Hands-on Gear Review

Victorinox SwissChamp Swiss Army Knife Review

Victorinox SwissChamp Swiss Army Knife
Price:  $100 List | $68.52 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Includes almost every imaginable tool
Cons:  bulky and heavy
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Victorinox

Our Verdict

The Victorinox SwissChamp brings multi tool functionality to a pocket knife format. The SwissChamp has more than three times as many functions as any other knife in our test. As such, it could also be compared in our Multi-Tool Review. Whether considered in the multi-tool category or here in the pocket knife review, the SwissChamp is a novelty piece of equipment perfect for the avid Swiss Army Knife ("SAK") fan. Each function and tool included is of very high quality, if a bit small for its intended purpose. The versatility of all SAK's has become a cultural cliche ("This is a very versatile bicycle; It's the Swiss Army Knife of bicycles"). And the SwissChamp is the ultimate SAK. Virtually every tool that Victorinox has included on any of its knives is built in to the SwissChamp.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Sunday
September 29, 2013

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The SwissChamp is a novel and versatile pocket knife. It could be said that the SwissChamp is the original multi-tool. Or the most versatile pocket knife. Either way, it bridges a gap in the whole spectrum of small folding tools.

Performance Comparison


The Scissors on the SwissChamp are the stand-out feature. These tiny slicers are famous for their precision and functionality.
The Scissors on the SwissChamp are the stand-out feature. These tiny slicers are famous for their precision and functionality.

Blade and Edge Integrity


Victorinox blades are legendary. There is nothing flashy in their material or construction, but users around the world have been pleased with the cutting edges built by this age old institution. Our tested SwissChamp (as well as the SwissChamp our lead tester purchased with allowance money when he was 8 years old) arrived with a razor sharp grind on both large and small blades. The leading edge is durable yet precise. Even the most primitive of sharpening skills will return the blade to like-new status. Even the large blade on the SwissChamp is thin and low profile. The Best Buy award winning Kershaw Leek, while low profile, has a much thicker blade overall.

Ergonomics


It almost feels silly to comment on the ergonomics of such a feature-packed tool. Given how much this tool could do, it does the jobs pretty well. However, as compared to purpose-built cutters like our Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 the SwissChamp feels bulky and unwieldy, especially in extended and heavy usage.

Construction Quality


The Swiss are known for precision manufacturing. And the SwissChamp is no exception. Our lead test editor has used this model of knife for 25 years and had absolutely no problems with durability. All the hinges remain tight and smooth. Cursory and occasional cleaning keeps the pocket grime from binding it all up.

Portability


Victorinox doesn't intend for the SwissChamp to shine in portability. It is the heaviest knife in our test and the most featured. With the Top Pick Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife taking that top spot specifically for its portability, we can't pretend to endorse the SwissChamp's portability at all. This is a tool you'll leave in your car or kitchen drawer. When it's nearby, you'll find abundant use for it. When it's not, you'll be glad to have a more compact and simple knife at hand.

Other Features


All the many features of the SwissChamp  displayed.
All the many features of the SwissChamp, displayed.
We couldn't possibly begin to evaluate each of the additional features on the SwissChamp. We can say that each is an effectively miniaturized and functional version of its full-sized counterpart. Our testers found the wood saw, scissors, eyeglass screwdriver, and pen to be the most useful. In countless situations we used these tools to great effect. On the other hand, the fish scaler seems virtually useless and the magnifying lens is too tiny and too often dirty to be of much use.
Like the pliers (and some of the other tools) on the SwissChamp  the magnifier looks more like a toy. And it proves to be little more effective than one. Every once in a while  in extended testing  we found use for this.
Like the pliers (and some of the other tools) on the SwissChamp, the magnifier looks more like a toy. And it proves to be little more effective than one. Every once in a while, in extended testing, we found use for this.

Best Application


This knife is a great tool to keep in a designated and handy spot. Any place in your life where space is tight but repair and handy tasks are frequent will benefit from a Victorinox SwissChamp. We had good luck keeping it accessible in the kitchen or in the gear storage room.

Value


The SwissChamp is not an inexpensive piece of equipment. However, the impeccable Swiss craftsmanship and the carefully miniaturized tools mean that it will remain useful and functional for a long time. Like any compact piece of equipment, the primary threat to the value of the SwissChamp is losing it. If you keep track of your SwissChamp, its value will pay off for years and years.

Conclusion


With our lead tester's admittedly nostalgic recollections of using a SwissChamp for all of his childhood and periodically through adulthood, putting the actual utility of the knife in perspective was difficult. He thinks everyone should have such fond memories of child-hood lusting and penny-saving. The satisfaction born of adolescent financial planning and pride-in-ownership is a solid rite of passage. That being said, we can really recommend the SwissChamp only for mini-toolbox usage. Stash one somewhere handy and use it enough to keep it near the front of your mind. However, if you are looking to secure a multi-purpose tool for every day carry, consult our Multi-Tool Review here on OutdoorGearLab.
Jediah Porter

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Most recent review: November 20, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Nov 20, 2015 - 06:25am
MJ1247 · Backpacker
My SwissChamp is my right hand man. It's my solution to 101 problems. I could effectively replace most of the items in my PC tool kit with this and still carry on fixing computers for people. Give me this, a Zippo lighter, and safety razor and an accurate watch, and I am literally ready to go anywhere in the world. The SwissChamp simply oozes quality, will never let you down, and tou will never regret owning this knife.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Person Icon

Sep 12, 2015 - 02:56pm
 
Gattonero · Mountain Biker · London
I've used this knife, and although excellent in its environment, I would not consider it as a "backpacking" knife, but more suitable for "family camping".
The one that goes outdoor, wants better features and what's necessary and no more. Victorinox does the Trekker knife which is arguably the best combination of features, reliability, weight, and price.
Good sized blade, excellent saw, can&bottle openers, two screwdrivers and tweezers. That's all it needs, right?

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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