Swiss Army Knives:  The original multi-tool

When I was a Boy Scout, the typical scout knife was a Swiss Army Knife, sometimes with the Scout logo on it.  At the time these things seemed pretty handy, but then along came the original Leatherman multitool, and the idea of a gizmo with lots of tools in one package changed dramatically.  Suddenly the idea of a pocket knife with a bunch of accessory tools was replaced with the idea of a pair of pliers with a bunch of accessory tools!  😊

Swiss Army Camper


Personally, I always felt that the pair of pliers was only handy if you also had a screwdriver in your other hand.  Otherwise, how do you manage a simple nut and bolt?  I also feel that the knife tool on a multi-tool is pretty awkward compared to the blade on a simple pocket knife, or a Swiss Army Knife.  As a result, I still like the Swiss Army Knife as my numero uno prepper tool.

Nowadays it seems everyone wants a “folder” by Benchmade or some similar expensive brand.  I have a friend with one of these.  He carries it everywhere.  He opens boxes with a $150 knife.  😊  Of course, if you think you are MacGyver, you have to have a Swiss Army Knife!  😊 

Swiss Army Knife Models

Note that even by the time I was in the Boy Scouts, the Swiss Army Knife had variants that were more entertaining than useful.

Swiss Army Giant

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.  😊  Perhaps this is why Swiss Army Knives seem a bit passe’?

Today there are so many Swiss Army Knife models that some people collect them, with new models coming out each year just to satisfy collectors.  As preppers, our need for a Swiss Army Knife is just for the practicality of a pocket knife with a few accessories.

My recommendation is a model that has just a few tools, such as the Swiss Army Camper model pictured.  Most hands can operate the tools, with the knife still being a very practical pocket knife.  Most of the tools can be mastered with just a few minutes of fiddling to get the hang of it.  For instance, the can opener is about as easy to operate as the military P38 can opener of old.  It will take a few tries to get the hang of it, but you’ll soon be able to use it.  The recommendation of “Don’t forget the can opener!” is satisfied with most Swiss Army Knife models.  😊

For some reason I keep finding uses for the little saw on the Camper model.  It is certainly handy if you are, well, camping.

If you can tolerate a slightly thicker model, the Fieldmaster provides the same tools as the Camper with a Phillip’s head screwdriver that can be quite handy.  Personally, I think the fellow who invented the Phillip’s head screw should be subjected to a slow painful demise, such as being disemboweled with the little hook tool.  ☹

Swiss Army Fieldmaster

Another model I find quite handy is the Classic, which I keep on my key ring.  The Classic is the tiny Swiss Army Knife with a blade about an inch long.  Mostly, I just open boxes with it, but in this day and age of online shopping, there seems to be no shortage of boxes that need opening, as my friend with the Benchmade folder knows.

Swiss Army Classic

Where to Buy

Swiss Army Knives can be found virtually anywhere that you can find pocket knives, including online.  With my 20 person MAG, many of whom don’t know they are in a MAG, I felt I needed a bunch of these, so “cheap” was a major criteria.  Twenty of a $30 item quickly turns into $600.

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those pocket knives people forget are in their pockets before going to the airport?  They wind up on eBay being sold used.  If you stick to the brand name Swiss Army Knife models, and don’t go for the Chinese knockoffs, you can get a lot of TSA confiscated knives for a fraction of the cost of new knives.

I bought some Camper and Classic models in this fashion.  The appearance was somewhat variable out of the box, but with a little cleaning and sharpening, they wound up looking pretty good.  If the plastic sides of a Swiss Army Knife are scratched they can be sanded and then smoothed with auto compound.  The steel used in genuine Swiss Army Knives is very durable and holds an edge well, so they last indefinitely, the Chinese knockoffs not so much.  I gave some Swiss Army Knives to family members for day to day use, and tossed some in the family BOBs.  If I need more I can always look on eBay again.

If you ever lose one to TSA because you forgot to put it in your checked baggage, it is nice to know you are sacrificing a secondhand $5 knife, not a $30, or more, knife and it can be easily replaced.  😊  If you’re a fan of having one on your key ring as I am, try to remember to toss your keys into your checked baggage before boarding.


I recently saw a rerun of the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks, a SHTF story if there ever was one.  There is a scene where he has just returned from four years stuck on an island all alone.  His wife, who has remarried in his absence, hands him his car keys, which he had left with her when he left on his ill-fated trip.  There is a Swiss Army Knife hanging from the key ring.  The look on Tom Hanks face when he sees the Swiss Army Knife, and thinks how handy that would have been while on the island, makes the whole movie worth watching.

Swiss Army Knives are the original multitool.  Every prepper needs at least one.

Paranoid Prepper


  1. My new favorite every day carry item is the Gerber Dime multi-tool which replaced my Swiss Army Classic. I keep it on the strap to my Maglite Solitare and my house key (so I can’t forget them). It is a significant upgrade from my perspective and doesn’t feel bulky.

    My new go-to multi-tool is made by DeWalt and I pick them up at Home Depot for $25. It is well made and a cheaper alternative to the Leatherman. I was able to buy 3 of them for the price of 1 Leatherman.

    • I’m glad you found tools you like. I wrote this post because I think there are people spending way too much and simple classic designs work just fine. Sounds like you’ve found solutions that work for you without overspending.

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