I only recently heard about Opinel, having read about one of their folding knives in a recent issue of Backwoodsman Magazine. The author of that piece had nothing but great things to say about Opinel so I decided to order one and see for myself. I chose the Opinel No. 8 folding knife with beechwood scales.
The first thing I noticed upon receiving the knife was how incredibly light it is. At 1.6oz, it feels like there’s hardly anything there. The second thing I noticed was how comfortably it fit my hand. Unlike just about every other folding knife I’ve owned in the last several years, the handle of the Opinel is rounded, rather than flat. Here’s a comparison between the Opinel and the Bad Monkey folding knife I’ve been carrying daily for the last year or so.
The handle is sanded smooth, but with the wood grain still providing enough grip that between it and the shape of the handle, I’m not worried about it slipping if it gets wet.
The clip point blade is carbon steel, which is my preference for knives. The blade is 3.25″ long and when opened the entire thing is 7.5″ long.
There is an interesting locking mechanism involved with the Opinel knife. After folding the blade open, you swivel this ring, preventing the knife from closing. You can also use the same mechanism to prevent the knife from accidentally opening, though I’m not sure that’s really an issue.
Owing to this unique locking mechanism, the blade doesn’t “snap” into place when you open it. More than anything else about the knife, this is what took some getting used to. Even my Swiss Army knives have blades that click or snap into place. This isn’t a knock against the Opinel, just an observation.
The blade is fairly thin, too. You aren’t going to be batoning any firewood with this knife. But, it is perfectly suited for whittling, carving, and other small camp chores.
This Opinel folding knife harkens back to an earlier time, back before everything became “tacticool.” Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I like it. My youngest son will be turning 10 at the end of this month and he’ll be receiving this knife as a birthday present. See, we have a rule in our house – when you turn 10, you get a knife.
The Opinel would be an excellent option for EDC as well as for tossing into your Get Home Bag as a backup blade. They are cheap enough you could do both, too, of course.