Campers love knives. They are presented behind glass at the backpacking boutique like diamonds at Tiffany's. They are shiny, fold into cool shapes made by artisans and lovingly whisper in a voice audible only to campers, "You need me."

As a Cub Scout I had a small pocket knife. I dreamed of defending my pals at summer camp from starving mountain lions. I never needed to play hero like that, but I whittled a few sticks.

Then in the 1980's, during my tenure as a yuppie in New York City, I got the biggest Swiss Army Knife available, the Swiss Champion. It had a magnifying glass, fish scaler, metric ruler and eyeglass screwdriver. This was the heyday of the patron saint of the multi-tool, the blessed MacGyver (Gee-Wiz! I get chills at mere the mention of his name).

In the 20 years since, I've changed and mellowed. The world has changed too, but it sure hasn't mellowed. Now is the age of the HUMMER, and Wenger (the Swiss Army Knife folks) now makes a two-pound multi-tool behemoth with 85 features. Sadly, I feel like humanity is at a tipping point.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • You have to have it!
  • Backpacking Light Staff Picks
    • Ryan Jordan
    • Jay Ham
    • Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl
    • Roger Caffin
    • Carol Crooker
    • Alan Dixon
    • Kenneth Knight
    • Ben Smith
    • Andy Skurka
    • Doug Johnson
    • Rick Dreher
    • Mike Clelland!
  • In conclusion...
  • Sidebar: Victorinox vs. Wenger: Swiss Confusion

# WORDS: 3020
# PHOTOS: 12

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