The Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife



While multi-facet knives are not new, the Swiss army knife became standard issue for the swiss army in 1891. The "1890 knife" featured a can opener for field rations, a knife for various needs, a reamer for leather goods, and a screwdriver for rifle maintenance. Originally they were produced by Wester& Co. A German company, but by 1897 Karl Elsener began making knives domestically with a second smaller blade and a corkscrew. Elsener’s new knives were designed for officers, but everyone liked the corkscrew idea. By 1909 the knives were stamped with the Swiss flag. His company was renamed after his mother Victoria and used the french abbreviation for steel "inox," creating Victorinox. Victorinox still manufactures the knives today.

 the original 1890 knife


Victorinox makes a mind-numbing variety of knives designed to fit the needs of any hobby. Outside of the "classic," there are options for link separators for bicycles, a butane torch, even a USB flash drive. We could spend several pages talking about the wacky things encased in those red slabs of plastic, but for this article, we will keep it to the more useful camp functions.

 the mother of all knives

The swiss army knife has a blade; actually, it has two blades. Two blades that can handle minor tasks like gutting a fish or cutting a length of paracord to your lean-to. While canned goods are not as common for backpacking anymore, the can/ bottle opener keeps the frustration down when you want to pop the top on a beer after a day on the water or the pull tab on the can of tuna has decided to part ways with the lid. The scissors help save my teeth when trimming excess line of a fishing knot or a loose thread on my jacket that a blade would be too awkward to use. Tweezers and a toothpick are embarrassingly two things I've used more than I want to admit. Not having to crack open the first aid kit to get a splinter out is worth the price of the knife any day.


Is it Better

The swiss army knife isn't as stout as a plier-based multi-tool, but it weighs half as much, and it's discreet enough that you can carry your knife without anyone taking a second glance.

A bushcraft or survival knife can be used in many more ways than the small blades of the swiss, but your Ka-Bar doesn’t have the other eleven tools in it that the little swiss does.

As an everyday knife, one that will go with you to the grocery store or the Grand Tetons, there's no better knife than the swiss army knife. I'm not suggesting you head into the woods armed only with a pocket knife, but in a battery of tools for camp or one that will stay on your life vest or day pack; I would choose that little red knife every time.

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