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Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X Review

A strong European contender in a market dominated by the company that arguably invented the category
Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X
Photo: Victorinox
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Price:  $105 List | $99.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Polished, smooth
Cons:  Heavier, no external bit options
Manufacturer:   Victorinox
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 22, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 21
  • Functions - 40% 6
  • Construction Quality - 25% 7
  • Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Portability - 15% 5

Our Verdict

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $99.99 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Polished, smoothCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective toolsComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsExcellent bit driver, big blade, scissors, fast-action pliersInexpensive and well-made, spring-loaded pliers, scissors, pocket clip, one-handed blade
Cons Heavier, no external bit optionsFew featuresProprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedRattly construction, bulky and heavy, serrated blade sectionHybrid straight/serrated blade, squashed Phillips driver, short main blade
Bottom Line A strong European contender in a market dominated by the company that arguably invented the categoryA multi-tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability by reducing the tool set to the most important ones for daily use and carryA full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable priceA large, full-function multi-tool that includes a top notch bit driver and nice storage via its carry sheathA budget tool with real value and function, this model is compact with a feature set that does much of what you want and little that you don't
Rating Categories Victorinox SwissToo... Leatherman Skeletoo... Leatherman Wave+ Gerber Center-Drive... Leatherman Wingman
Functions (40%)
6.0
5.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
Construction Quality (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
Ergonomics (20%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Portability (15%)
5.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
7.0
Specs Victorinox SwissToo... Leatherman Skeletoo... Leatherman Wave+ Gerber Center-Drive... Leatherman Wingman
Number of functions 17 5 + bits 18 + bits 16 + bits 10
Weight (ounces) 7.4 oz 5.0 oz 8.5 oz, 9.5 oz with case 9.9 oz, 14.4 oz with case and bits. 6.8 oz, 7.8 oz with sheath
Locking tools? All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers Scissors and blade
Pliers type Needlenose pliers, regular pliers and wirecutters Needlenose with 2 wire cutters Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Spring-loaded pliers Spring-loaded regular and needlenose
Tools accessible without deploying pliers All Blade Blades, saw, file Primary blade, bit driver Blade and scissors
Blades and type 1 straight blade 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 hybrid straight/serrated 1 hybrid serrated/straight drop point
Scissors Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Number of screwdrivers 4 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver 14 incuded. Infinitely more available as aftermarket bits 3
File? Yes No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes Yes
Saw? Metal and wood No Yes No No
Openers Bottle, can and crate Bottle Can and bottle Can, bottle Can, bottle, and a unique box opener
Other important features Awl None Ruler One-handed blade. Replacable wire-cutters Very small ruler
Sheath included? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Other carry options Pocket Carabiner style clip, pocket clip Pocket Pocket Pocket, Pocket clip
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 4.1 x 0.6 4.3 x 0.6 4 x 0.7 4.8 x 1 3.8 x 0.7
Open length (pliers, in inches) 6.4 in 6.2 in 6.3 in 6.4 in 6.2 in
Open overall length (primary blade deployed, in inches) 6.9 in 6.8 in 6.9 in 7.8 in 6.4 in
Length of primary blade effective edge (inches) 2.4 in 2.6 in 2.8in 2.9 in 2.4 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.

Performance Comparison



For backcountry base camping, a full function tool like the...
For backcountry base camping, a full function tool like the Victorinox SwissTool (pictured behind the fuel bottle) is handy and useful.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Functions


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.

One "arm" of the SwissTool's feature selection. Each tool is...
One "arm" of the SwissTool's feature selection. Each tool is functional and very reminiscent of the company's red "Swiss Army Knives".
Photo: Jediah Porter

When one looks past the potential catalog exaggeration, one sees a pretty standard set of tools for a modern full-size multi-tool.

One "arm" of the SwissTool's feature set. Each tool is functional...
One "arm" of the SwissTool's feature set. Each tool is functional and versatile. Notably the lowest tool in this photo is responsible for what could be 5 or 6 of Victorinox's claimed 26 features. It is simply a shaped and sharpened protrusion, each curve attributed a specific sort of cutting or opening task. With some creativity one can see the function, but it also seem like a simple straight blade would be more versatile.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


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.

Ergonomics


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.

All the features of the SwissTool, folded out for viewing. Every...
All the features of the SwissTool, folded out for viewing. Every single tool is accessible without deploying the pliers, which is nice.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Portability


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.

The velcro closure on the Victorinox leather case is lower profile...
The velcro closure on the Victorinox leather case is lower profile than a snap but is less durable and secure.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


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.

The SwissTool and dedicated case. Something about the brown leather...
The SwissTool and dedicated case. Something about the brown leather case suggests sophistication and quality.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


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