“SAK”s and Others

One side-effect of having set up this blog and having  embarked upon the “re-gearing” of my camping and outdoor equipment, has been discovering just how much stuff I actually have. The answer falls somewhere between “a whole lot” and “way too much”.

I am fairly careful, methodical, and responsible. Over all the many years of my outdoor life, I have lost or broken very few of my things. The result is that I still have a lot of things like the Boy Scout knife my grandfather gave me when I was 11 or 12 years old. Because family and friends have always known my enjoyment of camping and hiking, I have tended to be given many gifts of outdoor related gear. Together with what I have purchased for my own whims, desires, and needs I have truly got a lot of stuff.

I have been working my way through all of the various boxes from storage, old tool chests, current tool chests, glove compartments, camping totes, RV storage, etc in an effort to find out what I have and what I might start letting go of. One of the things I discovered is that I have a total of seven “swiss army knives” [at least… right now, that’s how many I’ve found]. Six of them are shown here in this photo… the seventh is in an emergency kit left Upptacamp so that I don’t need to take one along each time we go.


They are almost equally divided between honest-to-goodness Victorinox Swiss Army Knives and “freebie” knockoffs. I’m not going to go into anything detailed with these right now like I have with the multi-tools, because my simple judgment is that when it comes to SAK’s, there is no substitute for the real thing, And most of you are probably already aware of their virtuosity. They are amongst the most famous and well-known knives in the world, because they are the best. The feature set, the ergonomics, and the quality of materials that Victorinox puts into their product is second to none. Accept no substitutes.

Not that some of the knockoffs don’t have their own recommending points. I really like the little off-brand knife with the two-tine fork. I’ve carried it in my lunchbox/bag for years. It actually came as a free bonus with a subscription to National Geographic Adventures magazine. It’s handy, the blade stays sharp, and I don’t really have anything else like it. Mostly, the knockoffs and clones fall down in the smaller details. I have never seen one with anything approaching the quality of steel that Victorinox uses. While Victorinox manages to fit the [mostly unneeded] corkscrew tightly against the knife body, almost all of the knockoffs that I have seen have one protruding out so far that the sharp tip will snag and catch on your clothing or in your pocket. [You can easily compare the corkscrew on the little lunch box knife with one on the real Victorinox next to it]

Even the plastic that Victorinox uses on the scales for original SAK’s is of higher quality. From the looks of it you would think that the knockoff from Outside Magazine has had years of hard and happy use. No. It’s the biggest POC in the bunch. It was a loser from the get-go and never got any use at all. Ridiculously cheap steel, poorly executed tools, and the corkscrew on that one broke off on the first use. All of its “aging” came from knocking around in the back of a drawer.

Different people have different needs in a pocket tool. I like Swiss Army Knives well enough. I carried the one at the top center for something like 10 years… at least long enough for the logo shield to have worn off the other side. It’s just that once the “pocket tool”-style units like the Leatherman became available, I have always found that my needs were better met by other tools. If an SAK- style unit is what satisfies your needs, buy one. They are great tools. Just go ahead and buy one of the real Victorinox Swiss Army knives, and not a clone. This is a case where I don’t think that you’re ever going to find the 50/90 criteria being met over the long run.



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