Way back in 1970, Englishman Chris Bonnington—yes, part of what they call “Climbing’s Greatest Generation”—led an expedition up the south face of the Annapurna, the 10th highest summit in the world, and one of the only 14 “eight-thousanders” in the world. He had the sherpas and a carefully chosen team, of course, yet his most “excellent servant”, he said, was a tiny little all-in-one tool, the Swiss army knife.
Jack of all trades: Victorinox’s Traveller Lite.
In a letter, he wrote: “During our adventure I think we used every single blade on the knife except for the fish-scaling knife, there being a distinct shortage of freshwater fish halfway up the south face of Anapurna (sic). The knives even stood up to blows from a hammer; despite this treatment the blades remained sharp. The kitchen and butcher’s knives were used extensively at our base camp. Finally, they had to deal with whole necks of mutton and I can assure you that Nepalese goats and oxen are amongst the toughest in the world.”
Okay, the regular traveller today may not go about slaughtering sheep, but the Swiss knife can be as indispensable a travel companion today as it was 60 years ago. Victorinox, the company synonymous with this pocketknife, has thoughtfully brought out three models of a Traveller Lite knife, which combines tried-and-tested multi-tools with tech inputs such as an altimeter, a thermometer, a barometer and a walking/driving time calculator. The Traveller Lite 1.7905.AVT is top of the line, performing 20 mechanical and seven electronic functions—large blade, small blade, corkscrew, tin-opener with 3mm screwdriver (also suitable for cross-head screws), bottle-opener with 6mm screwdriver, wire-stripper, reamer, key ring (stainless steel), tweezers, toothpick, scissors, multi-purpose hook with nail file, ballpoint pen, stainless steel pin, mini-screwdriver, digital clock (12/24 hours) with alarm and timer, walking/driving time calculator, altimeter (m/feet), barometer, thermometer (C/F), Phillips screwdriver, white LED—but less extravagant editions are also available.
If you are going for a Victorinox, though, we have to confess that we’ve lost our hearts to the super-cool retro models, launched on their 125th anniversary this year. The limited-edition releases (four series of 1,884 pieces each) replicate the very first Soldier’s Knife (1891), and also the Minitool Classic, with seven functions, the CyberTool, which updates an old fave for the computer age, and the Climber, which has 14 functions.
Victorinox knives and other products are available at seven authorized franchisee showrooms and shop-in-shops in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. Prices start at Rs1,500.