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Wenger EvoGrip S18 Pocket Knife

WengerS18003cLooking to travel light on the trail and want a knife that meets your needs?  Or, are you looking for a good basic tool supplement to your primary blade?  Today, we’re looking at the Wenger EvoGrip S18 knife, and it just might be the one to fill your needs!  We’ve also included a highlights video to help out with your search as well.



At the Outdoor Retailer show in July, we got a first look at the EvoGrip S18 pocket knife from Wenger.  As many folks know, Wenger and Victorinox are the manufacturers of the various models of Swiss Army Knives.  Well, we got a demo unit for the S18 in December and we were asked to a do a review on it for our audience.  Suffice to say, it lives up to that great tradition of great pocket tools that we’ve come to expect from these two companies.  On the topic of the review, it’s a little tough to come up with new and different ways to test and/or review Swiss Army Knives.  Since they have been around so long, we are all quite familiar with their quality and abilities in the outdoors.  So, as long as the quality control is in place for each production line, I don’t think we’re really going to see any surprises, and it’s kind of a moot point to talk about durability, performance charcteristics, etc.  But, every now and then, they come out with a new feature or two that results in more of an evolutionary step forward rather than a revolutionary one.

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Wenger brought out their EvoGrip lines of knives a few years ago, and they are a pretty attractive set of knives.  They’ve got the high visibility yellow scales which set them apart from the typical red scales you’ll find on most Swiss Army Knives.  The yellow color allows for the knife to be found easily if dropped on the trail or around camp.  In addition to the color difference, the EvoGrip line has the rubberized panels on the scales that make the grip a little more slip-resistant when you’re working with wet hands.  Wet hands can come about from cooking chores, cleaning game, or just working in a maritime environment.  Those black rubberized panels do their job in keeping the knife securely in your hand, and they are also jus the right accent to the yellow scales to give them a bit more flair.  Kind of like racing stripes for you car lovers out there!

WengerS18001aThe one primary difference in the S18 model versus the 18 model or the rest of the EvoGrip line, the S18 has a locking primary blade.  A locking blade is not what you’re going to typically find on a Swiss Army Knife, but I have to admit that I like its addition.  I’ve been a victim of the slip-joint blades that close up on you accidentally when you’re working with the blade, and I prefer a locking blade.  The locking mechanism is a little different than most locking devices that you’ll see on knives.  It’s a little metal tab that’s positioned in a similar position to the rest of the blades and tools.  Once you’re done using the knife, simply depress the tab with your thumb, and then fold the primary blade into its closed position.  It’s an easy and intuitive process, and just about anyone not familiary with knives can almost immediately determine how it works.

WengerS18005aAs much as I like the new locking mechanism, there is a slight niggle with it that you probably need to know about, and we’ve included this observation in the video as well.  Just behind the locking tab is where you access the scissors.  With the right approach vector, you can get the scissors out without too much problem.  However, if you get sloppy in your technique, it’s very easy to lose your purchase on the scissors because of the locking tab being in the way.  The important thing to remember is that your thumb and forefinger are right on the blades of the scissors when you’re opening them, and if they slip, it could easily slice one of your fingers.  So, if you need your scissors, go slowly and watch what you’re doing when you are getting them open and ready to use.  Now, for me, that’s not much of an issue since I don’t use the scissors very much at all, especially in the outdoors.  But, there might be an occasion when they are needed, so I thought I would bring this point to your attention.

WengerS18007aAside from the primary blade and the scissors, the EvoGrip S18 also has:

  • Fingernail file
  • Wood saw,
  • Phillips Head Driver
  • Flat Head Driver
  • Reamer
  • Awl
  • Toothpick (which I use a lot)
  • Wire stripper
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener

WengerS18006aThe list of included tools is pretty impressive when you consider the small footprint of the S18.  It’s actually a very compact knife and will go unnoticed in your pocket until those times when you need it. Speaking of which, I’ll bring out my own perspective on the use for Swiss Army Knives.  I have 3-4 Swiss Army Knives and like them quite a bit.  I won’t say I’m a rabid fanboy like some folks I know, but I have a healthy respect for their versatility and usability in the field.  That said, my Swiss Army Knives are not my primary knife out in the field, and more times than not, they aren’t my second knife either.  My primary knife is usually a larger fixed blade and my second knife is a going to be a robust folder with one large primary blade that can be opened in one-handed fashion.  My Swiss Army Knives are always tucked away in my left pocket for those times when I need one of the various tools.  It’s a very rare occasion that I’ll go to my Swiss Champ, Farmer, or the S18 for that matter just to use the knife blade.  When I go to one of these knives, it’s because I need the bottle opener or the reamer, or one of the other tools.

Even harboring that perspective, I don’t begrudge anyone who only has a Swiss Army Knife for all of their knife and tool needs.  I know some folks who feel like their SAK does everything they need and I know others who are willing to forgo any other blades besides their SAK just to save weight while they’re moving on the trail.  When you’re out for days at a time, every single ounce counts.  If that’s your situation, then the EvoGrip S18 would be an ideal choice since it has just about all the tools you’ll need to keep you going on your hiking or backpacking trip.

WengerS18002aAs you probably know, there are other models out there in the EvoGrip line that have more tools, and many more tools.  They cost more, but have lots of nifty little gadgets and tools to keep your distracted and drooling for hours.  However, to my mind, there are times when more isn’t always better.  With those larger models like the S54 or the S557, you’re going to have more weight and more bulk with those knives, and I don’t know that the tradeoff is really worth it.  For my needs and for most outdoors folks I know, I think the S18 is just the right balance between utility and portability for most folks working on the trail or around camp.  It has a basic set of tools that are the most commonly used, and it’s still very comfortable to carry with you at all times.  I’m really sold on this model and I’ve made it a regular part of my EDC for the past two months.  I’ve also been considering picking up a second one to put into one of my survival kits as well.

There’s not much to gripe about with the EvoGrip S18.  Aside from the tiny issue accessing the scissors around the blade locking tab, everything else is just Aces.  The S18 is a compact folding knife that houses a number of tools that you’ll found useful on a regular basis.  It would make a great supplement to your primary knife, or for you die-hards who like to move fast, it might just be all you need.  Either way, I’d encourage you to give the S18 a look if you’re in the market for a new pocket knife or multi-tool.  I’ll think you’ll be impressed with the new design tweaks they’ve incorporated into an already great product that’s been around over a hundred years!


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