Whether you’re looking for a tool to help you survive in the wilderness or a convenient everyday carry item, there’s nothing quite as handy as a Swiss Army Knife.
We’ve compared the best Swiss Army Knives on the market today and prepared a full list of the best options at several price points. Our full buyer’s guide is available below. However, if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to read our entire guide, here are our top recommendations:
- If you have a limited budget and want a simple Swiss Army Knife for everyday carry without any pointless features, we recommend the Victorinox Sportsman II Pocket Knife.
- If you want a more sophisticated Swiss Army Knife with features like scissors, we recommend the Victorinox Climber II.
- If you want a Swiss Army Knife that’s packed with features for hiking, fishing and survival, we recommend the Victorinox Champion Plus. This knife includes the full set of Swiss Army tools (more than 30 in total).
- If you want a Swiss Army Knife specifically for travel and trekking, we recommend the Victorinox Trekker Pocket Knife.
The Swiss Army Knife: A History
The Swiss Army Knife originated in the 1890s as a convenient multi-tool designed for soldiers in — you guessed it — the Swiss military. While most people associate the term “Swiss Army Knife” with any multi-tool, it’s actually a registered trademark that can only be used by two companies.
To explain why, we’ll need to dig into the history of the Swiss Army Knife. Before we get into our list of the best Swiss Army Knives, let’s cover the origins of this extremely useful multi-tool and the current state of the Swiss Army Knife industry.
The first Swiss Army Knife was produced by Victorinox in 1891 as part of the contract with the Swiss Army to produce a functional multi-tool that soldiers could easily carry in their pocket. In 1893, another company — this one called Wenger — also won a contract to produce the knives.
For several years, the Swiss Army divided its multi-tool production between Victorinox and its competitor Wenger. In 1908, the contract was split between the two manufacturers — Wenger earned the rights to produce half of all Swiss Army Knives, and Victorinox the other half.
Because of this, Wenger and Victorinox are the only companies that can legally use the words “Swiss Army Knife” to market their products. Any company can produce a device like a Swiss Army Knife, but they can’t market it using the term “Swiss Army Knife.”
Because of this, Wenger and Victorinox have dominated the market for Swiss-made pocket knives and multitools for the past century. The two companies used several strategies to set their products apart — Wenger called theirs the “Genuine Swiss Army Knife” while Victorinox called theirs the “Original Swiss Army Knife.”
Then, in 2005, Victorinox acquired Wenger, ending their century-long battle for control of the Swiss Army Knife. Today, all Swiss Army Knives carry the Victorinox brand name and feature the trademark Swiss flag on the side of the tool body.
What To Look For in a Swiss Army Knife:
Over the decades, the Swiss Army Knife has evolved from a simple multi-tool into a complex device packed with useful features. Today, the most sophisticated Swiss Army Knives contain 25 to 30 different tools, making them the equivalent of a toolbox that fits in your pocket.
Victorinox makes a variety of different Swiss Army Knives today, ranging from basic models that cost less than $15 to advanced models priced at almost $50. Even in the most simplistic Swiss Army Knife available today, you’ll find:
- One (or several) knife blades
- A corkscrew, can opener and bottle opener
- A nail file and nail cleaner
You’ll also usually find standard issue tools like keyrings, toothpicks, tweezers and other useful items. In the more advanced Swiss Army Knives, you’ll even find tools like wood saws, flathead screwdrivers, magnifying glasses and more.
As a general rule, the more money you spend on a Swiss Army Knife, the more features you’ll get. We’ve included four Swiss Army Knives on our list, all of which offer a different set of tools for different purposes.
Should You Buy From Victorinox or a Low-Budget Brand?
Although Victorinox is the only company that can market its tools under the “Swiss Army Knife” name, there are hundreds of companies that make similar multi-tools and knives. Most of these companies make their products in China and sell them at about 75% of the price of Victorinox.
We’ve tested most of these low-budget alternatives, and while some are good, the majority are built to be cheap rather than good. For every one passable knock-off we found, we tested 10 or more multi-tools that were cheaply made and unlikely to last longer than a few months.
One of the advantages of buying Victorinox is the all Swiss Army Knives come with a lifetime warranty. For this reason, we strongly recommend getting a real Victorinox Swiss Army Knife instead of a cheaper knife from a budget brand.
Add in the fact that the cost difference is usually only $5 to $20 and we think it’s obvious that the best option is to invest in the original. Not only will you get a superior product — you’ll also get a lifetime warranty that protects you in the event your Swiss Army Knife ever stops working.
The Best Swiss Army Knife for Everyday Carry
Effective everyday carry (EDC) is all about two things: function and convenience. Our pick for the best Swiss Army Knife for everyday carry is a simple, lightweight knife that packs 12 tools into a compact design.
Victorinox Sportsman II Swiss Army Pocket Knife
The Sportsman II is one of the simplest and lightest Swiss Army Knives made by Victorinox. At just 3¼ inches in length, this knife fits comfortably inside a front pocket or into an interior pocket of a backpack or weekend bag, making it ideal for everyday use.
The small size, low weight and useful features of the Sportsman II make it our recommendation for the best Swiss Army Knife for everyday carry.
This Swiss Army Knife contains 12 different stainless steel tools. The large knife blade is sharp and ideal for cutting through wood, fabric, paper and other materials. There’s also a thin blade, a nail file, nail cleaner and small screwdriver. This knife even includes a wire stripper.
This knife contains a can opener, bottle opener and corkscrew, making it a great tool for use at parties and other events. Finally there’s a keyring attached to the end of the knife body, making it easy to attach this Swiss Army Knife to your belt or clip it securely inside your backpack.
If you’re looking for a simple Swiss Army Knife that includes the essential features for everyday carry, this is the one to choose. At just $14.99, it’s by far the most affordable Swiss Army Knife you can buy from Victorinox. Like all Victorinox tools, it has a lifetime warranty against defects.
Victorinox Climber II Swiss Army Pocket Knife
The Climber II is a step up from the Sportsman II in Victorinox’s Swiss Army Knife collection. It offers all of the same tools as the Sportsman II, but packs in a small pair of scissors and a thin multi-purpose hook for carrying parcels and other light items.
Compared to the Sportsman II, the Climber II is ever so slightly larger. This knife measures 3½ inches from end to end, meaning it’s still small enough to easily fit inside the average pocket or sit comfortably in your backpack. This is also a great Swiss Army Knife for everyday carry.
Victorinox designs this knife for adventurers who need a lightweight, highly functional knife for use in the field. If you’re looking for a small upgrade from the Sportsman II, the Climber II is an excellent choice. Just like all other Victorinox tools, it’s backed up by a lifetime warranty.
Best Swiss Army Knife for Camping and Survival
Need a Swiss Army Knife that will help you survive in the field? In addition to their range of light, everyday carry tools, Victorinox makes several feature-packed Swiss Army Knives designed to keep you safe and protected while adventuring.
We’ve listed our favorite Swiss Army Knife for survival below — the lightweight but feature-filled Champion Plus.
Victorinox Champion Plus Swiss Army Pocket Knife
The Champion Plus is Victorinox’s most advanced standard Swiss Army Knife, with a complete set of tools designed for use in the field. If you’re looking for a Swiss Army Knife for survival and outdoor adventuring, this is the model to choose.
Victorinox has packed the Champion Plus with 30 different stainless steel tools, ranging from a variety of everyday items such as bottle openers and corkscrews to specific survival tools such as a compact magnifying glass.
This Swiss Army Knife contains several blades. There’s a standard large knife, a smaller blade for opening envelopes and other parcels, as well as a dagger-style blade that opens out of the top end of the knife. There’s also the usual carrier hook, nail files and small scissors.
The Champion Plus also includes several handy tools specific to this model, including a small ruler that measures up to seven centimeters and a saw blade. Despite the huge range of new features specific to this model, the Champion Plus does not contain a set of pliers.
If you’re looking for the ultimate Swiss Army Knife for use in the field, the Champion Plus will definitely meet your needs. Lack of pliers aside, this is the most feature-packed tool currently available from Victorinox. As with the other knives listed above, it has a lifetime warranty.
Best Swiss Army Knife for Hiking and Trekking
Don’t need a bottle opener or a corkscrew? If you need a Swiss Army Knife that’s built for use on hikes and adventures, the Trekker — Victorinox’s no-nonsense model — is the best knife on the market right now.
Victorinox Trekker Swiss Army Pocket Knife
Most Swiss Army Knives are designed to pack as many features as possible into the smallest form factor. The Trekker is very different. This is Victorinox’s Swiss Army Knife for adventurers and trekkers uninterested in superfluous features and more interested in a set of great blades.
This Swiss Army Knife contains three different blades, all of which are made of stainless steel and separated by rust-free aluminium alloy partitions. There’s a regular long blade, a serrated saw blade designed for cutting into wood and cardboard and a small blade for cutting paper.
There’s also a Phillips-head screwdriver, a locking screwdriver and a flathead screwdriver, as well as a compact can and bottle opener. These are useful features, but the key selling points here are definitely the blades — they’re by far the best we’ve seen in any Swiss Army Knife.
At five inches in length, this is by far the longest Swiss Army Knife in our roundup. It’s also the only one not to use the traditional Swiss Army Knife form factor — instead, this knife is shaped more like the handle of a high-end survival knife.
Held together by brass rivets, this is a durable knife designed for use on treks and other settings where trees and shrubs are a common annoyance. Like other Victorinox products, the Trekker is sold with a lifetime warranty that covers any defects in material and workmanship.
What Do You Think is the Best Swiss Army Knife?
Victorinox makes a huge range of Swiss Army Knives, including several that we haven’t listed in our roundup above. From everyday carry to serious survival in the wilderness, there’s a knife to suit just about every situation.
What do you think is the best Swiss Army Knife? If you think we missed a great model in our list, let us know in the comments (make sure to include the specific model name) and we’ll add it to our “to review” list for future buyer’s guide and product recommendations.