Swiss Army Knife Review: The Victorinox Spartan

stylized photo of a Victorinox Spartan that's face down

The Victorinox Spartan is a true classic—even if the name doesn’t ring any bells for everyone. While most knife enthusiasts are all too familiar with Spartans (not those ones), even “casuals” know these pocket knives by another name: Swiss Army knives.

The Spartan is based on one of Victorinox’s earliest designs. And aside from a light update to its materials in the 20th century, it’s remained largely unchanged since its first patent in the late 1800s

But as we like to say, old doesn’t always mean good. So, we’re asking the hard question: is the Victorinox Spartan a good knife still? Has it been left behind by a market flooded with high-tech folding knives and multi-tools? 

Or does the Spartan and its Swiss Army knife siblings still have a role for campers, EDC-ers, and other peeps?

Let’s find out!

Table of Contents

Click on any of the links below to jump to the desired section!

  1. First, Why Are Victorinox Knives Special?
    1. The History of Victorinox Goes Back Over a Century
    2. There’s No Difference Between Victorinox Knives and Swiss Army Knives 
    3. Are Victorinox Knives Made in Switzerland?
  2. Featured Swiss Army Knife Review: The Victorinox Spartan
    1. Dimensions & Specifications: The Victorinox Spartan Is Classed as…
    2. The Scales Are Made of…
    3. All Victorinox Knives Are Made With…
    4. Key Features…
    5. The Spartan Is Available in a Ton of Different…
    6. Cool Fact: The Spartan Was Inspired by…
  3. Victorinox Knife Review: The Spartan Swiss Army Knife
    1. Durability
    2. Portability
    3. Functionality
    4. Cost
    5. Warranty and Service Options
  4. Is the Victorinox Spartan Good for Camping?
  5. Is the Victorinox Spartan Good for Everyday Carry?
  6. Victorinox Spartan FAQs
    1. What Size Is a Victorinox Spartan?
    2. How Many Layers Does the Victorinox Spartan Have?
    3. What’s the Difference Between a Victorinox Spartan and Victorinox Spartan II?
    4. Is Wenger or Victorinox Better?
    5. What Does Victorinox Stand for—Or What Does It Mean in English?
  7. Conclusion: The Victorinox Spartan Is a Fantastic Camping or EDC Knife for the Price
    1. There Are Better Knives or Multi-Tools, but Not in This Price Range
    2. Our Final Verdict
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First, Why Are Victorinox Knives Special?

Easy! Victorinox knives might be the most widely recognizable pocket knives around. Just as the USMC KA-BAR has become synonymous with combat knives (see our KA-BAR knives review), Victorinox Swiss Army knives are super popular with hikers, campers, and of course, EDC-ers.

The History of Victorinox Goes Back Over a Century

Victorinox was founded in the late 1800s by Karl Elsener. Since then, the company has produced high-quality (but usually affordable) pocket knives, kitchen knives, and watches. The Victorinox Spartan, while not necessarily new, is one of many of the company’s more recent designs.

There’s No Difference Between Victorinox Knives and Swiss Army Knives 

Victorinox makes authentic Swiss Army knives. And since their acquisition of Wenger in 2005 they’re the only company to do it for the consumer market. 

Are Victorinox Knives Made in Switzerland?

Yep! Swiss Army knives are actually made in Switzerland.

Quick Sidenote: Our Victorinox Classic SD Review Covers Different Types of Swiss Army Knives

A medium-sized black Swiss Army knife next to a smaller pink Swiss Army knife of the same shape
Our Victorinox Spartan (bottom) with our Victorinox Classic SD (top).

If you’ve been with us for a while, you might’ve seen our first Victorinox knives review on the Classic SD. We go into a little more detail on the different types of Swiss Army knives there, so we’re not going to rehash it here.

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The Victorinox Spartan is arguably the company’s most popular knife. 

It’s a mainstay among collectors, campers, hikers, and so on—but as we asked earlier, is it actually good? We’re on our way to finding out—but first, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way.

Dimensions & Specifications: The Victorinox Spartan Is Classed as a Medium Pocket Knife

A Swiss Army knife lying engraving-side down with the key ring propped up

Here’s all the basic info of the Victorinox Spartan: its weight, length, etc. 

  • Length: 3.6” (9.1 cm)
  • Width: 1” (2.6 cm)
  • Height: 0.6” (1.5 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1 oz (59.5 g)
  • Scale Material: ABS/Cellidor (see below)
  • Blade/Tool Steel: Swiss Steel (see below)
  • Non-Locking, Manual Open

As you’d expect, this is a fairly small knife despite being labeled as a “medium” sized pocket knife by the company.

The Scales Are Made of ABS (AKA Cellidor)

Victorinox Spartan pocket knives use the same cellidor scales that (most) Swiss Army knives use.

As Victorinox says, cellidor is an organic thermoplastic that’s not entirely dependent on fossil fuels like most other plastics. We wouldn’t say that makes it eco-friendly, but it’s not as bad. Cellidor is also weirdly shiny (giving Swiss Army knives their trademark look) and more importantly, pretty durable.

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All Victorinox Knives Are Made With Swiss Stainless Steel

Unsurprisingly, the Victorinox Spartan is made with Victorinox steel, the brand’s proprietary steel alloy. If you’re curious, Gear Personal has a pretty good article on the pros and cons of Victorinox steel, but we’ll give you the highlights.

For one, Victorinox steel has elite corrosion resistance. There’s a reason the decades-old Swiss Army knives you find in antique stores still look shiny. Additionally, the alloy is easy to sharpen and retains its edge very well. At a minimum, it’s above-average in both respects.

Unfortunately (but like most types of knife steel), Victorinox steel has a couple drawbacks: it only scores average marks in terms of toughness and hardness. Still, when you consider the price point and the perks above, the pros of Victorinox steel definitely outweigh the cons for most users.

A Victorinox Spartan with the words "Officer Suisse" engraved on the bade of the large bladeA Victorinox Spartan with the words "Victorinox Swiss Made Stainless" engraved at the base of the large blade. The Victorinox logo is visible on the knife's handle
Slide right for front view; slide left for back view

Key Features: It Has 2 “Layers” and 12 Tools

Victorinox Spartan knives have 12 tools spread across 2 layers (and the scales). Here’s the standard loadout:

  • Key Ring
  • Detachable Tweezers
  • Detachable Toothpick
  • Small Blade (1.5” or 3.8 cm)
  • Large Blade (2.4” or 6.1 cm)
  • Reamer, Punch, with Sewing Awl
  • Can Opener
  • Bottle Opener
  • Flathead Screwdriver (3 mm)
  • Flathead Screwdriver (6 mm)
  • Corkscrew
  • Wire Stripper

Note: we’ve also seen versions with a serrated large blade and there may be additional options.

The Spartan Is Available in a Ton of Different Colors (and Special Editions)

Like most Swiss Army knives, you can find the Victorinox Spartan in many different colors: red, blue, black, and so on. Victorinox will occasionally launch special versions like the gorgeous Spartan Onyx Black, which features a sleek black finish on all the tools and blades.

Note: clicking a link below will take to you the knife’s product page.

Cool Fact: The Spartan Was Inspired by Victorinox’s Officer’s Knife (the Original Swiss Army Knife)

The modern Victorinox Spartan features the exact same tool lineup as the company’s famous Officer’s Knife, which brought the company global fame. Of course, the modern design is much more streamlined though.

Victorinox Knife Review: The Spartan Swiss Army Knife

A black Swiss Army knife with most of its tools extended

Alright—let’s talk about the Victorinox Spartan! This Swiss Army knife review will look at a number of key categories including durability and general performance while keeping factors like price in mind. 

Also, know that we’re only talking about the standard version of the Spartan. That said, most or many of the points below probably apply to the special editions too.

Durability: 4.75/5

Victorinox has a reputation for putting their knives together very well and the Spartan feels no different. The blades do have a little give to them, but nothing we’re concerned about.

All of the tools feel sturdy and functional too. And while the cellidor scales aren’t blemish-free, they do look and feel strong. 

Overall, we’re pretty confident this knife will last for decades with only moderate care.

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Portability: 5/5

One of the things we pointed out in our Victorinox Classic SD review is that the knife is so small, it loses points for portability because it’s super easy to lose!

The Victorinox Spartan is still on the small side, but we love how easy it is to slip into a pocket or backpack with plenty of room to spare.

Functionality: 4.25/5

Our Victorinox Spartan arrived very sharp. In fact, it arrived so sharp that our editor nicked himself while checking out the different tools like an idiot. 

Sidenote: this is a great opportunity to mention how to make a first aid kit!

an opened Gerber Gear Suspension multi-tool juxtaposed against a semi-opened Victorinox Spartan
Gerber Suspension vs. Victorinox Spartan

Anyway, the Spartan comes with a decent variety of tools that we can picture ourselves using while camping or in everyday situations. 

The only downside is that we feel like the inclusion of a “small blade” and a “large blade” feels like a missed opportunity to get more variety. The large blade is only about an inch longer after all. If you’re looking for a true multi-tool, you might want to look elsewhere (maybe see our Gerber Suspension review). 

On the other hand, we can see ourselves using the large blade for ordinary tasks while using the small blade for boxes and packaging. And, of course, Victorinox markets the Spartan as a pocket knife, not a multi-tool so maybe we’re being nitpicky (it’s because it bit our editor).

Cost: 5/5

The absolute best thing about the Victorinox Spartan is that you can generally find it for $25–$45 or so (depending on the color). Considering what you’re getting for that amount, it feels like a steal.

Warranty and Service Options: 4.5/5

Victorinox offers a lifetime limited warranty against manufacturer’s defects, which is pretty standard for reputable knife brands. The company also offers great customer service and repair options (but let us know if you’ve had a different experience). 

Is the Victorinox Spartan Good for Camping?

Absolutely! 

A USMC KA-BAR sits next to an open Kershaw Blur and closed Victorinox Spartan in a triangular formation

While we probably wouldn’t recommend the Spartan over dedicated multi-tools, its slim profile, low weight, and functionality make it a solid option to stow in a backpack or your pocket along with your other gear like waterproof electric lighters, Hydro Flask water bottles, and so on (yes, we ‘are’ selfishly plugging our other articles)

It’s also worth noting that if you need a knife for food prep while camping, the Spartan’s extreme corrosion resistance makes it a safe option (and speaking of camp food, are MREs good for camping?).

Next time we go camping in Carrizo Plain or elsewhere, there’s a good chance our Victorinox Spartan will be on our person. 

It’s Also Great for Hiking, Backpacking, etc.

It probably goes without saying, but the Victorinox Spartan is also a good pocket knife for backpacking and other outdoorsy stuff. The Spartan only weighs about 2 oz, which is practically nothing!

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Is the Victorinox Spartan Good for Everyday Carry?

In our Victorinox Classic SD review, we said that the tiny Swiss Army knife might not be the most functional EDC choice: it’s best for people with minimal knife needs. 

The Victorinox Spartan, on the other hand, is great for everyday carry. It’s easy to store in a pocket—or if you get a sheath, on a belt (*cough* Trayvax belt reviews *cough*).

Either way, the Spartan takes up limited space. And again, while it’s not the best multi-tool, it offers just enough that most EDC peeps probably won’t need another multi-tool on their person for ordinary use (but don’t let us stop you if you want more gear!).

Anyway, we definitely feel like the Victorinox Spartan belongs on a list of the best EDC gear!

Victorinox Spartan FAQs

We’re almost to the end! 

Here are a few Victorinox Spartan FAQs to tidy up any remaining questions.

What Size Is a Victorinox Spartan?

Victorinox classifies the Spartan as a medium-sized pocket knife, although we’d say it’s a bit smaller (and way thinner) than most pocket knives.

How Many Layers Does the Victorinox Spartan Have?

The Victorinox Spartan has 2 layers.

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What’s the Difference Between a Victorinox Spartan and Victorinox Spartan II?

The seemingly discontinued Victorinox Spartan II (not to be confused with Master Chief) has textured scales for a better, non-slip grip. As far as we can tell, Victorinox no longer makes this version but you can still find them new online and probably in some in-store retailers.

Is Wenger or Victorinox Better?

Well, considering Wenger was bought out by Victorinox, it would seem the original Swiss Army knife company wins out.

What Does Victorinox Stand for—Or What Does It Mean in English?

There’s no direct translation, but Victorinox very loosely translates as Victoria Stainless Steel—with “Victoria” being the name of Elsener’s mother.

Conclusion: The Victorinox Spartan Is a Fantastic Camping or EDC Knife for the Price

If it wasn’t obvious, the Victorinox Spartan is a very solid piece of gear. For about $40, you get a high-quality knife that should be able to handle most ordinary tasks you throw at it—regardless of whether you’re using it for camping, everyday carry, and so on. 

That said, the knife does have limitations. The large blade is less than 3” (7.6 cm) long and we’re not sure it could handle super heavy-duty tasks without bending or breaking (i.e., chopping branches for firewood, etc.).

Bonus: tired of silly life hacks? Check out our post on debunking terrible camping hacks!

There Are Better Knives or Multi-Tools, but Not in This Price Range

If you need a dedicated knife or multi-tool, the Victorinox Spartan is a decent choice but it’s better used as a balanced option. In other words, it can fulfill either role in a pinch, but it isn’t necessarily intended for full-time use as either (and that’s okay). 

Read our Kershaw Blur review or check out one of the top knife brands if you need a high-end knife—and check out Leatherman or Gerber Gear’s multi-tools if you’re looking for something with more versatility.

Or: even if you go with a dedicated knife and multi-tool, the Spartan still fills that special “in-between” niche at a surprisingly affordable price. So, it offers a bit of redundancy that’s great for EDC, camping, and so on.

a opened Kershaw Blur pocket knife, a semi-opened Victorinox Spartan knife, and a semi-opened Gerber Gear Suspension multi-tool

Our Final Verdict

Above all, we really like this knife. Slight aside: we got the Spartan featured in our photos to give as a gift, and now we’re seriously considering buying another for our own kit. 

We hope this guide was super helpful, and if not, let us know! We love continuing the convo on Instagram and Reddit (or anywhere else you find us) so feel free to reach out!

Cheers!

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Other Great Victorinox Knives (That We May Review in the Future!)

If you like the idea of owning a Victorinox Swiss Army knife but aren’t a fan of the Spartan, why not check out these other options from Victorinox instead!

The operators of Renegade Camping may receive a commission for purchases made through links on our site. But that doesn’t mean we’re shilling random crap! We thoroughly research and/or own all the products we review on our website. We want to build unshakeable trust with our readers, and that means offering honest, transparent reviews and guides. Cheers!

– The Renegade Camping & EDC team

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