Opinel; It's a name brand name synonymous with a whole type of knife, and for good reason. If you are into knives, it's pretty likely you've heard of the Opinel knife. If you haven't, don't worry! In this article I'll explain what (an) Opinel is and give you 5 reasons why it makes a great every day carry knife.
First, what is Opinel? Opinel is a knife company based in Savoie France that has been making knives since 1890. They manufacture a variety of knives and knife related accessories including classic kitchen knives, specialty knives (mushroom, cheese, etc.), gardening tools, and outdoor multi-feature folding knives with modern materials. However, they are best known for their traditional wood handled pocket folding knives. These knives have an extremely recognizable design, with some great features:
1) There's an Opinel Sized Just Right for Everyone
No matter what your knife needs or preferences, you can be pretty sure Opinel offers a knife that will work for you. Opinel offers 10 different sizes of pocket knives from teency tiny keychain knives (like the No. 2 with a 1.38" blade) to massive camping knives (like the No. 13 with a whopping 8.75" blade). Somewhere within that range there's bound to be an option that fits your hand, pocket, and cutting needs.
2) The Handles are Great
Not only are the handles surprisingly ergonomic, there are lots of handle color and material options also! The classic standard handles are Beech harvested mainly from sustainably managed French forests, which are a nice light color. They also offer some colored handles, handles with designs, synthetic handles, and handles in more exotic woods. The classic wood handles are contoured with a palm swell to fill the hand and make for comfortable and easy handling in use.
3) The Price is Right
Opinels are eminently easy on the wallet. The different sizes of the standard models range in the $15-$25 range, which makes them a great budget option. You can get one for the house, one for your EDC, one for camping, and one for the car for under $100. Of course, the models with more exotic materials and limited editions cost more but they're still not big ticket items.
4) They're Safe and Non-Knife Enthusiast Friendly
The Opinel's two hand opening and Virobloc lock features make them both safe to carry and use, and unalarming in public. Although I (and I'm sure you if you're reading this) wish it weren't the case, there are times when a big fast flashy modern knife isn't situationally appropriate. Whether local laws disallow one hand opening or your work or social engagements require a more subtle touch, sometimes you might have to ditch the tactical knife for something more old school. The Opinel's two hand opening nature along with the size and non-locking options make it a great choice in less knife friendly environments.
5) The Blades are Ground for Performance
Thin is in, and Opinel blades are ground to making cutting a breeze. Although a thick blade like those found on most modern or tactical knives can be useful and handle more rough work, the vast majority of cutting that the vast majority of people do is best done with a thin blade. A thin blade makes for less drag when moving through material while cutting. If you're used to modern tactical knives, I think you'll be surprised at how well a thinner blade like those on Opinels, and many other traditional knives, cut. The grind of the blades is probably my favorite thing about Opinel knives.
BONUS) You Can Exercise Your Creativity
Opinel's wooden handles also offer the option of customization! Not only are the standard handles just asking for embellishment with carved or woodburned designs, Opinel even offers knives with handles specifically designed so that you can carve them to your liking.
In conclusion, there are many reasons to put an Opinel into your EDC rotation! In Opinel's own words, an Opinel knife is a must have for "savoir-vivre", or "knowing how to live well". Opinel has a long history that is worth checking out. I would write more about it here, but Opinel offers a fascinating look into that history on their site (linked here). If you're looking for an Opinel knife, Northern Knives offers a great selection at this link.
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P.s. Here's a companion video where I talk about the Opinel knife. Check it out for some extra thoughts not included in the article: