Whether you’re a hardened adventurer who’s constantly throwing themselves into challenging and exciting situations, or you just like to have a little tinker with things around the house, a good Swiss army knife can be an invaluable assistant.
It could save your life, or it could save you running back downstairs for your toolkit to fix the plug socket in your bedroom. Their applications are as essential and mundane as that.
Getting their popular modern name ‘Swiss’ from the inability of American soldiers in WWII to pronounce the German, ‘Offizierzmesser’, meaning Officer’s knife, they’ve attained ubiquitous recognition over the years as one of the most versatile and effective tools in anyone’s arsenal.
Needless to say, since the war, Victorinox have come a long way, adding various modern appointments to their infamous mauve classic, making new knives even more expansive with more possible applications than ever before, or refining them down to a formidable design with a dual or singular application.
So, to sharpen your knowledge, we’re going to whittle their catalog down to the five best Swiss army knives available and review them. Then we’re going to jump straight into a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to really polish things to a shine.
We understand, so here’s our tip pick straight away so you can get right to the point.
OUR TOP PICK
There’s absolutely no way we could let any reiteration of the legendary original design come out on top here.
This little red knife has been changing people’s lives for well over 100 years and is inextricable from the fabric of popular culture where it stands as a venerable icon of minimalism and utility.
Constructed with stainless steel and housed in the timeless Victorinox casing, this slim and durable pocket knife won’t be out of place in anyone’s possession.
It comes with the standard seven functions: a small blade, a pair of scissors, a nail file, a 2.5 mm screwdriver, toothpick, keyring, and tweezers.
They’re available in a number of colors and a few different textures if you want to switch up the traditional aesthetic. Even if you’ve come to our list because you’re interested in buying one of their newer designs, you should own one of these as well, everyone should.
Instantly recognizable, classic design
7 different quality functions
Stainless steel build for maximum durability
Affordable despite infamy
Not as expansive as other models
We chose this as a second favorite Swiss army knife because it employs subtle modern appointments that make it even more practical without making too much of a departure from what’s tried and tested.
The most noticeable thing about this knife is the addition of an ergonomic rubber grip on both sides of the casing that make it great for use during rainfall or on the hotter days and environments when you get a bit of a sweat going.
The S18 has 16 overall functions, so it’s a little wider than the classic. Some things included in this pocket knife that you won’t see in the classic are two extra sizes of screwdriver, a reamer/punch and sewing awl, a wood saw, a large blade, a nail cleaner, a wire stripper, and a can opener.
Evo-Grip Victorinox knives encompass an entire series of designs, all with the advanced rubber grip, so if you want a slightly stripped down version you could go for the Evo-Grip 10 with only 14 functions, or if you want to go big, opt for the Evo-Grip S54 with its impressive 32 total functions.
More overall functions
Specialized grip make this more effective in rainy or hot weather
Available with more or fewer functions
Still has that timeless aesthetic
Stainless steel construction
Wood saw is a great feature for use in the wild
Thicker and heavier than the classic
A little more expensive especially if you opt for the more expansive models
The thing we love most about this knife is the polyamide grip. Polyamide is a weatherproof substance made with the same monomers as kevlar, so you know it’s going to last.
Instead of the classic thin elongated oval design, Victorinox have shaped the Trekker to fit perfectly in your hand and added a textured finish to the grip to reduce the chances of a fumble.
The other thing we think is super handy about this slick little beast is the large, shaped blade with a mildly serrated edge towards the point. This gives you that valuable cut between the extremely aggressive wood saw and the normal smooth-edged knife, so no matter what material you’re working with, you’ll have the knife edge to handle it.
Coming with only 12 functions in total, the Trekker isn’t quite as versatile as some of our other picks, but what you sacrifice in utility, you make up for in specialism.
Cool, sleek aesthetic
Shaped and textured polyamide hilt fits perfectly in your hand, offering enhanced grip
Large blade with both serrated and smooth edge
Wood saw blade included
Light and slimline
Stainless steel construction
A little bit pricey
Coming in at number four is the absolute boss of all Victorinox pocket knives. No longer will you have to look in two separate places for a fish scale and a pharmaceutical spatula, but make sure you’re wearing a decent belt because this thing isn’t light.
This sweet pocket powerhouse has 83 functions including 5 different blades, 1 12 and 24-hour digital clock, and a pressurized ballpoint pen. Seriously, this pocket knife has everything you could ever need and a whole bunch of things you didn’t even know existed as well.
Measuring in at 65mm in width and weighing 350 grams, this is the largest knife on our list by a long shot, truly pushing the limits of what can be considered pocket size.
If you want the power to do absolutely anything at any given moment, then this is the essential Victorinox product for you.
Insane amount of applications
5 specialized blades
Stainless steel construction
Thick design probably won’t sit comfortably in your pocket
Heavy, so make sure you’re wearing a belt
Not time efficient in an emergency due to how many features there are
Consider this pretty much the opposite of the XAVT. It’s small, focused, and affordable, perfect for someone who likes to go camping a couple of times a year.
This pocket knife has only 8 functions and focuses more on personal hygiene. You get the essentials included in the original such as a small blade and a pair of scissors, but the feature that really gives this knife some individuality is the nail clipper.
So, if you’re thinking about getting the original Swiss army knife but you really like to take care of yourself when you’re out and about and on camping trips, this will probably be a more appropriate choice.
Handmade from all the same great materials as the others, you can count on this knife when it comes to the essentials. This is the perfect pocket warrior to keep you feeling fresh. All it’s missing is a retractable toothbrush. It’s small, it’s sleek, it’s lightweight, and it’ll get the job done.
Nail clippers will help you look after yourself out and about
Comes with essential functions like the small blade and scissors
Stainless steel construction
Not as versatile as the other knives on our list
Perhaps not for the most daring of thrill-seekers
Best Swiss Army Knife Buying Guide
As Victorinox pocket knives have been around for such a long time, it’s hardly surprising that they have a plethora of knives available. They have so many, in fact, that it can be a little bit overwhelming for those who don’t enjoy shopping.
So, if you’re someone who knows what to do when your tent floods, you run out of food, or a bear attacks, but isn’t sure how to handle the massive scale product comparisons of a successful shopping day, then this is the perfect place for you.
The first thing to consider when shopping around for a new Swiss army knife is your budget. Due to the range of knives available, there’s a massive difference in costs from model to model.
Maybe you enjoy trawling through all the knives in the world, but If you can pull together some form of budget, you’ll speed up the whole process ten-fold.
Applications and Application
The main and most exciting thing to ponder is what you want your knife to be capable of, and how you intend to use it.
Buying a knife with too many functions means it’s going to be more confusing and time-consuming trying to find the commonly used essentials in the moment. Buying a knife with too few functions, and you could be left high and dry in a situation you hadn’t expected.
Make a list of the essential functions you’d want in a new utility knife, then make a second list with any desired functions you’d like that perhaps aren’t quite as important. This won’t just help you hone in on what you’re after, it will also help you decide on a budget if you haven’t already.
The thing that’s going to save you money on a Swiss knife is cutting down on those functions. Try and cut down that list of desired applications by thinking realistically about how often - if ever - they’re likely to come in handy.
Don’t just think of hypotheticals; you’ll end up with the XAVT every time. Think about your past experiences, e.g. what worked well, what you wish you’d had in specific instances; could anything have made it a safer and more enjoyable experience.
That being said, you’re not going to be able to prepare for everything life throws at you, so having a knife with a few applications you don’t necessarily think you’d use might end up being vital and perhaps even save your life.
If there isn’t a full list of the knife’s applications on the site you’re buying from, check the official Victorinox website. There you’ll find detailed rundowns of all their products.
A lot of the smaller blades on Swiss army knives don’t have a locking mechanism and run the risk of folding back over your fingers during a tricky task. Therefore, if you know you’re going to be cutting some challenging materials, it’s worth opting for a bigger blade with a lock.
Keep in mind a larger blade will mean more carrying restrictions.
Size and Weight
We think that this is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a pocket knife.
If a knife is too bulky, it’s not going to sit comfortably in your pocket or on a keyring, and if a knife is too heavy, well...you’re liable to become a naturist at any given moment.
Obviously, the fewer the applications a knife has, the more portable it’s going to be. Think about which pocket you’re likely to carry it in and what else will be in there with it.
At a certain size and weight, you might want to consider a belt attachment for your knife.
With utility pocket knives, quality is everything! You need the materials to be as hardy as possible because a breakage or malfunction could have drastic consequences if you’re in a vulnerable situation.
There are a few ways you can check if a knife is an official Victorinox product.
Pricing - Compare pricing with other retailers and the official Victorinox site. If it’s much cheaper, it’s likely not genuine. If it’s way more expensive, that’s suspicious as well.
Design and Brand - Fake products will have discrepancies in their design. Pay close attention to details and research what fakes commonly do differently.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to carry around a pocket knife?
The laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking, it’s legal to carry a multi-use pocket knife with a blade of 2.5 inches or less; however, this isn’t the case in locations such as schools, airports, courts etc, where it is still against the law to carry any kind of knife.
Check your state’s knife ownership and carrying guidelines to make sure you never break the law.
How long will a Swiss army knife last?
Victorinox Swiss army knives are built to last forever; however, It might be worth servicing individual components to ensure the best possible performance, e.g. oiling stiffened mechanisms and sharpening blades.
So, there you have it, a full list of what we believe are the best Swiss army knives available and a buyer’s guide just in case we didn’t find the perfect one for you right here in the article.
Now you’re prepared to survive that most treacherous pursuit of shopping for something in a saturated market, and once you’re out the other end of that, the real adventures can begin.