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?
The answers: yes, and yes.
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.
Children can carry knives under 3 inches with no locking blade
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
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).
teach your kids to angle the blade away from themselves
Getting 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).
make sure the folding blade doesn’t close on their fingers
You may want to take up whittling with your child. Click here for a guide on how to do whittling and the correct way to use a knife safely.
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.
- Rounded Blade
- Bottle Opener
- Can Opening
- Key Ring
- 5mm Screwdriver
- Wood saw
My First Victorinox penknife for kids
The entry level pen knives from Victorinox 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 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.
We recommend getting the one with the saw
The My First Victorinox comes in three colours: red, blue, and pink. Click to view them on Amazon.
Victorinox Duke of Edinburgh Award pocket knife
The DofE Award scheme teamed up with Victorinox to create the official DofE Pocket tool.
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 get more tools, though it doesn’t have the little saw.
This is our recommended penknife that’s ideal for older children. Click here to find on Amazon.
Where’s the Wenger Scout Junior Pen Knife?
Wenger used to have an entry level knife designed for the Scouts that also had a rounded blade.
Unfortunately, this is no longer available and I have seen the Scouts website recommending the D of E penknife shown above.
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