Image of the February 2021 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
February 2021 Issue
Home / Articles / Gear Guides

2021’s guide to knives and multitools

A knife is a versatile tool that should be carried in every pack. It can be used to prepare meals, fix equipment and even cut wood for an emergency fire.

With an ergonomic design to naturally fit your hand for a comfortable grip. When using a knife or multi-tool with other tools, the tools not in use should not protrude into the hand. Some handles also offer a textured surface for non-slip grip.

Blade access
On multitools and some pocket knives, it’s common for the main blade to be accessed with one-hand – just use your thumb to slide it out of the handle.

Locking mechanisms
Most folding blades, especially those that can be opened one-handed, will lock into position so they can’t accidentally fold onto your fingers when pressure is applied in the wrong direction.

Serrated versus plain blades
Straight-edged blades provide accurate and clean cuts – perfect for slicing anything from rope to cheese. Serrated blades are for more vigorous cutting and for tackling tougher materials, sometimes even wood. A single blade that combines a plain and serrated edge provides the best of both worlds.

Cared for properly, your chosen knife can last a lifetime. Keep it clean – use a damp cloth (for more stubborn sticky substances use a mild mix of detergent and water or even mineral turps). Keep it dry – especially after cleaning. Keep it lubricated – if you use your knife to prepare food, use a cooking oil.  If your knife is exposed to salt water, clean, dry and lubricate it as soon as possible.

Blade sharpening
Use a whetstone, rod or specific sharpening kit. Serrated blades should only be sharpened on the edged side and a specific tool may be required to maintain the curvature of the serrations. 

If you’re buying for your tramping trips, choose a model that has fewer functions. If you want a multi-tool to complement your toolbox, then it’s a case of the more the merrier.


Leatherman P2 $279.99
Magnetic architecture and with 19 tools including 420HC combo knife, spring-action scissors, wood/metal file, extra small, small, medium and Phillips screwdriver. All tools accessible with one hand from outside the tool. Made in USA, 25-year warranty. 215g.


Victorinox Swiss Champ $184.99
With 33 functions including pliers, blades, openers, a variety of screwdrivers, hooks, chisel, files, saws, rulers and a pin. 185g.


Leatherman Wave+ from $269.99
Includes 18 tools featuring replaceable wire cutters, 420HC knife, 420HC serrated knife, saw, diamond-coated file, small and large bit driver. All locking blades and tools. Made in the USA, 25-year warranty. 241g.


Gerber Suspension NXT $79.99
Slim design, 15 functions, all locking tools accessible, spring-loaded needle-nose pliers, pocket clip, 190g.


Victorinox Climber $69.99
The classic Victorinox Officer’s knife with 14 functions. Includes scissors, blades, corkscrew, screwdrivers, wire stripper, toothpick, tweezers, parcel hook and bottle/can openers. 82g.


Opinel 8VRN Carbon $26.99
French-made knife with easy-to-sharpen high-quality carbon steel cutting edge, beechwood handle, blade locking mechanism.45g.