This review could just as easily be for any of a dozen or so similar products, but this is probably the best-in-breed for our purposes. The SVC2 is a credit-sized mini-tool kit. It includes a small steel knife, a magnesium fire stick, a whistle, tweezers and a red LED flashlight. It’s about the same dimensions as a credit card, though quite a bit thicker and the total weight is about 1.3 ounces; about as heavy as a slice of sandwich bread. There are some alternative models that have different combinations of features. Some includes other useful features like miniature compasses, can/bottle openers and differing styles of knives. Prices vary, but most are in the $25-30USD area.
So how does it work for our needs? Some pros and cons:
The size: It is very compact. Though it is quite a bit thicker than any credit card, it does still fit in most wallets. On the other hand, it’s not nearly as flexible as the other things in your wallet and you will likely notice that lack of flexibility.
The tool options: I’m immediately reminded of Swiss army knives. There are a ton of great feature options, but rarely one item that has all-of and just-the features you want. That said, the SVC2 is a great set of options. A knife+light+fire starter+whistle in a form-factor this compact is just outstanding. At least on paper. Part of the trade-off for all of that compactness is that the quality of the tools is a bit on the weak side. The flashlight is too dim and should be white-light, not red. The fire stick is small and weak. Likewise the knife is miniscule and hard to use if you have anything approaching adult-sized hands.
The price: The list price from Tool Logic is $25. Amazon show it’s listed for $30, BUT also shows its price has been reduced to $15 (plus shipping). There are a variety of third-party merchants offering the SVC2 as well with prices ranging from $15 up to $40 (and, of course, those delightful scams that do things like charge $25 plus another $15 in shipping. Very classy).
Build quality: The models I’ve been hands on with have been okay, no major flaws other than in the weaknesses of design already mentioned. I have heard a number of complaints though. The biggest complaints I’ve heard are about the plastic casing cracking, the flashlight stops working and/or the fire stick detaching. While I haven’t used any myself, I’ve heard great things about Tool Logic’s collection of heavier knives, so these reports are more than a little disappointing.
Ultimately, I feel like you can do worse, but you can also do a lot better and probably should. A real Swiss army knife isn’t much more and the build quality is orders of magnitude better. But at $15? My heart starts to soften a little. Despite the low-quality of the tools, they are far better than nothing and at this price-point it starts to feel a little better. But if you can afford it, just spend a few extra dollars and get a real tool.
Side-note: If you DO get one of these, don’t accidentally make the mistake of leaving it in your wallet when you go through airport security. I’ll let Homeland Security explain why. 😉