Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X
Test Series by Andy Henrichs
February 4, 2012
Initial Report - 10-1-11
Field Report - 1-3-12
Long Term Report - 2-4-12
Name: Andy Henrichs
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 185 lb (83.9 kg)
Email address: andyhenrichs(at)gmail(dot)com
City, State, Country: Boulder, Colorado, USA
Most of my backpacking has
been in the mountains of Colorado and the deserts in the
southwestern US. I have gone winter camping several times but I still prefer
backpacking in the warmer months. Most of my trips are 2-3 days, but I have
taken several trips of 5-6 days. In the summer of 2004, I was fortunate enough to
have thru-hiked the 476 mile Colorado Trail over 35 days. Recently, I have been
leaning towards the lightweight side of the spectrum.
Manufacturer: Victorinox (www.swissarmy.com)
of Manufacture: 2011
MSRP: $103 US
Manufacturers Stated Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 7.47 oz (212 g)
Manufacturers Stated Length (closed): 4.13 in (105 mm)
Measured Length (closed): 4.13 in (105 mm)
The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X closed
The leather case for the Spirit X
The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X is a multitool with 27 unique features as designated by Victorinox. These features are listed and identified in the photo below. The Spirit X comes with a beautiful stitched leather pouch. This pouch has a hook-and-loop closure and features an integrated belt loop. There is a metal Victorinox logo on the front of the pouch. The Spirit X itself is constructed entirely of metal and feels quite solid. When closed, the tool has a subtle "X" shape to it, which I assume is the source of its name. Each side of the multitool has a small etched Victorinox logo. All of the functions (except for the pliers and two integrated wire cutters) can be accessed from the outside. Additionally, every tool locks when deployed. I have not had this feature on any multitool I've owned, but I am a big fan of it. Any feature that serves to make the multitool safer is a very good thing in my book.
1. needlenose pliers
2. 2mm screwdriver
3. 3mm screwdriver
4. wire cutter for thin and soft wire
5. cap lifter
6. 6mm screwdriver
7. crate opener
8. pointed blade
10. metal file
11. metal saw
12. wood saw
13. reamer and punch
14. Phillips screwdriver 1+2
16. cable cover cutter lengthwise
17. wire bender
18. wire stripper and scraper
19. cable cover cutter circular
20. can opener
21. multi-purpose hook
22. leather pouch (shown above)
23. coupling for corkscrew (not included)
24. hard wire cutter
25. lanyard hole
26. ten individual springs
27. lock release
The individual features of the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X (from the Victorinox SwissTool manual)
The Spirit X has several features that make it very appealing to me. First and foremost, the fact that every exterior tool can be locked is a huge plus in my book. I appreciate any and all means of making tools safer, particularly those intended for backcountry use. Another feature that appeals to me is the fact that nearly every tool is accessible without opening the multitool. This makes individual tools quicker and easier to deploy. Less fumbling with the tool makes it less likely that I could drop the Spirit X and lose it. Deploying a tool with the Spirit X closed also provides a larger handle, which feels more secure to me. I should point out that individual tools can also be deployed when the Spirit X is open.
As I mentioned before, the pliers and two associated wire cutters are the only tools that can only be accessed while the Spirit X is open. The pliers appear quite sturdy and capable of significant grasping power. While I haven't used them for anything yet, I have noticed that the body of the Spirit X flexes very slightly when I really squeeze the pliers closed. Despite this flexing, the Spirit X feels solid. I'll pay attention to this flex to see if it causes any issues. All of the individual tools look stout enough to do the job they were created for. The lock mechanism appears very secure; I haven't noticed any looseness when the tools are deployed and locked.
I have used the Spirit X on many occasions so far. I initially used it for minor repairs around the house. My first true outing with it was helping a friend with some minor fence repair at his cabin in the mountains of central Colorado. Temperatures were approximately 25 F (-4 C) while we were out working, although it was quite sunny. My next outing was while camping near Salida, CO. It was warmer, with a high near 45 F (7 C), although it was overcast most of the day. My third outing was on a backcountry ski trip near Mt. Sopris, CO. Temperatures on this trip were approximately 30 F (-1 C). There was hardly a cloud in the sky, although it was very, very windy.
The Spirit X has proven itself to be a very handy tool so far. I have been able to use the Philips screwdriver as well as the 6mm screwdriver for small tasks around the house. I found a few random loose screws in the kitchen and living room, and those screwdrivers seemed to accommodate a variety of screw head sizes. While working on the fence repair at my friend's cabin, I used the hard wire cutter to snip away a damaged section of double-strand barbwire and help twist some new wire in its place with the pliers. The handle of the Spirit X provided adequate leverage for both of those jobs, and I was very impressed with how easily the wire cutter was able to snip through the old wire. When we got back to the cabin, we grilled some steaks and realized we had forgotten steak knifes. The blade on the Spirit X worked very well as a steak knife. While camping during the next outing, I used the wood saw to cut some branches down to size for our fire. I did notice some limitations here. Because the saw is only 2.5 in (6.5 cm) long, it seemed to work best on 1 in (2 cm) or smaller diameter branches. This size allowed me to get a good saw stroke and saw a little quicker. The teeth cut through the wood very quickly, although I found myself sawing halfway through the branches before snapping in half with my feet. I also used the cap lifter during this trip. I am happy to report that it works flawlessly! My final use during the Field Report phase saw little use of the Spirit X. I helped a friend tighten a screw in his bindings with the Philips screwdriver, but we fortunately had no other gear issues.
I have been very happy with the Spirit X so far. The variety of tools are quite useful. I'm not sure I would ever use some of the tools included, but I will try to find uses for them in the next two months. I have found the locking mechanism to be incredibly secure, and, as I mentioned before, the handle gives good control and leverage for almost any use.
Long Term Report
I've been able to use the Spirit X on two additional outings during the Long Term Report phase, although it accompanied me but remained unused on a couple others. The first use was on an overnight ski backpacking trip in the Indian Peaks Range of Colorado. There was a very steady wind all weekend, but temperatures only dropped to around 20 F (-7 C). I camped on the shoulder of a ridge in a nicely wooded area around 10500 ft (3200 m). My second use of the Spirit X was on a long ski tour in the southern end of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The elevation on the tour ranged from 8200 ft (2500 m) to 10600 ft (3200 m). It was a beautiful day with only a slight breeze, blue skies, and a high around 30 F (-1 C).
Field Observations and Summary
The Spirit X has continued to function wonderfully during the Long Term Report phase. I had an incident on the overnight ski trip that reinforced the importance of carrying a fully-functional multitool on overnight outings, particularly in the winter. While settling in to my tent just before dusk, I was occupying myself by melting snow for drinking water. As I was topping off my water containers, my stove suddenly started sputtering and then abruptly quit. I let it cool, pressurized the fuel bottle and tried to prime it. Instead of filling the priming cup, fuel would randomly spurt out and evaporate. I continued pressurizing the bottle and trying to prime the stove several more times without success. By this time darkness had set in and I was ready for a cup of hot tea and warm dinner. I had used this stove many times without incident and wasn't sure why it was acting this way. I dug my trusty Spirit X out of my pack lid, used the chisel tool to pry the flame spreader off the stove, and used the 6mm screwdriver to remove the cover to the fuel jet. The pliers helped me remove the jet itself so I could inspect it. Everything looked fine, so I reassembled the stove and used the pliers to remove the cable from the fuel line. Again, everything looked great so I reassembled it and attempted to light it again. I ended up adjusting the angle that the fuel tank was lying in the snow (as well as insulated it with a glove) and the stove lit right up. While the Spirit X didn't help me fix the actual problem, it certainly helped me rule out possible malfunctions.
|Using the pliers to tighten the flame spreader after my stove disassembly
The second use of the Spirit X was much less dramatic. A significant wind storm had felled many large pine trees along the Front Range of Colorado. As a result, I was forced to detour around, over, and under several of these trees on my long Rocky Mountain National Park ski tour. A good number of these trees required some pruning if I was to be able to climb over or under them. I ended up keeping the Spirit X in my pocket and using the wood saw to cut away some of the branches that wouldn't break as close to the trunk as I wanted. Due to the smaller size of the wood saw (as mentioned in my Field Report), I tried to limit the use when possible. I was already planning on a long day out, and every branch I had to saw extended that. I estimate that I sawed off six branches. Most of them had diameters between 1 in (2.5 cm) and 1.5 in (3.8 cm). Like I mentioned in the field report, it was easiest and most efficient to saw through half of the branch and then snap them off . Other than these uses, I have used the scissors on the Spirit X to snip plastic hang tags off of some new clothes. I've also continued to use the various screwdrivers on small projects around the house.
I continue to be very happy with the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X. In the past, I have been reluctant to carry a multitool as heavy as this one. Based on my experience with this tool, particularly during the stove incident, I have a much greater appreciation of the importance of having a strong, reliable, and fully-functional multitool. The size of the tool body provides an excellent handle when using the various tools (especially the pliers) to apply more force. The blade has held an edge well, and the screwdrivers have minimal flex even when really cranking on a screw. The locking mechanism for the tools is outstanding and still works smoothly despite use in dirty conditions. The weight is really the only thing about this tool that gives me pause, but as I mentioned before, the reliability and functionality of this tool overrides most of the weight concerns I have about it. The Spirit X has proven itself to be capable of a variety of tasks, and it will continue to be a regular piece of my backcountry kit.
Thank you to Victorinox and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this multitool.
Read more reviews of Victorinox gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrew Henrichs