It's very seldom that one can call a product from a company founded in 1884 a "newcomer" to the category. However, that is exactly what the Victorinox SwissTool is. Victorinox has made "multi-tools" for over a century, in the form of the ever-recognizable "Swiss Army Knife". However, it is only recently that they chose to go head-to-head with the pliers-based multi-tool category inventor Leatherman. As the underdog, Victorinox delivers a super polished product, reminiscent of both classic Swiss Army knives and contemporary pliers-based multi-tools. Overall, the SwissTool is very well made, but the category-leading Leatherman tools are just a little better, according to our test team.
Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X Review
Cons: Heavier, no external bit options
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Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X
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|Pros||Polished, smooth||Sophisticated, comprehensive||Large, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizable||Comprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry options||Compact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective tools|
|Cons||Heavier, no external bit options||Heavy, expensive||Heavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver.||Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip included||Few features|
|Bottom Line||A strong European contender in a market dominated by the company that arguably invented the category.||As a top of the line product, Leatherman has equipped the Charge TTI with every imaginable tool, organized and optimized for compact function; in an extravagant move, they have wrapped it in Titanium.||A large, heavy tool that does all you might need but is hard to carry around.||A full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable price.||A multi tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability at the expense of the feature count.|
|Rating Categories||Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X||Leatherman Charge TTI||Leatherman Surge||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman Skeletool CX|
|Construction Quality (25%)|
|Specs||Victorinox...||Leatherman Charge...||Leatherman Surge||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman...|
|Number of Functions||17||19 + bits||21||18 + bits||7|
|Weight (ounces)||7.4 oz||8.8 oz||12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case||8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case||5.0 oz|
|Locking Tools?||All but pliers||All but pliers||All but pliers||All but pliers||All but pliers|
|Pliers Type||Needlenose pliers, regular pliers and wirecutters||Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose with 2 wire cutters|
|Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers||All||Blades, saw, file||Blades, saw, file||Blades, saw, file||Blade|
|Blades and Type||1 straight blade||1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 straight drop point|
|Number of screwdrivers||4||1 integrated. Many bits included, with more available aftermarket for proprietary driver||4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver||5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver||4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver|
|File?||Yes||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||No|
|Saw?||Metal and wood||Metal and wood||Yes||Yes||No|
|Openers||Bottle, can and crate||Can and bottle||Can and bottle||Can and bottle||Bottle|
|Other important Features||Awl||Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper||Ruler, awl, wire stripper||Ruler||None|
|Other carry options||Pocket clip, key ring||Carabiner style clip, pocket clip|
|Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches)||4.1 x 0.6||4 x 0.8||4.5 x 0.8||4 x 0.7||4.3 x 0.6|
|Open Length (Pliers) (inches)||6.4 in||6.2 in||7.1in||6.3 in||6.2 in|
|Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches)||6.9 in||7 in||7.6 in||6.9 in||6.8 in|
|Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches)||2.4 in||2.8 in||3.1 in||2.8in||2.6 in|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The SwissTool Spirit X is solidly built, well-appointed and polished to shine. Few non-award winners scored better than the SwissTool. Two that beat the SpiritX are virtually the same tool, with some budget considerations made for the less expensive version. The SpiritX didn't win any awards because it lags slightly behind these other all-around tools and it doesn't have a unique niche to fill like our Top Picks. Nonetheless, it is a piece of art that can work hard. It deserves your consideration. Read on for more details.
According to the respective manufacturer's count, the Victorinox leads the field, by far, in terms of numbers of features and functions. However, when you boil it down and look more closely, the feature set isn't all that much different than your typical multi tool. First, Victorinox claims 24 functions in bold print alongside the tool's name on their website. This number is pretty liberal, including separate entries for needle-nosed pliers, soft wire cutter, hard wire cutter, wire bender, wire stripper and scraper, cable cover longitudinal cutter, cable cover crossways cutter, crate opener and 7mm chisel. These nine listed tools, best we can tell, are contained entirely in the jaws of the pliers and on a single piece of metal in the folded tools. Another manufacturer might list these ten as three or four, total. Examples of this "feature inflation" exist elsewhere in the Victorinox literature.
When one looks past the potential catalog exaggeration, one sees a pretty standard set of tools for a modern full-size multi-tool.
The durability and strength of all our tested tools is a testament to both our initial selection criteria and the practical design criteria these companies use. Across the board, we had no problems with the strength and construction quality of any of our recently tested tools. (in the past we have had tools fail in testing. We have since omitted those products from our review roster). The SwissTool is no exception to the quality of our tested tools. In going head to head with a category super-power like Leatherman, Victorinox is wise to have built a solid product. They also surely have that Swiss pride that results in precise, smooth mechanical and electronic products.
On one level, the SwissTool is a basic, rough-sided pliers based multi-tool. Of the four "corners" of each plier handle, only two are rounded for comfort. However, for some reason, the tool is comfortable in one's hand, and the squared corners hardly affect the function. The good news is that the rounded corners guard the user's hands when using the pliers, and the fold-away tools themselves sort of round out the external profile of the closed device. The plier handles, when deployed, are slightly curved inwards. It's as if the handles have been bent by incredible hand strength when grabbing a nut or bolt with the plier's head. This pre-curve makes for a small-fist-full with the pliers fully closed, while leaving a generous space between the handles to minimize pinching. We like this.
Finally, every single fold-away feature is accessed from the outside of the stowed pliers. In our review, only select tools were built this way. We like this attribute. In the end, regarding ergonomics, the SwissTool has pros and cons, generally tilting to slightly above average performance and score.
The portability of a tool is a function of its size, weight, external "roughness" (rougher tools tear up pockets), and carry options. The Spirit X is average in size, a little heavy, and has a few squared edges on the outside that aren't that sharp. It's ok in terms of portability.
This is a solid product, and we definitely recommend it. For considerably less, though, one can get a remarkably similar feature set in our Best Buy winning Leatherman Wingman. The only major feature the Wingman lacks, as compared to the SwissTool, is a saw. The SwissTool has two, one for wood and one for metal.
We love the Spirit like we love espresso machines, Arc'teryx jackets, and classy underdogs in major sports leagues. It is a super polished product, whose panache is likely unnecessary and perhaps detracts from some practicality. Not to mention that the sophistication in the Spirit comes at a premium price.
— Jediah Porter