The Swiss Army Knife is a great companion to have for everyday use or for and type of outdoor or survival situation. What makes a Swiss Army knife different than a regular knife is that it is not only a folding knife but a multi-tool device that offers a range of other tools.
The Swiss Army knife brand, now owned by Victorinox is a brand that dates back to the late 19 century. The name “swiss army knife” originates back in from WWII when Americans stuck in Germany had a difficult time pronouncing the German name Offiziersmesser and started calling the knives “Swiss Army Knives”.
True Swiss Army Knives have been around for more than 100 years and are today are an iconic element to one’s outdoor gear. Made for the outdoors, these multi-purpose tools come in handy during all kinds of emergencies.
But with so many to choose from, which one is best for survival?
In this article, we’ll explore seven models, and show you how they stack up against each other on features like blade quality and durability.
Best Swiss Army Knives For Any Survival Situation
- Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker – Overall Pick
- Swiss Army EvoGrip S18 – Most Ergonomic
- Swiss Army Pioneer Alox – Simplest Design
- Swiss Army Rescue Tool – Best For Emergencies
- Swiss Army Classic SD Swiss Knife – Best Budget Pick
- Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife – Best Premium Swiss Knife
- Swiss Army WorkChamp XL Pocket Tool – Best Big Boy Purchase
1. Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker
Length of blade: 3.5inches
Weight: 4.5 ounces
Handle material: Polyamide & stainless steel
Pros: Pocketable size, Not too heavy, Thumb opener on the Opening blade, Reasonably sharp blade, Relatively cheap.
Cons: No pocket clip
This one-handed Trekker Swiss pocket knife is all about functionality and has multi-tool functionality that comes with 12 functions in three sleek styles. The blades are made of stainless steel which should come as no surprise here, as Victorinox gear is premium stuff.
Perfect for camping or hiking, this pocket knife features a locking blade with a partially serrated edge; screwdriver/bottle opener with a small screwdriver and wire stripper; can opener; large flathead screwdriver with blades (Phillips’s head) for electrical current terminals; 2 measuring tools – Dial calipers and ruler, corkscrew, toothpick blade, and scissors.
The swiss knife has a slightly slimmer profile than what is their signature model, it also has a different ergonomic hold and you will notice that the exterior is rough rather than the traditional polished feel and look to them. The rough feel definitely is a different look, but it helps to keep a grip as they can often get slick when wet.
If you could only pick one knife to bring with you on a desert island, (or on a packing trip) this would be it. Don’t believe us? Well, this one long-winded reviewer agrees and another die-hard knifer. So You don’t have to take our word for it. 😉
2. Victorinox Swiss Army EvoGrip S18
Length of blade: 3 inches
Weight: 3.3 ounces
Handle material: Stainless Steel
Pros: Locking blade, Rubber grip, New design, 15 functions.
Cons: Hinges can be a bit tight.
Our second choice is the Victorinox Swiss Army EvoGrip S18. It gives insight into what Victorinox might be doing with their next-generation Swiss army knives. This new design again is quite different from the custom classic red slabs that people have used over the years. It seems like they are trying to reinvent their look.
The knife has its characteristic fold-in locking mechanism for the knife’s blade as well as the fifteen functions including a key ring, toothpick, tweezers, blade, nail file, nail cleaner, screwdriver, bottle opener, small screwdriver, wire stripper, can opener, 3mm screwdriver, sewing awl, small wood saw, and a pair of scissors.
Whether you’re hiking through the Swiss Alps or just pestering the squirrels in your backyard, this versatile knife is an easy pocket. If you want a slightly different look and feel to your knife we would say this has you covered
These babies are still made in Switzerland despite the trend of moving to sweatshops in China, so it still has that sweet made in Switzerland appeal. This thing pretty much has anything you are going to look for in a Swiss knife…well according to us anyhow.
3. Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer Alox
Height: 12 mm
Weight: 71 g
Scale material: Alox
Pros: Stainless steel, Easy to carry, Nice handles.
Cons: Not a lock blade.
The old Victorinox Pioneer has proved to be a tried and true model over the years. The 1961 model is the civilian version that was issued to Swiss soldiers. The Victorinox Pioneer Alox has two tool layers and an Alox handle scale which again is another departure from the traditional red hard plastic pocket knives the brand is so famous for.
It also contains a useful bottle opener/large screwdriver and a combination of a can opener, small driver, and Philips driver tools. The Victorinox Pioneer Alox knife is one of the most straightforward pocket knives to use. The Pioneer has no bells and whistles, so don’t be too disappointed, but as this is a basic model the price point is hard to beat. Despite it not being as fancy as the others, people still sing its praises, with only old-timer here loving his knife so much that he’s had it on him every day for the last 35 years (50 including his other model)!
The Pioneer Alox has a signature stainless steel blade that has a good edge retention and comes with a full warranty in case you are no totally satisfied. What more could you want than that?
4. Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool
Best For Emergencies
Length: 4.37 in x 0.8 in width
Weight: 8.o oz
Scale material: Polyamide
Pros: Replaceable parts, Glowing handle scales, Brightly coloured belt case, One-hand opening blade.
Cons: No pocket clip.
Victorinox specifically made this pocket knife for emergency medical and rescue services. What makes this knife a bit different than the others is that it comes with a window breaker and disc saw, which is not your everyday type of tools, but pretty cool nonetheless and great for emergency situations while in your car.
Some other notable features are that this pocket knife comes with a belt cutter, a luminescent grip as well as a screwdriver/crate opener/bottle opener/wire stripper combo. The disc saw, and window breaker tools are replaceable as they are subject to wear.
Because this knife was used with emergency personnel in mind the tools can be opened quickly, (as some are known to be sticky and difficult to open), even while wearing gloves and in low light conditions.
There are two models of the Rescue Tool– one with a one-handed opening blade and the other with a regular blade and edge. The blade has liner locking and 111mm range-style knives come with a leather pouch or sheath.
Though this isn’t your typical standard swiss knife why we like it as it’s something different.
5. Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Swiss Knife
Best Budget Pick
Dimensions: 2.3″ x 0.71” x 0.35”
Weight: 0.7 oz
Scale material: ABS/ Cellidor
Pros: Lightweight, Classic look, Affordable.
Cons: Spring of the scissor gets knocked out sometimes.
The Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Knife is the most versatile of all our pocket knives because it’s so compact. This multifunctional tool sports a locking blade with a nail file/screwdriver tip and a precision screwdriver handles even tiny screws without slipping or scratching delicate surfaces such as eyeglasses or electronics equipment.
The high-quality blades are engineered in Switzerland by experts with over one hundred years combined experience which you can just tell by the workmanship. They’re guaranteed never to rust, and if they do, they will replace them at no charge.
Now, this is the smallest lightest and in fact, cheapest swiss knife that we have on our list. So while this may not be the “best survival swiss army knife” in truth, there is another small truth that says, any swiss knife will help you in a survival situation. Just don’t expect 101 tools from this lil guy, though don’t worry, you are still going to get seven.
With an ergonomic red elastomer grip, this Swiss-made knife is sure to be your new best friend. Perfect for when you’re in a situation where size really does matter…because sometimes bigger is not better, it’s how you use it.
6. Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife
Best Premium Swiss Knife
Dimensions: Length: 3.6” (91mm), Height: 1.3”
Weight: 6.5 oz
Scale material: ABS/ Cellidor
Pros: Slick premium feel that Swiss Army Knifes are known for, Has a huge amount of tools, Lifetime warranty, Stand out color and finish.
Cons: On the higher price range, No case.
The SwissChamp Knife is one of the top-end Swiss knives that we have on this list. While not the most expensive (or fanciest) on this list it is sitting at a price that is a bit more than all the others. Why, you ask? Well, this guy comes with a whopping 33 different tools, thats why. What stands out above the rest is the nearly 2.5″ blade and the fish descaler.
We like this particular model as it carries the traditional look and feel that the Swiss brand is so known for. Honestly, this one is one of our favorites as it has that nostalgic factor that comes when you can re-connect with something from the past. This feels like the one we used to use back in the day in Boyscouts. If you had this guy as a kid, your were the kid everyone envied. There’s something about a kid and his first knife.
Back to our review. So just beware that this guy is big, It will feel huge in your hand if you are used to the “standard size”. Meaning this isn’t really meant to be kept in your pocket, it’s a bit too big for that and as it doesn’t come with a case you likely will have to buy it separately if you wanted to wear it on your belt.
This one is the second biggest and heaviest on the list which isn’t too surprising as it has 6 rows of tools which is kind of needed to fit all the tools. So remember this is your big bertha of a swiss knife, which is great if thats what your after.
7. Swiss Army WorkChamp XL Pocket Tool
Best Big Boy Purchase
Dimensions: 4.7 x 1.79 x 1.79 inches
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Scale material: ABS/ Cellidor
Pros: Looks amazing, Solid build, You will be the envy of the party, Lockable blade.
Cons: Bulky and heavy, Bit expensive
Ok so if the SwissChamp is the Big Bertha this is the Big Kuhuna. The Swiss WorkChamp may be a bit much of a spend for some people, as it is one of the most expensive foldable Swiss pocket knives that Victorinox makes. That being said, there is a reason for it as this thing is a beast of a multi-tool.
It’s pretty likely that you will be the envy of the campfire circle when you bust this thing out. Your pretty sure, to get lots of oo’s and ah’s. It’s one of those tools that you will look forward to using. It’s great for those just-in-case scenarios. However, it is not so much of an EDC knife because of its bulk and weight, rather better for camping, backpacking or stowed in your survival gear somewhere.
The biggest and first thing you will notice is that this thing is wide, as it has 10 layers of folding tools that comes with it, coming in at just under 2 inches wide.
No matter what you need, you are likely to find it on this thing.
How to Choose the Best Swiss Army Knife for Survival? A Buyers Guide
How to choose the best swiss army knife? To be honest you can’t go wrong with any of the Victorinox knives. Though there is slight variations for each of them, the best one will be what is best for you and what you intend to use the knife for.
If you are looking to buy a swiss knife specifically for emergency or survival situations, then finding a knife that comes with a range of functions is something you want to look out for, whereas if you just want a tool for around the house, then you can go with the simple classic design.
What to look for in a Swiss Army Knife?
Knowing what you want to use if for will help narrow down the type of tool that you should be on the lookout for. If you want something that is light and easy to carry around then I wouldn’t go for the WorkChamp or the SwissChamp, as these are better for more heavy use and more functionality, so better something smaller that won’t feel like your carrying around a rock in your pocket.
1. Size of the Swiss Army Knife
The size will depend on what you want to get out of the tool. The more functions and tools the bigger and heavier the knife will be. The knives that are listed above range in height and weight from 0.7 oz and 2.3 in all the way up to 10.0oz and 4.7in. The lighter smaller knives still have a few tools (up to 7) whereas the bigger wider tools have up to 33.
2. How Many Tools are you Looking for?
There are some of the more simple swiss knives that have only a few tools that have limited functionality and would probably be better for everyday carry, or could be used fishing, while out camping or backpacking.
The last two on our list as we mentioned before carrying upwards of 33 different tools, which actually would be better for emergency and survival situations. The Swiss Rescue Tool is actually specifically designed for emergencies, and as it has a glass breaker it would be ideal as tool to stow in your car, just in case.
3. Color and Design
Since Victorinox bought the company from Werner in 2005, the classic Swiss knives have gotten a bit of a re-design. While we prefer the old slick classic look, the new modern feel has a distinct design, with a rough coating and ergonomic handle that makes the knife easier to wield and will prevent your hand from slipping if it’s wet or hot out.
The swiss army knives have a few different handles- the classic red sheen as well as some other new additions such as neon. The black color as well as the camo aren’t exactly new colors but are a departure from the all to familiar red. Many of the models come in more than one color, so you can mix and match models with handle colors.
4. Price of the Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Knives have a wide price point as you can see here, if you go to their store. On this best list review, the range goes from just over ten dollars to over three hundred, so they can be affordable for anyone, from the first time knife buyers to collectors, and really anyone looking for a swiss army knife. Though you may not be able to get all of the functionality with cheaper models, you will still be able to get the Swiss brand.
A swiss army knife is a great tool to have in any outdoor survival situation, and Victorinox makes some of the best. A good multi-purpose tool comes in handy for not such “survival situations” but also for everyday use. I’ve used a Swiss Army knife for years and will continue to do so.