We at TTAK love the venerable Opinel folder. Chris wrote a great review of his No. 8, and my experience with the same is in full concurrence with his assessment. I also have a No. 6 which is my slip-into-pocket carry knife of choice these days.
The folks at Opinel are bringing a new, more technical knife to market to compliment their traditional offerings. The No.12 Explore blends the old and the new – classic Opinel lines with a polymer handle, and several outdoor specific features as well.
As one of the oldest and most revered cutlery companies in the world, Opinel has a distinct reverence for its history. Since its beginning in the late nineteenth century, the fundamental design of the Opinel knife hasn’t changed much. The last major update to the design was over 50 year ago, when Marcel Opinel invented the Virobloc locking collar. “We’re not interested in chasing fads,” Alex Delecroix, US Brand Manager for Opinel, recently told us.
But for Opinel, reverence doesn’t equate to stagnation, and throughout the years they have steadily released new variations on this iconic French folding knife. The No. 12 Explore is the latest in their outdoor line of products. Outdoor enthusiasts, together with the EDC crowd, form Opinel’s biggest market, and Delecroix says that outdoorsmen have been asking for an Opinel designed for heavy duty use in the wild for a long time.
The result, after more than two years of development and testing, is the No. 12 Explore. With a 3.9-inch Sandvik 12C27 steel clip-point blade, a polymer handle, and the Virobloc lock, it is a durable and versatile knife. Opinel has packed in a few additional features as well. A whistle is built into the handle and a small, sliding insert at the butt end of the knife contains a gut hook and a lanyard hole. For your fire starting needs, the package also includes a ferro rod that works in conjunction with the spine of the blade.
While I prefer a fixed-blade for most of my outdoor adventures, I would love about 10 of these for assorted glove-boxes, day-packs, and other ready-locations. I would happily carry one as a backup blade while guiding. It is a knife I will definitely be picking up when it hits US shelves next month. It is available in European markets already. (39 Euros MSRP)