Multi-tool vs Pocket Knife - Which One Should You Carry For Your Next Camping Trip?

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It is vital to carry the right gear on your camping expeditions. This does not mean that you should take every available thing, due to the limited space and the benefits of having less stuff to move around with. In most cases, you won’t have the luxury to carry many things, and you will need to decide between different types of gear. Two most common items that campers have to choose between is a multi-tool or a pocket knife.

While these might not necessarily make your camping gear bulky, it is vital to choose the right one since you will need it for various tasks during the entirety of your camping expedition. In this piece, we are going to review them and advise you on the best pick. Read on;


It is easy to distinguish between a pocket knife and a multitool physically. However, pocket knives have evolved over the years, and it is easy to find ones with additional features that make it a close call when you have to choose between the two.

However, the main difference between pocket knives and multi-tool is on the construction and the number of tools each has. They both have their upsides and downsides, and these are what determine the best one for you.

Pocket Knives

Parts of a Pocket Knife

The parts of a pocket knife vary from model to model. You will find some that are simple and only have the blade, handle, and lock. The complex ones have additional parts such as the thumb hole, finger coil, lanyard hole, and ricasso, among others.

The function of a pocket knife is straightforward, even with the additional features. It is designed to offer excellent balance when cutting and have a seamless lock mechanism that lets you withdraw the blade safely when you are not using it.

The major differences between the various types available in stores today are seen with the blade, as this is what defines a suitable one for your needs.

Types of Blades

The shape of a pocket knife’s blade goes a long way in defining how well it performs. The shapes are optimized to maximize certain features of a knife, such as the cutting power and piercing ability. Others have the best of both and strike a balance between piercing and cutting to offer a well-rounded experience for users. It all goes down to what you need.

However, all blade types can perform the basic tasks, but it takes an exceptional blade to do a special task. If you are looking to use the knife for a special task, it is advisable to consider the blade type that suits it better. Some of the typical blade types include;

Note that we are going to describe blades using their spine and edge forms, and it is essential to know what they are. The spine is the top part of a blade that is not sharp and only offers stability when cutting. The edge is the sharp part used for cutting. The point is where the spine and edge meet.

1. Simple Point Blade

This blade has an edge that curves up to meet at the spine and forms a point that is almost in line with the spine. In simple terms, the spine is straight, and the edge is curved. It is easy to sharpen because of the curved blade shape and is generally strong enough for various applications.

2. Trailing Point Blade

This blade has an edge that curves up and meets the spine at a position above the handle. It gives the blade a larger surface area than many types and is often used for cleaning fish and small game.

3. Clip Point Blade

It derives its name from its similarity to the simple point blade. The only difference is that it has a small clipped out section, which makes it finer than the simple point one. The top of a clip point blade is in line with the spine, and you will find it in many piercing knives.

4. Drop Point Blade

Here, the spine drops towards the edge to form the tip. The tip is midway, and this makes it one of the strongest blades out there. It is suitable for a wide variety of knife tasks, and it is the blade that defines the iconic Swiss army knife.

5. Spear Point Blade

These blades borrow their shape from that of a spear point. The design is only improved to make the tip narrower, thus making it excellent for piercing. The tip is aligned to the center axis of the knife to offer better precision when piercing.

6. Needle Point Blade

Just as the name suggests, these blades are narrow with a tip that is in line with the center axis for maximum piercing power. They compromise a lot of cutting ability.

7. Sheepsfoot Blade

This blade has a spine that drops down to meet the edge. The edge is completely straight and was originally made to trim sheep wool. The drop-down design is meant to avoid piercing sheep when they move accidentally.

8. Hawkbill Blade

This is a reverse trailing point blade. The handle and blade are all curved, and they are designed to make long straight cuts on things.

These are just some of the common types of blades, and you will find many more out there. Note that the design determines whether one is suitable for cutting or piercing with several ones, having the best of both.

Advantages of Pocket Knives

  • Small and easy to carry around
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to open and use

Disadvantages of Pocket Knives

  • Lacks additional tools
  • Limited functionality
  • You will have to compromise features if you want a specialized knife


These tools try to consolidate as many tools as possible into one. They were designed to replace the necessity of carrying many tools for your outdoor activities. They come in handy for a wide variety of applications.

Types of Tools on a Multi-tool

There is no standard to the number or types of tools a multi-tool should have. This way, manufacturers can try and get creative when jamming all the tools together. The most common ones include;

  • Blades
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Files
  • Bottle opener
  • Scissors
  • Saws

It might seem obvious that a multi-tool is the better option since it has multiple tools in one, but it is not that straightforward. It depends on the type and how best the embedded tools can accomplish their designated tasks. All these tools have to be compromised when jamming them, and a blade on a multi-tool cannot be compared to one on a pocket knife in terms of functionality.

Advantages of Multi-Tools

  • Multiple tools in one

Disadvantages of Multi-Tools

  • Bulky and harder to carry around
  • Most of the tools are less effective than what a dedicated one would be


Luckily, we have various tools that bridge the gap between multi-tools and pocket knives on the market. This way, there is no outright winner, and, in some way, it depends on what options you have.

If you are going for a camping expedition, you will need to determine the kind of activities that you will be involved in while you are on site. Will you be hunting small game for food? Will you need to set up a tent, or will you carry a collapsible one that won’t require any tool to set up?

In a nutshell, if all your camping needs do not entail the use of all the tools on a multi-tool, consider getting a pocket knife. This is because it beats logic when you have a multitool with many tools, yet you only need two or three of them. In such a situation, you would be better served by buying those tools independently. Also, if you are wary about the weight of the tool and ease of carrying around, then a knife will be your best option.

On the other hand, the additional tools on a multi-tool are a huge advantage, especially if you do not need them for any specialized task. It is hard to anticipate when you will need these tools, and it is better to have them rather than figuring out how to improvise your pocket knife for applications that might damage it. It is good to be prepared when camping and what better way than to have a multi-tool. However, you will have to make do with the bulkiness and extra weight of having to carry it around.

The choice is personal. If you find it hard to decide, enjoy the best of both and carry them on your next camping expedition. When buying, ensure that you look into a couple of factors that will differentiate the best from the rest. Some of them include the compact design, ease of use, functionality, durability, weight, and additional features. The other features include lock and safety options that make the tool safe when you are using or carrying them. An example is the liner lock feature that prevents the blade from accidentally folding or locking when you are using it.

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