Gearpatrol: That Little Hole in Your Swiss Army Knife Could Be Essential in Survival Situations

No outdoors product sticks around for more than a century without being pretty darn useful. And the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife is about as utilitarian as it gets. Hell, my dad once used the tiny saw blade to cut down a Christmas tree during a family holiday gathering in New Mexico’s Sierra Blanca mountain range.

More than 130 years after started crafting pocket knives, Victorinox produces of the original “Soldier Knife.” Like that first one did, a great number of them include an awl — a tool that could save your life in a survival situation.

Awls are ubiquitous. They even appeared on tools that predate the Victorinox’s famous red one. In chapter 107 of 1851’s Moby Dick, author references “Sheffield contrivances, assuming the exterior — though a little swelled — of a common pocket knife; but containing, not only blades of various sizes, but also screw-drivers, cork-screws, tweezers, awls … ”

An awl takes up very little space, and it’s indispensable for puncturing everything from cloth and leather to aluminum and wood. And yet, have you ever stopped to think what purpose that little hole in the middle of it serves? It turns out that particular aspect makes it not only an awl, but also a sewing needle.

The awl is the most underrated SAK tool IMHO.

Learn to do a lock stitch. You can use one of the inner strands from a piece of paracord for thread, and mend some really heavy canvas items, I have used a handy-stitcher, which basically is just an awl with an included bobbin, to mend Jeep canvas and even my pop-up camper.