scout knives with saw

Scout Knives: The Best Under 4-in Camp Knife

Last updated on June 2nd, 2024 at 06:35 pm

Scout knives are the side carry of youthful adventurers. While they might not be the most robust of knifes, they are partners. Scout knives are a toolset that one carries and reaches for in any situation. They can be used to slice apples, fix boots, gut fish, or build traps. They are the generalist of blades that enhance the carrier’s ability to get things done, and the one tool of choice for any mountain man.

To define a criteria for scout knives, I am limiting the recommendations to folding knives with blades under 4-inches. Convenience is a factor, as well as tooling. For the most part, I favor the multitools.

Official BSA Scout Knives

The BSA scout knives are branded and sold on behalf of the organization as the official standard. Similar to Ford’s Crown Victoria police and taxi cars, these are now the standard for tooling. The tools provided in the folding package are:

  • 2-3/4-inch blade
  • A poking tool
  • A flathead screwdriver
  • A bottle opener or cap plier

More recently, Boy Scouts of America have moved to branding Buck Knives, which are high quality and American made. I love a good Buck and would consider something like this. I wouldn’t consider it a scout knife, however.

Swiss Army Knife Camper

The SAK Camper is the scout knife that I carry. The thin blade is long enough to handle any knife chore, and thin enough to slice a tomato.

  • A 2.5-inch knife blade
  • A second, smaller knife blade
  • A saw – and a fine one at that
  • Bottle cap prier
  • Can opener
  • Two sizes of flat head screw drivers
  • A cork screw
  • A leather awl
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers

This is every camp tool I’d need. Aside from the obvious things like blades and saws, the awl can be used to fix and stitch leather when needed, and the tip of the cork screw works great for undoing tight knots. The possibilities are limitless with the tool set the camper provides in a conveniently sized package.

sak camper saw cutting through log
Cutting through logs for this SAK Camper Review

Barlow-styled Two Blade Knives

This was the type of knife carried by George Washington, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn. While there isn’t anything wrong with the knife design, I can’t recommend it. The knife is a two-blade skinner type of folding knife. There is some great stories and nostalgia behind this knife design, but as far as scout knives go, there are better options. I own a Buck 110 knife in similar design. It looks beautiful, is the sharpest knife I own, and has a place in my pocket from time to time.

Do Multi-Tools Make Good Scout Knives?

Yes and no. Full-sized multi-tools like the Leatherman Wave have great tooling, but are weighty and are over-tooled for scout work. Mini-multi tools like the NexTool Mini or Gerber Dime are too small for scout work due to short blades. However, they are something to consider and I’ve gone in-depth about the NexTool Mini in a different review.

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