/ Arming children (...OK, really a knife for a cub scout)

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My eight year old has joined the Cubs (actually in Finland they just seem to call it Scouts for all ages but anyway...) and on their first camping trip the gear list included a puukko, the traditional Finnish sheaf knife. He borrowed mine for that weekend, but it's a bit of an ungainly beast for small hands plus has sentimental value to me so we're going to buy him his own knife for Xmas.

What do British Cubs and Scouts tend to recommend these days? I've read their policy on knives https://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/1515 but it doesn't say anything about recommended types. Google just seems to find the Bear Grylls branded ones - if Grylls has a saving grace it's his support for Scouting, but I'd still not want to buy something branded by him!

I would have thought a small pen knife like a swiss army would be sensible for a first knife for kids; I'm not really sure if Finnish scouts say puukkos because it's tradition of that they think they are safer for kids. Any scout leaders or parents of cubs/scouts got any thoughts?
mkean - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
I had Swiss army knives while I was a cub/scout but I'm not totally sure that folding knives are a great idea. You'd have to be pretty talented to close a fixed blade knife on your finger but it is fairly easy for a child to snag a finger or the palm of their hand while closing a folding knife.

Buy him an axe instead, much more versatile if you keep it sharp ;-)
Monk - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: I had a swiss army knife when I was in cubs. At that age, the more gadgets the better (or so we all thought) - it was only later that we started to realise that simpler is far easier.
Neil Williams - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Can't speak for Cubs as I haven't been a Cub leader for years, but most of our Scouts have Swiss Army type knives of various types. It's worth buying the "proper" ones rather than the cheapo ones so they last, the cheapo ones tend to fall to bits.

That said, others' points about closing these on your hand are relevant.

As different leaders have different views and different plans on what to do with them, best talk to them for a recommendation that would suit your Group?

Neil
In reply to mkean: They got to use axes on the camp which I thought was pretty cool. The Finnish brand Fiskars make these cute little camping ones which the kids seem to be able to use ok - at least they all ended up with the same number of limbs that they started with!

http://www.fiskars.eu/Gardening-Yard-Care/Products/Wood-Branches/Axes/121121-Camping-Axe-X5
In reply to Monk:
> At that age, the more gadgets the better (or so we all thought) - it was only later that we started to realise that simpler is far easier.

Oh I'm not so sure! :) My cousin bought me the Swiss Champ (yeah, the really fat one with everything on it) for my 21st birthday - I think as a semi joke. Anyway, I still use it loads... eeerrrr.... many years later and most of the gadgets get used from time to time! Only this autumn did I finally cave in to temptation and bought an on-sale Leatherman, thinking the pliers would be much better than the Swiss Army ones. One month later I snapped one of the jaws of pliers clean off! Very unimpressed.
tspoon1981 on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: I started with my Grandpa's pocket knife then upgraded to a shiny Swiss Army knife. This was a few years ago, so they may as cool any more.
galpinos - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

In my youth I went on a kind-of cub exchange and went to the summer camp with a group of Danish Scouts. They sent the kit list to my parents and on it was a sheath knife. Of I went to the gun shop with my Dad and was presented with a lovely 3.5” bladed knife with leather bound handle. A thing of beauty. As soon as I arrived at the camp it was promptly confiscated as I’d been sent the wrong list and it was for children a lot older than me!

I’ve still got it though.
needvert on 03 Dec 2012
I had a few "oh man I almost slit my wrist" incidents with my swiss army knife before I stopped using folders that don't lock.

If I had to buy a small pen knife, I've had good experiences with Spyderco.
https://www.spyderco.com/catalog/list.php?porder=l2h&genre=knife&division=spyderco&per_p...

I'd be tempted to go with H-1 steel since it's really easy to sharpen and cheap (compared to ZDP-189 anyway).

I think getting the kid something to sharpen their knife well is very important. As a kid I'd try not to use my knife too much as once it was blunt it was useless, as I couldn't sharpen it. Defies the point of having a knife really...

Was only in cubs for a few weeks, we didn't get knives :(
JoshOvki on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to galpinos: I've got one that sounds very similar - bought it from the fishing/hunting shop in my home town with my Grandad as the responsible adult! I suggested to my wife that he could have this - I thought this would be nice in a family heirloom sort of way - but she thinks he should have his own.
CarolineMc - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: we encourage our scouts to have their own penknives and generally recommend genuine Victorinox Swiss Army Knives. For small hands the mid range ones are best, with the usual blades, scissors, saw and tin opener, and later on they'll appreciate the bottle opener and corkscrew! I still have mine that I got as a Venture Scout over 20 years ago, so it's worth buying a good one. Co:
mkean - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
Actually if you aren't averse to potential finger amputation (lets be honest you don't need all of them) and want a robust knife then you could do a lot worse than having a look for an old Royal Navy pocket knife (WW2 vintage?) A blade you can use for levering open firedoors, a good solid marlin spike and a can opener that would handle oil drums when needed and I think I paid £2 for it :-)

http://static.blipfotos.com/uploads/59455/2011/12802348644ea552ab1ab759.46815389.jpeg
http://www.surplusandoutdoors.com/shop/british-militaria/military-collectables/british-army-wwii-194...
jonnie3430 - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Monk)
> [...]
>
> bought an on-sale Leatherman, thinking the pliers would be much better than the Swiss Army ones. One month later I snapped one of the jaws of pliers clean off! Very unimpressed

Leatherman have a lifetime warranty with good reputation, so I would send a picture to the local distributor who should replace it.

As far as scouts and knives go, I had a Victorinox rucsac with a locking blade all the way through Scouts and ventures. The locking blade is a good safety feature for the stuff you get up to with it, the saw is also much better than standard as it is a little longer and more useful. The drawback with the rucsac was a lack of scissors, so I'd recommend a locker with screwdrivers etc.. saw and scissors.

A cheap one may be a good alternative as he is young, losing stuff on scout camp was always easy...




Elrond - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I got my first penknife (a proper victorinox one) when I was 8 which was what I always used in the scouts. My scouts didn't approve of fixed blade knives at all because of the knife laws in the UK, however, they were fine with any kind of swiss army knife. I think the UK scouts recommend the swiss army type knives anyway due to the knife laws.

The problem of the knife closing in on fingers/hand can be easily alleviated by getting one that locks. Opinel are a good bet for little, cheap locking penknives that are still fairly decent quality.
Clarence - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:
> I had a few "oh man I almost slit my wrist" incidents with my swiss army knife before I stopped using folders that don't lock.

Me too, when using far too small a blade for the task. As a scout I used to have a swiss army knife for show and a parang (as recommended in the bible of scouting black ops - The SAS Survival Handbook) for use when the leaders were not around. Unfortunately this led to the situation where the leaders thought that you could do absolutely everything with a Victorinox Spartan because we did it with one last time.
Jim Hamilton - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Shadowmaster:
> Opinel are a good bet for little, cheap locking penknives that are still fairly decent quality.

I don't think Opinel would be a good choice as the lock is not that effective/foolproof.

To the OP, I wouldn't knock the Bear Grylls/Gerber lock knife, they're cheap, for when they lose it, but reasonably well made and light.
Neil Williams - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

Though you pay extra for the licencing of the Bear Grylls brand, I bet you could find the same knife (near enough) without the branding for less.

If that doesn't bother you, no great issue...

Neil
Ridge - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
How about something like a Victorinox hunter? Locking blade, quite effective saw, can/bottle opener and I think a flat bladed screw driver and gutting blade for small furry things. Should be enough there for camping outdoors stuff. TBH I think the 50 bladed things are a bit gimmicky and clumsy to handle, especially for a kid.
Carolyn - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I had a small locking penknkife when I went to Brownie Camp in the US at 9. Wasn't allowed them in Guides in the UK for years after that.... worked well, and the 7 year old is itching to get his hands on it (having spent Saturday armed with an ice axe bashing through ice on puddles). Haven't been mentioned in Scouts here, but he's only Beavers at the moment.
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In reply to jonnie3430:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> Leatherman have a lifetime warranty with good reputation, so I would send a picture to the local distributor who should replace it.

Yep, hoping/expecting that - need to take it back to the shop when I get a chance.

Thanks for all the other suggestions as well.
GrendeI on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: Don't Mora knives do a specific scouting knife? Fixed 3 inch ish blade with a leather sheath.

Like this... http://www.traditionalwoodworker.com/Set-of-2-Mora-Scout-Knives/productinfo/106-3940/
GrendeI on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: A better link http://www.frosts.se/adventure/classic-scout-39

I picked one up at a junksale in germany, the one I found had a depiction of a scout on the sheath, the new ones appear not to.
jonnie3430 - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
> [...]
>
> Yep, hoping/expecting that - need to take it back to the shop when I get a chance.

For simplicity I'd send a picture and explanation to the service centre and hope that their reply would include an invitation to post it direct. In the UK I'd send the email to the company mentioned here: http://www.leatherman.co.uk/support/intwarranty
jwa - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> ...at least they all ended up with the same number of limbs that they started with!

But were they all their own?


Northern Climber on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Hi,

ask a scout leader who has just been teaching knife work on camp this weekend to a group of scouts who are fairly young (just moved up from cubs) we had a group decision of not to use folding knives as the potential to close them on fingers and snag hands on them was too large a risk for us.

what we've been teaching with is a rounded end sheath hultafors knife. cheap, easy to sharpen and they are slightly smaller for small hands.

www.ffx.co.uk/tools/product/Sk%20Safety%20Knife%20Sk%207317843800814%20380080

You mention that on the camp he's been on the kit list asked for a sheath Knife - that shows the groups preferance of kife type.

ultimately i'd recommend speaking to the cub leaders as they know what work they will be doing with knives and can then reccomend what type to go for or avoid. Also they may know of somewhere locally that sells something with a bit more character that your son can keep for his lifetime. There is then the other option of getting him a kife like the hultafors which is a tool and will probably not have any sentimental value, other than being his first knife.
Skyfall - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I shudder when I think about the number of times I cut myself with knives when I was a kid. If you're going to let him carry a knife, I would say get a simple locking knife so it won't close up on him unexpectedly. I got on far better with this type and found a 'proper' knife taught me to respect it more.
In reply to GrendeI: yep, there's a similar Norwegian one made by Helle and a Finnish one made by Marttiini http://www.scandinavianoutdoorstore.com/en/tyokalut/puukot/partiopuukko-508/

The Marttiini ones are the cheapest which is good! Not sure if a little kid needs an expensive knife that possibly they'll lose.
In reply to Northern Climber: I like the price of that one! I've seen something similar with a rounded tip but made of more soulful materials and design http://www.scandinavianoutdoorstore.com/en/tyokalut/puukot/turva/ but unfortunately for well over 10x the price of the one you suggest. :-)
scrufff on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Mora Companion/Clipper is another good choice
winhill - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

A nice rope knife would prepare him for the future.
LastBoyScout on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
>
> Leatherman have a lifetime warranty with good reputation, so I would send a picture to the local distributor who should replace it.

Contact Whitby Knives - they are the UK importers for Leatherman and were great when part of my Crater broke.

> As far as scouts and knives go, I had a Victorinox rucsac with a locking blade all the way through Scouts and ventures. The locking blade is a good safety feature for the stuff you get up to with it, the saw is also much better than standard as it is a little longer and more useful. The drawback with the rucsac was a lack of scissors, so I'd recommend a locker with screwdrivers etc.. saw and scissors.

I'd recommend either the Victorinox Climber, as it's the smallest one with scissors, which are really handy, or the Forester, which is the first one with a locking blade.

Leatherman Crater is very simple, has a belt clip and is fairly cheap, too. Skeletool might be a nice compromise.
kyaizawa - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
Can't go wrong with a basic Hultafors Craftsman or Mora Clipper sheath knife -the carbon steel does need tlc to stop it rusting but sharpens well, or you could go for the stainless steel version. Just noticed their safety/rescue knives have rounded tips if you/leader are concerned about that.
neilh - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
Experience suggests that Finnish ( or an Scandinavian type) Scouts will be brilliant at pioneering. Does the kit list include any recommended other tools. Just interested.
In reply to neilh: Not at the moment, I think the leaders brought the axes.

Finnish old school backpacking/scouting is pretty funny as basic equipment tends to include a full on axe, a bow saw and often a cask iron skillet type of thing that weighs about half the weight of a family car and seems to have no function beyond cooking campfire pancakes on. Lightweight it is not. My son's group's leaders did have some pretty gigantic rucksacks themselves, but I think a lot of that was group equipment. After driving the kids up to the camp, I went for a overnight bikepack trip in the area and they were very interested in how I got my packing down to (relatively speaking) so little - so I think they get the idea of modern gear and not breaking your back with too much stuff!
neilh - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
Do you reckon they will be felling their own trees to make pioneering poles with that axe?

Sounds great fun for your son, I bet he was pretty excited.

Our lot enjoy cardboard box camping and sleeping in hammocks, which makes for some entertainment when they climb into the hammocks. Needless to say when we have card board box camps, it is very well decorated and includes various suitable structures.
Neil Williams - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to neilh:

Cardboard box camping? Can't say I have ever tried that.

Where do you get enough boxes from? It's not like it used to be where there'd be a load past the tills at supermarkets free for the taking.

Neil
thin bob on 03 Dec 2012
captain paranoia - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to mkean:

> Royal Navy pocket knife (WW2 vintage?) A blade you can use for levering open firedoors, a good solid marlin spike and a can opener that would handle oil drums

I think that's actually a cavalry pocket knife, so it's a pritchel*, not a marlinspike.

* for getting small boys out of horses hooves...
cranc on 03 Dec 2012
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marsbar - on 03 Dec 2012
Nordie_matt - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

The helle speiderkniv us excellent, http://komplettfritid.no/product/helle-speider

I bought one for my daughter (5)
marsbar - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to cranc: I like the top one but I think it might be too big for an 8 year old to handle easily. Personally I wouldn't go for the blunt end one as I think its safer for them to get used to knives being pointy and dangerous from the beginning.
In reply to thin bob: Cheers Bob - looks all good sensible stuff.
In reply to Nordie_matt: 50 Euros here though! Although anything made in Norway isn't like to be cheap I guess! I linked a very similar Finnish made one somewhere up the thread which is a bit less.
In reply to cranc: It's funny, the plastic handled, plastic sheathed knives from Mora and the like are attached to the working dungarees of just about every Finnish engineer, carpenter, electrician, handyman, janitor etc. They cost so little most households have a few lying around - I've got one in the back of the car for example. It's almost certainly completely racist and not true, or no more true than with the majority population - but I've heard quite a few Finns call them gypsy fighting knives. Until Finland got a small number of 'real' immigrants (Somalis mainly) in the early 90s, the most visible community to be prejudiced against was the Roma (gypsyies) who still wear a distinctive style of dress - men and women. They have a reputation for being mean knife fighters with their 4 euro Moras after a few too many beers! Then again, the Swedes say ALL Finns are drunk, knife wielding brawlers. :-)
oddtoast on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
Ah fond memories, I had one of the standard swiss army knives in the scouts, still have it on my keys today. Never had much trouble with it folding, and found the tin opener and scissors (and later, bottle opener and corkscrew) as useful as the blades. Playing with sharp implements was one of the attractions of the scouts! Wasn't 8 though... if local practice is different maybe just stick with that? Did he say anything about what the others were using compared to yours he borrowed?
wivanov - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I've owned a LOT of knives over the years. The only two I bother with now are my Vitronox "Spartan" and my Mora #1
Camm on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:
I've had a fake swiss army knife since I was 6, still ok just a little play in the main blade from when I tried to use it as a hammer -.- Got a proper one now though, it does feel nicer.
Bimble on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I've got one of the cheap Mora knives for general stuff, a Gerber AR 3.0 that lives in my dog-walking coat,and a puukko I made myself for bushcraft/hunting use. The Mora one is spot-on for a tenner, and I'm less worries about losing it.
Saying that, my Victorinox 'hunter' knife with the locking blade did me fine when I was at Scouts for general campsite use, gutting of rabbits and whittling anything I could find.
Just keep it sharp, a blunt knife is a lot more dangerous.
Timmd on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to JonC:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> I shudder when I think about the number of times I cut myself with knives when I was a kid. If you're going to let him carry a knife, I would say get a simple locking knife so it won't close up on him unexpectedly. I got on far better with this type and found a 'proper' knife taught me to respect it more.

I've still got the scar on my right index finger 18 or 20 years after cutting it by mistake when my penknife folded unexpectedly, think it came out of a cracker or from Duxford air museum. Wasn't much into knives on the whole.
Toerag - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: I recommend the victorinox D of E knife for my scouts due to the a)quality b)simplicity) and c)rounded blade end. I also recommend the opinels, and new ones can be locked shut as well as open (if the wood dries out too much they have a nasty tendency of falling open in your pocket.....)
Kids like the gadgets on swiss army knives, and opinels are fantastic value for money.
marsbar - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: Forgot to say earlier, the main safety rule we enforce is that knife use is a sitting down activity. Anyone using or carrying an unfolded/unscathed knife stood up or wandering will get one warning/reminder and a repeat would mean the knife being put away.
Banj - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: My kids (girls) and I have leatherman tools for normal everyday use. In the UK, to be street-legal, a knife needs to not lock and have no cutting blade longer than 3 inches.
The younger one is a scout and I got her an upgrade for serious camping trips, it's a Surge or Charge or something and because the blades lock, she needs a good reason to legally carry it, camping trips qualify. I also change up the one I'm carrying when camping or fishing.

Leatherman's guarantee is good, I managed to break my 20 year-old original Leatherman tool by using it as a lever (not normal use, should void warranty) and despite 20 years of age and saltw*ter wear and long lost proof of purchase they replaced it, no quibble. The amazing thing was that they sent me the same model. . .
ice.solo - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA:

sheath knives all the way.

knives are not toys and growing up i recall friends having more accidents fiddling about with folding pocket knives than the hollow handled rambo survival knives with 18cm blades we all grew up with in the 80s.

just one thing: make sure the knife has a decent sheath that wont slice thru as the blade leaves it.

and as always, some graphic accident stories and an afternoon teaching the rights and wrongs (whittle away from you etc) that involves making a fire is the initiation process all kids should go thru.

all said, nothings quite as cool as a real flick knife tho...
Howard J - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to TobyA: How times have changed. When I was a kid in the 60s my school had its own Scout troop, and on "scout days" I would go to school in scout uniform, including wearing my father's 6" sheath knife. Another scout once asked the teacher for permission to sharpen his pencil; when granted he took a hand axe off his belt and carefully shaved it into the bin. These days that would result in armed police, social workers and counselling for the teacher.

We went around armed to the teeth. Even when not in scout uniform we all habitually carried pocket knives. It never occurred to any of us to stick them in one another.
mkean - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Howard J:
Even when not in scout uniform we all habitually carried pocket knives. It never occurred to any of us to stick them in one another.

Just because kids in the dark ages lacked get up and go and had poor financial acumen doesn’t mean the same is true for young people today: The spirit of “Get rich or die trying” is alive and well and rarely a day goes by when some young upstart doesn’t try to make go of personalised wealth redistribution on our inner city streets. ;-)
marsbar - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Howard J: I think that there would be less of a knife problem if we encouraged safe sensible use of a knife as a tool during childhood. Scouts is great because kids are allowed and encouraged to use knives, axes etc, and to play with fire. Trusting them keeps them out of trouble. Same with climbing, in a different way, the potential consequences are real, there are plenty of kids who won't usually follow rules, but when it really counts can and do belay safely and respond to the responsibility.

In reply to TobyA: Just read the Scout's policy, as linked in the OP, very interesting and supprisingly sensible for the Scout Association!
gaunyersell - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to mkean: Spot on. I had forgotten I used to own one of these when I was in the Scouts. Better blades than the SAK's and that spike can be used for everything under the sun. (Even removing stones from horses hooves).... that just reminded me of an old joke. :-) ....Seriously though, these are great robust knives, and I've still got all my fingers.
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