Riding the Flow

musings from the shire

Choosing a Pocket Multi-tool

Personally I think pocket multi-tools (as a superset of more well-known Swiss Army knives) are very useful.

You never know when during the course of day you’ll need to cut a package or envelope open, snip a loose thread, open a bottle or unscrew/screw down something. It’s bad when you don’t have proper tools nearby (but even when you do, it’s often a hassle to fetch/put them back).

That’s why it’s extremely good to always have multi-tool in your pocket, especially when it’s small and light enough to be unnoticeable. Obviously compactness comes at the price of less features, it’s always a compromise.

First, I have tried two “multi-tool credit cards”. Basically, it’s a Swiss Amy knife, but with tools packed in the form of the credit card, so you can just carry it in your wallet (at least theoretically, see further).

A Swiss Card Classic by Victorinox

Swiss Cards 001 Very good quality, what you will expect from leading manufacturer of Swiss Army knives.

Quite robust blade/mini knife. It’s actually bigger than a “small blade” on full-size Swiss Army knives, though thinner. It has quite big and ergonomic handle, but, of course, it still a lot smaller than a handle on proper knife even of same “micro” size.

Swiss Cards 004
Swiss Cards 007

Quite big array of tools:

  • blade
  • scissors – with useful finger ring to provide additional balance
  • nail file with screwdriver
  • toothpick
  • tweezers
  • ballpoint pen (useful as emergency pen)
  • needle pin
  • the card itself has inch and cm rulers on it, and protractor to measure (limited) angles on scissor cover parts

This seemed quite a good card, however shortly after getting it, I’ve found alternative solution which seemed to offer even more powerful features inn the same package. That’s being

T1 Business Card by Toollogic

Almost 100% same credit card size. Same idea, but build quality seem to be slightly inferior to Victorinox.

Swiss Cards 011
Swiss Cards 014 The blade is slightly shorter and slimmer. Still enough to be useful. Though handle is very short and slim, may be not adequate to exert good leverage.

Huge array of tools, even more than of Swiss Card

  • blade
  • scissors – smaller than of Swiss Card, lack of ring makes them harder to hold
  • nail file with screwdriver
  • toothpick
  • tweezers
  • ballpoint pen
  • sewing needle with micro-spool for thread
  • micro straight screwdriver
  • micro Phillips screwdriver
  • the card itself has inch and cm rulers on it
  • card has a detachable clip on it
Swiss Cards 016

Tool Logic card seemingly more feature rich, but this is at expense of main tools like scissors and blade being smaller.

Also, yes, these both are credit-card size from the front but they are absolutely not credit-card sized in thickness – about 4 mm thick!

Swiss Cards 010 Swiss Cards 021

Also the weight about 30 grams, so they put considerable strain on your wallet when you put them in.

And another problem – to use a tool, you have to:

  1. take a wallet out
  2. take a card out of the wallet
  3. place wallet somewhere
  4. take tool out of the card
  5. place card somewhere
  6. use the tool
  7. … do all steps in reverse to put everything back ;)

Not what I call “efficient”, its easier to fetch screwdriver from nearby toolbox :)

So, after a little more digging, I was back to time-proven idea of Swiss Army knife, just of miniature enough size to be unnoticeable in your pocket:

Victorinox Manager

Victorinox Manager 003 The build quality is same as expected from Victorinox – solid. Actually, a lot more solid than Swiss Card. I doubt Swiss Card will take much of abuse due to primarily plastic-y construction. SwissCard vs Manager 003 Its a tiny Swiss Army knife. Here you can see that its actually smaller than a Swiss Card (the weight is about the same). Its obviously thicker (about 2.5 times), but you don’t have to put in in your wallet :) – just put it on your keychain or simply drop it in your pocket like I do.
Victorinox Manager 006 The blade is about the same as on Tool Logic card, slightly smaller than on Victorinox card. But, due to unfolded knife serving as big handle, its arguably a lot more useful.

The array of tools is not designed to impress by numbers, but it’s more usable to me on everyday course:

  • blade
  • scissors – about the same size as Tool Logic, with unfolded knife making them easier to hold
  • nail file with straight screwdriver
  • bottle opener with wire stripper and Phillips screwdriver. Phillips screwdriver is about 00-0 size, it can actually unscrew everyday screws, and not micro-watch screws like on Tool Logic.
  • tweezers. I’ve replaced them with Victorinox small toothpick, compatible with this slot
  • ballpoint pen. When unused, retracted inside. When used, knife with unfolded nail file serves as reasonably handy and large pen body, making it easier to write. The pen is replaceable and replacements are not expensive.
Victorinox Manager 010

On the trial run, as I expected, this tiny SAK proved to be a lot more useful and ergonomic – when you need to use a tool, just take it out, unfold a tool and voila.

Some people who prefer different array of tools can find similarly sized knives with slightly different tools (ie “Rambler” has second toothpick/tweezers slot instead of pen, “Midnite Manager” has micro-led light instead tweezers/toothpick slot, etc).

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