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Knife chat: Slim, attractive… No, not me, it’s the often overlooked Victorinox Excelsior

Victorinox manufacture quite a lot of knives that are suited for taking on a hiking trip. Different configurations and specifications of tools suit differing requirements. Sometimes all that is wanted is a simple blade, in which case something like the 58mm Victorinox Escort or better appointed Classic may be sufficient. But some hikers may feel those knives a little small. If so, Victorinox still offer three much overlooked slim and simple knives in their 84mm range.

Victorinox Excelsior

The Victorinox Excelsior is part of what Victorinox call their ‘medium pocket knives’ range. The 84mm range of knives have two types of frame shape. There are the familiar quite wide frames with parallel sides to the scales and rounded ends, and a less familiar frame style that have a slim curved length to the frame scales with narrower, more sharply rounded ends. The Excelsior is in the latter range.

All of the small Excelsior range have a v-grind, drop point 58mm long ‘Large’ blade with a 52mm cutting edge. The spine of the stainless steel blade is 1.70mm thick. This is a little less than the 2.08mm steel used on the wider 84mm Victorinox knives such as the Bantam shown here beside an Excelsior. When open, the 84mm long tool fits more comfortably in the hand than smaller Vic options and permits slightly safer use of the slip-joint non-locking blade.

The two Victorinox 84mm frame types
The two Victorinox 84mm frame types- an Excelsior and Bantam
84mm Excelsior with 58mm Classic and 93mm Pioneer Swiss Army 1
84mm Excelsior (centre) with 58mm Classic and 93mm Pioneer Swiss Army 1

For the very great majority of time on trail, all that is required is something for cutting a slice of salami at a lunchtime halt, trimming skin or tape while tending to feet. At most, a blade may be required for cutting cordage, or the emergency production of a replacement shelter stake in the event of losing or irretrievably damaging one. Even for this task, just a simple folder will invariably manage. But of course blades can be damaged, bluntened, or worse, if a tad careless, broken.

Alternatively, some may prefer to dedicate a blade for specific tasks, perhaps keeping one especially sharp for first aid purposes. A scalpel blade kept in the First Aid Kit need not weigh more than a gram or so and could suffice for emergency use, but, still, if you want a dedicated second blade on your main knife then the Excelsior could be just the job.

The Excelsior is a very attractive knife. It is a slim and beautifully contoured tool with a perfectly proportioned blade folding away unobtrusively. The thin blades have good sized nail nicks in their spines and open easily with a good snap when fully opened. Back springs are strong enough to give a decent amount of resistance to closure while in use, but easily give when required to close a blade.

There are no unwanted extra tools offered, no scissors, no nailfile, no backtools. In common with all of the other narrower framed 84mm knives previously sold by Victorinox, there are no scale slots for tools such as tweezers, toothpick, pen etc on this little implement. No great loss there. Interestingly, this knife comes in three variants. All of which are extremely affordable.

Front and back scales of Excelsior
Front and back scales of Excelsior

Excelsior One Blade (model 0.6910), previously known as the Sentry, very early examples were called the Junior.

The Excelsior One Blade weighs just 20.3g. For such a light and modestly sized knife, the fairly large blade is of a particularly useful size for use on trail. It is a decent size for cutting bread, speading peanut butter, slicing cheese and salami yet not too big to put to more delicate first aid tasks. This knife has no keyring, something that is usually superfluous on trail anyway.

There isn’t much else to say about this knife, it has a single blade, no other tools, is light and though small, it is comfortable in the hand.

Victorinox Excelsior One Blade
Victorinox Excelsior One Blade

Excelsior (model 0.6801)

The 22.7g Excelsior has exactly the same large blade as the Excelsior One Blade. Particularly handy with this knife is the inclusion of a second ‘small’ blade. This can be kept sharp and dedicated to specific tasks, such as food preparation, or held in reserve as a back-up in case of damage or blunting of the main blade. The small blade is small indeed. It has a cutting length of just 29mm, only 5mm shorter than the single 34mm blade length found on the smaller 58mm range of Victorinox tools such as their popular Classic. The spine of the small blade on the Excelsior is just 1.05mm thick, sufficient for such a short blade length.

Victorinox Excelsior
Victorinox Excelsior

Excelsior Alox (model 0.6901.16)

The 21.6g Excelsior Alox has exactly the same tools as the Excelsior- two blades and nothing else, however the plastic cellidor scales are swapped out to smooth surfaced and thinner Alox, or Aluminum Oxide, scales. My example, shown here, has attractive matt silver scales.

Victorinox Excelsior Alox
Victorinox Excelsior Alox

Both Excelsior and Excelsior Alox come with the standard Victorinox 10mm diameter 0.3g split ring/keyring that can be removed if not required. A version of the Excelsior Alox with no key ring (and no place for one to be fitted) was known as the Secretary. An Excelsior sans key ring is called the Pocket Pal. Not to be confused with the similarly equipped 58mm Pocket Pal. There was also an earlier 84mm variant, now off-sale, that had textured alox scales and no keyring, that was model 0.6900.27.

 Excelsior One BladeExcelsiorExcelsior  Alox
Width (across frame and closed blade)18.65mm18.65mm18.65mm
Blade (1) length58mm58mm58mm
Blade (1) cutting edge52mm52mm52mm
Blade (2) lengthx32mm32mm
Blade (2) cutting edgex29mm29mm

In conclusion:

For those wanting a small yet still practical knife with a blade length quite a deal larger than that found on the hiker’s favourite- the Classic, the small range of three Excelsior knives provide useful differences to hone in on. The One Blade for just that, or the Excelsior if wanting a spare, dedicated or emergency small blade. However the Excelsior Alox probably has it all. Incredibly lightweight yet still comfortable in the hand for the brief tasks normally carried out, while also being an attractive tool. All three knives are UK knife law compliant, reasonably priced and deserve consideration.

Three Points of the Compass has looked at quite a few knives and multi-tools that may, or may not, be suitable for backpacking, day treks or Every Day Carry. Links to these can be found here.

Slim Victorinox Excelsior is comfortable in the hand
Despite its slim proportions, Victorinox Excelsior is comfortable in the hand

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