♫ Mack the (Pocket) Knife ♫

Since September 11, 2001, these little guys made themselves scarcer in passenger’s luggage (especially carry-on as they were fully banned from hand-luggage since).  The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) recently reviewed their approach on these indispensable backpacker tools and say that there could be changes in the carry-on regulations.  (No official implementation date has been set and the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon might have an influence on the final decision.)

But what should you look for in a pocket knife or (folding) multi-tool?  Considering the wide range of products and price, the weight and the different tools available, it can be a tough decision!  Classic brand Victorinox Swiss Army has (my personal rough calculation) about 54 models and prices starting around 15 CAN $ and going all the way up to over 150 CAN $.

Multi-tools are also within the same (vast) price range, but bears a different look (often a little bulkier but include pliers that are rarely found in the “pocket knife” version).

Things to consider while shopping:
-Size and weight:
If you plan on carrying your knife/tool all the time, in your pockets, than the smaller models are probably a better fit (unless you have a lot of pockets or you don’t mind carrying the weight of a bigger choice).  The smaller, the fewer the options, so choose carefully.  If you plan on bringing it with you only on specific occasions, then you can probably handle a more complete, heavier and chubbier model.

-Main use:
I used my pocket knife in my “daily routine” when I’m away: from peeling and cutting fruits and vegetables to tightening a loose screw on my sunglasses and doing what I call my “pocket knife manicure” (clean and cut).  For that kind of usage, you don’t need a knife as heavy-duty as you would need for gutting fish, fixing a bike or building a shelter.  Some knives/tools are built with specific activity in mind, don’t neglect that.  Some even include built-in USB keys for the more techno-oriented travelers!

When I travel, I use a combination of 3 instruments – 2 Swiss Army and 1 multi-tool:
Swiss Army Pink Classic SD as an everyday attachment to my key-chain (very light and not too big)
Swiss Army Red Driver most of the time (perfect size for peeling and eating)
Yukon Gear Small Multi-tool for rare and more complex use

Up to now, I never regretted having too much or too little and never needed a tool I didn’t have, but I’m not the most hardcore-camper-climbing hills backpacker, so it could be insufficient for more rugged-off-the-beaten-path-survivalist travelers.

2 thoughts on “♫ Mack the (Pocket) Knife ♫

  • May 7, 2013 at 3:21 am

    We took one of these travelling with us and used it more than we thought we would. We’d use it to make sandwiches on the run with the knife attachment!

  • May 10, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Jennifer: My dad would be so proud that I post about this… He’s the one who made me realize how useful these little gizmos are!


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