A pocket knife is an essential found in every tramper’s backpack. Whether you choose a blade-only or multi-tool device depends on the uses you will put it to.
Handles are designed to naturally fit your hand for a comfortable grip. When using a knife or other implement, the tools not in use should not protrude into the hand. Some handles also offer a textured surface for non-slip grip.
It’s common for the main blade to be accessed with one-hand – just use your thumb to slide it out of the handle. Smaller Swiss Army-style pocket knives usually require two hands.
Most folding blades, especially those that can be opened one-handed, will lock into position so they can’t accidentally fold onto your fingers during use. It’s also common for other tools to lock into place.
Cared for properly, a knife can last a lifetime. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth (for more stubborn sticky substances use a mild mix of detergent and water or even mineral turps). Keep it dry and lubricated – if you use your knife to prepare food, use a cooking oil.
If your knife is exposed to saltwater, clean, dry and lubricate it as soon as possible.
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.
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 a tramping trip, choose a model with fewer functions to save on weight.
If it’s a multi-tool to complement your home toolbox or to enable field repairs of gear, then it’s a case of the more the merrier.
Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit MXBS Black $299.99
Housing 24 fully lockable functions that are accessible from the outside as well as a practical one-handed opening of the large blade and belt cutter. Used by many armed forces around the world. Burnished steel finish. 211g. www.ampro.co.nz
Leatherman Wave+ from $289.99
Leatherman’s most popular multi-tool features 18 tools including 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. www.leatherman.co.nz
Leatherman Skeletool CX $249.99
Ultra-light, full-size multi-tool with seven functions including 154CM stainless steel blade, regular and needlenose pliers, wire cutters, large bit driver, pocket clip and carabiner/bottle opener. Made in the USA. 25-year warranty. 42g. www.leatherman.co.nz
Deejo Black 37gm Green Beech Wood $119.90
Stainless steel blade and solid wood handle, belt clip, liner lock secures the 9.5cm blade when open. 37g. www.bobo.co.nz
Victorinox Soldier $99.99
For over 100 years, Swiss soldiers have carried Victorinox pocket knives. The Soldier is the latest standard-issue Swiss Army Knife to many armed forces around the world. It has 10 functions including a large one-handed opening blade with grippy two-component scales. 131g. www.ampro.co.nz
Ruike P801SB $79.95
Crafted almost exclusively of stainless steel, this simple yet elegant knife has a stonewashed metallic handle complemented by a quick-deploying 8.6cm locking blade. It features a belt clip and thumbstud. 120g. www.mountainadventure.co.nz
Victorinox Huntsman $79.99
The classic Victorinox Officer’s knife with 15 essential functions, from the makers of the Original Swiss Army Knife. Includes scissors, blades, wood saw, corkscrew, screwdrivers, wire stripper, toothpick, tweezers, parcel hook and bottle/can openers. 91mm closed length. 97g. www.ampro.co.nz