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Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Pocket Knife – Long Term Review

Swiss Army Classic Knife
Swiss Army Classic  Pocket Knife

Swiss Army Knife Classic



The Swiss Army Classic pocket knife may be the best ultralight multi-tool ever designed. Weighing just 0.7 oz., it comes with a very serviceable pair of scissors, nail file, a sharp knife blade, tweezers and a toothpick. Unless you plan on skinning a deer or filleting a fish, this pocket knife is all you need.

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You don”t need a big knife for backpacking. I’ve been using the same Victorinox Swiss Army Classic pocket knife for going on 10 years now and I’ve never found the need to replace it with something different or bigger. If you are trying to shave weight from your pack, this little gem only weighs 0.7 oz. and comes with a very serviceable pair of scissors, nail file, a blade. tweezers and a toothpick. Unless you plan on skinning a deer or filleting a fish, this pocket knife is all you need.

I clip mine to the outside of my backpack with a little mini-biner, along with a little REI Therm-o-Compass, whenever I go hiking which makes it easy to switch between backpacks. Being so small, it is easy to lose or misplace, so I’ve made it a ritual to  return it to its biner immediately after use, and still haven’t lost it yet!

Same Swiss Army Knife - Many Different Backpacks over the Years
Same Swiss Army Knife – Many Different Backpacks over the Years

I mainly use the scissors for opening food packages, cutting Leukotape and guyline (it’s very sharp) or the emery board/screwdriver if I need to file down one of my toenails. I can’t even remember when I last used the knife blade – funny that the knife part of the knife is so rarely used but is still useful when needed. Same with the tweezers and toothpick.

This classic Swiss Army Knife is probably the best $15 I ever spent for ultralight backpacking!

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds quite a long time ago. 

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  1. I just found one of these little guys on my walk, and they are great to keep in a first aid kit for their features. Call me old fashion, but I need a larger blade for fruits, meats, and peanut butter (there's nothing worst than peanut butter, or honey, in fold of a pocket knife), and to widdle wood on those 0-mile days.

  2. I hear you. Choosing the best knife for your needs is highly personal. For me, this is all the knife I've ever needed. I mostly just use the scissors.

  3. I have the Victorinox knife but I now prefer the Wenger Evo as it is slightly larger and has a sturdier main blade and better scissors. It is only fractionally heavier (0.76oz). The way I avoid losing it is attaching a lanyard of bright yellow 2mm dyneema cord. You can hang it around your neck and it is much easier to spot in a stuff sack.

  4. I have carried one everyday for years, but not the same one as I forget about it and end up donating it to the TSA, or equivalents, at airports around the world………

  5. I never go anywhere without my red Wenger handy-dandy! I’ve used it for so many years and so many applications that the red cross has worn off the inset logo. I have an unusual serrated locking blade model in the standard size. And it’s guaranteed for life. Wenger will refurbish or replace for free. It’s a great companion wherever I go and whatever McGuiver situation I get myself into.

  6. Been using that same Swiss army knife for years, mainly for the scissors and screw driver. (Tighten flick locks on hiking poles, etc). About the only thing I use the blade for is to cut cheese and salami. My non hiking friends always ask me what kind of knife I carry expecting me take a Bowie knife and are surprised when I show them this little baby.

    • I hate getting food serving things dirty on the trail – germs and all – so I just tear off chunks of salami and cheese with my teeth. Works great as long as you hike or eat solo, but doesn’t scale well if you want to share your food with others! LOL.

  7. I carry a tiny, TSA Friendly, Leatherman Style PS most of the time. Like Philip, I mostly use the scisors. This winter, I decided to simply just carry a pair of scisors instead, which are easier to use with gloves on. So far I haven’t regretted this decision.

  8. Ooooh, Knives, one of my favorite Subjects…I have amassed over 40 knives over the years and carry just two now when Backpacking. The Swiss Army Classic as pictured and the Swiss Army Workmans Champ, which is different from the regular Champ in a couple of ways. It doesn’t have as many useless tools and it has a NON-SLIP GRIP and the main Blade LOCKS IN PLACE. I gave up the regular Champ after a Sierra Loop trip through the Bishop Basin. I had landed a number of fine looking Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout for Breakfast at Blue Lake. I was cleaning them at the lake side when the Trout in my hand slipped which caused my hand to slip on the handle on the Champ causing me to grab at the knife to keep it from falling into 10 feet of 40 degree Mountain melt water, the main blade buckled and It cut right to the bone of my left pointer finger luckly missing the artery between the two knuckle creases. Being that I was least 4 hours or longer from the Hospital in Bishop and bleeding quite heavily I got out my “Housewife Kit” and sewed up the finger myself before I bled to death. I believe that if the blade hadn’t buckled I would have only have had a slight wound and not one that went to the bone. So I looked for a replacement and just so happened to have recieved in the mail a Catalog from one of the big knife Retailers who had a special section on Victorinox knives. The Work Champ was on sale for $45 dollars, now it averages between $65 and $80 depending on the Retailer. With the WorkChamp I have disassembled my Backpacking Stoves and my SnowPeak Lantern when they were clogged or just needed TLC. I also repaired my eye glasses, my Straps on my Backpack and the Zipper on my tent using this knife. In my opinion It only needs one more tool to make it perfect for my needs and that is a Hook Disengorger. I wrote Victorinox suggesting that and got a nice polite answer but no they did not customize their knives with specfic tools. So I just whittle one out of a small stick when fishing. Now this past Christmas I gifted six of the Victorinox Classic’s to a few Ladies in my Bible Study Class at Church and they now carry them in their purses they were like 10 year old boys with thier first knife, None of the men in their families had ever given them a knife before. One Lady related to me how she surprised the group of Men she works with when she pulled out her “Knife” to open some mail and wrapped sandwiches at work. She is a geologist with the State Highway Administration. By the way the favorite was the pink camoflaged one… My “prized” knife I have owned since 1970, is a “Randall Made” Hunter. My Father bought it for me when I was headed overseas. He used the big Marine K-Bar in WWII and thought it unweildy so he gifted me with the Randall, which by the way was made by the Old Man Randall back then not his son who currently puts out an excellent product just like his Dad. I have made the Classic an essential part of my equipment list for my Daypack, my Camera pack, my Bicycle handlebar bag, my three fishing tackle boxes, my main Backpack, my Hunting pack, in my truck glove box and of course always in my pocket. It is a great little knife.

  9. I’ve had the same Victorinox “Camper” since about 1988, when I started Boy Scouts. I’ve lost and replaced the tweezers and toothpick several times. The scissors-spring lost its springiness at some point along the way – not a surprise after so many years of use – but I replaced that, too. It has been a flawless performer. I’ve also carried the same “Classic” on my key-ring since I got married in 1996 (got these as gifts for my groomsmen and picked one up for myself at the same time). I’ve had to make the same replacements on it, but otherwise flawless. I use it almost daily: mainly the blade to open mail, and the scissors to cut open food wrappers of various sorts. I recently added a “Signature Lite” model to my collection specifically for long-distance hiking. It’s just like the “Classic” but adds a retractable ball-point pen and a tiny LED light (not bright enough for night hiking, but great for middle-of-the-night use in camp).

  10. I too carry the Style PS with the pliers feature. It is only marginally heavier than the VC, but I have found the pliers have been very useful when trying to pick up a hot pot or pick apart a stubborn knot in a guyline. I have even used it to get a better purchase on a tent stake or two.

  11. They are just a great quality knife with so many uses.

  12. Hey folks. I found a number of years ago that my Swiss army stainless could just not keep an edge…Iwas doing a lot of Scouting activities where I was cutting paracord or showing lads how to use a knife. I began looking for a carbon steel knife instead. There are really two worth considering, 1) Mora which is a fixed blade, and their cheapest at ~$9 is actually pretty light but a bit heavy unless you know you need it. The other is Opinel which is a folder and is the quintesential French knife, and also around $10 deopending on size. These come in varying numbers that relate to sizes, and both can be found on Amazon.

    I took a number 8, removed much of the handle to reduce weight (which to my eye is pretty ugly to start with) and keep it in my hiking kit……..very sharp knife and it stays so (and tough enough for splitting wet sticks to expose dry). The only catch is that you can’t let it stay wet due to the carbon steel. The fun bonus is that the handle even for an inept wood worker as myself, is that you can sand the handle down and/or carve and re-stain to your liking which is really quite satsfying. See below link. Jim


    • I think your full of baloney. I have owned quite few of Victorninox knives as well as 40 some odd knives including the one’s you are pushing and found them to be substandard to say the least…Nice try though.. Got dull cutting paracord…Really?? Yeah right…You probably bought one of those look alikes..

      • Actually I just checked…mine is a Victorninox…….and by the way I am of Swiss descent, so not a conclusion I wanted to make. My comment was not a dig at the manufacturer, it was one at stainless steel versus carbon steel. I stand by the observation I made.

      • The belief that carbon cutlery steel can be made sharper or is stronger for than stainless cutlery steel is, I’m afraid, an urban myth.
        There are many factors contributing to sharpness and strength in steel, the chemical composition being only one of them.
        As regards to Victorinox: They have chosen to keep their stainless steel relatively soft. The negative side of this is that it tends to dull slightly faster than many other steels. The positive side is that the steel is easier to sharpen.
        Opinel, on the other hand, have chosen to have a slightly higher hardness on their steels (carbon as well as stainless), keeping the sharpness slightly longer.
        And the difference in hardness is exactly what you’ve noticed in your Victorinox/Opinel experiences. Not the difference carbon vs. stainless steel.
        In my mind, both Victorinox and Opinel produce excellent knives, particularly if you look at what you pay for them.

      • I have never had an Opinel knife, but they look ugly and primitive and seem
        to be weakly constructed, hence I would never buy one but there are those who would not use anything else. I love my swiss army
        knives, especially the Outrider model. It weighs about 5 ounces, but the extra weight is worth it for me to have an extra length wood saw, a large locking blade and the corkscrew that shelters the mini screwdriver for my eyeglasses. Swiss army knives are not made of the best steel, but they hold an edge long enough and are easy to sharpen in the field if need be. I also have a lightweight Benchmade mini Griptillion, which is a high quality folder with a 3 inch blade made from 154cm stainless steel, which is amazing in it’s ability to both hold a razor sharp edge and be sharpened in the field. The previous respondent is completely wrong on the subject of stainless steels being inferior to high carbon steel. That debate has actually been put to rest years ago but people continue to believe this myth. It is actually the opposite with modern stainless knives holding an edge much better than high carbon steel knives. You, on the other hand, are wrong about Mora knives being junk. Moras are inexpensive yes, but their performance rivals high quality custom knives selling for many multiples more. They deliver superb, reliable real world performance and the scandi grind makes them dirt simple to sharpen in the field. I find it hard to believe you ever owned one.

  13. I carried it on my 2011 AT Thru-hike.

  14. I keep a black one of those clipped to my packs but also carry a Spyderco Delica 4 clipped inside my hiking pants/shorts. Very light knife and very sharp! I love knives. ; )

  15. I carry a Victorinox Electrician’s knife and a Leatherman Squrt ES4 practically all of the time. One might gather that I use them for electrical work, and I do, but they are so much more useful than that. The electrician’s knife is very similar to the full size Swiss Army knife, but it has a screw driver instead of a can opener and a short straight insulation skinning blade. The Squirt ES4 has combination pliers and wire stripper and also small scissors. I also have a Swiss Army Classic knife that I keep next to my recliner and use all of the time, but don’t normally carry. The squirt is almost as compact as the classic.

  16. I haven’t carried a knife in years because I never used when I did. I only used the scissors on the Victorinox. When I lost that, I replaced it with a pair of orthopedic scissors that stays sharp and has excellent leverage.

  17. I have that exact same knife and I keep it in my backpack all the time! I actually found it just laying on the ground, one of the greatest finds ever. Although I am known to swap between that, a Leatherman, and a Gerber folding serated blade. I like my knives.

  18. I now prefer the leatherman style for its excellent scissors and beefier blade at roughly the same weight. And the blade is razor sharp!

  19. Just used one of those to trim some Leukotape for my son’s toe last night. For camping, I have the glow-in-the-dark version, just because it is cool.


    I do carry another knife sometimes, mostly because you need a longer blade to slice cave-aged Gruyère. For that, it is my trusty Gerber LST, at a whopping 36 grams.

  20. I carry a Leatherman Style on a neck cord along with a whistle and small light. I guess if I was building a lot of fires I might want a more substantial knife but a minimal knife meets my needs.

  21. I carry a tiny knife with scissors too, and I’ve found it to be more than adequate most of the time. But once I was on top of Hunter Mtn in NY, and my dog ran off the trail and ran back with a nose full of porcupine quills. Luckily we met a nice man up near the fire tower that was carrying a big Leatherman with pliers and he helped me pull those quills off my poor pup.

    • Since I lived in Southern California for 30 years and roamed the Deserts all those years, I always carried a pair of pliers to remove Thorns and Cacti spikes not only from me but from my Dog as well. Switching to the Victorinox WorkChamp saved weight in that there is a pliers on this unit. I like to fish and when Ocean or Lake Fishing or in the Sierra’s I found the Classic to be two small for cleaning fish with my big hands so again the locking big blade on the Workchamp came into play. I just checked my favorite on line Knife supplier and found the Workchamp is now $89.00 up from the $45 I paid for mine so it must be becoming popular.

  22. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here but. I used my Classic beauty over the last 4 days extentsively out in my backyard for work. It opened 24 bags of Topsoil, Made at least 45 cuts of that Plastic Rope Nuseries are using to tie up their trees with, opened the plastic packages that 8 Semi-dwarf Fruit Trees were wrapped in and the reinforced plastic packages on 3 Hazelnut trees. after planting the trees I used the same plastic rope or cord cut up into different lengths to tie the trees to stakes for wind support. About 3 cuts per tree or about 33 cuts. I then used to it open a bag of lime, Fertilizer, Weed and Feed, and trimmed a broken fingernail and then I sliced an Apple and some Cheddar Cheese at the end of the day..Still as sharp as when I started…Great Little knife an great steel in the blade..

  23. I agree that keyring sized tools are sufficient for UL hiking. But I must be hard on my knives as I’ve busted 5 or 6 classics over the years, typically getting less than 2 years out them. (I never buy them. Common corporate gift.) Feature for feature, I’ve found the Leatherman Micra superior in every aspect. The scissors can handle heavy fabric and pack straps and the body can be opened making a full length hand for the knife blade for better leverage whe working with wood. The Micra is much more durable and the heat treatment on the blade is much better.

    This said, I end up carrying the PS4 Squirt in the woods for the small pliers which make it possible to drive a needle thru heavy fabric for repairs.

    For people dismissing the Opinel based on looks, don’t let looks decieve you. It is among the toughest folding knives made.

  24. “Unless you plan on skinning a deer. . .” Or maybe if you are. Just to show we could, a UL buddy and I skinned and dressed a bear with a 1″ blade. The trick is to cut all the tendons around the joints, avoiding the need for a bone saw. OTOH, when we got 5 caribou all at the same time, my 1-ounce “Little Vicky” Victorinox paring knife was the most popular, as it always is. And it’s plenty long enough for filleting any fish you’ll catch while backpacking.

    Still, the Victorinox Classic is the most knife I ever bring on a non-hunting backpacking trip. TSA-seized ones can be found on eBay for $5 each.

    If I used wood fires to cook with, I’d bring a small pull saw before a bigger knife.

  25. I checked out the Classic and found the scissors to be just a little to small for my fat fingers to operate easily. However I then found the Victorinox Ambassador which is identical to the Classic except it is 74 mm rather than 58. This is an unusual “in between” size for SAKs, bigger than the classic but smaller than the most common medium sized knives, such as the Tinker. I found the extra few mm made the scissors and blade a bit easier to use for only a few extra grams. Worth it to me.

  26. How do you make fires? When everything is wet and you need to split the wood? How do you cut bread? How do you make a peg for your tent, if you loose one or need a bigger one for sandy ground? How do you even cut and clean a mushroom or a fish? The blade is too short and too weak for most common outdoor tasks. Don’t get me wrong, I love these little gems, but I put them into my first aid kits, where they may be handy (but even there, larger scissors would be preferable), or just use them as cute geek toys. I cannot imagine this to be my only knife somewhere in the wilderness.

    I carry a Victorinox every day, outdoors or indoors (when not in my home or in a plane) – it is hanging on my keys. But is is a larger model – 91 mm Victorinox Compact (it has 6 cm blade, scissors, various openers and of course the small tweezers, toothpick and a pen). For urban environment, it is all I need. I can even cut a slice of bread (I have to go around the loaf when cutting as the typical bread load is larger than the blade) and spread something yummy on it – but I cannot imagine using a smaller blade for it. Or I can open a bottle of beer or wine if I want to make a small picnic in a city park. I still carry it into the wilderness – because of the scissors and the openers, but I would not want it to be my main blade. For multi-day trips or whenever I want to make a fire, Mora Companion is the minimum I take.

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