Dead-simple pocketknife is the best

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ndeg06_carbone_web (1)A dead-simple pocketknife is the best to carry, especially on a daily basis, and the Opinel fits that bill on all levels.

Over the years I have owned and used many different pocketknives, some of them not directly cheap, single and multi-bladed, but I have found none as good and reliable than the first kind that I ever owned (or one of the first ones, for my very first was a different one, if I remember, but I was given that as a rather small boy of five), the Opinel. The next one that I was given was an Opinel #6, about two years later, and an Opinel #6 or #8, the latter though rarely, has been a constant companion ever since.

Many of us, outdoorsmen, bushcrafters, and such, seem to be gadget lovers when it comes to knives and other things and many seem to believe that the bigger the blade(s) and the more of them the better. The bigger the better belief is also there as regards to size when it comes to fixed-bladed knives. I seem to be an exception as I don't run after all those gadgets and such and neither do I like knives that are too big, unless I want to use a machete.

However, the best blade is the one that is just big enough for the job and your knife, whether belt knife or pocketknife is not a hatchet or a machete; it is a knife; simple.

The Opinel #6 is my daily-carry-knife, and has been for very many years, and that for more reasons than one. The main one, nowadays, is that carrying any knife – even a folding one – with a cutting edge longer than 3-inches can get one into very hot water with the police. Another the fact that the knife is big enough for almost all jobs that require a knife; a bigger one is not, actually, needed on a day-to-day basis. Then there is the fact that is is light and handy and I just love the lock and the wooden handle.

I do have many other pocketknives as well – I have sort of got a few over the years – but when it comes to it my first choice is always the Opinel, but never bigger than the #8 to be very honest though. As indicated, the #6 is the one that is always with me.

And to make sure that I have one definitely with me at all times I have, because there was not one available to buy – made my own sheath for it (see picture) that enables me to carry it around the neck. Well, I guess even if I could have bought a sheath of this kind I would have still made it myself, as I do love working with leather, as well as with wood. Not only do I make such and other leather goods for myself. Nay, I also make those and others to order.

Neck holster for Opinel #6As far as performance of this dead-simple pocketknife goes the Opinel is, in my opinion, though not just in mine alone, I understand, second to none. All Opinel from #6 upwards come with the rotating ring lock and I have yet to be able to break that lock. I have managed to break the handle at the lock before through misuse and abuse but not the lock itself, unlike with some, even expensive lock-back knives. And in the latter case(s) with very little abuse, so to speak.

The design of the Opinel is timeless and has changed little since its inception, with the exception of the introduction, in the mid-1950s, of the Virobloc rotating lock, and then at the beginning of the 21st century the redesign of this lock so the blade can also be locked in the closed position. Otherwise, generally, it has not change since almost day one. But then why change something that works and works well.

The KISS system is always best, especially when the tool is to be used in the great outdoors, or even not not so great one. It is because of its simplicity and reliability, I am sure, that the German forest schools use the smaller lockable Opinel knives, that is to say the No.6 and the No.7 versions, and that in the standard blade and not the child's version, and we are talking here about those blades being used by children between 4 and 6 years of age. That speaks volumes for the knives' safety.

The Opinel pocketknife embodies the KISS system in its design, reliability and simplicity, to its fullest and makes it the ideal day-to-day companion, and not just in the outdoors. I don't think that it can be beat and definitely not as far as quality and value for money is concerned, considering the relatively low price that it is being sold for. Generations of French mountain people can't be wrong to having stuck with the Opinel knife.

© 2017