Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Miscellany: Victorinox Vagabond SAK review

I've always been a fan of Victorinox (who, along with Wenger, make the official Swiss Army knives). They do have, however, a nasty habit of discontinuing good designs. In fact, the only reason I know about the out-of-production Victorinox Vagabond is through the handy SAKWiki site.

The Vagabond is a keychain SAK that weighs 1.2 ounces (35 grams). That's almost a full 1.5 ounces less than my previous keychain multitool, the Gerber Clutch. That might not sound like much, but every ounce you can take off of your keychain is less bulk in your pocket and less stress on your car ignition (assuming you keep the rest of your keychain dangling from your car key when you drive).

Compared with other keychain SAKs, the Vagabond is noticeably bigger than the popular Classic-size but still slimmer and lighter than the MiniChamp II. It omits the MiniChamp's cuticle pusher and ruler, two tools that I can safely live without:

On one side, the Vagabond has a set of scissors and a screwdriver/wire-stripper/bottle-opener combo tool. Newer MT designs like the Leatherman Micra/Squirt series integrate larger, heavy-duty scissors into their handles, but the small Victorinox form factor is still useful for clipping nose hairs and snipping coupons.

The combo tool is extremely well-designed; the bottle opener works well for its size and the small magnetic-tipped Phillips head can turn a decent number of screws. I do wish the driver bit was smaller so it could deal with eyeglass screws, and the combo tool's wire stripper is mostly ornamental:

The other side of the knife houses both blades, a nail file with a flathead screwdriver tip, and the "orange peeler" tool. The main pen blade and the Wharncliffe emergency blade are easy to sharpen and great for small cutting chores. The hook-like orange peeler can slice a deep gash into most citrus fruits, making it easy to lift and peel off sections of the skin; you could also use it for scraping and poking. As for the nail file, I've never filed my nails with a SAK, but at least there's a flathead driver on the tip:.

Like almost all Victorinox SAKs, the Vagabond has slots for a toothpick and a set of tweezers. The toothpick is a handy way to clean lint out of the tool (I'd never actually use it on my teeth). The tweezers are okay, but I'd want something a bit stronger and finer for pulling out splinters:

Overall, the Vagabond is a handy little package, offering significantly more capabilities than the average keychain SAK without going overboard on the tool selection. It's a shame Victorinox no longer makes them, but at least they're easy to find on the secondary market.


At 4:26 PM, Blogger Borepatch said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mulliga.


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