Pen Knives and Kids

May 24, 2017

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 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?

The answers: yes, and yes.

Children can carry knives under 3 inches with 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 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 themselves

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).

make sure the folding blade doesn’t close on their fingers

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).

Whittling Beginners Book

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.

My First
A great starter penknife designed for kids
  • Rounded Blade
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opening
  • Key Ring
  • 5mm Screwdriver
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Wirestripper
  • Wood saw
Duke of Edinburgh
Ideal for D of E Expeditions
  • Rounded Blade
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opening
  • Key Ring
  • 5mm Screwdriver
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Wirestripper
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Multi-purpose hook
  • Scissors

My First Victorinox penknife for kids

My First Victorinox Box

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

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.

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

DofE Victorinox penknife tools

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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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. The reason lock-knives are so restricted comes down two court cases from 1993 (Harris vs DPP and Fehmi vs DPP) and a Court of Appeal case (Regina vs Deegan), from 1998. The courts ruled that a lockable folding knife is ‘a bladed article’ meaning that a locking mechanism effectively turns a folding knife into a fixed-blade knife, which are all subject to good reason restrictions. If it had been just the one case, case law might be overturned by subsequent case law, but two cases and an appeal… this is cemented in statute and becomes very hard to repeal.

  2. Hi, I wondered if the ‘my first victorinox’ would be any good for whittling without the pointed blade? Thanks

    • I think it depends on the type of whittling you are doing with kids.
      If they are learning basic carving and shaping, by pushing the blade away from themselves, then the rounded knives are ideal and a great first step.  IMHO, where a sharp point is needed, it is probably best left to an adult, or an older child that has mastered and is competent with the basics and using a knife properly.

  3. Can left handers use these knives?

  4. Thanks so much for your website – fantastically helpful – and especially helpful comments about penknives for children – I have four great nephews and was wondering about what to give them.

    I checked out to see if the Wenger version might be available again and here it is:

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