It doesn’t have any special technology for quick deployment of the blade when under attack from a mountain lion, nor does it have a fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle. It will never be featured on the late-night knife collectors show on the Home Shopping Channel (where Rambo meets samurai meets ninja).
This Opinel, which comes in many sizes (but few variations on the basic hardwood handle), has a beautiful, razor-sharp steel blade, of the kind I have written about recently. It has an ingenious locking ring (below) that twists to keep the blade open. It’s light and gorgeous and I’ve never broken one, though I’ve owned several and used them for everything from picnics to backpacking. The #8 Opinel costs only $10 today. Amazing. When I was young, the Early Winters backpacking catalog gave these away with your order. Me and my buddy Randy used to laugh at the guys who brought “Rambo” knives up into the wilderness … probably because we remembered doing it too when we were young. But you only make that mistake once: too heavy, too expensive, too much. Unless you hunt Elk, all you need is a sharp, short blade for cutting your salami, cleaning trout, and trimming rope. And just look at that blade decoration. Sweet.
I’ll make an allowance for the Swiss Army knife or Leatherman, if you need extra tools (screwdrivers for campstoves, scissors for first aid, can openers for your peaches, corkscrew for … well for untying wet knots of course), but I would always carry one of these no matter what because it’s so light and elegant. When I read on the Opinel Website that shepherds decorated their Opinels by burning designs into the wood handles, I had try it.