The Victorinox Climber: Designed With a Purpose
While Switzerland has never been a leading military power, that fact didn't stop them from making one of the most useful emergency tools ever created. No, I am not talking about something that will fix just about any problem you might encounter—like, say, your car engine breaking down—but rather those small everyday situations in which missing the proper tool can be very annoying.
In fact, Swiss Army knives were originally designed with the purpose of helping soldiers perform even more unlikely tasks than what you might imagine. Like, for example, disassembling rifles and properly cleaning them.
But that's enough reminiscence of the olden days. Let's leave the history lesson for another time and focus on the product at hand, shall we?
1. Large blade
2. Small blade
3. Can opener
4. Screwdriver (3mm / ~0.11in)
5. Bottle opener
6. Wire stripper
7. Screwdriver (6mm / ~0.23in)
8. Reamer, Punch and Sewing awl
11. Multi-purpose hook
14. Key ring
I've always wanted to own a Victorinox not just because they are the coolest pocket knives ever, but also because I really needed some of their features. You can't even imagine how many times I've needed a pair of scissors to cut some strings hanging off my clothes or even during emergencies when I had to bandage wounds, for example.
Some of you might be suggesting, "Then get a tiny nail clip kit that usually includes small scissors." Sure, I could do that. But then I would still be missing some of the essential accessories, such as a pen blade, screwdrivers and bottle/can opener. Surprisingly enough, those come in handy more often than not.
Bottom line is, I could really use a Swiss Army knife in my simple everyday life. Then I started looking for one.
The longer I browsed Victornox's catalog, the more difficult it became to pick the right one. They've got too many variations. I had to be truthful about my needs and answer the most important question before buying: "What tools do I really need in my everyday life?"
Victorinox Climber: First Impressions
After a long time looking, I finally settled on the Climber. I realized that the most basic models had all the tools I needed. There was just one problem: Only a few had the scissors and, out of them all, the Climber was the thinnest.
While having additional features would be awesome, that also impacts the knife's thickness and weight. For me, personally, it is crucial that my EDC companion is very portable (light and small). Therefore, the Climber was a no-brainer for me.
Out of the Box
If you've watched video reviews of Victorinox knives, you're most likely to have noticed that they come in a nice small silver box. However, not all of them do. The Climber is one of those models that usually come packed in a blister container. So don't let that scare you into thinking that you bought a knock-off!
Also don't be surprised if your knife doesn't come with an instructions note. Mine didn't either. That's often the case with blister packages.
Other than that, everything is pretty standard. You get a genuine Victorinox that comes polished, oiled up and razor sharp out of the box.
The Climber has the perfect balance between a decent arsenal of features and weight, which is the reason I got this particular model. It's a standard 91mm (~3.5in) long pocket knife with three layers that amass to 18mm (~0.7in) thickness, including the handles.
Like I just mentioned above, that's considered a standard/full size pocket knife. It's really not heavy and chunky at all. The Climber is very comfortable to hold in your hand and slip in your pocket until you forget it's even there.
Unfortunately, pouches are sold separately and they're quite pricey. But if you value your Victorinox and wish to keep it clean and neat, you could get a genuine leather case that has a belt clip for convenience.
One of the best things that separate Victorinox from their competition is that they make their products with high quality and expensive materials that will last for a lifetime. That's not an exaggeration either!
The Climber, just like any other product by Victorinox, is made of different classes of stainless steel (tools), aluminum sheets (interior), brass (rivets) and cellidor plastic (handles). Nothing will ever catch rust provided that you take good care of your knife, of course.
The first thing that I noticed is the amazing build quality. The casing and tools are very tightly put together and nothing ever wobbles. There is something really satisfying in observing how all parts move and never get stuck or change their trajectory, no matter how many times you open and close them. That's been a problem in all other pocket knives I've owned!
As I mentioned earlier, the feeling of holding it in your hand is amazing. You can feel how indestructible the knife is just by rolling it around in your palm. While the handles do not have a special shape for better grip, they're rounded and smooth, which results in more comfort. And to be honest, with a pocket knife so small, do you really need enhancements for more stable grip? I mean, it's not a sword!
Another major factor that speaks loads about quality is the fact that most of the parts and accessories are available as spares (handles, springs, tweezers, toothpicks, etc.). To top it all off, Victorinox even offers a lifetime warranty for their pocket knives. Isn't that amazing?!
Victorinox Climber is a thing of beauty. It sits somewhere in the middle between thin and chubby EDCs. And it has the perfect size-to-features ratio, I would say!
The ergonomic design of the handles feels very comfortable. Polished, sturdy and rounded corners make using it feel like a breeze. That's what makes the Climber really shine compared against its brothers and sisters.
Should I even bother giving an opinion here? I'm speechless. It's the perfect knife for my needs!
The Climber has everything I need and none of the features I don't (more about the tools later). It's not secret that the scissors were the most important feature I needed and the Climber was the thinnest variant of the 91mm family that had it. I just wish it also had a nail file!
That being said, if you're looking for something more, you might be interested in buying the Huntsman, which has the same layout except it adds a wood saw. The difference in thickness and price is almost non-existent. As far as size is concerned, the Huntsman is only a single handle-height thicker than the Climber.
But seeing as how I never needed a saw, I opted for the thinner knife and I'm perfectly happy with it.
Victorinox Climber: Features Review
Packing eight tools and five functions, the Climber is truly a masterpiece.
"But wait! Didn't you say it had 14 tools?" Oh yes, I did. You've paid attention, camper!
Technically, Victorinox counts the key ring as a separate tool, which most people think is just funny. But hey, whatever makes them happy. Customers are happy, too!
"So then, what is the difference between a tool and a function?" Good question. Tools are the actual extensions of the knife (the things you pull out). Some of them have more than one way in which they can be used. For example, the bottle opener may be used for three overall functions: as a bottle cap opener; as a screwdriver/pry bar; and to strip or bend thicker wires. Keeping that in mind, the Climber has 14 functions in total.
But how many of them do you really need?
Ask yourself this question and be honest about your answer. My opinion is that the Climber is the ultimate minimalist pocket knife. It has just the right set and number of tools that everyday situations require. Why not the Huntsman, then?
Let me ask you this: How often do you need a saw? What kind of surface would you cut with it? Are you even prepared to put in the effort of cutting with a small saw? Yeah, it's a lot of work! This also increases the chances of you damaging the blade.
Compared to that, the Climber has just the right tools that do not need as much effort to use. It's compact and extremely useful. And as you will find out shortly, many of its tools have more uses than what's specified in the product description.
So without further ado, let's review the individual tools.
Obviously a pocket knife would be nothing without a blade. The Climber has two of them. Both come razor sharp and extremely shiny.
The main blade is 58mm (~2.28in) long, not including the "kick" (part where the stamp is). Although the Climber doesn't have a locking blade, the spring is really tense. Upon opening and closing the knife, you're bound to hear the famous "snap" that the company is known for.
When the blade finally sets into position, it almost feels like it's been safely locked into place. You'd need considerable tension to close the blade and it kind of slows down halfway through to prevent accidental snapping where you could seriously hurt yourself. This gives you an opportunity to move your fingers out of the way. Very smart design!
As mentioned earlier, the blade stays perfectly fixed and doesn't wobble around its socket thanks to the tightly sealed casing.
On the opposite side of the first layer, you will find the smaller pen blade. It has the same properties as the main one, but feels easier to close due to its smaller size. Don't get me wrong, it still won't close all by itself and that doesn't make it weaker by any means. Just simple physics, folks!
How big is it? The small blade is 36mm (~1.41in) long and it's perfect for heavier tasks. That's also why Victorinox hardens them more than the main blade!
Ah, the scissors...my crowned jewelry!
The are very comfortable to use and will get the job done if you ever need to cut paper, cardboard or strings. When deployed, the knife becomes like a handle providing stable grip that makes using the scissors feel very intuitive.
Warning: The blades are very sharp so be careful when you clip your nails!
It wouldn't be a Victorinox without the classic openers. Let's start with the bottle cap opener.
It serves just like it should. The flat tip can additionally be used as a regular flat screwdriver and to some extend for bigger Phillips screws. But the tool's functionality doesn't stop there. Thanks to its thick and sturdy build, the tip may also be used as a tiny pry-bar.
Yep, you read that right! Sometimes we need to open tightly sealed casings, like a laptop, tin cans or other difficult to open objects. The big tip of the bottle opener is perfect for such scenarios where you need a little bit of extra push!
Finally, it has a small notch that helps you strip wires or bend them.
Victorinox has no doubt the best can opener design ever. It is very easy to use. The edge is really sharp, so be careful!
Alternatively, it may be used for opening stubborn bottle caps, blister packages or other resilient surfaces and even for more delicate tasks, like peeling fruit!
Reamer and Awl
Let's flip the knife over on the other side. Oh, what's what? It's the underestimated reamer!
Indeed, one of the most overlooked tools, the awl, has more uses than you might imagine. The tip is really pointy and the puncher additionally has a sharpened edge.
How sharp is it? Sharp enough to lose a finger!
That makes it a perfect tool for detailed scraping and sharpening of twigs or pencils, for example. You want to chisel a corner and make it smoother, perhaps? Just use the reamer's edge. It's perfect for that job.
We move on to another overlooked tool. This one is known as the multi-purpose hook. Officially, it was designed to facilitate the carrying of parcels by their slim ropes/strings back in the day. And even in today's modern times, we still pack some goods using thin ropes. So instead of risking getting bruises or cuts, people could use the hook to carry such parcels.
However, it has more uses than that. After all, it's a hook!
Whether it's to pull something that doesn't want to come out, or try to strengthen knots by pulling with extra juice, the parcel hook will surely help you finish the job.
Speaking of knots, do you know what else is good for undoing them? The standard corkscrew on most Victorinox knives!
And you thought it's just for opening bottles of wine, didn't you?
Note: You can also purchase a small jewelry screwdriver and put it inside this tool. Most people use it to repair their watches or eyeglasses. I just thought I should mention that because some of you might be wondering why others have it.
Peripherals: Tweezers, Toothpick and Straight Pin
Moving on to the handles, or scales as they're known. They also hide a few tools.
That's right, on each side of the knife, you will find a set of tweezers and a toothpick. Additionally, all 91mm scales (handles) are manufactured with a small tunnel to store a standard straight pin in.
All of those are extremely useful in life. Tweezers are good for removing splinters and other detailed work, including plucking hair off your body.
That straight pin I just mentioned is ideal for removing debris splinters too. But more importantly, it will come in handy if you need to open the SIM card tray on your phone. Where would you even find one when you need it? If you have a Victorinox, just put a pin in the "secret" spot and forget about it!
Last but not least, we have a toothpick at our disposal. Whether or not that's useful for you is entirely up to your preference. Some people avoid using it for hygiene reasons. Nevertheless, the toothpick makes a perfect ally when you need to access tight spaces for cleaning or other purposes. It is the tool I use when I need to clean the interior of my knife. Just prepare a small tissue and with the help of the toothpick, stick it inside and start cleaning the junk out!
*Straight pins are sold separately but you might as well use any standard pin.
Now can you see why I love this model so much?
I can't stress enough how amazing it is. The biggest selling point for me personally are its perfect size-to-features ratio. At 18mm (~0.7in) thick, the Climber is very portable piece of EDC.
Sometimes the bigger models feel weird when you hold them and use particular tools, like the blade. It often is too far off the center and feels unnatural in your hand. However, that's not the case with the Climber!
Packing only what I consider the most necessary tools for everyday tasks, the Climber is my top choice. If you are looking to get a pocket knife for you or a loved one—but you are not sure if the person will like it - don't think about it and get this one!
The Climber is perfect for novice users and professionals alike. Elegant and compact multi-tool that will last you for a lifetime!
- Incredible toolset variety
- Featured tool: Scissors
- Easy access of tools
- Very sturdy
- High quality materials
- Razor sharp blades
- Average/standard thickness
- Spare parts availability
- Lifetime warranty
- Beautiful design
- Additional accessories sold separately
- Expensive accessories (especially pouches)
How I rate it
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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