Camping, hiking, or just out and about, a pocket knife, penknife, swiss army knife, or multi-tools as they are frequently called, are undeniably a useful bit of kit. But are they still legal? And can kids still have them?
Pen Knives and the Law
I suspect that most of us had a pen knife when we were kids. But things have changed since then.
So the big question: Are pen knives legal? Are kids allowed pen knives?
Yes, and yes.
under 3 inches and no locking bladeThe UK law states that you can carry a knife under 3 inches if it has a folding blade without a locking mechanism, and can be carried by those under 18.
I can understand why they don’t allow a locking blade, but it’s unfortunate as a locking blade makes a penknife safer for your kids to use as you know the blade won’t fold up onto their fingers.
Pen Knives for Scouts
The Scouts policy on pen knives is that they should be looked after by an adult when at Scout HQ, and if travelling to camp, should be securely stowed in the middle of the scout’s backpack.
The pen knife should only be used when you need to use a pen knife, and should not be carried around by children ‘just in case’ they need it.
You can read more on the Scout Pen Knife policy here.
Pen Knives and Kids – Useful Tips
teach your kids to angle the blade away from themselvesRemember to teach your kids to angle the blade away from themselves when they are using a knife, and watch how they use the folding knife so that the blade doesn’t close on their fingers. (A good idea to teach first aid on cuts as well).
make sure the folding blade doesn’t close on their fingersGetting your kids a penknife with a saw means they can help cut sticks to an appropriate size for cooking over the fire. They can then use the knife to strip the bark from sticks, before using the sticks as tools to cook food over the campfire. (Click here to see how to do this by making campfire bread twists).
Recommended Pen Knives for Kids
Victorinox, a name you probably recognise in the world of penknives, makes entry-level, pocket tools suitable for children.
Here’s a table below of the two main contenders.
|My First Victorinox - Kid's Penknife||Victorinox Duke of Edinburgh Pocket Tool|
|Blade Size||58 mm|
|Multi Purpose Hook||Yes|
|Rounded Child Blade?||Yes||Yes|
|Units: Height, Length and Weight are in cm; Weight is in kg|
|Prices and review ratings last updated on November 28, 2015|
My First Victorinox penknife for kids
We recommend getting the one with the saw as this will get your kids into practice when sawing large twigs or small branches for the campfire and is a good option for younger children (say 6-8) that want to start learning how to do a few things with a penknife.
Victorinox Duke of Edinburgh Award pocket knife
This penknife has many tools that could prove useful on a DofE expedition but also features the rounded blade tip for additional safety.
It’s not much more expensive than the My First Victorinox and you do get more tools though you do use the little saw.
This is our recommended penknife that’s ideal for older children.
Where’s the Wenger Scout Junior Pen Knife?
Unfortunately, this is no longer available and I have seen the Scouts website recommending the D of E penknife shown above.