One of our most popular (and most controversial) blog posts (how-to-choose-a-knife-for-walking-climbing-mountaineering-and-expeditions) was about how we believed that for walking, trekking and climbing in the UK outdoors you really only needed to carry a Swiss Army Knife or maybe a Opinel. Swiss Army Knifes are great but if you’re out overnight and need to cut larger vegetables such as onions and salami are much easier cut with an Opinel. As a climber or mountaineer it’s useful to have a blade to cut abseil cord.
If we are honest most of us just need a simple folding knife. We won’t be chopping logs or skinning rabbits.
So as a follow up I thought it would be useful to have a look at the archetypal outdoor knife the iconic Opinel and the most popular model the No.08. The knifes are numbered according to the length of the blade so the No8 has a 8.5cm blade.
The Opinel pocket knife was invented in the French alps in 1890. It quickly became the knife used throughout France by farmers, hunters, artist, sailors, climbers and mountain guides. The classic 1930’s French mountaineering book First on the Rope has a chapter where a mountain guide cuts off slivers of Gruyere with his Opinel.
No.08 Carbon Steel
The original and classic Opinel. I still have one that I bought 37 years ago. The carbon steel is the steel historically used by Opinel as it sharpens easily and holds its edge well, but the blade does need oiling to prevent rust. Taking care of your Opinel.
No.08 Stainless steel
Most of the Opinel blades are now made with Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel which requires no special maintenance. As well as the standard beech handled model there are variations in different colours and using a variety of different woods including walnut and oak.
The No.08 Slim version is tiny and very light. Perfect for carrying on wild camps, long distance footpaths and national trails where you might want to chop up some vegetables to add some variety and extra nutrients to your diet.
A departure from the traditional wood handle the Outdoor version has a polymer handle which resists water and is more durable. The blade is thicker than the standard No.08 and has serrations for cutting rope. Myself and Hati carry these as our climbing knifes and they are issued to Chamonix mountain guides.
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Beyond the Edge Ltd is based in Sheffield: two hours by train from London and within easy travelling distance from Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and other Northern towns and cities.
We are one of the UKs most experienced providers of climbing, walking, scrambling, mountaineering and navigation training courses.
Most of our courses are run in the nearby Peak District National Park which has some of the finest climbing, bouldering, walking and hiking in the world.