Review : Swiss Army Knife - Rucksack

Supplement from a long time user.

Around 8 years ago I first ran across the longer lock-bladed SAK's. For about 20 years I had been carrying the Tinker model SAK which had all my most commonly used tools. At a Pace warehouse store I found the new Adventurer model with all the same blades, but longer handle and larger LOCKING knife blade. They were selling for the astounding price of $12.99 each--I bought four on the spot, one for each member of the family.

In the intervening years two have been misplaced, but none of them has been broken in any way. My younger son and I carry our Adventurers most of the time (I expect him to be suspended from school any day now). They seem durable enough for general SAK utility purposes. If I want to do a little light prying with the knife I always use the larger screwdriver blade rather than the cutting blade.

I find the blade design to be very useful. I had occasion to clean some rabbits using the knife last fall and it easily did the work without any sign of wear and tear. The slim blade is very handy for things like cardboard cutting. A couple weeks ago my son was helping his mother flatten a bunch of cardboard display cartons. He tried using the three different knives he had in his pockets. The Buck 110 was middling sharp at the time and tended to get bogged down when the cardboard folded over in the path of his blade. His partially serrated Gerber Easy Out could saw through the cardboard, but that's a slow and sloppy process. His Adventurer was also only middling sharp at the time, but he was pleasantly surprised by how fast he could zip through cardboard with the slim blade. I've had the same experience where my Adventurer zips through the tasks I most commonly encounter.

I know the Victorinox steel is not the best (my impression is that it is 420 HC alloy with .5% carbon), but it generally holds up to moderate usage. I sharpen often and my Adventurer is virtually always shaving sharp.
Jeff, yes the blade does cut very well compared to many popular folders. The stock is simply much thinner and the edge is decently acute. There are customs that will cut better than it, but for the most part most of the productional tactical and utility blades are behind. They are stronger and more durable though.

The main advantage to me of SAK's for regular use is that it gives off a "tool" vibe rather than a "weapon" one. Even though it is fairly large, I have as of yet no knife looks when using it.

Nice review, as usual, Cliff. Two comments:

1) SAW: No surprise that the SAK couldn't nearly rival the knives for chopping. But I've never regarded the SAK (or Leatherman) saws in that way. Rather (IMO), they excel at finer sawing work for which a big saw is awkward or a small knife is inadequate, e.g., cutting notches in wood (to secure string, rope, wire to stakes or traps, etc.). Try to cut a thin 1/2" slot down the end of a thin branch with a knife, and I wager the usefulness of the SAK saw will quickly become apparent!

2) Quality control: you mentioned that the QC is worse than you had seen before on a SAK. Is yours possibly made by Swiss Army Brands (rather than Victorinox)? According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, SA Brands bought the rights to the "Swiss Army" name from the Swiss Defense Ministry (Dept?) three years ago, and has entered into an agreement w/Victorinox to market its designs in North America. While SA Brands claims to maintain Vnox's QC, they are admittedly driven by market interests first. Perhaps they are using even cheaper steel and slacking at the controls? I know the SwissTool's screwdrivers are pretty sturdy.

My .02 --
Glen :

Try to cut a thin 1/2" slot down the end of a thin branch with a knife, and I wager the usefulness of the SAK saw will quickly become apparent!

Yes, I noted similar reasons in the section on the saw in the TOPS Steel Eagle review (not finished yet).

Is yours possibly made by Swiss Army Brands (rather than Victorinox)?

No, it is Victorinox.

I have had some problems with SAK's, also. I used to own a Victorinox Spartan, but the knife bid not cut (the steel was too soft to take a good edge) and the scales came loose when I used the screwdriver for prying. I have since replace it with an aluminum scaled Wenger (Standard Issue?) which I bought at K-Mart. This does not have quite so many tools (only one blade, a leather punch, bottle opener/screwdriver, and can opener/scredriver), but the blade cuts much better and the scales do not come loose. Problem solved.

P.S. Camillus also makes a similar model for the U.S. Military. I have one with wooden handles and it is great.
storyville I may be wrong but I thought Swiss Army Brands was just the distributor for Victorinox which makes all the knives.
Call me silly, but the SAK Rucksack has perfromed for me in the woods without a problem for years...

Soft steel? easy to resharpen in the field.

Saw? Cuts down whatever I need -- I don't need to cut down huge 100 year-old oaks.

One knife I'd bring above all others if only gien one choice? The SAK Rucksack.

Good discussion and review Cliff!


where can we find some pictures. I have been living under the impression that my Wenger was Rucksak, now it looks that I have different knife.

Mine can be seen on my photopoint page.



My Photopoint pictures
Brian you do make a good point. Just how much power do you need? The Rucksack does contain a significant amount of cutting ability in a very small package with the wood saw and main blade. The size has the very significant benefit that I can always have it on me. Have you ever sharpened the saw?

David, the Knifecenter has many pictures of SAK's. For the Rucksack :

Are the Wenger SAKs made of better quality steel than the Victorinox? I don't own any small folding saws, and I'm having a hard time with the idea of buying a knife made of cheap steel.

Perhaps the Leatherman supertool is made of better material??
I've been through a few SAK's and I've never had one break before I could manage to lose it.

In fact, I just bought a hot pink Signature Classic model for my wife becasue I got tired of her asking me to use the scissors or something like that.

That raises one question. Many of these SAK's are designed with a small ring intended for keychain duty or some such thing. Why in the world would anyone place the toothpick and tweezers on the bottom[/] of the knife as it's hanging? I can only imagine this "quick release fall-out" design feature is profit-oriented. A local store charges around a dollar for a toothpick and about 2 bucks for tweezers. A complete new knife costs around 10 bucks. At that, the cost of the toothpick and tweezers must be pennies. You either pay many times what the parts cost to replace them, learn to live without them, or buy a new knife. Talk about planned obsolescense! That does it, I'm gonna write them a letter!

[This message has been edited by Ron L (edited 02-09-2000).]
On the Rucksack model the tweezers and toothpick are on the top with the ring. Having them on the bottom might make them somewhat easier to draw out though for the keychain knives.


I've never had occasion to sharpen the saw... I usually lose them first, or have bought a new knife when the old one wears out...

Is it difficult?

IMO Victorinox is made a bit better than Wengers.
Whatever the steel is, although it isn't state of the art, it works for its intended purposes. Anyway, besides an SAK, I always have some other knife on me for heavier cutting anyway.

I have a larger Victorinox called the Trailmaster. Its handles are like black Zytel, and it has a double liner lock that locks the main blade and the large screwdriver/cap lifter. The saw does not lock but has worked well so far in removing bushes and branches around the yard. I have no manufacturing defects on mine. I also own the Cowboy model, which is a large model but with red handles. The lock on the Black models seems stronger than the slide-button lock on the red models.
I really think the best of them all is the Swiss Tool.

It is a SAK, but it is a multi-tool.

All the tools you would need in a pinch and they all lock.

A little heavier, but I think very much worth it.

My only complaint is that there is a serrated blade, I would really prefer a small blade.

Thank you,
Marion David Poff aka Eye, Cd'A ID, USA

"We will either find a way, or make one." Hannibal, 210 B.C.
Geez, the traffic that builds on this site when you don't visit for two days.

Was going to just e-mail you privately but couldn't find an address. RE Swiss Army Brands: Acc to the LA Times article (1/23/00), SA Brands does indeed manufacture SAKs in Connecticut; in fact, they were selling SAK knock-offs before their deal w/the Swiss Def Ministry and Vnox. The Def Ministry agreed to the arrangement, ironically, precisely to curtail other knock-offs. Since SA Brands is much bigger than Vnox and Wenger combined, and is in the US (the largest SAK mrkt), the idea is that SAB has the $ and resources to successfully sue or otherwise discourage any other co. from using the term, "Swiss Army," except SAB, Vnox, and Wenger. Vnox licenses their designs to SAB, which is why the SAB line now looks exactly like the Vnox models.

Whew, that was too long -- apologies!
Brian, yes I can say the same. However I have sharpened them before, mainly on old ones I have come across. The steel will file fairly easily. Lee Valley actually has a nice discusson on sharpening saws in their currently catalog.

Marion, if you are asking me, then no. I am currently using the Supertool and have an evaluation of that that I need to clean up. I will probably be getting one of the new Gerber multi-tools soon mainly because of Joe's comments on it. I have handled a Swisstool before and was very impressed with the advantages over the Supertool in regards to the locking system, tool clumping and handle comfort. However there was something that turned me off that I cannot remember, I think it was some aspect of the tools themselves.

In regards to SAK's vs multi-tools, I think James Mattis brought up an important point awhile ago in that they are not replacements for each other but both are useful to have mainly for the use of pliers and screwdrivers at the same time. There are other issues, the SAK's are far more ergonomic for blade usage for example.