Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wenger versus Victorinox Pocket Tools: Mini-Review

Wenger and Victorinox Pocket Multi-ToolsPocket tools, Swiss Army multi-tools, whatever. Those collapsible multi-tools you can attach to your key chain, go in the bottom of your bag, or in your pocket. I first heard of them on The Simpsons as a kid -- I heard a lot of other things thanks to that show actually.
Wenger (right) and Victorinox (left): Files
For the longest time, I didn't even know Wenger and Victorinox were separate entities. Their symbols looked so similar that I thought they were the same and it was a matter if choosing which symbol looked prettier. It turns out that if I waited a few more years, there would have been more truth to it. Random internet searching suggested that the two went through some corporate merger or acquisition process in the past decade. A news report suggested that Wenger branded tools may not be available in the near future too.

Two of the Same but Different
Anyway, I had one Wenger and one Victorinox tool. I bought the Victorinox for a camping trip a long while ago. The Wenger came afterwards as a gift. Even better, the two tools had essentially the exact same selection of tools: scissors, blade, file, tweezers, and pick -- this is called buying the cheapest one available. All tools on both units were metal except for the plastic picks. They were roughly the same size, but as you can see in the pictures, the Wenger is obviously bigger. Not sure what the specific model names were, sorry.

And if you need a small refresh on the difference: the symbol on the tool with the square shield is the Wenger (red background) and the one with the pointier shield is the Victorinox.

Overview of a Basic Wenger and Victorinox Multi-Tool

As discussed previously, they looked very similar but the Wenger was slightly bigger than the other. Otherwise, I couldn't tell which was which if they were shown to me separately without the emblem visible or without being allowed to play with the tools.

Tools and Handling
Again, they both had the same set of tools: scissors, blade, file, tweezers, and pick. However, the file on the Wenger had a pointed tip while the Victorinox had a blunt end. The textures of the two files also felt different. It seemed like the Victorinox had a slightly coarser grit, which I actually preferred. I found the blunt end to come in more handy as well because both tools already had blades with pointed ends -- and a pretty sharp edge.

Wenger (right) and Victorinox (left): Scissors
There was also a difference between the scissors. The Victorinox's scissor tool was smaller and had a looser mechanism that allowed one blade to swing freely. It felt like the Wenger's scissor tool was locked in place and a bit sturdier with a more complicated mechanism. I actually preferred the Victorinox for its simpler design.

Another minor detail I noticed was that the spring mechanism on the Wenger felt a bit stronger -- the one used to snap in and out tools. By stronger, I mean it snapped back slightly quicker and with more force. This made snapping the blade back into storage a bit more precarious. The pointed file didn't help matters. Not sure if it was due to the greater size of the Wenger, a stronger mechanism by design, or that it was newer. The Victorinox had been used much more and washed numerous times, so it may have loosened over time. Its smaller size probably meant a slightly weaker spring too. Not a big deal, but noticeable.

Regardless, every tool on both versions operated satisfactorily even though it appears that I preferred the Victorinox more.
Wenger and Victorinox: More Files
For at least a year, I carried the Victorinox in my daypack on a daily basis. It went everywhere. That bag was abused, thrown around, and the tool was often crushed by books or other items. It held up and still worked years later. No rusting, no problems, just a lot of lint.

The Wenger was only used for about a year and stuffed in a drawer at work for most of that time. Before that, it sat in the gift box that the tool was packaged in from the factory. In short, it really didn't get that much use. This may explain why I preferred the Victorinox -- because I was more used to it.

Two tools, roughly the same, one slightly bigger, and one more beloved. I preferred the Victorinox over the Wenger, partly due to familiarity, and partly due to its simpler design and smaller size.

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