As per Wikipedia, a Swiss Army knife(popularly known as a SAK) is a pocket knife or small multi-tool that has multiple practical tools such as a spear-point blade, screwdrivers, key ring, can opener and a nail file. These attachments are stowed inside the handle of the knife through a pivot point mechanism. Since its invention in late 19th century, the Swiss Army knife has become synonymous with pocket multi-tool and is widely popular across the world.
The best Swiss Army knives incorporate tools that fulfill anywhere from 5 to 30 odd functions while remaining fully manageable and lightweight.
If you are an avid outdoorsman, field master or just a knife enthusiast, you should definitely have a Swiss Army knife in your collection for Every Day Carry(EDC). All these knives have a lifetime warranty, so each item is also a Buy It For Life(BIFL). These knives also make a great gift for teenagers and adults alike.
In this article, we look at some of the best Swiss Army knives manufactured by Victorinox and other manufacturers. We will look at the various features available with each such multi-tool and some of the factors to consider while picking the best model. Moreover, we will look at some of the accessories necessary for the proper upkeep of such multi-tools.
This article would strongly compliment the best multi-tool article in which we primarily focused on larger multi-tools.
Best Swiss Army knife comparison listOur pick of the best Swiss Army knife out in the market and how they stack against each other.
|Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife||Length : 3.5"|
Width : 1"
|6.56||High end Swiss knife with 26 tools with 33 functions:|
Large Blade | Small Blade | Corkscrew | Can Opener & Small Screwdriver | Bottle Opener with Large Screwdriver and Wire Stripper | Reamer | Key Ring | Tweezers | Toothpick | Scissors | Multi-purpose Hook (Parcel Carrier) | Wood Saw | Fish Scaler | Hook Disgorger | Ruler | Nail File | Nail Cleaner | Metal File | Metal Saw | Fine Screwdriver | Chisel/Scraper | Pliers | Wire Cutter | Wire Crimper | Phillips Screwdriver | Magnifying Lens | Pressurized Ballpoint Pen | Straight Pin | Patented Mini-screwdriver | Sewing Eye
|Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife||Length : 2.3"|
Width : 0.7"
|0.85||Ultralight Swiss Army Knife with 5 key features:|
LED mini white light:18,000 MCD | Knife blade | Nail file with screwdriver | Scissors | Key ring inox | Retractable ball pen
|Victorinox Swiss Army Basic Pocket Knife||Length : 3.58"|
Width : 0.71"
|2.6||The traditional standard model with 14 functions:|
Large Blade | Small Blade | Corkscrew | Can Opener| Small Screwdriver (also for Phillips Screws) | Bottle Opener | Large Screwdriver | Wire Stripper | Reamer | Key Ring | Tweezers | Toothpick |
Scissors | Multi-purpose Hook (Parcel Carrier)
- Variants include Camper II, Huntsman II, Sportsman II, Climber II, Spartan II and Champion Plus
|Switchedge Crimson Pocket Knife||Length : 3.8"|
Width : 0.8"
|4.75||Victorinox variant with 14 Versatile functions:|
Large Knife | Can Opener | Scissors | Saw | Fish scaler | Bottle Opener | Slotted Remover | Phillips Screwdriver | Thread loop | Corkscrew | Nail cleaner | Nail file | Leather Punch | Key Ring
|BlizeTec Tactical Folding Pocket Knife||Length : 3.74"||4.26||Swiss Army Style, 14 in one folding pocket knife:|
Shape blade | Saw | Fish scaler | Can & Bottle opener | Scissors | Slotted & Phillips screwdriver | Leather punch | Corkscrew | Nail cleaner & file | Thread loop and safety hook
|Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife||Length : 4.53"|
Width : 1.22"
|3.2||A bigger variant of traditional standard model with 14 functions:|
Large Blade | Small Blade | Corkscrew | Can Opener with Small Screwdriver (also for Phillips Screws) | Bottle Opener with Large Screwdriver and Wire Stripper | Reamer | Key Ring | Tweezers | Toothpick | Scissors | Multi-purpose Hook (Parcel Carrier)
|Victorinox Mini Champ Swiss Army Knife||Length : 3.5"|
Width : 1.9"
|1.6||Made in USA, ultralight Swiss army knife with 14 features:|
Small knife blade | Scissor | Nail file | Nail cleaner | Cuticle pusher | Tweezers | Cap lifter | Magnetic Phillips head screwdriver | Scraper| Ball point pen | Emergency blade | Screwdriver | Ruler | Key ring
|Grand Harvest Multi-Purpose pocket knife||Length : 2.5"|
Width : 1.5"
|4.3||Rugged Outdoor Swiss Army Knife variant with 14 features :|
Blade Knife | Saw Blade | Fish scaler | Hook remover | Scissors | Bottle opener | Can opener | Corkscrew | Needle | Nail cleaner | Nail file | Leather punch | Phillips screwdriver | Key ring
|Rugged Knife Company Pocket Knife||Length : 3.75"||3.3||Decent Swiss Army Knife variant with 7 standard features:|
Scissors | Bottle opener | Can opener | Nail file | Nail cleaner | Corkscrew | Key ring
|Dimension 9 Multi-purpose pocket Knife||Length : 3.5"|
Width : 0.75"
|2.9||This customizable wooden finish pocket knife has 9 features:|
Scissors | Small Screwdriver | Large Screwdriver | Corkscrew | Saw blade | Bottle opener | File | Small blade | Large Blade
What is a Swiss Army knife and why do you need one?
As mentioned earlier, A Swiss Army knife is a unique pocket multi-tool that contains tools that fulfill multiple practical functions ranging from cutting twigs and ropes, sawing through branches, tightening screws to cleaning nails and opening cans. The biggest strength of such knives is the unique tool locking mechanism which provides reliable operation with a relatively compact design. As such, it is a pretty versatile tactical multi-tool that is small enough to carry in your pocket.
As per Wikipedia, the Swiss Army knife was first commercially manufactured in 1891 based on a design formulated in 1890. Over the years two companies – Victorinox and Wenger competed in the space to come up with the most user-friendly and multi-feature design. The two companies merged under the Victorinox trade name in 2005.
In addition to Victorinox, many other develop multiple models with different features as we saw in the comparison list. Just consider that the Wenger Giant Swiss army knife had as many as 141 features packed in 87 tools, making it the largest Swiss army knife in the market. More standard models have between 5-10 tools fulfilling 10-15 functions.
In the next sections, we will look at some of the factors to consider while picking the best Swiss Army knife for your needs.
Swiss Army Knives Vs. Plier-based Multi-tools – Which is the right tool for you?
Before we look at some of the factors to consider while picking the most suitable Swiss Army knife for your needs, let us look at the major differences between the Swiss Army Knives and other Multi-tools, such as ones by Leatherman.
|Swiss Army Knives||Multi-tools|
|Blades-based with small multi-utility tools.||Pliers-based, with some full sized tools.|
|Generally smaller and lightweight – suitable for carrying in the pockets.||Generally bigger and heavier.|
|Perfect for small, tactical tasks such as for bottle opening, small cuttings, sharpening etc.||Perfect for bigger, plier-based tasks such as cutting wires, sawing branches etc.|
|Because of smaller, safer size suitable for teenagers as first knife.||Largely suitable only for grown up adults.|
How to pick the best Swiss Army Knife for yourself?
Victorinox and other manufacturers have around 40 odd models of Swiss Army knives commonly available in the market. So picking the best Swiss army knife can sometimes be a challenge and is primarily governed by following considerations, in addition to the aesthetic factors:
- Building material and design of the knife and handle
- Size ( Length and Width) of the knife
- Weight of the knife
- Features desired in the knife
Building material and design of the knife and handle
The tools in the Swiss Army knife are made up of high grade patented stainless steel. The stainless steel material used for the cutting blades is optimized for high toughness and corrosion resistance. The separators between the tools are made from aluminum, ensuring compact and lightweight design.
The traditional red handle of Swiss army knife is made from Tenex or Tenite( Cellulose Acetate Butyrate). Over the years, there have been new variants introduced with many colors and alternative materials like wood-finished aluminum have also been used. An example of such design is the Dimension 9 Multi-purpose pocket Knife, which features a wooden finish handle.
In addition, many Swiss Army knives feature locking blades to prevent accidental closure while in use.
Size of the knife
The size of Swiss army knife is measured in length and width of the tool. Typical lengths vary from 2.3 inch for the Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife to 4.53 inch for Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife. The average length of standard Swiss army knife is around 3.5 inch. Similarly, the width varies from low 0.7 inch to 2 inch for Victorinox Mini Champ Swiss Army Knife. Depending on your own preference, you can go for compact or full-length versions.
Weight of the knife
The weight of the knife is an important consideration if you are going to carry it as a tactical multi-tool in your pocket during your backpacking or camping trip. Generally more the number of features, heavier the knife will be. Standard Swiss Army Knives weigh over 3 ounces. Ultralight knives such as Victorinox Mini Champ Swiss Army Knife weigh a low 1.9 ounces. And there is a super-ultralight version in Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife whose advertised weight is less than 1 ounce. Based on your function requirements, you can go with normal or ultralight versions.
Features desired in the knife
Lastly, and probably the most important factor to consider while choosing a model is the feature requirements in the knives. There are many variants available for campers and backpackers. Almost all standard knives have blades, screwdrivers, and a keychain. Some special knives such as Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife pack as many as 26 high utility tools that offer 33 functions. In addition, knives such as Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife also have a mini LED light. There are some additional versions in the market which have things like USB drives and tactical glass breakers included with them. If for some reason you need these special features, you can check online for additional options.
Which are the best Swiss Army Knives for EDC and camping and what our picks are?
Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife – Editor’s choice for best Swiss Army Knife
The Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife is a top of the line Swiss Army Knife. The knife features a standard red handle made with Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) (generally known trade names are Cellidor, Tenite, and Tenex). The SwissChamp has 26 tools that provide 33 functions including pliers, magnifying glass, ruler and even mini screwdriver. Each tool is made with high-grade stainless steel composite compound.
The SwissChamp Knife has a compact length of 3.5 inches and width of 1 inch. The knife weighs a decent 6.56 ounces, which may be considered a little more than other models. Like all other Victorinox Swiss knives, the SwissChamp Knife comes with lifetime manufacturer warranty.
The only drawback one may have for SwissChamp Knife is its price, which may look a little costly compared to other Swiss Army knives. But considering the practical functions, it packs in a standard size, the SwissChamp Knife is a truly useful buy-it-for-life, EDC (Every Day Carry) multi-tool.
Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife – Editor’s choice for best ultralight Swiss Army Knife
If you are looking for an ultralight, ultra-compact multi-tool then look no further than the Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife. This 2.3 inch long mini knife comes in three color variants.
The Victorinox Signature Lite Pocket Knife weighs an ultralight 0.8 ounces, making it the lightest such tool in the market. The camper version contains the following key features:
- LED mini white light, 18000 MCD
- Knife blade
- Nail file with screwdriver
- Key ring inox
The Signature Lite comes in a couple of variants – one with LED light and one with Ball Pen. Pick the version that you feel you would need the most in emergency situations.
The compact, small size of Signature Lite is also its only drawback. Some people find it too small to handle. But again if you are looking for an ultralight multi-tool, there is no better option.
Victorinox Swiss Army Basic Pocket Knife – Best value pick for best Swiss Army knife
If you are looking for standard Swiss Army knife that has all standard functions and does not cost a fortune, then the Victorinox Swiss Army Basic Pocket Knife is the most suitable choice. This pocket knife is also suitable for teenagers with some supervision.
This one-up model over the traditional 4 tool model has three economical variants – Camper II, Spartan II and Sportsman II. These variants have 12 tools which include 2.45″ blade, corkscrew, wood saw, bottle opener and a screwdriver. The Camper II has same exact functions as the Camper but has textured Eco Line scales that provide a harder wearing alternative to the traditional polished ABS scales
Its compact length of 3.58 inches, a height of 0.71 inches and weight of 2.6 ounces makes it the perfect knife for any outdoor activity including camping, fishing, or hiking, as well as handy for everyday uses around the house or office.
Maintaining your Swiss Army Knife
Like other knives and multitools, you can really ensure the longevity of your Swiss Army Knife with a little bit of extra care. This amounts to periodically cleaning the knife and sharpening the blades.
Cleaning: To avoid settling of grime in the hinges and openings, you can place the knife in a pan with boiling water for 1-1.5 minutes. Make sure you open all the blades and tools to ensure that the water can reach all the crevices and hinges. You can also add a mild detergent to the water. If required, use a discarded toothbrush or an ear-bud to remove the dirt and grime. Once done, dry up the knife thoroughly and apply a lubricant (some options are listed in the accessories section below).
Sharpening the blades: If you want to sharpen the blades with a whetstone or rod, use only recommended sharpeners, as higher grit sharpeners may harm the blade. Victorinox has a couple of excellent sharpening options available. While sharpening, use an angle of around 20-degrees.
One of the most important thing to ensure proper maintenance of Swiss Army knife is to keep sharpening the blade from time to time using a combination of sharpening grit or tool and oil. It is generally recommended to sharpen every year or so. Some of the most popular options for this task are listed below:
Another key accessory that you would need to increase the longevity of your Swiss army knife is to use a precision oil to fine tune the mechanics of each tool and prevent any rust or corrosion. For such uses, you can consider the following options:
While Swiss army multi-tools are extremely compact and easy to carry in pockets, some people prefer to carry such tools in holsters and clip pouches. If you are interested in such accessories, you can consider one of the following options:
- Victorinox Cordura Belt Swiss Army Knife pouch
- Nite Ize Tool Holster
- Victorinox Swiss Army Leather Clip Pouch
Books about Swiss Army Knife
If you are interested in some additional fun with your Swiss Army Knife or what to know more about it, you can check out the following popular books on the subject:
- The Swiss Army Knife Book: 63 Outdoor Projects: 2017 published book is a perfect activity guide for teenagers and new Army Knife owners. Filled with interesting projects to do with your SAK while camping.
- The Swiss Army Knife Owner’s Manual: A user manual with useful information on how to maintain, repair and improvise your Swiss Army Knife.
- Swiss Army Knives: A Collector’s Companion: Focuses on the history behind Victorinox and the development of Swiss Army Knives. Also filled with interesting stories and anecdotes from early owners.
Final thoughts on the best Swiss Army Knife to buy
In this post, we looked at some of the of the best Swiss army knives available in the market. We looked at traditional 13-14 function models, small 5 tactical function model and even heavy duty 35 function models. In addition to the original Victorinox Swiss Army knives, we also looked at some other unique brands. We also listed out the factors to consider while opting for the most suitable model for yourself or somebody else. Finally, we looked at some standard accessories for lifetime upkeep of such tools. The Swiss army knife is a hugely popular pocket tool to have and an excellent everyday carry (EDC) gift item for teenagers and adults. Do let us know how you found this article and if you would want us to consider anything else. Enjoy your next Swiss army knife!!