WEIGHT: 1.0, 1.3, 1.7 oz / 28, 36, 48 grams
BLADE LENGTH: 2.8, 3.0, 3.2 in / 70, 77, 82 mm
The Opinel range of traditional pocket knifes are the perfect low-cost knifes for general backpacking use. They are lightweight, durable, and great value. If you are looking at purchasing a pocket knife for lightweight backpacking tasks such as cooking and repairs, and are not keen to spend lots of money, then this knife should be at the top of your list!
The Opinel blades are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel.
Carbon steel is the original material used for the Opinel range of pocket knifes. It is an extremely hard steel, providing a long lasting cutting edge. It is also relatively easy to resharpen, even with little know-how. It's downside is that it is relatively sensitive to corrosion. You need to avoid leaving the knife damp: be sure to dry it and leave it closed when not in use.
Stainless steel is the newer addition to the Opinel line up. Although slightly more expensive than carbon steel, the stainless steel knifes are much more resistant to corrosion. This makes them an ideal choice if you just want to "pack away and forget". Of course, general maintenance of the knife (e.g. cleaning and drying after use) is still good practice. But with the stainless steel blade, you can afford to be more relaxed with the care of the knife.
For most users, who are looking for a general backpacking knife, we recommend the stainless steel blade. It requires less maintenance and is therefore more suited to a backcountry adventure.
For lightweight backpacking adventures, where the majority of tasks will be cooking, the odd repair job, or small cutting tasks around camp, we recommend either the No. 6 (2.8 inch / 70 mm), No. 7 (3.0 inch / 77 mm) or No. 8 (3.2 inch / 82 mm) knifes. These sizes are sufficient for most cooking and campsite tasks, whilst also providing a knife that is lightweight and compact.
The beechwood handle is both relatively easy to hold and aesthetically pleasing. The rounded handle design used on the Opinel knifes is more comfortable for extended use than a slim handle like on the Kershaw Leek.
We think that the No. 6 size upwards all have a large enough handle to make gripping the knife relatively easy. The material is somewhat smooth, but provides enough grip for all but the most heavy duty tasks.
Another upside of choosing the No. 6 size or larger is that they include a locking mechanism ("safety ring"). The safety ring can be used to keep the knife locked closed during transport, or locked open during use. This feature is not available on the No. 5 knife or smaller.
In terms of weight, these knifes are very lightweight considering their usability and high quality blades. The No. 6 weighs in at 28 grams, whilst the No. 8 weighs in at 48 grams. If you are an ultralight hiker counting every ounce then perhaps consider the smaller sizes. For instance, the Opinel No. 3 weighs in at only 7 grams!
This knife is hard to beat in the price category. If you are looking for a functional backpacking knife at a bargain basement price, then this is the one for you.
On the other hand, if you are willing to spend a bit more for a higher quality knife with a nicer finish, more strength, and greater durability then consider the Kershaw Leek (mid-range) or Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 (expensive).
IMAGE GALLERY: The image gallery below shows the Opinel No. 7 (82 mm blade) with a carbon steel blade.