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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, swissarmy.com). 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.

KNIFE BASICS

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, leatherman.com). 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.

FOLDING OR FIXED KNIFE? KNOW THE POLICY

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.”

BLADES

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, gerbergear.com), 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.

PRICE AND QUALITY

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.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE

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, sogknives.com) 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.

CARRY IT SAFELY

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.

TREAT YOUR KNIFE WITH RESPECT

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
LAMINATE MID-FOLDING HUNTER KNIFE
($152, caseknives.com) 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.

159 Comments on How to Buy a Good Pocketknife or Multitool

  1. Victorinox knives are the best I’ve ever used Gerber makes good ones too, but a $20
    Victorinox will last you years.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // February 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm // Reply

      No I would not take these swiss knives most do not lock and that is a big hazard! I looked it up and the ones that do lock cost a ton! Gerber is a good company though

  2. how do i remove rust from a knife?

  3. anybody who wants a good knife should check out the gerber assisted opening blade sold at most wal marts

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // January 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm // Reply

      No, a Buck QuickFire would be a better choice. Gerber is a good company but their assisted knifes are made in china. While Buck’s are made in Post Falls, Idaho!

  4. I had an LMF 2 while in deployment and a Tactical Assault Paratrooper Knife (TAP-K) auto knife. but they only let me keep the LMF the TAP-K is illegal and ONLY available for the military which stinks because that was a good knife. oh well at least I now have a Buck quick fire assisted opening knife. Its not nearly as good or fast but is still a great USA made knife! take it from a Paratrooper… its a good knife!

  5. I got a Buck QuickFire assisted opening knife and it ROCKS!!

  6. @slyfox I’ve noticed the oldest scouts realize they can do with less when they can pack all they need in a small space and end up packing lighter

  7. I’ve noticed one thing more than anything about scouts with knives, the older the scout the smaller the knife. Every new scout wants the 20 function knife until it comes time to carry it on a backpack outing. That’s when the desire for a small one blade knife comes in handy. Weight and size become an important factor then. Personally, I use a single blade knife by PECK. Its titanium with a steel edge, weighs almost nothing, clips to a pocket if desired and only costs about $22.00 at Gander Mountain. I do own other knives; my other main knife is a Swiss Army altimeter that I use for elevation and temperature monitoring on outings. Its sissor is the most useful blade of the three offered. Again it comes down to preference.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // January 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm // Reply

      not true with our scout troop!When I go camping/hiking I carry a Gerber LMF 2 fixed blade and a Gerber Bear Grylls parang machete for chopping limbs and to use as a hatchet.

      • Off trail monkey // January 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm //

        Fixed blades and machettes are not allowed in scouting according to the guide to safe scouting. Your Scoutmaster should stop that right away.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // January 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm //

        Look kid, it clearly says in the boy scout hand book that they are “not recommended” to does not say the are illegal. Different troops have different rules about fixed blade and machetes. Let me tell you brother if you lived where I lived you would be glad to carry a fixed blade and a machete. Where I live the weather, mountains, cliffs and forests fight fiercely and you need a good solid fixed blade to fight back with. YOU try climbing a almost vertical cliff with buck brush everywhere with out a machete! Thank you for being concerned but us Idaho boys know what were doing.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // January 23, 2012 at 10:32 am //

        My scoutmaster has nothing to stop. non of the guys(or me) have ever cut them selves or misused their fixed blades of machetes . secondly, it says in MY scout book that they are “not recommend” it does not say they are “not allowed” I live deep in the Idaho Mountains and you need a good solid fixed blade to get the job done.

  8. If you want to buy a knife I could help u choose a good one please say how much u want to spend and what kind of a knife u want small med large fixed blade, classic lock back, trapper Swiss army, Multi tool, etc

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm // Reply

      OK this is a test. Lets say I want a 4 to 4 and 1/2 inch fixed blade what would YOU recommend?

  9. i think carbon blades are better then stainless steel becuase they sharpen a hole lot better

    • Do thay stay sharp

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm // Reply

      Carbon is good for sharpablity, but it stinks in edge retention! If you want a REAL GOOD steel that is as easy to sharpen as carbon but as hard as ceramic then CMP S30V steel is the steel for you! Buck Knifes makes them for Cabelas. they are called the Alaskan Guide Sires of knifes.

  10. my sister wants a pocketknife but i dont know what kind of knife to get her any suggestions?

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm // Reply

      @ireadalot. Ok let me think. Hmmmmmmmmmm… Oh! a Buck 55 hunter would be perfect! Or a Gerber Bear Grylls mini-scout. The Buck 55 is $30 on Amazon.com And the Mini scout is $12 on Amazon.com. hope these suggestions help! By the way, I like your name!

    • There is two brands I buy; Swiss Army Wenger and Leatherman. Both Swiss Army company give you quality knife but I like the design of the tools and blade of the Wenger over the Victorinox. Beside US made, Leatherman are very solid and durable. I recently got the Skelatool for $30 at Fry’s Electronic. Another model that I have and like is the Blast. It’s a midsize tool with knife, saw, scissor, file, pliers and other tools.

      To me quality and material is very important because they determine the life of the tool. Knife made in China just does not seem to hold up.

    • The victorinox tinker or recruit are good choices also a buck lockback is good

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm // Reply

      A Buck 55 or a Bear Grylls Gerber mini-scout or a Gerber Mini-Paraframe

    • I have 3 knives 2 of them are Gerber Gerber is my faverite brand

    • If you’re sister’s under 13, I recommend some sort of small multi-tool knife, possibly, if you can find it, Sheffield brand. If you’re sister’s like, over 13, maybe a larger knife, but not uncomfortably large. Also, ask her if she wants it fixed blade if she’s over 13. Those are my favorite kind. 😀

    • shotgun scout // November 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm // Reply

      I say a claus double blade 5$ at OSH

  11. The gerber bear grylls are great knives they have serrated edges and rarely go dull. You can choose from a fiked 4.9″ blade or shorter folding blades the folding blades come w/ either a belt clip or military grade nylon sheath, both are the same size and are great knives. The only down side is they are a bit bulky.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 8, 2011 at 12:12 am // Reply

      I have the Ultimate knife, folding scout, parang, ultimate multi-tool and my brother has the mini-scout and the mini-multi tool. I think they could do a bit better job on the fixed blade. It still works but I lost the fire steel, the whistle and the sheath broke a little. I replaced it with a USA Gerber LMF II. Just take good care of your Ultimate knife and it will do fine(dont beat it up like I did!) great products! just wish they where made in the US. I totally agree with you me185!

      • I’ve got the Scout and its perfect for my uses but tenderfoots always complain about why you need to clean a knife after using it!

  12. i have a buck bantam for 20$it is so awesome! buck is the best

  13. were can i get a good knife

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm // Reply

      cabelas, sportsman’s warehouse, Bass pro, Amazon.com. I would get a Gerber LMF II or a Ka-bar Becker Champion. I would not recommend Ka-Bar fighting knifes Ka-bar is a super good company but their fighting knifes are meant for Marines not Boy scouts.

  14. were can I find a good fixed blade knife

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm // Reply

      I suggest a Gerber LMF 2. $65 Amazon.com. Or a Ka-bar Becker BK2 $50 at Amazon.com is a nice light weight knife. I would not recommend a Ka-bar USA fighting knife. They are SUPER good knifes BUT they are meant for fighting more then utility. oh and irock the comment right below me, the Gerber suspension is $25 on Amazon.com. Really good and has a dependable locking system.

  15. i wonder what the best knife brand is i am looking for a good multitool i am looking for one that is under $50.00

    • Gerber Suspention is 40$ at walmart.I have one it is AWSOME!!!!!!!!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm // Reply

      I would have to go with Ben the Gerber suspension is only 25 bucks on amazon.com I have the BG(Bear Grylls) version of it and it is a good quality tool I would get one!

  16. What is the best Buck knife?

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm // Reply

      All Buck knifes are good!Some of their best and most loved knifes are The 110 Hunter,55 hunter,vanguard and the infamous 119 spacial! Hope this helps!

  17. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 18, 2011 at 12:31 am // Reply

    I am getting a new Buck QuickFire assisted opening knife. Buck has the best quality control or their knives. My dad got a Buck Vanguard skinning knife and that thing wont get dull!! We gutted and skinned two deer and it has come no where near losing it’s edge!Buck is the best U.S.A. made company!

  18. the Gerber Suspention is AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 18, 2011 at 12:38 am // Reply

      Hey Ben! I have the Bear Grylls version of the Gerber Suspension. It ROCKS!!!! I carry it every day! It is SO handy!

  19. Can weblose take knives on campouts

  20. Speedarcher26 // November 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm // Reply

    Get Kershaw knives. I have one and it is the best knife I have ever used, they also come with lifetime sharpening. Also, Leatherman knives are really nice and have a lifetime warranty on them. I have them both and I absolutely love them. The Buck knives are really sharp and durable, they also fit really nice into your hand. I have at least one of each of them. They are amazing, each with their own benefits and limitations.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm // Reply

      You are right… Kershaw,Leatherman, and Buck are all top-of-the line knife companies. Gerber is another good one.I am thinking about getting a Buck Quickfire assisted opening knife to replace my old Buck redpoint 750.

  21. i have 3 knives

  22. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 27, 2011 at 10:43 am // Reply

    I don’t think the official boy scout and cub scout knifes are good… not only are they made in CHINA but the blades don’t lock! and I know from experience that non locking blades are junk. sorry BSA but its the truth.

  23. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm // Reply

    The Gerber USA made LMF II is heavy but is tough as nails and will get you out of a jam every time. Weather you are stranded in a mountain range or lost in the amazon it will always get you out with out a scratch! It is my hunting,survival,camping and hiking knife. always ready at my side.

  24. swiss army master // October 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm // Reply

    I have a swiss army huntsman. multitool swiss army RULES. you can even get a multitool with a lockable blade. check victorinox.com if you do search swisschamp. its AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm // Reply

      I like the GERBER Bear Grylls ultimate multi tool better. it has rubber non-slip grips,spring loaded pliers and the fine and serrated blades lock into position.

    • yes you can go to leatherman’s website almost all their stuff locks.

  25. I have over 15 knives

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 11, 2011 at 9:00 am // Reply

      Really how many fixed blades?

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 27, 2011 at 10:39 am // Reply

      I have 16 knifes…5 folding knifes,2 multi-tools,1 swiss army knife,1 mini swiss army knife,1 Defender throwing knife,5 fixed blades, and 1 machete. my favorite fixed blade is the Gerber LMF 2.

  26. does anyone have a good pocket knife if so what kind is it

  27. Ninja star scout // October 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm // Reply

    I think the boy scout knifes are the best. You can find them for 20 bucks at your local scout shop.

  28. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm // Reply

    knife guy, how many knifes do you own?

  29. 1 4m 4w30m3 // October 1, 2011 at 7:32 am // Reply

    iThink every Scout should have the official Scout Knife,like iHave.

  30. I also got a really nice foldable knife at a flea market! Hasn’t broken yet, just needed a little tightening because of a friend flipping it open.

  31. Leatherman Blast, all around, fairly light, useful tools, rugged.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm // Reply

      Yeah Leathermans have defiantly earned their place in the knife world. However I much rather have a GERBER bear grylls ultimate multi-tool.

  32. I have a Buck 412 lockback knife, a Victorinox Huntsman multipurpose knife, an L.L. Bean multi-tool, and a Swiss Army knife.

  33. IM A EAGLE SCOUT
    lol

  34. Hey,anyone have a Gerber LMF II? Everyone else says it’s really good.If you have used it or have it give me your opinion! Thanks all!

  35. Are half jagged half fine blades okay?

  36. i have two pocket knifes and i really like yours how would you buy one if your only 11 the ones i like are the Swiss army knifes do you have any of those cas i cant tell

  37. All you need is a good knife made in the USA . buck knifes kershaw gerber MADE IN CHINA. Benchmade KA BAR made in America. Save your money get a good knife made in USA

  38. Gerber mini-Scout rocks! it is small and light, but big enough
    for heavy-duty.

    • The compact scout is just a little small for me. No offense to the knife it self but it is just a little small. But it is a great back up knife if you ever lose your main knife. I have the Bear Grylls Gerber Scout and it works pretty good. The Bear Grylls folding sheath knife is heavy duty but folds down. Another great knife is the Buck Red Point 750 folding knife.

  39. the best knife you will ever have is a case brand medium folder

    • That is REALLY debatable! There are tons of great knifes out there to buy. But if the CASE works best for you then congratulations! You have found your dream knife! Your “dream knife” is the perfect knife for your needs. Different people have different needs, once they find the perfect knife for their needs they have found their “dream knife!”

  40. i would really love a microtech knife but they are way too expensive

  41. what type of buck knife should i buy

  42. where do i find pocketknifes to buy ?

    • i want a really nice, decent single blade pocket knife. any places u know where i can find 1

    • asm_mrpowell // August 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm // Reply

      I would look for a pocket knife from any quality sporting goods store. I ask to see it before I would buy it. Make sure you buy the right knife for your needs. Also make sure it is the right size for you. If the knife is to large for you, you could have troble controling it. That could make it dangrous for you or people around you.

    • were do i fide a good knife

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm // Reply

      Anywhere.

  43. Boyscout guy // July 1, 2011 at 8:30 am // Reply

    Where can I find the 3″ multiple tool knife

  44. hippiescout151 // June 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm // Reply

    you guys seen the new bear grylls [BG] collection from gerber?

    • Yeah I just got the scout and its epic!

      • I agree. I have the Scout,Parang and Ultimate knife. All are really cool. But my favorite is the Parang! I find that there are just a few flaws with the Ultimate knife.Still a great knife!

  45. hippiescout151 // June 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm // Reply

    what is better?
    -a single blade lockback
    OR
    -a swiss-army type multi-tool?

    Im stuck i have one of each but dont know which one to take on a campout
    plz help

    • A single-blade lockback is great they can do many things,they are small,light,and are easy to carry in your pocket.Swiss army knives are good if you spend a lot of times in the out doors,but are bulky when worn casually like in the city. It is up to you for what you want to buy so choose wisely.

      • A “swiss army” style knife is very handy for opening a can and tightening a screw, and the “spear point” blade is good for poking plastic wrappers(mind that the blade doesn’t close and cut you) however it is not as easy to clean, harder to open, and the blade is thinner(good and bad) a “single blade lock back” knife is a simple and dependable knife that is easy to open(not so much to close, but is sturdier and safer) it has a thicker blade(durable) and

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm //

        swiss army knifes do not have spear points.A spear point is a double edged blade meant mostly for spears and throwing knifes.

    • a swiss army type multi tool is what i would chose

    • the blah man // July 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm // Reply

      why not both?

    • take the multi tool knife

    • Get a bear grylls Ultimate multi-tool and you’ll be in like flinn! that thing has every thing in a Swiss Army knife but the blades lock When you open them. Much more safe!! Plus Bear is figure head to 2 million scouts world wide and chef scout in the UK! So you can trust his products!

      • Not completely true. My swiss army has everything except the pliers of the BG Ultimate, and the blade DOES lock open.

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 23, 2011 at 11:43 am //

        @ Some,body. swiss army tools that lock are VERY expensive(up to $240)! Plus most typical swiss army knifes do not lock. The BG also has an advanced locking system that most other multi-tools don’t have. THANK YOU for commenting though!! SO many people will make a comment and for so reason never come back to BL! Thank you so much for commenting!

  46. WHERE CAN I FIND A LEATHERMAN FUSE MULTI-TOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Guy with a question // June 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm // Reply

    Hey I’m looking at you add in boys life magazine, “Gear Guy’s 8 great picks” and I wanted to know which knife do you think is the best out of the 8 great picks? I also wanted to know if all of the tools on the Geber Fit locked into place? The last thing I wanted to know was where could I purchase one of these knives?

  48. I have a buck knife u want it

  49. I have a Uncle Henry Schrade knife and a Case Sod Buster(complete opposites right?) an they are all i use. they are great because they hold an edge terrifically and have a thick blade. So they are in my opinion much better than a Swiss army knife, Swiss army knifes are better for whittling though.

  50. i want a bucknife

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