Dear Victoria Inox,
I love you. Your slender shapes, gentle curves, and amazing utility have bewitched me. Your myriad of forms pleases both my eyes and my heart. Even some days when I choose another to be at my side, I cannot let you wander far. Amidst the younger, finer, richer models I could do with, I still always find it in my heart to carry you. You were my first real… knife.
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And since then, I have only learned to appreciate you more. I like you most when you’re done up to the nines in Alox. Sure, the red outfit is what you’re known for, but that Alox has an enduring beauty. I love you, Victoria Inox.
Sincerely,
Anthony Sculimbrene
In reality, the brand of Swiss Army Knife we all know and love is a portmanteau of the founder’s mother’s name (Victoria) and the French word for stainless steel (inoxydable). There was a real Victorinox, and I can’t help but feel indebted to her as the namesake of some of my most cherished knives. Victorinox makes many a splendid tool, but among their best are those that do away with the traditional lipstick-red handles in favor of ribbed aluminum ones, a material Victorinox calls Alox. This more durable material both slims the knife down and manages to retain its sleek appearance even after absorbing an amazing amount of damage compared to its cellidor counterpart. Of the many models featuring Alox scales, a select few stand out. This introduction to Alox knives features my personal favorite, the Cadet, as well as the Farmer, Pioneer, Money Clip, and Rambler models.
Cadet

The Cadet’s assortment of tools is just about perfect for EDC – a good blade, a bottle opener, a can opener, a file, and three different sized drivers. However, it’s not just the selection of tools that make it noteworthy. At 84mm (3.3 inches), it’s perfectly sized for EDC. The blade is big enough for everyday tasks like opening packages and food prep, but not so big as to be threatening. The bottle opener, as per Victorinox tradition, is an awesome single-pull implement. The Cadet achieves a great balance of versatility and minimalism in a form factor thinner than a pack of gum. Carry it for a day and you’ll realize why the Cadet is such a popular “work blade,” even alongside pricier custom folders.
BUY NOW ($30)
Pioneer & Farmer

Take the Cadet and replace the file/Philips driver with an awl or a punch and you have the Pioneer. Add a truly great wood saw to that, and you have the Farmer. If you’re in a more rural environment, and wouldn’t miss the Philiips driver, then either of these makes a good substitute for the Cadet. You’d be surprised at all the ways a punch is useful (restringing frayed shoelaces, for example). As nice as the punch is, even better is the wood saw on the Farmer. With aggressively cut teeth, it makes dust of softer woods like pine and cuts through green branches swiftly.
PIONEER ($30) & FARMER ($30)
Money Clip

This knife, intended to be used as a moneyclip, packs a rather small and less common 74mm-class blade. However, the money clip actually works quite well as a pocket clip – a unique feature among traditional style Swiss Army Knives. The tool selection is fairly standard, much like a slightly larger version of the Classic: a small pen blade, a pair of scissors, and a driver/file. However, unlike common cellidor Classics, it foregoes the tweezers and toothpick in favor of a classy, svelte aesthetic and feel. Whether clipped to your pocket or to your cash, the Alox Money Clip fills its niche.
BUY NOW ($26)
Rambler

The Rambler outdoes the Classic in the 58mm class by packing a hybrid bottle opener/magnetic philips driver/wire stripper in its toolset in addition to a pen blade, nail file/driver, and scissors. Despite its toolset’s exceptional utility for a keychain knife, many of its tools become less usable at such a small scale – except for the scissors. They perform surprisingly well, even at small proportions. Overall, it makes for a great keychain companion. The Alox version of the Rambler is available exclusively through SwissBianco.
BUY NOW ($49)
The diverse Victorinox product line is full of gems, but the Alox models really kick things up a notch. The durable scale material has a visually striking pattern and comes in a wide range of colors through the anodization process. Aesthetics aside, it’s the incredibly slim form factor that makes them worth buying. Fortunately, most Alox models are affordable and easy to grab a hold of, with perhaps the best of the models, the Cadet, being the most widely available of them all. Try adding one to your own carry – few products are a better value in EDC gear. High-res

Dear Victoria Inox,

I love you. Your slender shapes, gentle curves, and amazing utility have bewitched me. Your myriad of forms pleases both my eyes and my heart. Even some days when I choose another to be at my side, I cannot let you wander far. Amidst the younger, finer, richer models I could do with, I still always find it in my heart to carry you. You were my first real… knife.

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A symbol of preparedness, the pocket knife is widely regarded as a staple of everyday carry (EDC) gear. A knife is like a truck – just having one expands the kinds of things you can get done. Most EDCers will use a knife for general utility: opening packages, cutting thread, or mild food preparation. A 3” blade and most types of locks will be sufficient to perform these tasks. Choosing the right EDC knife and budgeting a purchase can be daunting. We’ll save you the headache of the trial-and-error process of the upgrade treadmill and present our favorite EDC knives under $350 in the first installment of Carry Smarter.

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Despite ZDP-189 being one of the most technically advanced steels on the market, the Spyderco Dragonfly II manages to stay fantastically affordable at under $75. Its steel boasts remarkable hardness, able to cut down inch-thick cardboard boxes with ease, as well as incredible edge-retention, keeping hair-popping sharpness even after heavy use. It features a full flat grind blade, making it perfect for slicing, and its blade shape (the classic Spyderco leaf-shape) is wonderful for a wide variety of tasks. As a food prep blade, the size is a little small, but as a slicer, it is unrivaled.
BUY NOW ($66)


A graceful beast of a knife, the ZT0560 might be too big for most EDC kits. However, it uses one of the best opening systems in the world—a flipper that rides on miniature ball bearings to keep the pivot smooth and tight. Once you overcome its detent, the blade unleashes with almost poetic fluidity. Although admittedly too big for office carry, the 3.75 inches can melt away when used outdoors on the trail or up a mountain, leaving you with a knife so incredible that it set the bar for large batch production blades upon its release. Three hours of machining goes into the handle scales alone. Despite its bulk, it’s a worthy purchase at around $200.
BUY NOW ($205)

The Benchmade Mini Griptilian 555HG is like so many Yankees teams of old – formed from all the best parts available, regardless of origin. Its AXIS lock is quite good, especially for EDC, as it’s both stable and fully ambidextrous. Additionally, you can open and close the knife one-handed via ambidextrous thumb-holes (one of our favorite ways of deploying a blade) while keeping your fingers clear of the blade path. Finally, the knife features a very competent hollow ground sheepsfoot blade with 154CM steel. Its resin handle is comfortable in hand, but some may find it feels a bit insubstantial. At under $100, it’s a great all-around EDC knife.
BUY NOW ($90)

If you want a flipper-opening knife but don’t want to break the bank, start here. The Skyline’s innovative design (“flipper” opening mechanism and only one liner between its scales) makes it uber pocket-friendly – as light and slim as you can find on a knife this size. The steel, Sandvik’s awesome nitrogen 14C28N, is one of the best values on the market, packing corrosion resistance, edge retention, and toughness properties of steel two to three times its price. It also comes in about a dozen different finishes to fit your style (we think the blackwash blade looks cool and hides wear doing so). Very few knives are as good a buy as the Skyline at just $35.
BUY NOW ($35)

San Ren Mu, an experienced subcontractor for many big knife companies, shows their knife-making know-how in their execution of the 605. It’s a cheap gem, but it has everything you really need in a knife. Its classic drop point, full flat ground blade is small but sufficient for most everyday tasks, featuring a great entry-level 8Cr13MoV steel. However, because of its $10 price tag, the 605’s fit and finish can be a bit spotty. If you snag a good copy, rejoice. The better examples of the 605 are easily worth more than a single Alexander Hamilton and represent one of the best buys in the gear world.
BUY NOW ($10)

The Strider PT CC is the master class in grip design, with smooth, convex handle scales, and an excellent forward choil for superior control. There is virtually nothing that the Strider handle does poorly. It seems a bit primitive, but in reality you’ll have both the precision of a surgeon and the grip of a grappler, all in one handle. The lack of a pocket clip is disappointing, but a lanyard can make the knife easy to retrieve. An excellent all-around performer with superb fit, finish, and ergonomics, the PT CC won’t come cheap, however.
BUY NOW ($300)

There is more fervent, frothing praise of the Sebenza than any other blade out there. And every single bit of it is well deserved. Often the benchmark for knives of any price, the Sebenza is an understated marvel of design as well as one impressive work tool (“sebenza” means “work” in Zulu, after all). One reason for the lavish praise is its perfect blade—a clean drop-point with one hell of a hollow grind. The blade’s thick enough to do real work and ground so perfectly that it slices like machines at the deli counter. Newer models come with a well-performing S35VN steel, especially when implemented by a knifemaker like Chris Reeve. Coming in at the upper end of our price range, the Sebenza 21 starts at $350 – a bargain in the opinion of many knife enthusiasts.
BUY NOW ($350)

Pump up the banjo music, and grab a stick for whittlin’ because A. G. Russell’s Barlow is one of the best traditional knives available. The Barlow design, including its defining extra-long bolster, was implemented out of necessity at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to deliver an affordable, good-quality, mass-produced knife. Comfortable in the hand, this Chinese-made Barlow runs 8Cr13MoV steel, which sharpens easily, but conversely doesn’t hold an edge for long. The French cut, or long groove along the top of the blade, allows for easy, one-handed opening while retaining traditional aesthetics. You can enjoy brilliant innovation in a form more than 200 years old for under $50.
BUY NOW ($35)

So you want a cool looking knife? Enter the CRKT Swindle. The Swindle is a design from Ken Onion, and it echoes the lines of the classic traditional knife, the Swayback Jack. With its upswept handle and wharncliffe blade, the Swindle effectively mimics the Swayback Jack while also bringing cutting edge features to the table. Firstly, it deploys via no ordinary flipper, riding on extra smooth IKBS bearings. Its spring-mounted pocket clip rides along the spine, helping the knife disappear into your pocket in addition to keeping the handle clear of any obstructions. All in all, this package is one of the most striking knives on the market from one of the business’s best designers. And at just under $40, the price ain’t bad either.
BUY NOW ($37) High-res

A symbol of preparedness, the pocket knife is widely regarded as a staple of everyday carry (EDC) gear. A knife is like a truck – just having one expands the kinds of things you can get done. Most EDCers will use a knife for general utility: opening packages, cutting thread, or mild food preparation. A 3” blade and most types of locks will be sufficient to perform these tasks. Choosing the right EDC knife and budgeting a purchase can be daunting. We’ll save you the headache of the trial-and-error process of the upgrade treadmill and present our favorite EDC knives under $350 in the first installment of Carry Smarter.

Read more