On my 21st birthday, and two weeks before my six-month trip to Latin America, my best friend gave me a Swiss Army Knife. Three decades later, I still have it and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it's probably the greatest present I've ever been given. This is a knife that's accompanied me through the Guatemalan jungle, the Namibian desert, across India (on three occasions) and criss-crossing a few Indonesian islands besides.
It's withstood monsoon flooding, brutal tropical heat, and endless middle-of-the-night, can't-see-where-I'm-going, hope-I don't-break-a-leg escapades and then some. And through it all it's served me well...which is why I can't shut up about it when people ask me what kind of knife to buy for a long trip.
The knife I have is an original Victorinox and, as these Swiss guys say on their website, "those who need to be ready for anything take one of these with them." My friend gave me 'The Hunter' which is extremely versatile, and useful both indoors as well as outdoors. It comes with (amongst other things) two blades, scissors, a bottle and can opener, a toothpick and tweezers and (you'll love this) a wood saw.
And, by the way, the wood saw is sharp - a guy I was travelling with began messing around with my knife and sliced his finger up! For his troubles, he ended up in a clinic in Dar-es-Salaam, having two stitches put in. He won’t make that mistake again!
It’s ingeniously designed and it’s spearpoint blade leaves me positively swooning. A true icon of design, and recognisable anywhere you go in the world, it has its origins as far back as the 1880’s. Over the years. it has evolved no end…in 2006, Victorinox introduced “the Giant” - an enormous, nine-inch-wide ‘pocket knife. In point of face, it has 85 different implements!
Of course, I know mine is not top of the range and, for sure, I've considered, over the years, upgrading to something with more bells and whistles, but in the end I didn't, After all, why should I? This knife, as I write this, is still serving me well and, frankly, strikes me as virtually indestructible.
I carry it in my pocket easily and discreetly, almost every place I go, and it weighs very little. Moreover, I happen to find it quite beautiful. I really don't know what I'd have done without it on my world travels...it's so multi-functional and versatile. This is a high-quality product which, if you treat it properly, will last you a lifetime. Bottom line? If you only ever own one knife, it's got to be one in this range. So go out and buy one. Right now.
Finally, if you’re want a bit of history, here’s a nice little video of the origins of this astonishing knife…