Gear: Ueli Steck Swiss Army Knife
By his own admission, Ueli Steck is one of the most Swiss climbers out there. He's well-prepared, precise, and functions reliably--"like a Swiss watch," as Steck himself has said.
So it makes sense on some level that Steck would get his own Swiss Army knife. The ubiquitous red multitools are up there with watches as Switzerland's most famous products, and Steck's sponsor Wenger makes both.
Wenger's new titanium-bodied Ueli Steck Special Edition isn't the first knife aimed at climbers. Instead, the company's new tool attempts to strike a balance between blade-only climbing knives (Trango's Piranha and Barracuda) and feature-laden backpacker models (the Climber--Road Tour made by Wenger's parent company, Victorinox).
The most striking feature of the Steck is its beefy, oblong blade, which is 50% thicker than a typical Swiss Army knife and wide enough to be opened with gloved hands. The blade is partially serrated to make it easier to cut through worn slings and cord at belays (a task that's frustrating to impossible to do with a straight blade--I've tried).
Punched into the blade are three hexagonal keys, designed for making in-the-field adjustments to ice tools. While the keys are sized with Petzl axe heads in mind, testers from Climbing found that they also worked for tightening 3/8-inch Rawls--the same bolts used on many sport climbs. Other tools include can and bottle openers and a file for sharpening crampons and axes. A bit adaptor in the handle takes standard screwdriver bits (a flat head and Philips are included).
The big downside of the Ueli Steck Special Edition knife is its price. The tool retails for $200, although cheaper, less featured versions are available under the names Titanium 1 and Titanium 2. The knife is also a bit heavy: at 3.5 ounces, it weighs about a half-ounce more than most other full-featured Swiss Army knives. While the difference likely won't matter to most users, it may irk ultra-light, drill-holes-in-the-toothbrush-handle climbers and hikers.
The Ueli Steck Special Edition Swiss Army knife is due for release this month. You can follow the adventures of the real-life Ueli Steck at Outside.