To research an upcoming story on the origins of the Swiss Army Knife, this week I traveled to Switzerland. But before any business took place, in typical Gear Junkie style I slipped on a train at the airport and rolled south into the Alps to the Engelberg area for a weekend of climbing and mountain biking. Engelberg alone — a Swiss alpine setting stunning enough to qualify for film scenes in both Heidi as well as the Eiger Sanction — was worth the trip. Immense limestone walls, singletrack mtb trails, deep Fairytale forests, a frothing and mineral-blue river, cable cars, and big-eye Swiss cows, bells konging as they ate, all had walk-on parts in this Swiss dream.
After a weekend of action, it was down to business. Well, sort of. Much of the Swiss are on summer break this time of year. The vibes of leisure were flowing high everywhere I went, including a visit to the factory where Swiss Army Knives are made. I got a tour of the production floor and then met with Carl and Veronika Elsener, the current owners of Victorinox and Wenger, the two companies that make true Swiss Army Knives. Carl is a fourth-generation descendant of Karl Elsener, the man who was an original inventor of the Swiss Army Knife more than 100 years ago.
The rest of the trip included some castles, a boat tour, a stay in Lucerne (gorgeous town!), and train legs around the country. Stay tuned for the full report on Swiss Army Knives soon. And here below are a few photos from the trip.
—Photos and text by Stephen Regenold