Best Swiss Army Knives for the Outdoors (Trekking, Hiking, Camping, and Bush Crafting)

Updated January 26, 2023

Swiss Army Knife Soldier

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From day hikes or routine trips to the backcountry to bush-crafting and hunting, a knife is one of the most essential items in any type of outdoor activity. Spending time in the wilderness means you will be using the knife a lot, and as such quality and reliability of the knife is of utmost importance. Trust Victorinox and its extensive range of Swiss Army Knives to fulfill each and every need of an outdoor and wildlife enthusiast.

In fact, the range of outdoor activities is so vast that there can never be one Swiss Army knife model suitable for everything. Victorinox knows that pretty well and hence their catalog of SAKs is so huge and diverse. Whether you are interested in light activities like hiking and camping, or hardcore outdoor activities like bushcraft and hunting, you will always find a SAK that just fits your needs.

Today, Victorinox Swiss Army Knives have become one of the must-have elements in everyone’s outdoor gear. But before choosing one of these highly capable SAKs, you need to decide what type of tools you will need in the outdoor activities that you are planning.

Features of an Outdoor Swiss Army Knife

By now you are probably well aware that different types of outdoor activities demand different levels of usability from a knife. Hiking for a day in the woods or camping for a night can be done with a simple pocket-sized SAK with some extra features. However, if the activity involves a lot of woodwork, bush-crafting, or on a more serious note, hunting, you will want something a bit more robust and reliable.

Size of the SAK

The size of the SAK will matter a lot as you get involved in serious outdoor work. While Vic 91mm medium-size SAKs are good entry-level candidates for light outdoor activities, the larger Swiss Army Knives, especially the 111mm and 130mm models may sometimes be more preferable.

Note that you shouldn’t be worried about feeling uncomfortable with a SAK that big in your pocket. Remember, a big SAKs is a heavy-duty tool. You will most likely be carrying it in your bag, or in a sheath attached to your belt.

Tools in the SAK

Most people who EDC a SAK in urban areas tend to use the scissors the most. But it is significantly different in the backcountry or in the jungles, where the ‘knife’ in a Swiss Army Knife gets used the most.

Apart from the blade, you will want some extra tools that come in handy around the campsite, be it for fixing your other gears or opening food cans.

However, note that too many tools in a SAK may not always be a good thing. A very wide SAK with a lot of layers of tools might seem a very good package. In fact, it is, but in an urban environment where you will be using it for lighter tasks.

But out in the woods, the width and heft of the SAK might hamper its usability, something that you would like to avoid at all costs. Just look for a model with the tools that you are almost certain that you will use.

Tools for the Outdoors

Blade: From cutting fruits and vegetables, whittling, and bush-crafting, to skinning fish and gutting game during hunting, can you think of anything that you can do without a knife?

The blade is the number one tool for any outdoor enthusiast. Victorinox uses special steel in Swiss Army Knives that makes the blade quite durable and rust-free. While the blade in any medium-sized SAK is good enough for light outdoor duty, you will probably prefer a SAK with a bigger locking blade for serious stuff. Also, you will feel more comfortable using the blade if the SAK has a good ergonomic and grippy handle.

Wood saw: The second most important tool out in the woods, period. Trust me, you will be working with wood a lot. Some models of Victorinox SAKs include a folding wood saw that is quite effective. However, just like the blade, the length of the saw and a comfortable handle matters a lot to get things done quickly and efficiently.

Can Opener and Bottle Opener: Whether camping for a night or for weeks, you will most likely be carrying some ready-made food with you. As such, a can opener and a bottle opener always come in handy.

Tweezers: If you ever thought when that little pair of tweezers in a SAK will get some use, it will probably be when you are in the woods. Splinters in your skin will be a common issue during bush-crafting. And don’t forget those wood ticks! You will be glad to have a pair of tweezers with you in such situations.

Awl: From using it to punch holes in leather or wood, to cleaning your fingernails, this tiny tool has many uses. People have used the SAK awl in combination with a ferro-rod to start a fire during camping.

There is already a list of some of the common things you can do with the SAK awl. You can probably think of many more. I am sure you will get plenty of opportunities to use the awl in your outdoor activities.

Screwdrivers: While screwdrivers are more useful in an urban environment, you never know when you will need one, especially when there is a need to fix your camping gear.

Gutting knife blade: This is of course for serious outdoor activities. Hunters know how useful this blade is for gutting and dressing game out in the field. A gutting blade is a perfect companion to a fixed blade full tang hunting knife.

The Best Victorinox Swiss Army Knives for the Outdoors

Choosing the best Swiss Army Knife for the outdoors is all about finding the best combination of size, weight, and the relevant tools for the tasks at hand.

Based on the criteria discussed above, here is a list of some of the best Swiss Army Knives available from Victorinox. No matter what type of outdoor adventurer you are, one of these will probably suit your requirements and find a place in your outdoor gear list.

1. Victorinox Hiker

The Victorinox Hiker packs in all the standard tools of a regular Swiss Army Knife and adds that one tool that makes it suitable for camping in the woods – a wood saw.

Of course, there are other 91mm SAKs that also have the wood saw.

But the Hiker does this in 3-layers having just the necessary tools, thereby keeping the weight and thickness under control.

Victorinox Hiker
Victorinox Hiker | Image source: Victorinox

This SAK probably provides the best value-for-money for a first-time camper. It is minimalist, yet packs a big punch with the right selection of tools.

With two regular blades, a wood saw, bottle and can openers, an awl, multiple screwdrivers, and a pair of tweezers, the Hiker has all the tools that you will ever need for light outdoor activities.

If you need an entry an entry-level Swiss Army knife for camping that is small and compact, the Hiker is your best choice.

Tools in the Victorinox Hiker
  • Two blades, large and small
  • Wood saw
  • Bottle-Opener
  • Can-Opener
  • Flathead Screwdrivers, 3mm and 6mm
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Awl
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick

The best thing about the Hiker is that it is quite affordable. I got it quite cheap from this Amazon listing.

2.  Victorinox Evolution Grip S18

The Evolution Grip S18 is an 85mm SAK. The design is reminiscent of Wenger, the other Company that also used to make SAKs apart from Victorinox.

Though Wenger doesn’t exist anymore, Victorinox continued the production of some of the more popular Wenger SAK models as part of their Delemont collection.

The Evolution Grip S18 is definitely one of them.

Evolution Grip S18
Victorinox Evolution Grip S18 |Image source: Victorinox

Ok, enough of history. But why is this model on this list?

There are two main reasons actually. Firstly, the Evolution Grip S18 has a locking blade. Note that a locking blade is not a regular feature in medium or smaller SAKs. Yes, this is one of the last few medium-size SAKs that still retains this feature.

Secondly, with rubberized inlays in the scales, it provides a better grip than a regular 91mm SAK with Cellidor/plastic scales. Add to this the fact that it has all the tools of the Hiker except the small blade, and adds a pair of scissors and a nail file/cleaner.

It has four layers, which increases the thickness a bit.

Victorinox Evolution Grip S18 tools
  • Locking Blade
  • Wood saw
  • Bottle-Opener
  • Can-Opener
  • Flathead Screwdrivers, 3mm and 6mm
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Awl
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick
  • Scissors
  • Nail file/cleaner

But if you can ignore the slight increase in heft, this is a compelling choice for a camping knife.

The only negative point I can think of this SAK is the availability. The model is in the process of becoming an antique and a collectors’ item as Victorinox has decided not to continue with the Evolution Grip series. As such, it is one of the pricier Swiss Army Knives. You may check whether it is still available on Amazon in this listing.

3. Victorinox Soldier

The Victorinox Soldier is probably the de facto standard of heavy-duty Swiss Army Knives. This ‘Soldier 08’, as this model is officially known, is very significant in the history of Victorinox and the origin of the Swiss Army Knife.

There is a compelling reason why this is on our list – the soldiers of the Swiss Army actually use this SAK in the field.

While this fact in itself is a guarantee of how effective and reliable this SAK is, there are a few points that make this model one of the best for outdoor activities.

Victorinox Soldier
Victorinox Soldier 08 |Image source: Victorinox

To start with, this is one of Vic’s large pocket knives, belonging to the 111mm category of SAKs. As such, it has a large locking blade as well as a large wood saw.

The blade is particularly a joy to work with. It can be opened with one hand and is longer and much stronger than anything you can get in 91mm SAKs. Also, the blade is in the middle layer of its 3 layers, thereby making it perfectly balanced and working equally well for both right-handed and left-handed persons.

I have always maintained that a tool like the wood saw is effective when it is long. The one in Soldier 08 is a perfect example of this.

You will enjoy sawing off branches of trees with this one.

Tools in the Victorinox Soldier
  • Large locking Blade
  • Wood saw
  • Bottle-Opener
  • Can-Opener
  • Flathead Screwdrivers, 3mm and 7.5mm
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Awl

The handle, as in all 111mm SAKs, is very ergonomic. In addition, Victorinox has used what they call two-component scales, making the handle grippier than any other 111mm SAKs.

To complete the tool-set, It has the mandatory bottle and can openers, as well as multiple screwdrivers and an awl. However, you won’t get the scale tools – the toothpick and the tweezers, in this model. Probably these were not considered necessary tools in the field for the soldiers.

What makes Soldier 08 so interesting is that in addition to getting a very effective SAK for the outdoors, you also get a piece of Victorinox’s history!

You may check the availability of Soldier 08 in this Amazon listing. It is usually pretty cheap, but you can definitely get it at a much cheaper rate during a sale.

However, if you cannot ignore the scale tools, then there is another option for you – Victorinox Trekker (Amazon link).

The Trekker is the civilian version of the Soldier 08 model, which brings back the normal scales along with the scale tools, keeping all the other tools exactly the same.

Victorinox Trekker
Victorinox Trekker |Image source: Victorinox

Note that the Trekker is also sometimes called the Trailmaster or One-Hand Trekker.

4. Victorinox Ranger Grip 78

If the Victorinox Soldier finds a perfect balance in terms of size and usability as an outdoor pocket knife, the Ranger Grip 78 surpasses it, well, in size at least.

The Ranger Grip 78 is a member of 130mm Swiss Army Knives, the largest that Victorinox makes. Victorinox calls these heavy-duty pocket knives.

But this is definitely not for pocket carry. This is something that you will probably carry in a sheath attached to your belt.

Victorinox Ranger Grip 78
Victorinox Ranger Grip 78 |Image source: Victorinox

With a bigger size, comes better usability. The Ranger Grip 78 has exactly the same tool-set as the Vic Soldier or Trailmaster. But the main tools – the blade and the wood saw, are larger.

In addition, the handle is even more ergonomic and grippy, thanks to the almost full-body rubberized inlays used in the scales (similar to the Evolution Grip S18).

And of course, it has the scale tools (unlike the ‘Soldier’). Plus, it is a good-looking SAK – the red & black dual-color is my favorite.

Tools in the Victorinox Ranger Grip 78
  • Large locking Blade
  • Wood saw
  • Bottle-Opener
  • Can-Opener
  • Flathead Screwdrivers, 3mm and 5mm
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Awl
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick

In fact, the Ranger Grip 78 is definitely something that you can use to defend yourself from an animal attack in the jungle. While this is not made for that purpose, the size and robustness of the SAK make you feel that it will do the job in case faced with such a situation.

Like the Evolution Grip, the Ranger Grip series is also a remnant of Wenger that Victorinox has integrated into their Delemont collection. And just like the Evolution Grip S18, the Ranger Grip 78 is also sometimes hard to find and goes out of stock frequently in the Amazon listing.

5. Victorinox Ranger Grip 58 Hunter

If you thought you got the perfect SAK for heavy-duty outdoor activities with the Ranger Grip 78, the Ranger Grip 58 Hunter takes the usability a notch higher.

This model adds one more layer, making it a 4-layer SAK, thereby adding one special tool – a small gutting blade.

Everything else remains exactly the same as the Ranger Grip 78. So apart from the slight increase in heft, you probably won’t notice much difference.

Victorinox Ranger Grip 58 Hunter
Victorinox Ranger Grip 58 Hunter |Image source: Victorinox

Most outdoor adventurers may not find any real use of this extra blade. However, if hunting is your sport, then this might be one of the most useful tools in your arsenal.

As the name itself suggests, this model is specifically designed for hunters to aid in gutting and dressing game in hunting expeditions.

The gutting blade is short and blunted at the top for better control during field dressing and to prevent accidental damage to the meat.

Tools in the Victorinox Ranger Grip 58 Hunter
  • Large locking Blade
  • Wood saw
  • Bottle-Opener
  • Can-Opener
  • Flathead Screwdrivers, 3mm and 5mm
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Awl
  • Tweezers
  • Small gutting blade
  • Toothpick

If you plan to go on hunting and are in need of an extra blade in addition to your fixed blade full tang knife, then this SAK can be an excellent option. You can check the availability of Ranger Grip 58 Hunter on Amazon here.

6. Victorinox Work Champ

The flexibility, functionality, and practicality that the Victorinox Work Champ provides are incomparable with any other knife in the Victorinox catalog of SAKs. Reason? there are many.

Firstly, it has a lot of tools, tools that are useful both indoors and outdoors. Yes, it has many layers, 5 layers of tools to be exact.

But it is cleverly designed, with these 5 layers packing an assortment of useful tools. As such, you will find it useful in any environment – urban, backcountry, or in the jungle.

Victorinox Work Champ
Victorinox Work Champ |Image source: Victorinox

Secondly, this is a 111mm model. So even though it is thick with 5 layers, it feels quite comfortable in the hand because of its long handle. In fact, the long handle almost nullifies the negative impact of the thickness in the hand.

I am not saying it will be as comfortable as the Soldier, or the Ranger Grip 78. But out in the field for heavy-duty tasks, it is much more comfortable to work with than any 91mm SAK that you can think of.

With multiple screwdrivers and a set of pliers, you will probably be able to dismantle a computer with this. I am also fond of the long metal file.

At the same time, the big blade and the wood saw make short work of any type of cutting or bush-crafting.

The only drawback I can think of is that it is not perfect for any specific environment.

Tools in the Victorinox Work Champ
  • Large locking Blade
  • Wood saw
  • Bottle-Opener
  • Can-Opener
  • Flathead Screwdrivers, 3mm and 7.5mm
  • Philips Screwdrivers, 0/1 and 0/2
  • Awl
  • Metal file
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick
  • Corkscrew with an embedded mini-screwdriver

So while in the woods, you will be unnecessarily carrying tools like the pliers and the metal file, and even the extra screwdrivers and the corkscrew, which you may not find any use of.

Does this model remind you of the Swiss Champ? Well, what the Swiss Champ is to the 91mm SAK series, the Work Champ is to the 111mm SAK series. To know more about the Swiss Champ, you may have a look at my detailed review of Victorinox’s flagship model here.

While the Work Champ may not have as many functions as the Swiss Champ, but being longer in length, it is just more effective at whatever it does.

If you plan to get only one SAK and also want to use it frequently both indoors and outdoors, I think the Work Champ will serve you better than any other SAK in the Victorinox catalog.

In fact, I have done a complete review of the Work Champ where I have explained in detail what makes this Swiss Army Knife so special. You can get the Work Champ from this Amazon listing.

Wrapping Up

There is nothing else that compares to the combination of functionality and durability that a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife offers. But finding the best outdoor SAK out of the plethora of SAKs available in the market is not an easy task. You need to choose carefully keeping in mind what you will actually be using it for.

But with a bit of experience and knowledge (and a little bit of luck, for the good ones, often go out of stock frequently) the selection becomes much easier.

You might have realized that most of the Swiss Army Knives suitable for outdoor activities are actually quite heavy-duty tools. If you are looking for something more pocketable, you might want to have a look at the top keychain Swiss Army Knives, as well as the best mid-sized Swiss Army Knives for EDC.

And if you are looking for the absolute minimum that you should carry that may aid you in a survival situation, don’t forget to check this post.

Here’s hoping that you go out on your next outdoor adventure fully prepared with a SAK that is capable of handling anything that comes your way. In fact, some of these SAKs will perform admirably even if your outdoor adventure turns into a survival situation.

About Me

Deb is passionate about pocket tools, bags, and accessories, especially any type of everyday-use gear (or not so everyday-use gear) that makes life efficient, comfortable, and more enjoyable.

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