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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Victorinox Swiss Army Solider Knife

Snag an ideal stocking stuffer with this modernized classic.

by: Will Rochfort

Victorinox Swiss Army Soldier (Courtesy Photo)
Victorinox Swiss Army Soldier (Courtesy Photo)

The Specs:
$60 (although you can find it online for closer to $30)
5 oz.
Ralphie might have always wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, but when I was coming of age, I preferred the red weaponry offered by Victorinox Swiss Army. Now that I’m a grown up (relatively speaking), knives are as cool as ever, and they make a classy gift for someone on your holiday shopping list. It’s difficult to choose among the myriad pocket-sized scimitars on the market, but few have the storied history and modern use of the Solider Swiss Army Knife.

Victorinox just revised the Solider Knife in 2008, which marks the fourth evolution since its inception in the 1890s. As you may have inferred by its name, the Soldier Knife is the actual instrument issued to the Swiss Army at basic training. The most obvious update is the new ergonomic shape; when combined with the new dual-density handle, the handling is much surer than some of the all-metal or plastic handles I’ve come across. Even after dropping it in the snow on a recent trip to Mount Whitney, I could confidently handle the blade bare-handed without worry of slipping and slicing myself.

The knife is also a lot longer than previous iterations at almost 4.5 inches, which makes it even easier to handle for major cutting jobs. The large opening on the primary blade allows for easy one-handed operation (righty or lefty), which is just as useful for kitchen duty as it is for emergency situations. The serrated blade is long enough to cleanly cut through apples, scrape the bottom of a peanut butter jar, or make quick work of any summer sausage.

There’s also a wood saw that is surprisingly effective. Although most of the sustainable wood we gather is already downed and broken, I can confidently say that the three-inch blade could handle small to medium branches. Heck, it probably would’ve made Aron Ralston’s job a lot easier.

Beyond the major blades, there is also a Philips screwdriver, can opener, flathead screwdriver (large and small), crate opener (you never know), bottle opener, wire stripper, reamer, and seatbelt cutter. Aside from the outdoor uses, this means the Solider Knife is handy around the home as well. In the past few weeks I’ve used it to tighten screws on my dining room chairs, slice stubborn curtain packaging, open various packages, and crack open more than one cerveza. The knife definitely earns major bonus points for being a piece of backpacking gear that actually gets used more than once or twice a month.

Bottom line: If you’re having trouble shopping for that outdoorsy type who seems to have it all, it’s tough to beat the mix of class and function of the Solider knife. If you’re still concerned about the uniqueness of your gift, however, you could always try to track down Wenger's "Giant Knife".

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Feb 16, 2014

Excellent gift indeed! I got a similar one from and I'd be lost without it! I'd recommend for any backpacker or even to have around the house. Great review, Thankyou Will.

Star Star Star Star Star
Hieu Nguyen
Sep 22, 2013

New Victorinox Soldier knife my good

Daniel Weinzierl
Sep 12, 2012

I love the swiss army knife i like the super tinker model. Its the best multi tool that I have ever had the pleasure of using. Everyday I use it and its not near as bulky as other companies multi tools.

Daniel Weinzierl
Sep 12, 2012

I love the swiss army knife i like the super tinker model. Its the best multi tool that I have ever had the pleasure of using. Everyday I use it and its not near as bulky as other companies multi tools.

Jan 16, 2011

I have a soldier knife and love it! The only reason why it's not my everyday carry is that it is hard to close one handed (possible, but not convenient). Also, I wish this knife came with either a pouch or a clip.

other than that, great knife!

Dec 01, 2010

I bought three of the new Trekker models back in May 2009 and gave them as gifts to my best man and the two groomsmen for my wedding. I went an extra step and took the knives to a jewelry store and had the long blade engraved with the name of each best man and groomsmen. I thought I had done a awesome gift. I should have gotten one for myself.

I have not seen a model that I have liked more than the Trekker model.

Lynn Webb
Dec 01, 2010

I've always liked Swiss Army Knives. Very Dependable.


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