Field Tested: Victorinox SwissTool Spirit XC Ratchet

The multitool is a grossly unappreciated invention. Maybe it’s because we simply take it for granted right up to the point when we need it to get us out of a tight jam. What is so special about the multitool? Would you believe it has been around since the age of the Roman Empire more than 1,800 years ago? Those first tools were issued to soldiers for daily use around camp and look strikingly similar to some available today. In the centuries since, the multitool in its various forms has been standard issue on NASA space missions, used to dismantle IED bombs in combat zones, and let us not forget Aaron Ralston who used a cheap multitool to amputate his own arm which was pinned under a boulder in the Utah desert.

The most widely recognized example of the multitool is the Swiss Army knife and to many people, myself included, the iconic brand associated with that style of tool is––Victorinox. Their SwissTool Spirit Plus with Ratchet is one of the nicest multitools I have ever owned. Given their century old legacy I shouldn’t be surprised it is so nice. After all, I still use the Victorinox pocket knife I was given for my tenth birthday more than three decades ago.


The SwissToot Spirit Ratchet, like all of their multitools, is made of premium Stainless Steel and packed with 38 useful functions. It has everything from a small eyeglass screwdriver to an actual ratchet with hardened steel bits. It has the needle nose pliers commensurate with a good pocket tool as well as various instruments for cutting, sawing, and filing. There are other critical features I require like a can opener, which I frequently employ to open my favorite tin of imported Spanish sardines, and of course a cork screw because––wine.

Like many products, it’s difficult to get a sense of how refined the SwissTool Spirit is without holding it in hand. The center pivot of the pliers is smooth as silk and each individual tool opens with a fluid motion and locks firmly in place. It is an overused cliche, but the SwissTool is a perfect example of what we have all come to appreciate as, Swiss precision.


In an effort to bolster the tool count, many manufacturers pile on the additional accessories with little regard for the quality and functionality of those features. The included miniature ratchet packaged in the beautiful leather carrying case is surprisingly nice. I counted 36 detents in the ratchet mechanism, the bits held firmly in place without any risk of falling out unexpectedly.

The handle of the SwissTool has an ergonomic curve which feels comfortable when applying a firm grip, and the overall thickness isn’t so bulky it can’t slip into a pocket. I’m not prone to geek out on tools, to me they are things of utility, but this one is different. I find myself searching for opportunities to put it to use. With my last can of sardines gone, I guess I’ll hope for something to break. MSRP: $140


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The SwissTool Spirit Plus with Ratchet is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars from 586 cusomter reviews on Amazon.
SwissTool Spirit Plus with Ratchet
From $149.98 with Prime shipping

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.