When I saw the Victorinox Rambler for the first time, I knew that I was going to get one. After all, the Rambler seemed to have everything that I need in a keychain EDC Swiss Army Knife.
But is it good enough to replace the Victorinox Classic SD, probably the most well-known 58mm Swiss Army Knife of all time?
I have been using the Rambler as my primary keychain multi-tool for over two years now, and I don’t see myself going back to the Classic SD. However, this may not be the case for everyone!
Let me jot down my experiences with the Rambler and why it suits my needs perfectly. I would also touch upon a few limitations of the Rambler, and why some people may not find the extra bit of functions useful, especially at the higher price point.
The Victorinox Rambler is the best combination of usability and size for a keychain Swiss Army Knife that Victorinox has ever produced. It significantly improves the functionality of the Victorinox Classic SD, which is already a very functional SAK in its own right.
However, the Rambler is an expensive piece of tool, and even with the added functions, the steep price may not be justifiable enough to many.
Ok, before we move on any further with the details of my personal experiences with the Rambler, here is a quick look of my likes and dislikes of the tool. I will, of course, elaborate on these points.
- The Combo-tool, comprising of Philips screwdriver and bottle opener
- Everything that I like in the Victorinox Classic SD is also there in the Rambler
- The price and availability
- Lack of variety in scale designs
Tools And Functions
Let’s have a look at the toolset of the Victorinox Rambler. You can see that the tools are almost the same as the Vic Classic SD, with the Rambler having some extra functions.
- Small Blade
- Nail file with flathead screwdriver tip (2.5 mm)
- Combo Tool – bottle opener, Philips screwdriver (0/1), and wire stripper
I have already talked about the Classic SD earlier, the SAK model I carried for the most part of my adult life. The Rambler is not much different. I will only cover those aspects where the Rambler differs and what makes it a better keychain multi-tool.
You should first take a look at my complete hands-on review of the Classic SD before going any further.
Why I Got The Rambler When I Already Had The Classic SD?
I have carried the Classic SD on my keychain for almost 10 years. I have tried other keychain multi-tools too for certain periods, but I always came back to the Classic SD. For my type of usage, I just could not find anything that is as functional as the Classic SD in such a small package.
But even then, I always felt as if I am missing something, something, that I should have with me always!
It was only when I used the SwissTech UtiliKey, I realized what I was missing.
The UtiliKey had the two frequently used tools that were missing in the Classic SD – the Philips screwdriver and the bottle opener.
For some time, I carried both the Classic SD and the UtiliKey in my keychain. The combination worked for me, but being a minimalist, I was always on the lookout for that one tool that can replace both.
Then one day I saw another 58mm SAK, the Victorinox Rally. The Rally had this Combo Tool, which is a bottle opener with a Philips screwdriver tip.
However, the Rally did not have the scissors, my most used tool in the Classic SD. I wished for a tool that was kind of a combination of the Classic SD and the Rally.
The Victorinox Rambler is exactly that. It has all the tools of the Classic SD and adds the Combo Tool of the Rally in the mix.
At last, a tool that can get rid of both the Classic SD and the UtiliKey from my keychain.
I wondered why I hadn’t seen this model before. After all, I have been looking to upgrade from the Classic SD for a long time. The reason is, the Rambler is not available on Amazon most of the time.
Let’s see what the Combo Tool brings to the table.
The Combo Tool: Screw Driver and Bottle Opener
Since we are paying more for the Rambler compared to the Classic SD, the Combo Tool of the Rambler better perform, isn’t it? Well, it does.
It is a combination of three tools in one – a bottle opener/cap lifter, a small Philips screwdriver, and a wire stripper. The first two functions are useful enough for me to always have the Rambler in my pocket.
The bottle opener/cap lifter is one of the best I have used in such a small multi-tool.
I have used it on many occasions, especially at beer parties and occasional get-togethers with friends and colleagues.
Having such a tool always in your pocket does makes you feel equipped for all such situations.
If the bottle opener is good, the Philips screwdriver is even better. It is surprisingly sturdy, and slots into most small screws you find everywhere around your house.
It has a decent length and is thin enough to reach screws inside deep and narrow holes.Even the normal Philips screwdrivers that you get in 91mm Swiss Army Knives are not able to do that!
The Philips screwdriver is meant to fit size #0 to #1 screws. But I was surprised to discover that it sometimes also works on larger screws. The shape of the tool allows you to have decent leverage and apply a fair amount of pressure.
And yes, the tip is slightly magnetized, a very useful feature when working with small screws in tight places.
What about Wire Stripper? Does it work? Frankly, I do not know. I never used it, and in fact, was not bothered about it at all. It is just something I know I have with me and might come in handy someday.
For me, Just the performance of the bottle opener and the Philips screwdriver was enough to justify the purchase.
Build Quality And Other Functions of the Rambler
All the other tools in the Victorinox Rambler are the same as in the Classic SD, and also perform similarly. I really don’t have anything more to say on this (check the review of the Classic SD here).
The built quality is top-notch, just like anything that Victorinox produces. The addition of the Combo Tool also adds another layer to the thickness. But the increase in bulk and weight when compared to the classic is negligible.
If you are carrying it in your keychain or your pocket, you won’t even notice the difference.
However, I should mention here that there is one improvement in the design of the Rambler that makes the knife blade a bit more useful compared to the Classic SD.
The blade when open is on the opposite side of the keyring.
This makes it easier to use the blade even when it is attached to the keyring along with the keys.
What I Don’t Like in the Victorinox Rambler
In spite of its extra tools, the Rambler does have some glaring disadvantages over the Classic SD, something that will definitely bother a lot of people. Is this a deal-breaker for you? decide for yourself.
The Price and Availability
The Rambler packs a lot of punch in a small form factor, but is that worth the price that you pay for it? Especially, when compared to the Classic SD?
While the price keeps on fluctuating, in most cases I have seen that the Rambler costs at least 1.5 times that of the Classic SD. Sometimes, even twice! Add to that the fact that the Rambler goes out of stock quite often.
You can check your luck here in this Amazon listing.
I think in price-sensitive markets, the high price and low availability will be the deciding factor for many. For the addition of just one new tool, this price hike is quite significant. If you don’t find the extra tool that useful, The cost-benefit just isn’t there.
I waited for months for the model to be available without any luck. The Rambler seems to be one of those low-availability SAKs. Ultimately, I bought it from Amazon France through a friend. I am wary of losing it, and if I do, I do not know how long it will take to get a replacement.
The Lack of Variety in Scale Designs
Looking for a different color than red to stand out from the others? Sorry, the Rambler is available only in Red scales.
While most 58mm Swiss Army Knives have exactly the same scales, only the Classic SD is available in cooler colors and patterns on the scales other than Red. Add to that you can also get the Classic SD with Alox scales.
Rambler’s lack of variety in the scales makes it quite bland and uninteresting, more so as a gift. It also makes the Rambler less attractive to the feminine gender, I suppose, especially when compared to the Classic SD.
Is there a Rambler Alox?
I have seen pictures of the Victorinox Rambler in Alox scales, but I couldn’t find them anywhere for sale. With further research, it appears that the few Rambler Alox models that exist were custom-made by Victorinox on special orders. You may still find one on sale somewhere on the Internet, but Victorinox has probably stopped making them.
The best place to look for them is Swiss Bianco, which sells a lot of custom-made Swiss Army Knives. You may also try your luck on eBay.
Do note that any Alox model will not have the toothpick and the tweezers.
However, if the Red scales bother you, there are after-market scales available to be purchased separately.
You can always get a Classic SD with a unique scale design and then swap the scales with your Rambler. This is quite easy to do.
The Rambler is good for anyone who:
- Wants a super functional keychain tool
- Likes the Classic SD but desperately wants a bottle opener and/or Philips screwdriver
- Considers the functions of a tool more important than its looks and is not shy to pay for it
Alternatives to the Victorinox Rambler
I do not see any direct alternative to the Rambler that can do everything with a similar form factor. But there are a few 58mm SAK models that are worth mentioning.
Same as the Rambler, but no scissors!
It has a ballpoint pen in one slot, whereas you can choose either the toothpick or the tweezers for the other slot.
Has all the tools of the Rambler and more. However, it is significantly thicker and heavier.
The Victorinox Rambler is just an awesome keychain Swiss Army Knife with more capabilities than anything else of similar size. The Classic SD has been my EDC keychain multi-tool for a long time and I never thought of replacing it with anything else, until I discovered the Rambler.
Now the Rambler is always with me, dangling from my keychain.
While the price of the Rambler is significantly higher, the fact that Swiss Army Knives last for decades makes the Rambler quite worthy of the price.
If you can afford it, go for it. The Rambler has just that extra bit of functionality that you may have been missing.
The keychain Swiss Army Knife with the best balance between form and function