From the humble penknife of our youth knives have evolved into multi purpose knives and the so-called multi tools – every outdoorsman has one or two or three. I wont even begin to count my collection!
The multiple functions of the tools and knives make them especially useful around the campsite, on a trip as they can open, cut and fix things. A great deal of thought goes into the design and functionality, by way of example the Victorinox Super tool has an add on corkscrew where the designers have even built in a mini screwdriver suitable for spectacles, how often on a trip does a tiny hinge screw need tightening without a suitable screwdriver in sight?
Be careful though some of the tools and knives come with too many gadgets, which make them bulky and difficult to handle. Evaluate your potential purchase, a sharp blade is a must, small scissors are useful as is a corkscrew and can opener-things that often get overlooked when packing! Multi tools seem to be replacing the multi purpose knives amongst the off road fraternity, they have the same functionality along with a pliers/side cutter function as well as a variety of other tools, some even come with small socket sets for emergency jobs. The beauty of these tools is the fact that they are generally sold with a pouch or holster allowing you to wear them on your belt. This makes them more accessible and less prone to being lost.
Be careful of the cheaper imitations that are coming onto the market, the reputable brands are more expensive but come with a factory warranty and parts back up. Clean your multi tool regularly especially if you have used the penknife to cut foodstuff, stainless steel does not mean that the tool will not tarnish and become pitted if left dirty. Have the blade professionally sharpened when necessary and oil the tool lightly with a suitable lubricant, wiping excess oil off afterwards.
When using a multi tool ensure that you are familiar with the opening, closing and locking functions as I have seen numerous “injuries” to hands of individuals who tried to fold a particular tool back into the handle while another sharp tool was still out.
A multi tool is an investment; some cost way in excess of R 2500.00 rand and occasional servicing may be necessary this can be done via a dealer or agent but in most cases it amounts to one checking the operation of the mechanism and periodic tightening of retention screws and nuts. The last type of tool I would like to touch on is the so-called “card-tool” these are not really suitable for serious work but rather for emergency jobs. They offer a variety of small tools such as penknives, pens, scissors, tweezers and mini screwdriver. One can even get a version suitable for a bush bar, which comes with a knife, corkscrew, bottle opener and cocktail fork. The beauty of these tools is the fact that they are small and compact allowing them to easily fit into a pocket or pouch on a camera bag.
Be careful that you get your knife or multi tool back if you lend it to someone; people have a way of forgetting to return things, especially if they are good quality!