Tag Archives: Bantam

Victorinox 84mm Waiter

Knife chat: 84mm Victorinox Waiter and derivatives- the Bantam and Walker

Small in the pocket, a basic set of handy tools, well made, cheap, what’s not to like? If you have ever felt overburdened by an excess of tools on your standard Vic tool, the simple little 84mm long Victorinox Waiter, or two of its derivatives, the Bantam or Walker, may be all that you require. Perhaps it is time to agree that less is more…

84mm Victorinox Waiter, Bantam and Walker

84mm Victorinox Waiter, Bantam and Walker

The range of 84mm ‘Small Officer’ knives from Swiss manufacturer Victorinox are amongst what are termed their ‘medium pocket knives’. The 84mm range is not large, especially the single layer knives, which includes the Waiter. The great majority of 84mm models released over the years have been discontinued and, sadly, the 84mm scissors are no more. For much of our everyday purposes all that we require is a very small and simple choice of tools, hence the continued popularity of the smaller 58mm Classic from Victorinox, with it’s ‘holy trinity’ of blade, scissors and nail file.

Back of blade tang stamps on Waiter and earlier Ecoline Waiter

Back of blade tang stamps on earlier Ecoline Waiter (left) and Waiter

84mm Victorinox Waiter:

The single-layer Waiter, though larger than the 58mm Classic, doesn’t include scissors, nor nailfile. It appears that the machine that manufactured the scissors for Victorinox 84mm tools broke, rather than repair it, subsequent models simply excluded scissors. This means that scissors on an 84mm Victorinox are now long gone, much desired and sought after by collectors.

What the 84mm range of knives does retain though, is a reasonably sized small blade in a knife that sits comfortably in the hand. The 84mm sized frame is about the smallest offered by Victorinox that actually nestles well into all but the largest of mitts. Too large for a keyring, they fit the pocket well.

Blades are v-ground, drop point stainless steel that comes pretty sharp out of the box, these blades are easily sharpened. Blade is non-locking so compliant with current UK knife law. The 63mm blade has some 53mm of cutting edge and is 2.08mm thick across the spine.

Victorinox Waiter with two of its main tools opened

Victorinox Waiter with two of its main tools opened. Model no. 0.3303

The other main tool included on the Waiter is the Combo tool. This combines bottle opener/cap lifter, tin/can opener, 4mm flat screwdriver and wire bender/stripper. The latter being a tool that I have never had to put to use. When introduced by Victorinox in the 1980s, the combination tool replaced two tools that used to provide the functions separately and despite being slightly thinner than its two predecessors, it is perfectly capable. The combo tool also has a half stop to allow the flat screwdriver tip to be used at a ninety degree angle with greater torque. Or alternatively, as a light duty scraper or pry bar.

The 84mm Victorinox Waiter has a number of handy functions- a small flat Victorinox screwdriver can be stored on the corkscrew, a steel pin or needle stored behind the corkscrew (half removed here), and scales contain useful tweezers and a large toothpick

The 84mm Victorinox Waiter has a number of handy tools- a small flat Victorinox screwdriver can be stored on the corkscrew, a steel pin or needle can be inserted behind the corkscrew (half removed here), and scales contain useful tweezers and a large toothpick

On the backside of the 34.8g Waiter is a corkscrew, which is hardly surprising considering its name. These days, with greater movement toward screw-top wine bottles there is a decreasing need for such a tool. However, while it is also possible to drill a hole in a leather belt, or loosen a knot in cordage with this tool, Three Points of the Compass finds the corkscrew most useful as the ideal home for one of the micro flat tip screwdrivers that Victorinox make, these are easily purchased online as an add-on. Handily, there is also a small hole in the cellidor scale, hidden behind the corkscrew, in which a straight stainless steel pin can be secreted. Ideal for fishing out splinters and the like. Alternatively, a needle could be stored in the hole instead.

Standard shiny cellidor scales compared with the matt nylon Ecoline scales (below)

Standard shiny cellidor scales compared with the matt nylon Ecoline scales (below)

A variant of the standard Waiter that may occasionally be seen is the economy version that Victorinox produced. This 34.5g Ecoline tool, model no. 2.3303, has red nylon scales and also comes with slots for toothpick and tweezers. While very different in look and feel to the more normally found smooth red plastic cellidor scales, the slightly textured grip to the handles makes it easy to hold and just slightly less slippery. 

84mm Ecoline Waiter (model 2.3303) has economy nylon scales compared to the Cellidor scales on the standard model

84mm Ecoline Waiter (model 2.3303) has economy nylon scales compared to the Cellidor scales on the standard model

Mini Victorinox screwdriver is handy for specs wearers and can be wound onto the Waiter's corkscrew for storage

Mini Victorinox screwdriver is handy for specs wearers and can be wound onto the Waiter’s corkscrew for storage

Alternatively, the Victorinox Bantam could also be considered as the best of the 84mm range for general carry. That little knife does away with the corkscrew and simply sports the remaining tools. However, why not have the option of corkscrew, particularity if it can carry the useful little micro-screwdriver?

I wear glasses so appreciate having a small screwdriver, though you might not require this bonus. The addition of a corkscrew on the Waiter does mean a minuscule 2g weight penalty over the lighter 32.8g Bantam. The extra anchor point for the corkscrew on the Waiter also adds a little more stability and durability to the whole tool. 

Victorinox 84mm Waiter with Bantam behind, the Bantam carries exactly the same toolset as the Waiter less the Corkscrew

Victorinox 84mm Waiter with Bantam behind, the Bantam carries exactly the same toolset as the Waiter minus the Corkscrew

The cheap ‘n’ cheerful Waiter is easily available today and comes as standard with the classic red plastic cellidor scales. These also house the scale tools- a handy set of tweezers and less useful toothpick. I appreciate that toothpicks may have their fans but I shudder to think of the bacteria that can lurk within the scale and I for one am not putting a toothpick that has been residing there anywhere near my mouth. As usual, it is shame this scale wasn’t utilised for a more useful pen or LED light. The almost useless toothpick is longer than that found in Victorinox’s smaller knives however the 45mm long tweezers are exactly the same as those found in the 58mm Classic range of Victorinox knives, other than the grey plastic tip of the tweezers having a slight chamfer due to the slot being situated in the curve of the end of the scale. All three of the knife models shown here have the same keyring, this is a 12mm diameter split ring on a small protruding lug that does not fold away.

Victorinox 84mm Waiter features:

  • Weight: 34.8g
  • Length: 84mm, width: 26.40mm (at widest point), thickness: 11.2mm
  • Blade
  • Combo tool
  • Corkscrew
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Straight pin
  • Keyring
  • Optional– Mini flat screwdriver 
Open 84mm Victorinox Bantam with closed 84mm Victorinox Waiter

Open 84mm Victorinox Bantam with closed 84mm Victorinox Waiter

84mm Victorinox Bantam:

The single-layer Bantam has the same large main blade as found on the Waiter and a combo tool that opens out at the keyring end of the knife. Plastic cellidor scales hold the usual tweezers and toothpick. Only having one layer, this is another quite thin knife that carries comfortably in the pocket.

84mm Victorinox Bantam, with all tools opened. Model no. 0.2303

84mm Victorinox Bantam, with all tools opened. Model no. 0.2303

The combo tool is the same as that found on the Waiter and the one found on the Bantam also has a half stop to allow it to be used with greater torque in the half open position. 

Both 84mm Bantam and Walker have two rivets holding the frame and tools together, one less than the Waiter but there does not appear to be any increase in the sideways flexibility of any tools as a result.

Victorinox 84mm Bantam features:

  • Weight: 32.8g
  • Length: 84mm, width: 23mm (at widest point), thickness: 11.05mm
  • Blade
  • Combo tool
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Keyring
Victorinox Bantam. A simple set of tools in a thin traditional frame that is comfortable in the hand

Victorinox Bantam with both blade and combo tool opened out. A simple set of tools in a thin traditional frame that is comfortable in the hand

84mm Victorinox Walker:

The Victorinox Walker adds a layer, making it a slightly thicker tool than both Waiter and Walker. I find this extra thickness noticeable, preferring the slim profile of the single layer tools. However the extra thickness of the two-layer Walker does mean this tool sits more comfortably in the hand when using the extra tool provided. Again, even with two layers, this is not an intrusive knife when carried. It is the three and four layer knives that really start to show, both with bulk and weight.

84mm Victorinox Walker, with all tools opened. Model no. 0.2313

84mm Victorinox Walker, with all tools opened. Combo tool on half-stop. Model no. 0.2313

The blade, combo tool, toothpick, tweezers and keyring are exactly as those on the Waiter and Bantam. Again, there is half-stop position on the combo-tool which while allowing it to be used with greater torque in that position is usually of less use as a screwdriver is better situated for use at the end of a tool, in the fully open position.

The saw on the Victorinox Walker, though quite small, is wickedly sharp

The saw on the Victorinox Walker, though quite small, is wickedly sharp

The saw on the Victorinox Walker will easily saw through dry wood as thick as a child's arm

The saw on the Victorinox Walker will easily saw through dry wood as thick as a child’s arm

Obviously the major difference with the walker is the inclusion of a saw. This is non-locking though has a good snap that ensures it stays open, but, with back pressure it will over ride the strong spring and can close on the unwary.

The saw on the Victorinox Walker is 69mm with a saw cutting length of 59mm. Teeth are sharp, retain their sharpness well and cut on both forward and backward strokes. Teeth are 1.85mm thick and the spine of the saw 1.10mm which helps prevent it jamming while cutting. When sharp, it saws with ease but is limited by its shorter length. The 90 degree back edge of the spine will allow a ferro rod to be struck. There are no other tools on the Walker.

84mm Victorinox Walker with all tools open, with closed 84mm Victorinox Bantam

84mm Victorinox Walker with all tools open, with closed 84mm Victorinox Bantam

Victorinox 84mm Walker features:

  • Weight: 45.9g
  • Length: 84mm, width: 23mm (at widest point), thickness: 14mm
  • Blade
  • Combo tool
  • Woodsaw
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Keyring
Viewing the backs of the tools, the greater thickness of the Walker with its extra layer is apparent

Viewing the backs of the tools, the greater thickness of the Walker with its extra layer is apparent, despite the inclusion of a corkscrew on the thinner Waiter

These three knives are all great tools. But to return to the Waiter. It is a lovely 84mm option from Victorinox. Don’t get hung up on the name. It will open a bottle of wine, but the remainder of the small set of tools are perfectly capable of dealing with the majority of tasks encountered daily, or what a hiker would require on trail. There is also a 91mm Waiter Plus, that beside being larger, adds a pen to the scale tools, however that is getting into the larger knives that Three Points of the Compass feels are a little large for using while hiking if weight and bulk is a primary consideration. I don’t carry a Waiter on trail, preferring some other great options out there, but I have EDC’d a Waiter on many an occasion as these quite discreet single-layer knives slip into a pocket and are in no way bulky. 

It is not often that I find myself requiring a saw while on trail. Even on the few times when I am using a wood stove, I usually find relying on dry twigs no more than finger thickness means that a saw isn’t required. If I was using a wood stove more frequently, or was more of a bushcrafter, then I may feel differently. The simpler Bantam, with no back tools, is a fantastic knife and this blog shall return to the even thinner alox version in the future. Of the three however, Three Points of the Compass feels that the Waiter provides the best selection of tools with nothing superfluous.

Three Points of the Compass has quite large hands but the 84mm Waiter is comfortable to hold

Three Points of the Compass has quite large hands but the 84mm Victorinox Waiter is comfortable to hold

If the Waiter is used while multi-day hiking an additional small pair of scissors would be useful. For additional scissors, those from the Victorinox Swiss Card , perhaps carried in a First Aid Kit, would suffice. The Victorinox Waiter is easily found, an additional bonus is how cheap it is and it can frequently be found at a reduced price too. Snap one up when you see it.

Waiter tang stamp

Waiter tang stamp

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.

Top to bottom- 84mm Victorinox Waiter, Bantam, Walker

Top to bottom- 84mm Victorinox Waiter, Bantam, Walker

Lightweight tin opener options for backpacking

Gear talk: carrying a tin opener on trail

While it is doubtful that many backpackers would dream of packing such an item, Three Points of the Compass advocates carrying a tin opener while on trail, especially on a multi-day hike. Most of us will either pack along dehydrated pre-prepared meals to eat, or rustle up a meal with some easy prepared foodstuffs- couscous, powdered potato, noodles, my particular favourite on trail is preparing a lentil curry. However, especially in the UK, there is often the opportunity to supplement this type of dried and lightweight food with heavier tinned food. Particularly if staying the night on an official pitch, with either on-site or local shop selling simple goods, if usually at an extortionate price.

Not every tin of food comes with a ring pull. Without a tiny lightweight opener, gaining access is difficult

A welcome tin of protein purchased in a Youth Hostel while on trail. Not every tin of food comes with a ring pull. Without a tiny lightweight opener, gaining access is going to be difficult away from the hostel’s ‘campers kitchen’. This opener weighs just 4.1g

Not all tins come with ring pull tops and few of us are packing any sort of large multi-tool that includes a tin, or can, opener. Rather than attempt to bash a way into a tin with a tent peg, or slice open a finger attempting to gain access via a small folding penknife or simply do without the contents, why not simply pack along a tiny lightweight opener. There really isn’t much else that will perform the task they do and for a handful of grams weight penalty, such ‘food-joy’ could be appreciated…

The contents of my 'ditty bag' photographed on a longer multi week hike in 2018. The contents of one small baggie here are further shown below

The contents of my ‘ditty bag’ photographed on a longer multi week hike in Scotland. The contents of the small baggie bottom right are shown below

When it comes to lightweight openers, the military have our backs. And it is to the various tin/can openers that have been produced by the armies of the world that the backpacker should turn. I seem to have an assortment of these around the house and have pulled together what I could find for the header photo above. One I won’t be covering is the large Czechoslovakian Army issue ‘Perfex’ opener shown above. While well made and effective, there are simply too many alternatives to this folding 26g tin and bottle opener.

Some of the contents of my backpacking ditty bag- Money, sewing kit, house key and British Waterways water key, emergency fire starter kit, spare water bottle cap, hair grips, to be used as clothes pegs, and a small tin opener

Some of the contents of my backpacking ditty bag- Money, sewing kit, house key and British Waterways water key, emergency fire starter kit, spare water bottle cap, two hair grips (used as clothes pegs), and a small tin opener. This is the 4.5g P-38

One of the largest viable options that a backpacker could consider is the Field Ration Eating Device, or FRED. This pressed steel device was introduced during the Second World War and issued to the Australian military. It has the Defence Stock Number: 7330-66-010-0933. Still manufactured today, mine was made in 2007. Various clone rip-offs have been made in recent years. As well as the effective tin opener, one end of the tool has a bottle opener and the other end has a shallow spoon. The 90mm length makes the tool easy to use and twist in the hand. While you can eat with this, its short spoon length means that you put yourself at risk of cutting yourself on the edge of a freshly opened tin, while the shallow bowl is useless for more liquid foodstuffs. It has not endeared itself to everyone forced to use it and earned the unfortunate sobriquet- ‘Fucking Ridiculous Eating Device’. For backpacking, there are better options.

Australian issue FRED

Australian issue FRED weighs 11.6g but also incorporates a simple spoon

There are quite a few small, but actually medium sized opener options. These include the well known P-51, centre in the image below. Supposedly given this designation due to its 51mm length, mine is actually a 53mm long British Army equivalent. Every 24 hour ration pack I had while serving in the Army had one of these included, it came in a paper sleeve wrapper with printed instructions on how to use it. I had dozens of these ‘Baby Can Openers’ but they have all gradually gone and this 1981 example is my sole survivor. Stamped with- ‘1981 – W.P.W ‘crows foot arrow’ 129 – 9982′, it has opened hundreds of tins and is still in perfect operating order. There are many clones (BCB- second left) and alternatives both used by other armed forces and subsequently manufactured for the civilian market. The Highlander Survival opener shown here, combined with a bottle opener, is widely available however I don’t like it. It doesn’t operate particularly well, ripping open a tin rather than piercing and cutting easily. Also the bottle opener section makes it uncomfortable in the hand while opening tins. The opener on the right in my hand was issued to the Swedish Army and these work well. However the larger military opener on the left is a horrible tool with a very blunt and barely usable cutter, it is only the slightly longer length that enables sufficient force to be applied.

Medium sized openers

Medium sized openers. Weights left to right: 13.0g 7.7g, 7.7g, 8.6g, 7.0g

The small holes punched in many of these openers enable them to be hung from a keyring however the cutting tip can swing open and rip holes in pockets. An easy solution to this is to use a small rare earth magnet to keep it closed when not in use.

Rare earth magnet on my army issue opener

Rare earth magnet on my army issue opener keeps it closed when not in use

Most backpackers constantly strive to remove excess weight from their packs. Even the lightest option shown above, the Swedish 7g opener may cause some to baulk. Despite this, Three Points of the Compass suggests that one of the lighter and smaller tin openers should still be seriously considered. Ranging from around 4 to 7 grams there are truly lightweight options.

Smallest and lightest of the opener options

Smallest and lightest of the opener options. Weights from left to right: 6.6g. 4.2g, 7.2g, 4.5g

These are tiny, the smallest here is only 38mm long though the shorter length does mean that it is uncomfortable to use for any extended period. However none of us are using one of these for an extended period on trail. All we want to do is open the odd tin on occasion. The rounded ‘Weekend’ 6.6g opener shown on the left in my hand is probably the best of the small military issue openers. However they are not the easiest to find. After these, the famous P-38, on the right in my hand, is a superb choice and weighs under five grams, this is stamped ‘US Shelby Co.’ indicating that it was made by Mallin Shelby Hardware inc. These openers were developed in 1942 and are still made today. Smaller than the P-51 shown above, these are not quite so comfortable to use but are just as simple to operate. The P-38 has a wide and loyal following. For a good deal more information on these, there are a number of sources online, one of the more informative can be found here.

The 84mm Victorinox Alox Cadet weighs 45.9g and includes a really efficient tin opener

The 84mm Victorinox Alox Cadet includes a really efficient tin opener but weighing 45.9g it is not the lightest of options

Some pocket knives come with a tin opener amongst their toolset. Three Points of the Compass has looked before at two of the military knives that include an opener, these were the British and German options. For myself however, if not carrying one of the small keychain sized multi-tools from Leatherman, Three Points of the Compass prefers one of the smaller 58mm long knives produced by Victorinox for backpacking trips. Sadly, none of the 58mm Swiss Army Knife options includes a tin opener amongst their tools. Some of the larger knives that Victorinox has produced do include fantastically efficient openers but for most hikers, they are probably either too heavy, or equipped with tools not required on trail. The 28.8g Alox Bantam and 45.9g Alox Cadet from Victorinox both have excellent tin openers, however the first has a combination opener on a single layer knife that lacks scissors, which some may regard a necessity on a Swiss Army Knife, while the second is a better equipped two layer knife, with an even better dedicated tin opener, yet also lacks scissors. Interestingly, these two types of opener work in opposite directions.

Victorinox's instructions on how to use its combination tool, as found on its 84mm Alox Bantam

Victorinox’s instructions on how to use its combination tool, as found on its 84mm Alox Bantam

While all of these openers are easiest to use by right-handers, left-handers can also use them- holding them in the left hand and working round a tin in the opposite direction. So, to carry a tin opener or not? That is your choice. I do. If you do decide to pack along a small opener I suggest don’t bother with any of the civilian clones. Instead choose one made for the military, they number in the millions and were specifically produced to be both durable and efficient. Most of those shown above can be found, with a bit of searching, on the second hand market so simply buy the real thing.

6.6g Weekend opener in use

6.6g Weekend opener in use