Fellow writer/ Reviewer Mikey Bautista does a great job on this review! I believe I was successful in carrying over the link to buy so happy reading and shopping!
“What knife should I buy?” is arguably one the most-asked question by people discovering EDC gear for the first time. And as simple as the question is, it’s also one of the hardest to answer. There are a ton of things to consider—preferences, use cases, even legality. And then you have to find solid options that won’t break the bank, especially if you’re just starting out with building your carry. It’s this search for practicality, price, and performance that led people to (re)discover the Victorinox Cadet Alox as ticking nearly every box for an ideal everyday knife. Now over a decade old, the Cadet marches on with limited colorway releases every year and a competitive price point for both newcomers and collectors alike. But are the Cadet’s features and functionality still worth it in 2019, and is it still a contender for an everyday knife?
Why Was the Victorinox Cadet Alox So Popular?
In the early days of EDC Victorinox was a staple brand, showcasing tools and equipment that helped define what it meant to carry light, but prepared. The Cadet picked up speed when more people getting into EDC started exploring Victorinox’s vast catalog, discovering the slim multi-tool with a surgical sharp knife that was a perfect blend of size, functionality, and best of all, affordable. Only 84 mm long, impressively thin, with 9 useful functions, and hardy embossed aluminum scales with anodic oxidation as an extra protective layer: these all added up to a multi-tool that not only was easy to carry, but looked as good as it was functional. The anodic oxidation at the end only further raised the Cadet to cult status, as it allowed scale coloring that led to dozens of colorways that matched a variety of EDCS and gave them an extra aspect of collectibility.
The Cadet Alox, as well as the rest of its Alox brethren, continues to be an easy recommendation for anyone looking to build or add to their EDC. Since the Cadet’s release there have been a lot of slim blades, multi-function blades (see below), and affordable blades, but rarely do they line up so well in a single product. And with aftermarket parts like clips, scales, and swapped tools adding even more utility, the Cadet also gives you the platform to build the perfect knife.
A slim, non-locking, under 3“ knife under $50 is already a great deal in itself, not to mention plays nice with laws for a vast majority of countries. But when you add in useful functions, excellent fit and finish, and the ability to match it to nearly every EDC color theme under the sun, that’s something no one else has done to date. And in spite of some small drawbacks like not having a first-party clip or including Victorinox’s handy scissors among its tools (which made a later appearance in the Pioneer X Alox), the Cadet is as solid an EDC knife as it gets. Match it to your EDC, throw it into your jeans’ 5th pocket—it’s versatile enough carry it as your both your main or backup blade.
Other Multi-functional Knife Options to Consider
We highly recommend the Victorinox Cadet Alox to any EDCer, but some of its functionality may not be the best for your needs. These alternative multi-functional knives give you more robust options with tools and blade sizes that may better suit your tasks at hand.
- Spyderco ClipiTool: Spyderco’s compact “multi-tool” also aims to give you a sleek knife that’s more than just a blade. Designed small, similar to more compact Spyderco knives like the Ambitious or Dragonfly, the 8Cr13MoV 2“ blade is shorter than the 2.5” one that comes on the Cadet but features a larger profile, but with a slight belly that allows more sweeping cuts. Joining the blade in the stainless steel handles is the secondary folding tool, which comes with a bottle opener and flat-bladed screwdriver (alternate models come with a serrated knife or scissors). One advantage the ClipiTool has over the base Cadet model, though, is the inclusion of a pocket clip which makes it an easier carry. (Buy)
- Boker Plus Tech Tool City 2:Boker’s second model of their Tech Tool line bumps up the functionality of the basic modern slipjoint and adds useful tools similar to what you would see from Victorinox’s own larger multi-tools. The larger size of the City 2 allows a bigger Sandvik 12C27 2.8“ blade, as well as everyday functions like flat screwdrivers, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, a glass breaker, and a small serrated blade. Grippy G-10 handles offer a better grip in hand for the larger blade, and even makes room for a two-way pocket clip. (Buy)
- Leatherman FREE T2: The Leatherman T2 is more multi-tool than a multi-functional knife, but with the smallest profile of the entire FREE series, it’s still an option to consider—think of it as a fully-loaded folder. Weighing 3.3 oz (an ounce lighter than the bigger T4) with a more compact rear geometry, it trades in the scissors, tweezers, file, and pocket clip to be a better, sleeker fit for smaller pockets. That said, 8 functions are still at your disposal, including the 2.2″ 420HC blade and an essential assortment of drivers and openers. (Buy)
Chances are you might have a Cadet Alox of your own. Do you think it’s still worth it today? Let us know how it holds up in the comments below.