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Camping, hiking, or just out and about, a pocket knife, pen knife, swiss army knife, or multi-tools as they are often called, are undeniably a useful bit of kit. But are they still legal? And can kids still have them?

Pen Knives and Multi Tools

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 blade
The 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 actually unfortunate as a locking blade actually 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.

Essentially 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

Remember 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).

If you got them a pen knife with a saw, then they could help cut sticks to an appropriate size for cooking over the fire, and use the knife to strip the bark from sticks to cooking with.

You may want to take up whittling with your child (see this guide to whittling and knife skills for more info).

Recommended Pen Knives for Kids

The two leading pen knife manufacturers, Victorinox and Wenger, both produce child friendly pen knives, which all have a rounded blade to reduce the risk of injury.

My First Victorinox penknife for kids

The entry level pen knives from Victorniox are the My First Victorinox models, with one model having a saw.  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.

Victorinox Duke of Edinburgh Award pocket knife

Victorinox however have a slightly more featured knife in the Duke of Edinburgh Award model.  This also features a rounded blade, and is our recommended pocket knife for (older) children as for only a fraction more money you get a lot more tools, though you do loose the very useful saw.

Wenger Scout Junior Pen Knife

Wenger also have entry knives but they tend not to be as well reviewed and recommended as Victorinox.  However, the junior edition they have created for the Scouts easily compete with the D of E Victorinox.

If you are worried about carrying a knife then you might want to consider the credit card sized toolset from Victorinox.

Gav Grayston
Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) ....but unfortunately spends too much time behind a computer keyboard than he would like! Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.
Gav Grayston


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Gav Grayston
Gav Grayston