Light Vs. Luxe: Pocket Knives Review

Two experts debate whether a (very) sophisticated Swiss Army is worth the weight.

Gerber L.S.T.

Cut away the fat with a 1-oz. knife.

Should you be tempted to waste precious time in the outdoors playing with wire cutters, reamers, and micro saws, by all means get yourself a toy with lots of appendages. But if you want to get the most critical camping tasks done without wasting weight or money, get an ultralight single blade. My svelte Gerber L.S.T. slices through climbing rope and minces garlic, and the 2.5-inch blade is long enough to scrape the bottom of a peanut butter jar. It costs less and is 75 percent lighter than the over-engineered plaything at right. It's also safer: The stainless steel blade locks in place. Sure it lacks a corkscrew, but just use the handle of your Lexan spoon to push the cork into the bottle. You'll be sipping Shiraz while your campmate is still trying to stow the tweezers. Fine edge or serrated, $26; 1 oz. (800) 777-6805; Wagner

Victorinox Voyager Lite

Expect more from your pocketknife.

Remember Otzi, the 5,300-year-old Stone Age "Iceman" discovered in the Italian Alps? He died clutching a single-blade knife, my friends, and unless you want to abandon 5 millennia of evolution, I suggest you ignore the uncivilized cutter at left and get a tool of intelligent design.

For a piddling 3 ounces more than the Gerber, this sophisticated multitool delivers two sharp blades, scissors, can and bottle openers, plus three screwdrivers. But this isn't your father's Swiss Army knife. You also get a digital clock with alarm and timer, an LED flashlight, and a mini ballpoint pen (since you, unlike Otzi, know how to write). And of course there's a corkscrew as well, so you'll never be reduced to opening your Merlot like a Neanderthal. $90; 4 oz. (800) 442-2706; --Dennis Lewon