the uncomenly sharp point on it plus it’s a fixed blade knife so if you triped and fell on it you would probably die. The point is it is a dangerous knife to carry and I don’t suggest it ninga.

  49. Alaskan says:

    If you want a good knife. Get the Bear Grylls folding sheath knife. Its sharp and it cuts wood like heck. Iive in Alaska, I should know.

    • Ninjaman123 says:

      that knife is terrible it broke and the blade snapped when i was whittling

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

        The blade om that knife is a 1/4 inch thick! what where you whittling… re-bar??

    • gerber knife fan says:

      If you want a smaller version of the Bear Grylls folding sheath knife, try the folding scout knife. I have one, and it is lightweight, has a pocket clip and lock back, plus dual thumb-stud. Its awesome!

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

    Duck season starts in TWO days!!!!! I’m so pumped!!!=)=)

    • Ninjaman123 says:

      the answer is a ka-bar you can use them for everything i always carry one when hunting or fishing

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

        KA-BAR is not the best knife company in the world ninjaman! It is a great company but it is not the best! And I already have the answer… The Buck 110 Hunter! it can beat a Ka-bar a hundred times over when it comes to skinning!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      A Buck knife is the ONLY answer when it comes to hunting! USMC Ka-bars are not designed to be skinning knives. They are designed to kill people (Which they do well)

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