Pocket Knives for Kids

Pocket Knives for Kids and Multi Tools

“Best pocket knives for kids” might be the scariest title I’ve ever written. Who would give a knife to a kid? 

But from an early age, my kids were begging for tools like their dad had. They wanted to dig, saw, cut, and I didn’t want them playing with a knife they weren’t ready for. Luckily, there are plenty of options for every age.

Pocket knives make great gifts. They are a perfect opportunity to teach outdoor skills and responsibilities to kids.  

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pocket knives for kids

Pocket Knife Safety

First off, why would you even give a kid a knife? It’s pretty dangerous, right?

Of course it’s dangerous, which is why we wanted to teach our kids to use them safely. This meant growing their skills based on their age and making sure they were supervised.

But as our kids get older, we have also found that screentime makes it hard to compete with outdoor time. Going to a playground just isn’t as fun as it used to be (much to this mama’s heartbreak!)

But no matter the age, what kids are really craving when they playoutside (or any time) is competence and mastery. Once they’ve mastered the slide, or the two-wheeler, it’s important for them to find new challenges. Pocket knives offer that little bit of danger to overcome, while giving children a chance to master a new skill. My kids have loved being able to contribute at the campsite, whether making s’mores sticks or chopping food up. Carving also gives them a chance to exercise some creativity.

When to start using pocket knives

There is no set age that kids are ready for knives. We introduced our kids to knives when they were young, with the following rules:

  • They had to always be with an adult
  • They had to keep blade folded when not in use
  • They had to tell me right away about any cuts

The last one was because I didn’t want them hiding any nicks or cuts out of fear they’d get in trouble. Yes, they did cut their fingers, but far less than I would have expected.  A soft touch and reassurance they weren’t in trouble helped build safety and trust. 

If you’re wondering if your kid is ready for knives, ask yourself:

  • Do they have good motor control and hand strength? 
  • How do they handle scissors? 
  • Do they cut their own food?
  • Are they able and willing to follow basic safety rules?

Even if your kid isn’t ready for a pocket knife, this guide features bladeless tools in addition to pocket knives. These are a great option for kids who want to play or use other features but aren’t ready for knives, supervised or not. 

A girl in a pink coat holds a small pocket tool with scissors and a wire stripper but no knife.
The Victorinox Jetsetter is a perfect bladeless tool for little ones.

How to Start Using a Pocket Knife for Kids

My oldest boys first project was a pretty simple one, and one that will be familiar to most campers – a s’mores stick. Sure, you can use metal roasting stick. But there is an additional satisfaction when you’ve you’re roasting a marshmallow on a hand whittled stick. Plus, it’s hard to go wrong. Even if you take off too much, make your stick too sharp or too dull, it will get the job done.

After the s’mores stick, my kids moved onto a hiking stick. Sure, you don’t need to remove all the bark from a hiking stick. But it’s a forgiving way to start fine-tuning skills. It’s also a long project, which will keep them busy for a few hours, at least.

After your kid has mastere the s’mores stick and the hiking stick, check out this Beginning Carving Unit from Wild Learning. It’s full of fun and easy ideas for new carvers to master, including a fire-starter stick and an adorable gnome. It also covers beginning safety.

If your kid decides to get more into whittling, you can check out these books: Crafting with the Pocket Knife: A Practical Companion and Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Whittling Book, Gift Edition: Fun, Easy-to-Make Projects with Your Swiss Army Knife.

Whittling

Whittling is it’s own art which requires tools slightly different than a basic pocket knife. If your kid is primarily interested in carving, there are many beginning carving kits. Check out this beginners bird carving kit, or this wizard carving kit.

Best Kids Multi Tool Without Blade

If your kid isn’t quite ready for a blade, there are still plenty of options for them to start learning how to use tools safety. We love some of these bladeless options for youngsters.

Victorniox Swiss Army Jetsetter

A red swiss army knife with screwdriver and bottle opener and scissors.

If your kid wants a knife, but isn’t ready for the responsibility, the Jetsetter knife is perfect. Designed to meet TSA requirements, this bladeless tool also works for young kids. The scissors might be my most used tool on my swiss army knife anyway. 

Best feature for kids:

This knife has the classic look, without the blade.

But be aware…

This paired down version doesn’t have many uses. When they were little, my kids loved digging with the file on my Swiss Army Knife. I wish the Jetsetter had included that tool as well. 

Features: bottle opener, magnetic Phillips screwdriver, wire stripper, scissors, key ring, toothpick, tweezers

Kiliminjaro Multitool

A green and silver multitool with scissors, file, flat screwdriver, and pliers.

The Kiliminjaro Ascent is another bladeless tool that gives kids the freedom to use tools without the fear of cuts. My fidgety kid loves folding and unfolding this slimmed down multitool. 

A boy holds up a pair of pliers in the Kiliminjaro Ascent bladeless tool.

Best feature for kids:

Without a blade, this is a great introduction to pocket tools. It has a few more tools than the Jetsetter. This version does have a file and pliers. 

But be aware:

Granted, kids didn’t have too many uses for the tools available. But it is a solid, handy tool that is also TSA compliant. 

Features: bottle opener, magnetic Phillips screwdriver, wire stripper, scissors, key ring, toothpick, tweezers, file, and pliers. 

J. J. Knife Kit

A boy puts together a wooden knife kit.

The J.J. Knife Kit is another option for kids who aren’t ready for knives and might want to pretend, or for kids who enjoy making things themselves. My kids loved putting it together, and want to try out other options.  The wooden knife comes together quickly (tip: you will need glue), and isn’t sharp.

Best feature for kids:

Kids will learn how to construct a tool, and can enjoy having a “toy” knife. The wooden knife is also a good way to teach kids knife safety before they are ready for a real blade.
Kids will learn how to construct a tool, and can enjoy having a “toy” knife. The wooden knife is also a good way to teach kids knife safety before they are ready for a real blade.

J.J.’s knife kits come in other varieties too, including a two blade option and a lock back option. These offer kids even more insight into the craftsmen ship between pocket knives.

But be aware

The knife itself isn’t really functional. The kit was simple for an 8 year old to put together, but younger children might need more assistance. 

Features: Blade, but unable to cut. 

Bonus: Toy Swiss Army Knife

A plastic toy swiss army knife with a fork, spoon, saw, knifee and bottle opener.

While we’ve never tried it, this toy swiss army knife is a cute option for kids who are too young for any real tools. 

Best Pocket Knives for Kids and Multi Tools with a Blade

Once your kids are ready for a real knife, these options have some safety features or are easier for new learners to navigate. Of course, it is still best to have parental supervision. These are not safety knives, and can still cause serious injuries.

Classic Swiss Army Knife

Red swiss army knife with a rounded blade, saw, file, and screwdriver.

The Victorinox Junior  was one of my kids’ first knives. When it comes to a classic knife, it’s hard to beat the red Victorinox.  It was sharper than I expected, and we took it away for a year or two. Now that they’re older, it’s a perfect knife for them

Best feature for kids:

The tip is rounded, which helps prevent deep puncture wounds. 

But be aware:

This isn’t a toy knife. The saw and blade are very sharp. Of course, sharp knives are safer (dull ones cause you to use too much force, creating unstable movements). But be aware that kids need to be at an age they can handle sharp tools. 

Features: key ring, toothpick, tweezers, large blade with rounded tip, nail file, nail cleaner, Phillips screwdriver, wood saw

Opinel My First Knife

A boy holds a folded green knife in his hands.

The Opinel My First Knife is an affordable and simple favorite of Tales of Mountain Mama team members. Like the Victorinox, it features a rounded blade. This version also has a whistle and comes in exciting colors. 

Best features for kids:

The knife is easy to fold, and the locking mechanism is simple to operate (you simply turn the metal ring in the middle). It can also be locked while folded. 

But be aware:

It has minimal functions, which makes it easy to use for carving. But if a kid is looking for a true “pocket knife,” this might not be what they had in mind. 

Features: Blade

Hikenture Camping Utensils

A spoon, fork and knife/bottle opener in a green case.

A hobo knife is another option for kids who aren’t quite ready for their own pocket knife. I have yet to find one that has a butter knife rather than a sharp blade (let me know in the comments if you do!) But because the hobo knife comes apart, I could just hand my four-year-old the parts they’ll use. 

Best feature for kids:

Our kids love folding and unfolding these. Unlike tools that feature phillips screwdrivers and wirestrippers, a hobo knife only has tools they’ll actually use. 

But be aware

While this can be an option for kids who aren’t ready for knives, the blade is still sharp. While the fact that it comes apart makes eating dinner easier, it also means pieces can get lost. 

Features: fork, spoon, bottle opener, knife.

Stainless Climbing Carabiner

A blue caribiner with a sharp knfie.

This stainless climbing carabiner isn’t my favorite knife (it lacks most of the safety features of the others, although it does have a locking mechanism. But it is probably my kids’ favorite knife. 

Best feature for kids:

If your kid has lots of experience with knives, and are ready for this kind of blade, they might enjoy the design of the carabiner knife. 

But be aware

The blade isn’t rounded, which carries an additional safety risk. The LED light also never worked, but my kid didn’t seem to mind. 

Features: LED light, and a hanging carabiner, a Phillips screwdriver, a slotted screwdriver, a glass breaker, a bottle opener and a side lock plate.

Opportunity for New Skills

If your kid is interested in their own pocket tool, there is a wide variety of appropriate options for them, no matter their age and skill level. While it might seem a big scary to hand your kid a tool (especially a sharp one!), giving them the opportunity to develop a new skill can help them retain their love for the outdoors as they grow.

If you have any favorite tools for kids, please let us know!

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Pocket Knives for Kids and Multi Tools

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  • Jackie is a coffee-lover, writer and a mom of three young children living in Helena, MT. She thought that hiking might help tame her children’s wild spirits, and co-leads a Hike it Baby branch. All that hiking only made her crew wilder, but in a good way. Before kids she enjoyed reading, knitting and baking, but now she enjoys making it to bedtime.

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