When Three Points of the Compass went camping with the Three Points family back in the nineties, it wasn’t a folding Victorinox Classic knife that was packed along for kitchen duties. Instead, a small Victorinox paring knife was carried with, occasionally, an additional Victorinox Bar Knife that came complete with two prongs at the tip for stabbing food. Meals were not simply rehydrated, instead, ‘proper’ cooking was undertaken. This required a decent knife with a little length to cut mushrooms and meat, prepare potatoes and slice salami.
Two things changed this regime. The Three Points family moved away from tolerating tent-bound holidays, leaving Three Points of the Compass to gravitate back into lightweight backpacking adventures, and the UK introduced some quite draconian knife laws that meant fixed blade, non-folding knives got frowned upon quite a bit, so the paring knives went to the kitchen drawer and small folders became the preferred tool on trail.
The two fixed blade Victorinox knives I used twenty years ago did not have protective blade sleeves. Instead I found some food grade polypropylene, folded this and wrapped gaffer tape around it. This made tight fitting and lightweight sleeves. In subsequent years the knives themselves underwent a bit of a redesign of the handle and on many of the Victorinox paring knife range the drop point blade changed to a spear point end. Finally, the ‘Little Vicky’ was released by Victorinox. That little 25g paring knife was a 89mm (3.5″) “utility with blade guard”. However, even with all these changes, the paring knives were still fixed blade. In September 2020 Victorinox released their revamped kitchen parers. They had changed the blade length, blade shape and made them folders. Available in a range of handle colours, essentally, these are now totally different knives.
Swiss Classic Foldable Paring Knife
The blades found on both folders are very thin. These are made from 1.4116 56 RC stainless steel, close in composition to 420HC steel, usually found on cheaper knives. Blades come very sharp when new and resists rust. The steel is made by German company Thyssen-Krupp and has found favour in the pharmaceutical and kitchen knife worlds. Two types of blade are available, these are model 6.7801.FB straight edge, and model 6.7833.FB serrated edge. The 11º straight edge blade is easy to sharpen though the serrated blade is a little more of a challenge. Blades are 1.70mm thick across the spine, tapering to 1.40mm at the commencement of the rounded tip.
The 44.2g straight edge blade comes with either classic red, or black handle. The 43.9g serrated edge parer can be purchased with red, black, orange, yellow, pink or green handle. The hard polypropylene handles have a stippled effect to increase grip. Handle length is 130mm, cutting edge is 100mm with a blunt round end to the tips, much like a butter knife, My First Victorinox or My First Opinel. The very extreme length of the blades is 108mm (4 1/4″), so despite being folding knives, these remain outside UK knife law. This law stipulates a folding blade of 3″ long (762mm) or less. The liner locks on these paring knives also puts them outside legal carry in the UK.
The blade opens and closes smoothly, both with just a little snap as the blade fully opens, and when it fully closes into the handle. The lock mechanism is effective with no rattle or sloppiness to the knife when open or folded. Some users of the folding paring knives from Victorinox have reported that the liner lock is a design fault, being difficult to operate one handed and that it is actually located on the wrong side. They have missed the point. This is primarily intended as a culinary knife. Unintentional closing of the knife while in use is to be avoided at all costs and Victorinox have designed it to reduce the chance of that. They are not intended for one-handed closing. Folding the blade is not carried out as I show here. Instead, it is a two handed operation. Hold the knife in one hand and depress the liner lock where it handily instructs us to ‘PRESS’ with the thumb. Partially close the blade past this point with the other hand, holding close to the pivot point, reposition both the hand closing the blade and the hand holding the handle, and close fully, continuing to hold the handle with one hand and the fingers of the other hand grasping the blade from behind the spine. It isn’t difficult, it isn’t hard. Try any one-handed closing operation and you are likely to come off worse.
The handles on these paring knives are pretty large. Being 130mm long they will easily fit the palm of my large hand. The slightly textured polypropylene handle provides a pretty good grippy feel and together with the shaped moulding, can be gripped and used with confidence. I find that my little pinkie slips into the cutout in the handle, used to grip the blade when opening, and gives me just a little more control of the blade. Though usually I am not holding it in a full grip, instead holding the handle along its length with finger tips and a thumb running along its length. This gives a better slicing, cutting or even rocking motion when cutting foods on a flat surface.
You are not going to be able to dismantle either of these knives. It is possible that trail gunk and pocket fluff could build up inside the simple uncluttered slot in the injection moulded handle, however a good sluice out under a tap then air drying should remove most unwanted debris. Once back home, they can be given a better clean as these knives are dishwasher safe.
The serrated edge option of the paring knife provides improved cutting for tomatoes, cheese and salami, however the straight edge is more of an all-rounder and would be my choice for general camp kitchen chores. If car camping, take both!
The Victorinox website shows these two knives with the Victorinox shield and company name embossed on one side of the handle. My two do not have this. Instead, they have “SWISS MADE” embossed on one side of the handle and the Victorinox name and shield appears as tang stamp on the blade.
These little kitchen knives from a reputable company are competitively priced and well-made. Those campers wanting to prepare ‘real’ food at camp may find that the simplicity of a folding single blade found in this format may suit their needs. Blades are sharp when new and will sharpen easily when not, though the serrated blade is slightly less easy to sharpen. The option of straight or serrrated edge is there to fit personal preference. The plastic handle is a good comfortable length and there are some colour options. Sadly however, with blades outside UK knife law you will need a damned good convincing argument as to why such a knife is being carried on these shores.
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.