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How to Buy a Good Pocketknife or Multitool

A good blade is essential to Scouting. Whether you’re camping, backpacking, fishing or simply preparing for your next outing, a good knife or multitool will give you an edge in the outdoors.

The size and design of your knife — whether its blade is fixed or folding — should be determined by how you’ll use it. Here is some advice, along with five knives that are best of class.

VICTORINOX SWISS ARMY knives come in many models, but for functionality, simplicity, weight and price, it’s hard to beat the HIKER ($26, It gives you 13 functions, including large and small blades, a Phillips screwdriver, bottle and can openers, a reamer, a wire stripper, tweezers and a wood saw. There’s a reason this small folding knife has been a classic for more than a century.


There are several types of knives.

All-purpose folding pocketknives are common in Scouting. 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, 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.

Fixed blades, are no-nonsense knives with a beefy handle and stationary blade. If 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, 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.

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.

The title “king of multitools” might belong to the LEATHERMAN WAVE+ ($100, Just 4 inches long when closed and barely more than a half-pound, the Wave boasts 18 tools that all lock quickly into position. The lengthy list includes many that Scouts need often: two knives (straight and serrated), a saw, spring-action scissors, can and bottle openers, a medium screwdriver, regular and needle-nose pliers, and wire cutters. While pricier than other options, this stainless-steel tool, built with top craftsmanship, will likely last a lifetime.


Knife policies vary among packs, troops, councils and camps when it comes to what blade types and lengths are allowed. Learn your unit’s policy before buying a blade of any kind. When it comes to types of knives, the Guide to Safe Scouting recommends “choosing the right equipment for the job at hand.”


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.

Not all folding knives demonstrate the quality of construction of the GERBER FASTBALL ($100,, which becomes clear the first time you deploy it — and every time after that. Opening with a flip of the finger and locking securely whether open or closed, the 3-inch blade made of S30V steel has a consistently smooth opening and closing.


You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality tool. Often, an inexpensive knife will do everything you want it to do. 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. 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.

The SOG POWERPINT ($45, offers rare versatility for a such a lightweight package. Just 5 inches long and weighing barely more than 4 ounces — small enough to be unnoticeable in your pocket — it sports 18 tools, including a stainless-steel blade, a file, a hard-wire cutter, bottle and can openers, scissors, two screwdrivers and needle-nose pliers. Every tool has a locking mechanism, and most open without having to open the pliers.


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.


Treating pocket knives with respect not only ensures your safety, but also keeps others safe. Here are a few major no-no’s:

  • Throwing a knife
  • Using a dull or dirty blade
  • Handing a knife to someone blade first
  • Cutting while others are within your “safety circle” (arm’s length)
  • Carving into something that doesn’t belong to you
  • Cutting toward your body

Using a knife requires responsibility. Bear Scouts can start carrying a pocketknife after completing the Whittling Chip requirements. Members of Scouts BSA must earn their Totin’ Chip, which also gives them the right to carry and use axes and saws.

When the job is bigger than a conventional pocketknife can manage, step up to the BSA KICKSTART BROWN CANVAS
($152, from Case Knives. Made with a high-carbon stainless steel that holds an edge longer than conventional steel, this knife will cut, slice, carve, chop and pare — no task is too great. It also sports Case’s Kickstart technology, which lets you open the knife with one hand by simply pressing on the thumb stud. At 4 inches closed, it’ll still tuck inside most pockets.

51 Comments on How to Buy a Good Pocketknife or Multitool

  1. 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 // May 28, 2009 at 3:59 pm // Reply

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

  3. outdoorsman // May 28, 2009 at 10:34 am // Reply

    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 // May 28, 2009 at 12:01 am // Reply

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

  6. dontbeanick // May 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm // Reply

    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 // May 19, 2009 at 7:00 am // Reply

    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 // May 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm // Reply

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

  10. spyscout123 // April 26, 2009 at 5:50 am // Reply

    I perfer a multie tool

  11. residentevilpsycho // April 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm // Reply

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

  12. Awesome!

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

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

  15. SwissArmyGuy // April 19, 2009 at 11:03 am // Reply

    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. i love knives

  17. 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 // March 30, 2009 at 5:45 pm // Reply

    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. 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. COOL

  21. gerberlover // March 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm // Reply

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

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

  24. I love my leatherman charge al.

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

  26. Survivorman wanna be // March 5, 2009 at 4:01 pm // Reply

    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. 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 // March 3, 2009 at 11:57 am // Reply

    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. I have Buck Prince and it is nice

  30. life long camper // March 1, 2009 at 8:08 pm // Reply

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

    • 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. I perfer the GERBER brand the most.

  33. If you want an awesome knife get a SOG!

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

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

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

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

  42. legonerfkid22 // January 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm // Reply

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

  46. I like knifes!!!!!!!!

  47. 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. 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 // January 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm // Reply

    i had a swiss army knife but i lost it 😦

  50. 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.

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