These two Victorinox models provide good options in a modest 84mm frame. Unburdened by unnecessary function, the single-layer Bantam is the simplest while the two-layer Cadet offers just a few more tools. Both models come with attractive alox scales and weigh very little.
The two tools looked at here are from the Alox (Aluminium Oxide) ‘medium pocket knife’ range produced by Victorinox. Unlike the well-known plastic ‘cellidor’ scaled knives produced by the Swiss knife maker, these have attractive embossed aluminium scales that have subsequently been anodised. This hard oxide surface does wear with time, lending a time-worn appearance to the knives if well used and long carried.
Victorinox Alox Bantam
The 29g Victorinox Alox Bantam (model no. 0.2300.26) is one of the thinnest 84mm knifes made by Victorinox. Despite only providing a simple tool package, those provided are amongst the most useful and practical tools there are- a blade of useful length and the very well designed Victorinox Combo tool. No tools are provided on the back and the alox scales do not permit inclusion of tweezers, toothpick etc. No loss there. Three Points of the Compass frequently carries this knife on day hikes for lunch stops.
The 63mm spear point blade has a 53mm cutting edge. This measures 2.05mm across the spine and there is little sideways flex of note. You can see in the image above that the blade shape is offset, tapering more on one side than the other to allow the combination tool to sit alongside it when both are folded and closed into the alox scales. While this design probably affects the blade in use, I must confess that I don’t notice it when it is open or when used. The steel is Victorinox’s proprietory ‘stainless’ steel that resists corrosion well, has a degree of carbon content, comes sharp out of the box, retains a edge ‘quite’ well, but is easily sharpened when inevitably dulled. Both tools open and close with a nice ‘snap’ and the blade does not lock open, making this slip-joint knife UK legal.
The combination tool, found on both 84mm and 91mm Victorinox knives, has a can/tin opener, cap lifter/opener, wire stripper/bender and flat head screwdriver. There is both half and full stop on this tool when opened. This allows for greater leverage when used in the half open position. Earlier production models of the Bantam did not have a half stop. The flat 4.5mm flat screwdriver tip is ‘OK’ but obviously limited by your grip on the handle, the slightly rounded corners of the flat tip will engage with some Phillips head screws however this is by no means an ideal way to use this and it can rip the heads out. I find the wire bender one of the least used tools on any of my Victorinox knives. Others might be using these all the time, I cannot recall the last time I needed to pull a Victorinox knife from my pocket to strip the insulation from a cable, probably a couple of years ago, and NEVER on trail. But, the tool is there, it detracts nothing by being present yet may offer something to someone. I am much more likely to be wanting to open a tin of beans or gaining access to the contents of a bottle of IPA. Despite the lack of any back tools this knife has three rivets which adds little more strength to the tool.
The Bantam model comes with both regular (thicker) cellidor scales (that model looked at here) or with the attractive Alox (Aluminum Oxide) scales shown here. Remarkably, the Alox version is only some 7mm thick so almost disappears into a pocket. The standard cellidor scaled Bantam is 11.3mm thick and that greater width provides nothing extra beside a toothpick and tweezers. Three Points of the Compass is no great fan of either of these tools and much prefers the better looking alox scales that wear better over time. Weight is a very respectable 29g. This is for the example of Alox Bantam shown here that has no keyring. Some Bantams will have a keyring fitted so will weigh just a tad more, typically around half a gram.
I find the Alox Bantam comfortable to hold and use in the hand, but I have never had to use it for extended periods, it is not really intended for that. If you do find the slim dimensions a little uncomfortable with extended or heavy use then consider switching to the slightly wider Cadet looked at below.
Are there any thinner 84mm frame knife options produced by Victorinox? Yes, the single layer Excelsior Alox could be considered. That knife has smooth alox scales, two blades and is 5.38mm thick, around one and a half millimetres thinner than the Alox Bantam. While the option of two blades, as found on the Excelsior, may be attractive to you, a small tool with additional functions alongside a single blade makes the Bantam knife more practical as a discreet small pocket carry. And it would have to sit in the pocket as, usually, no keyring is fitted. The Alox Bantam is 23.55mm across its maximum width and just 6.85mm thick across the rivets.
- 63mm blade with 53mm cutting edge
- Combination tool with can/tin opener, cap lifter/bottle opener, 4.5mm flat screwdriver, wire stripper/bender
- Dimensions: Length: 84mm, width: 23.55mm, thickness: 6.85mm
- Weight: 29g
Victorinox Alox Cadet
The 84mm Victorinox Alox Cadet (model: 0.2601.26) is akin to the larger 93mm Victorinox Pioneer but with a file instead of an awl and in a smaller frame. The example shown here is the Alox Cadet Limited Edition from 2018 in ‘Red Berry’, model no. 0.2601.L18. The Alox Cadet remains generally available today with standard silver alox scales like the Bantam shown above. The 46g Alox Cadet is a little thicker than the Bantam due to the two layer construction but adds considerably to the toolset with only a little weight gain.
The 63mm blade has a 53mm cutting edge. This measures 2.05mm across the spine and as with the Bantam, the blade on the Cadet tapers on one side more than the other to allow a tool to fold next to it from the other end of the frame. Instead of the combination tool nesting alongside as on the Bantam, the Cadet sits flush beside what at first appears to be a small blade, but has no sharpened edge. This is a 40mm long nailfile with a 29mm long file surface. The original nailfile was a textured surface but the design of file changed to that shown here in 2018. This is an effective single cross-cut that files my nails just fine.The nail cleaner tip can also be used with smaller Phillips screw heads. The original Cadet did have a small knife blade instead of a nailfile.
There is a good ‘snap’ to all tools when opened and closed. This is a slip joint knife of modest dimensions so is UK legal. No tools are provided on the back and like the Bantam, due to this knife having alox scales, no scales tools are fitted. There are no back tools on this multi-function ‘multi-tool’ but, again, the tool is provided with a third centre rivit. Not strictly necessary but a welcome addition due to additional strength provided to the whole tool. The knife is classified as an 84mm due to its frame length however the protruding keyring hanger adds another couple of millimetres. Some versions of the Cadet issued in 2012 had no keyring/hanger. The Cadet is 23.25mm across its maximum width and 8.80mm maximum thickness.
- 63mm blade with 53mm cutting edge
- Can/tin openerFlat 3mm screwdriver, will work with some Phillips
- Flat 6mm screwdriver
- Bottle opener/cap lifter
- Wire stripper/bender
- Nail cleaner/small Phillips screwdriver
- Key ring
- Dimensions: Length- 86mm (84mm frame), width- 23.25mm, thickness- 8.30mm (8.80mm across rivets)
- Weight: 46.1g including removable 0.4g 10mm keyring
The Cadet is an alox scaled knife. There is a similar version of the knife with plastic cellidor scales. This is the Victorinox Recruit, that comes with small blade instead of nailfile, and scale tools toothpick and tweezers. Three Points of the Compass looks at that knife in another blog.
Both of the knives looked at here sit well in the hand and are capable of light to medium work, lending themselves to outdoors work where a slightly larger knife from the Victorinox range is wanted. The Bantam has a basic range and the Cadet builds on this, if only slightly. If you wanted a saw or scissors, sadly there are no options that include these functions in the 84mm size range.
Three Points of the Compass has carried either the Alox Bantam or Cadet, usually the Bantam, on day hikes for some years now. I will frequently carry heavier food such as cheese, salami or apples that require cutting. While I could use a smaller blade for this, I find the size of blade found on the Bantam. Cadet or Excelsior just right for that simple task. Any other tools options are simply a bonus.
Both of these knives are justifiably popular with many people purely because they pack in a lot of simple function into quite small and light packages, of a size that will slip easily into a pocket without much obvious bulk. Single-layer Bantam or two-layer Cadet, it is your choice. You wont go far wrong with either.
The Victorinox ‘Limited Edition’ knives have their year of issue added to the back scale
The Victorinox Cadet shown here is from the Limited Edition range produced in 2018. Victorinox began producing a small range of alox knives in annual limited edition colours in 2015. That first year, the Limited Edition Alox knives were coloured Steel Blue, 2016- Orchid Violet, 2017- Olive Green, 2018- Berry Red, 2019- Champagne Gold, 2020- Aqua Blue, 2021- Tiger Orange. There were Limited Edition Alox Cadets produced 2015-2020. Each edition has the year of issue added to the back scale.
Unfortuately the consistency that Victorinox first showed has gone, much to the chagrin of many collectors. 2015-2020 the three Limited Edition knives issued were the alox Classic SD, Cadet and Pioneer. In 2021 this changed to the alox Classic SD, Pioneer X and Hunter Pro models. Whether a return will be made to the Cadet remains to be seen. In the interim, both Bantam and Cadet remain on sale with standard silver scales.
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.