The SAK Camper, also known as the Victorinox Swiss Army Camper, is a workhorse of a multitool. While it is an obvious everyday carry option, I’m under the impression that there are many observed pitfalls to the reliability of one as a bushcraft tool. I’ve read of many experts that would gladly reach for a Swiss Army Knife and some survival schools are even promoting this as the only-tool of choice. I took the opportunity to take a light hike and do an SAK Camper review. It was the only tool I brought with me outside of my steel Klean Canteen, a fanny pack, and a collapsable dog bowl. Just my SAK, my doggo, and me.
SAK Camper Review
While I’m not really setting out to go into survival mode for this SAK camper review, I did want to demonstrate a few capabilities and opinions on the tool as an only-tool. If I’m being honest, I’d probably die if you gave me a chainsaw since my knowledge of wild edibles isn’t great. However, with a few granola bars and some grit, I’m convinced that I could put together an honest residence with just my Swiss Army Knife.
The SAK Camper is by no means a pig in terms of material. The two blades feel more like razor blades in thickness and act as precision tools. On the picture to the right, the thin curls made on a twig demonstrate how thin wood can be sliced. In this case, I made deliciously thin ribbons on this feather stick that curled onto themselves like toilet paper rolls. If I could not find fine material to make a tinder bundle, I could make one to catch a spark.
Swiss Army Knife Fire Making
The size of these blades are different than what I am used to. Coming from larger folding knives like my Cold Steel Finn Wolf, this is not a batoning blade. It will break. However, this knife still needs to prove larger bushcraft and survival tasks. I would at least use the big blade for carving a flat hearth board with generous push cuts. This would demonstrate how stout the folding joint is on the SAK Camper.
The first thing I noticed was that the slices are thin. Unlike a larger fixed blade or folder that bites into the wood at a stout angle, the SAK Camper’s large blade sliced thin layers of wood quickly making a nice flat surface on both sides of my hearth board. While crafting, I did end up using three tools on the Camper to complete the hearth board. If I needed to bite at a more dramatic angle, I’d use the saw. My eyes opened when I discovered how usable the small blade was for fine carving tasks like creating a divot. The small blade on the SAK felt safe to use with incredible control and precision.
The saw on this knife was the reason I bought it. I don’t normally carry a pocket saw into camp or out on a hike, but I definitely should. The saw makes quick work of doing both large and small tasks. The saw worked great for starting my notch on the burned in divot. It also felt much safer and more accurate than using the edge of a blade to press in a V-notch against the grain and into wood. I also used the saw instead of the blade to straighten out some portions of my hand drill that had larger knots forming.
Since this is a SAK Camper review and not a testament to my ability, I will admit that I did not get a coal this time. The multitool made quick work in creating the fire set, but I couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain. I’m going to let the set dry out a bit more and try again when my hands don’t have blisters on them.
I will say that the back edge on the saw works wonderfully when put against a fire steel, and the leather awl also throws glorious sparks.
Swiss Army Knife Shelter Making
Now I can’t fully said that I created a full on residence on my short hike, but I did put some of the basics to the test. The saw is a badass. It will make quick work of taking down any reasonable diameter logs. I was able to cut through a ~4-inch log in about 30-seconds going straight through it. I could easily see taking down bigger diameter logs but sawing around the log until the log gives. If I’m honest, a Becker Bk2 or similar would make easier work with batoning, but I don’t know if it would be noticeably quicker. That, and a full-sized heavy fix blade is a lot more knife and money than the $25 SAK Camper. I’d be confident that I could ‘get it done’ using just this multi-tool.
Swiss Army Knife as an EDC
There’s not much to review here outside of “It works.” I have it on my keychain and never leave the house without my keys. I think there are a lot of options that may be sexier as an EDC, but I really don’t desire much more than this little SAK provides.