How to choose the best Swiss army knife for camping

If you're thinking of buying a Swiss Army Knife for camping and travel, there's a few things to consider before buying one.

Choosing a Swiss Army Knife for camping

Why take a Swiss Arm Knife camping?

Whether backpacking or cycling around the world, the one thing that I would suggest is to never travel without a Swiss Army Knife. From my first hitchiking trips around the UK at the age of 17, to my later around the world bicycle tours, the first thing I always pack is a Swiss Army Knife.

Thorn Nomad Mk II with Rohloff speedhub - fully loaded bicycle touring

These versatile little bits of kit fit easily into a pocket, weigh next to nothing, and yet have a multitude of uses. There are a lot of cheap imitations around, but the genuine Swiss Army Knife is made by Victorinox, who offer a lifetime guarantee on the materials and workmanship.

Swiss Army Knives come in all shapes and sizes, and I've lost count of the different amount of models there are now. My current Swiss Army Knife is their ‘Camping' model – it may or may not still be made! Note – even though it says camping on it, it may or may not now be called Ranger!

This Swiss Army Knife has all the tools that I personally need for camping and traveling, as well as a few useful additions I've only used once or twice in 10 years, but come in handy when you do need them!

Swiss Army Knife For Travel

In the past, the most commonly used tool on a Swiss Army Knife was probably the can opener! Times change though, and now we have these new fangled canned foods with ring pull lids, it doesn't get used as often as in the past.

A dusty shop in the middle of nowhere!

When you do stumble upon canned food without a ring pull in a dusty shop in the middle of nowhere though, a Swiss Army Knife will prove to be a godsend!

Swiss Army Knife features I Love

Nowadays, I most frequently use the scissors, tweezers, and single blade when bicycle touring and traveling. The other tools on the knife get used in those occasional situations that arise from time to time.

  • Scissors – My toe nails are tough. REALLY tough! The Swiss Army Knife has a great pair of scissors that cut through them with no problems at all!
  • Main Blade – When on the road, I use this for slicing cheese, peeling spuds, dicing carrots and more.
  • Bottle Opener – I gave up drinking a few years ago, but it's nice to help other people out. There's a handy flathead screwdriver blade on it as well!
  • Corkscrew – Again, I'm there for you!
  • Can Opener – This sees less action nowadays.
  • Wood Saw – Occasional use when there is a camp fire, although in some countries I carry a machete for this purpose and to clear a campsite for my tent.
  • File – It doesn't get much use as a nail file, but occasionally sees actions as a metal file when things go wrong with the bike or other gear.
  • Various screwdrivers – I carry a mutli-tool for the bike, but the Swiss Army Knife acts as a great back up.

My advice when buying a Swiss Army Knife

My most basic advice, is that while it might be tempting to go all out on a knife that has hundreds of features, it might not be the most practical solution for camping or traveling. Think about the daily tasks you might use it for, and what problems having a Swiss Army Knife might solve.

Here's some other thoughts:

Size and weight: Consider the size and weight of the knife that you need for your intended use. A smaller and lighter knife may be more portable, but it may not have all the tools and blades you need. A bigger knife might have too many things on it and be an unnecessary burden.

Blade and tool selection: Look for a Swiss army knife with the blades and tools that will suit your needs. For camping, consider a knife with a serrated blade for cutting through tough materials. In reality things like scissors will be the most useful.

Durability and quality: Choose a knife made with high-quality materials that can withstand heavy use. Victorinox make the official ones from good old stainless steel.

Price: Swiss army knives come in a wide range of prices, so consider how much you're willing to spend. Keep in mind that a higher price may indicate higher quality materials and construction. Unlike many things we buy nowadays, a Swiss Army Knife will last for many years (unless you use it!). So, don't be put off by what seems like a high price, as you'll only be spending this amount once.

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