One of the pioneers of the modern multi-tool, Victorinox has the distinction of providing their knives as issue items for several nations’ armies. Today, we take a look at the One Hand Trekker German Army Knife–a nice departure from the every day Swiss Army Knife models.
Pocket knives are a tricky thing. They have to walk a fine line between trying to incorporate the proverbial kitchen sink and being Spartan enough for frequent carry. So what tools should be included? The Leatherman-type multi-tools are close to one extreme. Obviously based around folding pliers, they include everything from multiple screwdriver heads to a fish scaler. The problem of course is bulk and weight. When there are no mechanical implements included on a trek, it’s difficult to justify the weight. On the other extreme we can have a simple single blade folder. Useful, but they don’t offer much more than a decent fixed blade would. So what tools would a woodsman or bushcrafter find most valuable? A few basics, I would submit, are a very sharp main blade (a good slicer above all), a small saw, awl, and can opener. It should be all gravy past that! Luckily, for us picky folks, Victorinox puts out a blade to suit just about everyone…even the German army!
Victorinox knives are not new to the German army, but they have recently chosen a new model from their lineup to put in their soldiers’ pockets! The One-Hand Trekker German Army model is basically identical to the current one-hand Trekker model except for some handsome army-green scales bearing the German military emblem. Quite a handsome package overall! The tools incorporated are a one-hand locking main blade (partially serrated), saw, can opener, bottle opener, and a Phillips screwdriver and awl on the reverse side. What more could a woods-bound gent need? Noticeably missing are the trademark Victorinox toothpick and tweezers, but I believe the unique and attractive scales are worth the sacrifice.
The fit and finish of the package are as impeccable as any blade I’ve received from Victorinox. I’m always impressed by what a ‘factory blade’ can be! The lockup of each tool is great, and lacks any play. The joint snaps each tool into position with solidity. The locking main blade is most impressive, and has the strong feel of a fixed blade when locked open. The action is smooth but quite strong; this blade isn’t going to open with the ease and speed of your favorite Kershaw! This is not a drawback but it will require a different ‘touch’. Closing the blade once locked is also a bit of a switch for most Americans; the liner lock must be pushed to the right, rather than to the left. Again, a small change that only takes a little ‘getting used to’. The blade, as mentioned, is also partially serrated but in a fashion less common on this side of the ocean. The serrations are located at the distal part of the blade, which I find perfect for those who need serrations at all. This way, the first 1/3 of the blade or so is left with a plain edge, so that you’ve still got a great area for controlled carving. It’s no secret that I prefer a plain edge to a serrated one, but certainly serrations sometimes have their place and this is the best way to go about including them.
If you’ve used the Victorinox Trekker or Rucksack, then you’re familiar enough with the German army knife too. It’s got all the same curves in all the same places! It’s kind of like Marilyn Monroe had a twin sister. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of using either of those models, however, I can say it’s a great set of tools! The handle size, coming in at around 4.25”, fills the hand very nicely. Coming from a true handle snob, I can say it’s one of the more comfortable folding knives that I’ve used in the woods. I’m a long time lover of the Vic Rucksack model (similar to this model, but lacking the one-hand opening feature and cool scales) and this example cuts & carves just as nicely. I had also initially thought that the one-hand feature would be a bit overrated on a traditional Victorinox, but in practice I’ve found it to be quite useful and indeed it brings the utility into the realm of a fixed blade.
I decided to test this blade by bringing it along on a quick overnight to a familiar area. The catch is it was the only cutting tool I brought along. I wanted to explore the breadth of a basic multi-tool type pocket knife and certainly couldn’t imagine a finer example. Being a bit thick and long to ride in the pocket, this knife rode shotgun in a small belt pouch on my small jaunt. I thought about using the keyring loop attached to the butt of the knife as a point to attach a lanyard, but I felt it would make use too cumbersome and abandoned the notion. I must say, hitting the trail without a fixed blade is a very odd way of doing things for me! Though leaving behind the extra weight of a hatchet and larger blade was admittedly nice.
A quick run-down of cutting chores showed that I was never really lacking. Having recently had quite a few windy storms recently, there was no shortage of kindling or firewood. What was available, however, was quite wet. I made a few dozen fuzz sticks in short order and set them on a chunk of fatwood; had warm hands in no time! The saw also helped to section off some thicker downed branches for firewood and to help make a little bit of camp furniture. I lashed three larger pieces together, and with the help of a bandanna, had a small stool in no time. Just to try it out, I also used the awl to drill a piece of wood to test the size of the hole is would produce. The awl on my Vic Farmer will make one perfectly sized for paracord, but alas the OHT-German Army model comes up just a bit shy in size. After the camp was settled, I also used the blade for some light carving and made a pretty ugly spoon-like object. I wish I could blame this on the knife, but I only have my shoddy carving skills to blame! Several times through each project I found myself reaching for the OHT-German Army in the same fashion I would a fixed blade; even with a full hand, my right hand could access and open the knife without putting down what I was working on.
The One-Hand Trekker design is timeless. It has all the tools a bushcrafter could want, and only those tools. The German Army version, however, boasts a much more elegant OD green exterior. The one-hand opening feature absolutely increases the functionality of the whole package and, for those inclined by preference or by law, could well replace a fixed blade for general cutting chores. The best part about any Victorinox product, of course, is that you’ll be getting a top-notch field tool at an incredible price. Check them out!