A Conversation for Swiss Army Knives

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 1


Last time I was in Switzerland I bought Victorinox's climbing knife with digital altimeter and thermometer embedded. Perhaps this info might be of use to this article;

It is identical to the 'Climbing' knife, except that it is slightly thicker at one side and does away with the tweezers. The thicker side incorporates a small digital LCD screen (fortunately with a tough clear plastic covering), and the Victorinox logo acts as a button. Instead of the standard red/green/whatever plastic coating, the knife has a translucent red coating which is slightly rough to the touch, allowing you to see a bit of the workings inside. This is nice - the only downside being that the shop I bought it from could only engrave names in the standard plastic coatings.

A watch battery (3V lithium, CR1225) is held in a pop out compartment which looks a bit like a minature CD-ROM tray. The battery lasts for absolutely ages, but does pop out sometimes if you drop the knife.

The altimeter part works on air pressure and is surprisingly accurate. It takes about half a minute to adjust, but if you hold it to the floor for a while and then hold it to the ceiling, it will register the difference. Unfortunately, as with all air pressure altimeters, it has to be set regularly to a known altitude, as changes in the weather will make it innaccurate.

The thermometer part is little more than an additional gimmick; as most people keep their knives in their pockets, it is more likely to measure your pocket's temperature than the air temperature. However, if you are willing to leave it somewhere for a few minutes, it will give you an accurate air temperature reading.

The readings are displayed on a good clear LCD screen; but viewing and setting the device is made incredibly complicated due to the fact that there is only one button for setting all functions - the owner has to remember exactly when to press the button and for how long. As well as setting the altimeter, it can be set to display in metres or feet, and the thermometer in degrees celsius or fahrenheit.

The knife itself is of as excellent quality as one would expect from Victorinox. As well as the additional electronic functions, it sports a large blade, small blade, scissors, can opener, screw driver, corkscrew, keyring, 'multipurpose hook' (which I have never found a single use for) and leather needle/thing for getting stones out of horse's hooves. A slot holds a toothpick; the only tool lost from the plain Climbing knife is the tweezers, which is a shame. Most of the tools are extremely useful, but the usefulness of the hook and corkscrew are debatable when you are halfway up a cliff.

It cost 100 Swiss Francs (about four or fives times the amount of the plain Victorinox Climbing knife) when I was there in February 2001; this is approximately £40. I'm not sure if it is available to buy in countries other than Switzerland yet, but it would probably be more expensive.

Overall I'd say the additional features are a bit of a gimmick as far as usefulness is concerned; but if, like me, you do a lot of mountain/cliff climbing it can come in handy.

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 2


I don't have anything that complicated, but I do have a very nice small one. It's got scissors, a knife blade, a nail file, tweezers, and (this is where it becomes different from the similar knife my father has) a red LED that can be used as a flashlight instead of a toothpick. I picked it up at the Rhine Falls in Switzerland and have yet to find one like it in the US. So I'm always afraid of losing it, as replacing it would probably require another trip to Europe. I just hope I can find the right type of battery when the one in it runs out.

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 3

Boys and Cake Girl

I just upgraded to The Scout this weekend. Was tempted cos it had a pliers and more phillips screwdrivers - can never have too many! It's fantastic and doesn't weigh *that* much more than the Huntsman.

Also looks very business like too!

Just have to work out what I'm gonna do with the fish descaler now! Wish it was possible to do a Pick-and-Mix version.

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 4


Yup, me too. I'd have two - one for home, and one for camping/climbing. The home one would have blades, corkscrew, scissors, pliers and screwdrivers sticking out all over the place. And the other one would do away with the corkscrew, but have can opener, various blades, scissors, thing for getting stones out of horse's hooves, etc.

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 5


re the multi-purpose useless hook thing. I actually managed to use it last week. My daughter's nursery were having a Pirates week, and I ended up building a big galleon from cardboard sheeting from work. Trying to get the string thru the cardboard for the rigging was a nightmare, but I ended up pushing the hooky bit thru the hole I'd made with the getting-stones-out-from-horses-hooves thingy, and puuling it back thru that way. This is the first and only time I've found a use for it. Do get in touch if you know what it's really for.

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 6


OOooh... I'm impressed! smiley - biggrin

Somebody suggested that you could use it to pick up heavy parcels tied with string, by holding the string with the hook and the penknife with your hand, instead of picking it up with the string cutting into your hand. That's the only vaguely reasonable use I've heard of (apart from yours, obviously).

Oh and the only use I could think of was if you were in the top floor of a burning building and needed to construct a death slide escape route using only your penknife and a reel of dental floss smiley - biggrin

smiley - flyhi

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 7


thank you. a marvellous concept. if the scenario ever arises i will know immediately what to do. one question though, how do you cope with the build-up of wax that you'd get from off of all that slidy dental floss?

Victorinox knife with altimeter

Post 8


Urm... the best use for excess wax that I can think of is to make a small model of George Bush, then stick pins into it (or the thing-for-getting-stones-out-of-horses-hooves on your Swiss Army Knife) and hope that Voodoo is more than a myth.

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