Sunday, August 30, 2009
Multi-tool knives have been used for hundreds of years, at least since the first century in Rome. However, the true multi-tool knife didn't come into its own until the 18th and 19th centuries, when a folding knife was fitted with a marlin spike for sailors or hoof pick for cavalry troopers.
The most commonly known multi-tools are the two brands of Swiss Army Knife. Victorinox and Wenger. Both in existence over 100 years, they are equal in quality and most have equivalent functions and wide selection of various models tailored to the specific anticipated environment.
Multi-function knives are designed to provide a light-weight field expedient as an alternative to having the actual tool available. While some are designed for everyday hard use (for example, the green handled Mauser by Victorinox), the vast majority are for occasional contingency or emergency use only.
A more practical multi-function knife is the Leatherman, Gerber – or similar – folding tool kit. They are generally more robust and can withstand occasional routine use.
There are some top-of-the-line multi-tool knives, but many are no longer made because of expense. The Case combination knife with a hatchet and skinning blade is an example.
Another popular class of multi-tool knives are the removable blade knives and tools expressly used by fishermen. Usually kept in a roll-up case, these knives are specific to the salt- and fresh-water sailors and fishermen.
A multi-tool knife is an essential part of any emergency kit or backpack. The key feature to look for is quality. A knife prone to failure is next to useless. Ideally, a multi-function knife should be passed on to to the next generation in the same condition it was bought.