Why you should wear a Swiss army knife on your belt (even if you are not MacGyver)

“The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever seen that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Not much of a weapon there. Corkscrews. Bottle openers. ‘Come on, buddy, let’s go. You get past me, the guy in the back of me, he’s got a spoon. Back off, I’ve got the toe clippers right here.'”
Jerry Seinfeld

I freely admit — I grew up watching MacGyver. And yup, the attitude of putting smarts over brute force — I liked that. Not only was it smart (well, who or what decides whether it is smart ;-)), but it was also more my style. And one thing that really stuck with me was the value of having the right tools available. And in this sense, having a Swiss Army Knife is probably the best tool you can have at your side at almost(*) any time.

Seriously, a good Victorinox Swiss Army Knife provides you with screwdrivers, bottle openers, two blades, scissors, corkscrew, a saw, toothpick, tweezers … and much more. Seinfeld might joke about it, but it’s extremely useful in a lot of situations.

But carrying a Swiss army knife might be a chore, after all, it moves around in your pocket, and if you do not have it immediately available, you might as well not have it available at all (kinda like pepper spray/mace). So, one of the very interesting add-ons is a knife sheath. Personally, I found the Tatonka Tool Pocket, black, S (S = small) very useful. You can wear it horizontally on your belt, which means you hardly notice it. Yet it is there — immediately, without looking or thinking.

Swiss Army Knife in a sheath made for wearing on the belt.

Having such a tool — and it is a tool, not a weapon, given that the blade cannot be fixed in an open position — is really helpful. Even if it’s just for everyday tasks like opening envelopes or wine bottles.

Highly recommended.


(*) Unfortunately, having any kind of knife is prohibited in some buildings and some vehicles, esp. airplanes. Which really sucks, esp. if you want to travel light and have only carry-on baggage — but there you go.


  1. I’d add another item that’s as likely to prove as useful in a pinch as a versatile knife and that won’t have you clashing with an officious nanny state. That’s a compact LED flashlight. You can pay $100 or more for a fancy tactical one, but you can find quite useful ones online for under $5.
    Many emergencies with plunge you into darkness where your main problem is seeing to get about and out. In a couple of seconds you can have that flashlight out. Equally important, the fact that you have it will also help calm those around you. Darkness is scary.
    I have a Swiss-army knife, a flashlight, a compass, a small butane lighter, and a length of sturdy paracord in a small pouch that I carry on my belt almost anytime I’m out.
    Thinking about it, I should probably add some change and small bills. Some emergencies are merely being far from home without money.
    –Michael W. Perry, Across Asia on a Bicycle

  2. Good point. Personally, that’s one of the reasons I really like the environmental protection cover of my iPhone — and as much as I (still) hate iOS7, the ability to quickly access the flashlight. Who ever came up with the idea of using the camera LED light as continuous flashlight — that was a really great idea. And luckily, you can access the flashlight even if the phone is locked (as long as the control center is not disabled). Worst come to worse, you can only use the screen lighting, which is not really a comparison.

    But yup, having a light source (and a lighter for other uses) with you is really helpful. It might not be the most important thing in an emergency … how was that quote:

    “They die of shame because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives: thinking.”
    Charles Morse, on what happens to men lost in the wilderness

    but it sure helps.

  3. I have been looking for a subtle horizontal belt pouch for my Deluxe Tinker, and this looks PERFECT. However; it only seems available in Europe, and I can’t seem to track it down in the States. Do you have any sites I could order it from?

  4. Nope, sorry, this might be one of the few times it’s easier to order something in Germany than in the US. However, I’m pretty sure that there are products available, e.g., on Amazon.com. Just search for “Horizontal Knife Sheath” or something.

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