Swiss Tech Utili-key (UKCBS-1) Review

utilikey

We weren’t a fan of Swiss+Tech’s 9-in-1 keyring tool. Will the Utili-key fare any better?

The Utili-key is perhaps one of the most well-known ultra-mini keyring tools, and they key design is widely imitated as a natural addition to an item that most carry around with them anyway. The idea is impressive – a tiny tool with the following functions:

  • Flat screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Bottle-opener
  • Eyeglass screwdriver
  • Serrated knife
  • Straight knife

First impressions

This comes up a plain old blister pack which we sliced open with a Spyderco Kiwi. You get the tool, and that’s it. The key seems decently – although not impressively – constructed, and certainly resembles a standard key in size and weight. Discarding the instructions, we try to pry the thing open. This process to be surprisingly difficult, so at first we assume we must be doing something wrong. But after eventually yanking the key open, it becomes apparent that it does indeed require two hands to open the tool. For something that is intended to be removable from a keyring, this is bizarre. To remove the tool and not drop your keys needs either three hands, or a surface to place keys on. This is not a good start. Worse still, the opening mechanism is so stiff and provides almost nowhere to grip. This creates a dangerous tendency to grab the serrated knife part to open the tool. Which would be a big problem if this was razor sharp (which it isn’t).

Let’s have a look at the tools provided.

Flat screwdriver

The flat screwdriver is positioned next to the opening mechanism (with the tool ‘half’ open). It’s not too bad for smaller and not very tight screws. Lack of grip is an issue but one that is expected in a tool of this size.

Philips screwdriver

The philips screwdriver is at the end of the ‘bottle’ opener part of the tool. Again, this is OK, but is practically asking you to start griping the serrated knife edge once you need to apply force. This is not nice at all.

Eyeglass screwdriver

We were not able to adjust eyeglass screws with this part of the tool – it’s just not cut precisely enough.

Bottle opener

The bottle opener is passable, in that we were able to open bottles with it. But there’s once again nowhere comfortable to grip. We assume that we’re supposed to grip the philips screwdriver end (which is too small). So, an emergency bottle opener only.

Knife edges

The knife edges are the only tool that does not practically demand you grip a serrated blade to use, and so is by far the most comfortable of the tools. But if you have a Spyderco Bug on your keyring, this is redundant. perhaps the serrated blade could be used for some emergency sawing? We sharpened the blades which made them a little more serviceable, but this also made the use of the rest of the tool slightly terrifying, as one missed grip, or clumsy opening of the tool will result in bleeding.

Final thoughts

We’re just not impressed with the Utili-key. The opening mechanism is poor and the majority of tools are made extremely difficult to use as a result of design decisions regarding the knife edges. Even as an emergency “leave it on your keyring” tool, it is likely to be awkward to use when the need arises. There are much better options for your keyring. We do like the key-style look, though.

Gallery

2 / 5 stars     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *