“Designed in 1890 in Savoie, France, the Opinel stands unflinchingly in the face of modern faux-tactical fare. The simple “peasant’s knife” has a modest five-part construction with what you need and nothing else: a carbon steel blade, a wooden handle, a metal collar and pin to hold the two together, and a metal locking ring to hold the blade open for use. It’s a minimal, slightly flawed, but eminently functional design. A century-old embodiment of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” A more elegant knife for a more civilized age.” – Eric Limer: How a Dead-Simple Pocket Knife Saved Me From Myself
Despite my burgeoning collection of high-end steel, there is much to be said for the simple elegance of the classic Opinel folding knife. Apparently we are not the only ones who feel this way, since Chris Dumm’s review of the Opinel No. 8 ‘Carbone‘ is our all-time most-read knife review, with 60,628 views. Just today it passed my review of the Morakniv Bushcraft Black (60,624 views) to become our 6th most-read post of any kind. I credit the recent release of the LL Bean “Moosehead Lake Edition” with providing the boost it needed to close the gap over the last couple of months.
Popular Mechanics writer Eric Limer credits the Opinel No. 8 with breaking him of a runaway knife addiction, standing as a stark reminder that sometimes the most simple tools can have an outsized appeal. I read his piece when it came out last September, and for some reason it dropped of my radar before I could share. Thank you Sam D. for sending me an email this evening to bring it back to my attention. It is a good, quick read.
The Number 8, while their most popular model, is by no means the only Opinel worth checking out. My Father-in-Law EDC’s the No. 6 that I bought for him, and I will admit it is more pocket friendly than the 8. I myself recently purchased the new No. 12 ‘Explore’ which while more modern in materials and containing some additional features, still has the styling and pedigree of the classic versions.
I shared the infographic below from the site Mental Floss a while back, but it remains evergreen and highly topical, so I am sharing it again. (Click on image to view a higher resolution, zoomable version)