What is a Swiss Army USB?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Man with a backpack
Man with a backpack

A Swiss army universal serial bus (USB) is a device that is a combination of a traditional Swiss army knife and a modern USB flash, or memory, drive. These devices allow someone to carry many small tools at once, both for practical reasons or to be utilized as a stylish accessory for someone working in a technical or scientific field. The Swiss army USB uses the basic principal of a Swiss army knife, a single object containing many small tools within it, and simply includes a small USB flash drive as one of the tools within the handle.

First created in 1897 in Switzerland, the original Swiss army knife has since become a staple for many explorers, campers, and even astronauts. The fairly simple yet precise design is based around a mostly hollow handle that allows the various tools and devices of the knife to be folded into it when not in use. This allowed the Swiss army knife to become a useful and easily portable multi-tool that has seen prevalent use for more than 100 years.

Though certain parts of a Swiss army USB are fairly standard, they can come with several different possible items included in them. The typical Swiss army USB will have a short knife blade, a nail file with a flat end to serve as a screwdriver, a small pair of scissors, the USB flash drive, and a retractable ballpoint pen. All of these objects can be folded into the handle for easy carrying and to fit comfortably in a person’s pocket, purse, or briefcase. Some models can also include either a red light emitting diode (LED) or a laser pointer as well. Though a small battery may be included to power the LED or laser pointer, the flash drive is typically powered through the USB connection with a computer and requires no other external power or maintenance.

The actual flash drive of a Swiss army USB is typically removable for convenience and to ensure the ability to take the drive onto an airplane without security issues. There are also specific models of the Swiss army USB designed for airline travel that include the flash drive, pen, and laser pointer without the knife and other items that are commonly prohibited on airline flights. The flash drive in a Swiss army USB can have a number of different memory sizes, from a single gigabyte (GB) of storage to 16 GB.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@Melonlity -- probably not, but you can't be too careful. It all depends on whether the airport in question uses a metal detector or an x-ray machine to scan items before they are allowed through security. An x-ray machine will not harm your flash drive because it is not magnetic. A metal detector, which is often magnetic, will.

It is well nigh impossible to determine which airports have what as you are traveling, although the majority of them have x-ray machines. To be perfectly safe, you might want to check with the manufacturer of the Swiss Army USB. There are a lot of variations on the "Swiss Army USB" theme, and some manufacturers claim they have products that will protect against magnetic damage.


These things sound dry as toast on paper, but this is one of the most useful items you can carry. A number of them fit on key rings and the convenience of having a USB drive with you wherever you go should be obvious.

I do have a question. Should I worry about carrying my USB drive through airport security? Will the metal detector harm it?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Man with a backpack
      Man with a backpack