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swiss army knife champ vs leatherman wave plus.

Hi, I'm trying to decide between the leatherman wave plus and the swiss army knife champ for my 14-year-old boy. We camp, plus he's learning to be more handy.  Thoughts? Thank you!

5 Replies

I'm not an REI employee but I answered this before I noticed the question was in that category.  So for what it is worth, here is my opinion...

I'm sure a 14-year-old boy would love either.  I know I would have.  But personally I think both are overkill and too heavy for backpacking and not really that ideal for bushcraft.  I actually have both tools in some version of other.  Both were gifts and I hardly ever use either. I prefer the Swiss Army knife since it is easier to use for an occasional task. I have the original Leatherman and it requires a lot of care to deploy the knives without doing oneself a mischief.  It does have pliers which are easy to use.

For backpacking generally something like a Victorinox Clasic or a Leatherman Micra (which I take) is generally adequate.  They are small, light weight and effective.

I'm not really a bushcraft guy but I had a sheath knife when I was a kid which I enjoyed immensely so you might look there and pick something quality.  For looks, the Buck Selkirk sold with a fire striker is appealing but it is made in China if you care about that.  I have no opinion as to its quality except for reviews which are generally very good. REI sell various similar knives.

Possibly a more generally useful type of knife is a folding locking knife like the  Benchmade Griptilian or the Spyderco Paramilitary 2.  These are quite expensive but would make a very cool gift for a responsible teen.  The problem with pocket knives of this type is they tend to be taken to places they shouldn't be.

And that is of course a point that should be made.  Knives can be weapons and teenage boys tend to be a bit overenthusiastic in that department which can get them into trouble.  I'll leave it to your judgement as to what your boy is ready for.  Also, knives that are legal to carry in the US may not be in other countries.  The UK, for example, has strict rules.


Thank you!


The really tool heavy Swiss Army knives like the Champ are more of a conversation piece than a good tool. They are clumsy and difficult to use--- too much of a good thing!

The Wave is much more useable and good if you ride bikes or motorized options, but very heavy for hiking. 

I would go with a more basic Swiss Army knife. Something like the Huntsman is the most complex I would go. Even more basic would be better. The Tinker, Climber or Camper models would all be good starters. 

I like the Leatherman Skeletool for a multitool. 

Thank you. That’s really helpful.


@beccaswims10 Thanks for reaching out!

You've gotten some awesome insight from @DaleW and @OldGuyot about knives and multi-tools. I have used knives and multi-tools for a number of years. For learning about the use of these tools, the options you have selected will be a great introduction for your 14 year old! With all those options and good supervision, he will learn not only what these tools are capable of but also which tools he uses most often and what he is most comfortable with. As he gains more experience and gets older he will know which features to prioritize in his next knife or multi-tool. Personally, I have a knife that is just the blade and a multi-tool that is just pliers, wire cutters, screw drivers (phillips and flat head), and a small blade. Depending on the trip I will take one or the other. Hopefully this helps you make your decision. Whichever you choose it's a great gift for your 14 year old!

Have a great day, thanks!


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