With an almost audible whoosh my childhood came flooding back to me, like something from a movie with a limited special-effects budget. Memories of picking my teeth needlessly, pinching my sister with tweezers that were easily concealable in my palm and spending countless hours looking for horses with stones stuck in their hooves. This was the exact same model of swiss army knife that I’d had all those years ago and coveted until the red bits fell off, the toothpick was lost and the mechanism was so full crud that it probably formed a home for several species of bacteria unknown to science.
But they say that you should never meet your heroes, just in case they don’t quite live up to the perfect image you have in your head. And I’m afraid that the Huntsman has fallen in to that trap for me.
Sure, it’s an iconic design, with brilliant engineering and infinitely useful, but the tarnish has been taken off for me by a slightly sharp edge to the red plastic which needs a little chamfering, and a slight air of cheapness from the covers not quite fitting perfectly. If I’d purchased this knife I’d be 95% happy and 50% taking a bit of emery board to the edges.
That anti-climactic moment aside, the Huntsman IS the same genius design as it always has been. Shoe-horning in so many tool in to a device which sits comfortably in the palm of your hand is one of the most enduring ideas of the last century. (or was it the one before that?)
Nestled inside its body is a flip-out blade which is sharp enough to do most things. Some people don’t like non-locking blades, which is understandable, but in the UK a Huntsman is legal to carry in the street (so long as you don’t intend to mug old ladies with it). There’s also a smaller blade for opening satsumas when your big blade is covered in ick.
The ever-useful bottle opener and corkscrew transcend class divisions and are equally at home in the campsite or at a dinner party where your fellow guests will marvel at your resourcefulness.
And the saw is aggressive and sharp enough to make
mess mincemeat out of twigs for a campfire.
There is, of course, the thingy for getting stones out of horses hooves, or re-sewing sails should the need arise (it never has, surely).
And the party piece of the whole thing is the odd-looking hook which, in my youth, served to try to hook the straps on girls’ tops in Maths class, but now I realise is for carrying heavy shopping bags using the body of the knife as a handle, which is a genius stroke.
SUMMARY: The Huntsman is one of the classic Swiss Army Knives and contains pretty much everything you’ll need to live life, save for those debatable devices that have crept in to larger knives, like compasses, pens and USB sticks. The engineering and original idea are superb, but for me the finish with a sharp edge around the plastic covers takes a little shine off the experience.