Sturdy, reliable tools are important components of any camping kit and make great gifts for Scouts or Scouters. There are cheaper alternatives to some of my choices, but I have chosen tools that I think are a are great value for cost.
There is not one absolute best pocketknife for every Scout in every situation, but any one of the three Victorinox Swiss Army Knives below are an excellent choice.
A decent knife will last a lifetime but parents are tempted to buy cheap pocketknives because Scouts may lose a knife or two along the way. Cheaper knives don’t stay sharp, have loose joints, and I have seen them break or fold up and injure Scouts accidentally with normal use. A sharp knife is actually safer than a dull knife. Victorinox produces quality knives at a reasonable cost and guarantees them for life, a bit more expensive than cheaper alternatives, but well worth the additional cost.
A bright red knife is less likely to be lost, especially if it is attached to a lanyard or chain. Lanyards are great fun to make, and a cheap way to protect your investment in a quality knife.
|Hunstman at Amazon||Hiker at Amazon||Recruit at Amazon|
Here’s a quick guide for using some of the tools on the knives I have chosen;
Best All-Around Pocket Knife for Whittlers
You’ll get change from a twenty dollar bill if you buy a Schrade two-blade jackknife, a great choice for whittling (see my post on other whittling resources here)
Schrade Middleman Jack 2 Blade on Amazon
Knife Chain and Lanyard
Keeping track of a pocketknife isn’t always easy, but a chain or lanyard certainly helps.
A folding pruning saw like the 10″ Corona RS 7265 will cut a large stack of firewood faster, and packs smaller than a bow saw. Japanese pattern teeth like those on the Corona cut aggressively and quickly on the pull rather than the push stroke like western saws. Cutting on the pull stroke may take a little getting used to but I have found it requires less effort, lends more control and is faster. The 10″ blade cuts logs up to 4-6″ around with ease.
Corona Folding Pruning Saw on Amazon
A good quality new hatchet will cost more than lower quality tools, but they are worth the investment. Many highly touted hatchets and axes on the market are upwards of seventy to a hundred dollars, and I suppose they are probably worth the cost but they seem over-priced to me; these excellent tools that will do the same work for less than $40.00.
Estwing makes two great camping hatchets; the 16″ camper’s axe ( and the 14″ sportsman’s hatchet. Both come with handsome leather sheaths, and either will last a lifetime. The larger camper’s axe is better suited to heavier work. Each is available for $35-40.00.
Fiskars’ 14″ hatchet is a sturdy tool that get’s great reviews. At around $25-30.00 it’s a great choice for Scouts, and includes a plastic sheath with a carrying handle.
Fiskars X7 14 Inch Hatchet on Amazon
|Fiskars Splitting Axe (17 1/2″)||Estwing Fireside Friend, (14″)||Collins Kindling Splitter (18″)|
|At Amazon||At Amazon||At Amazon|
A dedicated splitting tool is a useful camp tool for processing large amounts of firewood.
A small shovel comes in handy when maintaining trails or doing similar work, but Scouts should not be digging new fire pits, or otherwise disturbing the soil in campsites. I have used small shovels like the Gerber to empty existing fire pits and load the lid of my dutch oven with coals.
Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel on Amazon
A whisk broom comes in handy for sweeping off picnic tables, tent floors, and clearing ashes off of dutch oven lids. A coal shovel doubles as a dustpan and handling hot coals for dutch-oven cooking. A fire poker comes in handy too!
Edge Tool Maintainence
Sharp tools get the job done better, and they are safer. Your kit should include a sharpening stone, honing oil and I highly recommend the Lansky Blade Medic for quick touch-ups.
Be sure to check out my infographic on caring for hatchets and axes.
Honing oil is used to lubricate and protect oil sharpening stones, carry away the debris (swarf) created when sharpening. Honing oil is easy to make yourself, and a lot less expensive. One part mineral oil to one part mineral spirits makes a great honing oil. Mineral oil is available at most pharmacies, and mineral spirits is found in hardware and paint stores.
Lansky Dual-Grit Tool Sharpener (Oil Stone)
The round shape of this coarse and fine grit carborundum stone is particularly well suited to sharpening axes and hatchets but is also fine for pocket knives.
Lansky Dual Grit Sharpener at Amazon
Lansky Blade Medic
The blade medic features two ‘crock stick’ sharpening tools, one in ceramic, one in carbide. They are two pieces of material configured in a ‘v’ shape that forms the proper cutting angle on just about any knife. In addition to these there’s a cone-shaped diamond rod and a profiled strip of ceramic for serrated blades. In the video I sharpen three different blades, a pocketknife, a serrated multi-tool blade and a sheath or kitchen knife blade.
Lansky recommends using the carbide tool sparingly and I concur. If you have a very dull blade the carbide tool will shape a good edge, then you’ll want to refine it with the ceramic tool. Nine times out of ten a well-maintained edge will only need a few passes over the ceramic tool to keep it sharp. I’d think anyone willing to spend a little time practicing will be able to sharpen just about every knife blade they own with the Lansky Blade Medic. It’s not just another gimmicky gadget, it’s a serious tool. It’s perfect for Scouts – simple, effective and quick with a much shorter learning curve than the traditional sharpening stone.
Available at Amazon
File and File Card
Sharpening axes and hatchets sometimes calls for a file to shape the edge and remove nicks or dings. An eight-inch mill bastard file and a file cleaning “card” or brush are great additions to your tool kit. The metal teeth of the file card remove the metal debris (swarf) removed from the blade that sometimes fills the grooves of the file.
File Card & Brush at Amazon
8-Inch Mill Bastard File at Amazon
Tool Bucket Camp Stool
A five gallon bucket with is simple, inexpensive, way to keep track of your camping tools, maintenance supplies and other things in your camp kit. The bucket is a tool in itself, handy for carrying water, dousing fires, washing dishes, and other camp chores. It provides waterproof storage for your tools, and makes a comfortable camp stool (tools up to 14″ long will fit into most buckets).
Lightweight Plastic Bucket Seat on Amazon
5-Gallon Pail on Amazon