The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Victorinox Climber Review

A mini tool box for your pocket or backpack. Solid construction and a selection of functions that is likely “just right” for you.
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Price:  $32 List | $28.25 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, many extra functions
Cons:  No pocket clip, no one handed opening
Manufacturer:   Victorinox
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 12, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 19
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 8
  • Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Portability - 20% 4
  • Construction Quality - 20% 8
  • Other Features - 10% 7

Our Verdict

In extensive testing, we like much of what the Victorinox Climber has to offer. The extra functions are its defining characteristic. To get scissors and openers and some handy tools you sacrifice some portability and ergonomics. We notice the lack of a pocket clip and attributes that enable one-handed deployment. If your knife use is more patient, you won't notice these shortcomings.


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Victorinox Climber
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $28.25 at Amazon$127.50 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, many extra functionsIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityProven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomicsGreat blade, classy wooden handleImmaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performance
Cons No pocket clip, no one handed openingPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveLarge, no assisted openingExpensive, no assisted opening functionLarge in your pocket, expensive
Bottom Line A mini tool box for your pocket or backpack. Solid construction and a selection of functions that is likely “just right” for you.Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.
Rating Categories Victorinox Climber Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Benchmade Griptilian 551 Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Barrage 580
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
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9
10
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9
Ergonomics (20%)
10
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7
10
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9
10
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10
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8
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9
Portability (20%)
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4
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8
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6
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8
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6
Construction Quality (20%)
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8
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9
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9
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9
10
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9
Other Features (10%)
10
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7
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10
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10
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10
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0
Specs Victorinox Climber Benchmade... Benchmade... Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade Barrage...
Weight (ounces) 2.9 3.4 3.9 3.2 4.2
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes No Yes Yes
Opening Style Fingernail Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud
Lock Mechanism None Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis)
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Keyring Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip Pocket Clip, lanyard hole
Blade Material Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420) 154CM Steel 154CM steel CPM-S30V stainless steel 154 CM stainless steel
Handle Material Plastic Plastic Plastic Stabilized wood Valox
Blade Length (inches) 2.4 2.9 3.5 2.9 3.8
Closed Length (inches) 3.5 4 4.6 3.9 4.8
Overall Length 6.3 6.9 8 6.9 8.5
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) 0.7 0.57 0.6 0.53 0.7
Other Features or Functions 14 functions None None None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Is it a pocket knife with extra functions? Or is it a pocket-knife-shaped multi-tool? Or does it even matter? Clearly, we've elected to include it here with other pocket knives. However, it wouldn't be wrong to have included it in our Multi-Tool Review. The "Swiss Army Knife" is, in many ways, the original "multi tool". The Climber model from Victorinox is venerable, proven, and compact. It takes up less space in your pocket or purse than many pocket knives but has more functions and features than many multi tools. The construction quality and durability back up the design and our testers reach for the Climber over and over again. It doesn't stand out enough to earn any awards, but it is a reliable and intelligent choice for day-to-day use.

Performance Comparison


Our scoring matrix is optimized to score pocket knives with a main blade and maybe an extra feature or two. To shoe-horn the Victorinox Climber into this system is a little clumsy. The end result is an overall score that doesn't really reflect its utility. For day-to-day use and most backcountry applications, the Victorinox Climber is nearly perfect. Its primary short-comings, especially as it pertains to backcountry use, is that the plentiful tool selection is harder to clean before and after food prep. Otherwise, all the features are very handy for the self-contained wilderness traveler and in your day-to-day life.

Victorinox scissors are very good.
Victorinox scissors are very good.

Blade and Edge Integrity


Victorinox doesn't give us a ton of information about the steel and finishing process. We like to "geek out" at least a little on the blade steel, and Victorinox just won't indulge us. When we let go of our nerdier aspirations and just use the Climber, we like what we find. The blades are thin and low profile, but arrive well sharpened and hold that edge as long as anything else. The steel is very easily sharpened with any of a variety of good methods. Decades of experience with Victorinox products validates this assessment, and we have no reason to believe that recent products are any different from the 25 year old knives members of our test team still have in use.

Next to "modern" knives  the Climber blade is slender and dainty looking. But it gets the job done.
Next to "modern" knives, the Climber blade is slender and dainty looking. But it gets the job done.

Ergonomics


In recent decades, knives have improved greatly in ergonomics. One-handed opening, assisted opening, and slick locking mechanisms really do enhance your experience. Modern knife designs are truly more ergonomic than older styles. The Climber is decidedly "old school" with the attendant usability compromises. You'll find that the assisted opening, one-handed deployment of the Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini-Barrage is more user friendly. Even Best Buy winning Kershaw Chill has a one-handed opening function with no additional parts. The fingernail groove on the main blade of the Climber is similar to that on the Buck Knives 110 and the Top Pick Victorinox Classic. It works, but others do better for sure.

The primary ergonomic drawback of the Climber is its lack of one-handed opening.
The primary ergonomic drawback of the Climber is its lack of one-handed opening.

Portability


Portability is a function of size, weight, carry options, and external texture. For all it packs in, the Climber is pretty small and light. More than half of our tested knives are heavier than the Climber and none have more features. The Climber has a smooth external profile and a key chain loop. Our preferred carry method, though, is not possible with the Victorinox Climber. A pocket clip holds your knife up out of the clutter of your pants pocket. The Climber does not have this. Of our award winners, all but one have a pocket clip. The modular design of the pocket clip on the Kershaw Leek allows it to be highly customized. The Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini-Barrage has a low profile pocket clip that can be mounted for either right or left hand carry and use. The Climber is a little behind the times.

The selection of tools and functions on the Climber.
The selection of tools and functions on the Climber.

Other Features


Here the Climber excels. It has more features than any other knife we tested. Testers love the scissors and bottle opener. Handy folks and those requiring self-reliance like the awl and screwdrivers for quick and dirty field repairs of equipment of all kinds. The tweezers aren't the best available, but they are often better than nothing.

In some ways the cork screw is the defining characteristic of a Swiss Army Knife. It sure is handy for oenophiles.
In some ways the cork screw is the defining characteristic of a Swiss Army Knife. It sure is handy for oenophiles.

Construction Quality


In decades of using a whole host of Victorinox Swiss Army Knives our test team has had precious few issues with construction or durability. Our most recent test time with the Climber wasn't really long enough to deduce any particular issues, but our prior experiences lend us the authority to say that the knife will last very very well. Hinges and springs are tight, and will remain so. Even when gummed up with food or dirt, everything works as advertised for years and years.

For casual handy tasks the screwdrivers of the Victorinox Climber work great.
For casual handy tasks the screwdrivers of the Victorinox Climber work great.

Best Applications


This is a solid choice for backpacking or for basic every day carry. The primary limitation is in the lack of quick and one-handed blade deployment. You won't get it out and in use as frequently as a knife with one-handed opening and a pocket clip. Nonetheless, the presence of all the other tools and functions will likely earn it a place in many pockets and backpacks.

Of all the features on the Climber  most testers used the scissors more than they thought they would.
Of all the features on the Climber, most testers used the scissors more than they thought they would.

Value


Given its durability, construction quality, and a plethora of functions, the Climber is relatively inexpensive. Victorinox leverages an economy of scale to make these widely available and quite affordable.

Conclusion


A classic pocket knife for classic and patient applications. The Victorinox Climber lacks some modern attributes, but includes tools and functions that no other pocket knives have.


Jediah Porter