In 1897, Karl Elsener, a native of Switzerland, attached a can opener and a screwdriver to a common switchblade and unknowingly created a cultural icon. The tool rose to international popularity when American troops began buying the knives en masse during World War II, but they had difficulty pronouncing its German name—Schweizer Offiziersmesser (Swiss Officer’s Knife)—and the nickname “Swiss Army Knife” was born. Here’s a selection of some of the most interesting and useful multi-tool knives available on the market today.
The Backpacker’s Best Friend
Suited for helping travelers enjoy the mountain views at a national park or hoof it across Europe, this knife fits any journey with its classic selection of tools, including two blades, a can opener, a screwdriver, tweezers, and a toothpick. Its economical price tag leaves plenty of room in the budget for excitement.
The High-Tech Trek
Victorinox Flash Alox 32GB, $204
Traveling today often requires a trip on the information highway, so this knife adds a 32GB flash drive, along with the accessories found on classic Swiss Army Knives. At 2¼ inches, this model is even sleeker than the typical accessorized pocketknife.
The Business Card
SwissCard Lite, $40
Shaped like a credit card, this innovation fits in a wallet, yet still performs like any high-class Swiss Army Knife. Featuring a letter opener and a miniature LED light, this unique pocketknife comes in three corporate colors, making it classy as well as accessible and functional.
The Roadside Repair Kit
The Handyman, $77
Carrying this super-equipped Swiss Army Knife keeps adventurers prepared for any circumstance. Designed with fix-it needs in mind, this toolbox disguised as a knife contains over 20 accessories, including three screwdrivers, a wire stripper, a parcel carrier, a chisel, scissors, and other tools for working with wood and metal.
Photography courtesy of swissarmy.com; The Victorinox Cross & Shield and the use of the color red on multifunction pocket knives are separate registered trademarks owned by Victorinox AG, Ibach Switzerland, and its affiliates.