In an earlier article, I touted the virtues of carrying a multi-tool on your person. Now there are a lot of tools you can purchase from a number of different brands. But I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again. I’m kind of obsessed with Victorinox Swiss Army knives. Just like Jason is a Leatherman fan through and through, I just can’t get enough of Swiss Army knives. Whether it’s the history behind them or all the different models and variations you can get today, I just love it. I also think they are incredibly useful tools, and I carry at LEAST one Swiss Army knife (SAK for brevity) on me at all times.
Today, let’s look at the Victorinox Tinker. I think this knife has a VERY good set of tools, but it’s not perfect. The problem with SAKs, or any multitool really, is that the more tools you add, the bulkier it gets. SAKs are typically classified by the number of “layers” the SAK has, with more layers meaning a thicker and chunkier package. Let’s look at why the Tinker is a great option and possibly some other alternatives that you might want.
Victorinox Tinker Swiss Army knife
The Victorinox Tinker is a 91mm SAK, which means it is about 3.6” long. It is a 2 layer SAK with “back tools” so you get a good amount of functionality in a compact package with a thickness of only 0.6”. Want something a little smaller with the same toolset? You are in luck! The Small Tinker boasts the same tools (albeit smaller) with a slightly smaller footprint at 3.3” long. The difference is so small though, I’d almost rather go with the larger Tinker to get the bigger knife.
Most SAKs fit my weight requirements that I discussed back in my general multitool article. The Tinker is no exception, weighing in at 2.2 ounces. You will barely know it’s there in your pocket until you need to bust it out and save the day.
The Victorinox Tinker has plenty of great tools including:
- Large Knife
- Small Knife
- Can Opener/Tapered Philips Head Screwdriver
- Bottle Opener/Flat Head Screwdriver
- Dedicated Philips-head Screwdriver
This is again another example of why I love Victorinox SAKs so much. You get so much functionality packed into a neat, tight package. Now people like Jason might argue that this tool is missing a serious piece of EDC necessity: pliers. I’ve been wondering for a while whether I need pliers in my EDC, and so far, it’s a resounding no. I just don’t have many instances where I need pliers. In the rare instances I do, I’m likely already at home and just grab a heavy duty pair from the tool box or else I might break mine like a good friend of mine.
I love having the dedicated Philips Head Screwdriver back tool. It can sometimes be clunky using the tip of the can opener tool as a screwdriver, so the true Philips head screwdriver is amazing. If you find yourself needing a screwdriver often, the Victorinox Tinker is probably one of your best multitool options.
The rest of the tools are pretty standard SAK tools and all do their job excellently. The bottle opener is sturdy and easily lifts caps unlike smaller SAKs like the Rambler. Both blades are not meant for heavy cutting jobs, but they are perfect for most jobs around the house. I never use the can opener, but it would come in handy in a pinch if you’re out camping. I’d say the awl is my least used tool, but sometimes you just need to poke holes in things.
I really don’t see the need for two separate blades. I guess if you’re somewhere less knife friendly, the smaller blade is less intimidating.. but then again, it’s still a SAK. I know that the small blade just fits in well and helps balance out the layers, but it just seems unnecessary from a function standpoint. I did consult some of my EDC buddies and they made some good points about the utility of this secondary blade. If this is the only knife you carry, it makes sense to save the larger knife for food preparation and use the smaller knife to do tasks like opening packages. So maybe not a bad trait for some.
The dedicated screwdriver is great, but it will not function well in tight spaces. Then again, you can always use the tapered screwdriver on the can opener tool, so you’re covered! Then again, if you don’t think you’ll use the dedicated Philips head screwdriver, you could look at a different SAK like the Victorinox Spartan which substitutes in a corkscrew.
- Dedicated Philips Head screwdriver
- Reliable Swiss Army knife construction
- No scissors
- Two blades seem overkill
Overall I love this SAK and it’s the near perfect toolset for me. The only reason I deducted a star is because I think the dedicated screwdriver is helpful but only in certain situations. When it’s great, it’s great. But sometimes it just takes up space that could allow you to get by with a slimmer and smaller tool. I also would love to see some scissors on this tool. You can easily get that on the Victorinox Super Tinker, but then you’re getting a bunch more tools that I find uncecessary (I’m looking at you, hook!). You could also look at the Victorinox Compact as a very popular alternative. Having trouble keeping all of these SAK models straight? A very helpful reference is SAK Wiki, which shows all the current models available.
Does this multitool check all the boxes for your favorite EDC? Are there better multitools out there? Leave a comment, shoot us an e-mail or engage on Instagram!
Excellent writeup Chris! Appreciate the shout out too!
Thanks, man! Always glad to point people towards your awesome scales!