On the long list of knives I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed, the Opinel has historically held a spot near the top. I don’t know why, but even though several of my friends who I would not classify as “knife guys” have suggested it to me, it’s just never really interested me. Even in the early cash-strapped days of gear review, it wasn’t something I was interested in.
However, with age comes wisdom and I finally decided it was overdue. I picked up 2 models for review and comparison – the Opinel #6 and #8. The #6 (smaller of the two) is in the “Inox” version, which has the classic Sandvik steel. The Opinel #8 is the “Carbone”, which has carbon steel.
For some history, the Opinel is a classic French-designed knife that has been around for over a century. The knife is known for its simplicity and functionality, and it is a favorite among hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts. The Opinel folding knife comes in
a variety of way too many sizes and several different handle options.
The size Opinel 6 folding knife has a blade length of 2.87 inches, while the size Opinel 8 folding knife has a blade length of 3.35 inches. Both sizes have a total length of around 7 inches when opened, making them a convenient size for everyday carry.
One of the main differences between the Opinel’s I picked up is the type of steel used for the blade. The Opinel 8 uses carbon steel, which is known for its sharpness and ability to hold a sharp edge. However, carbon steel is also more prone to rusting and requires more maintenance to prevent corrosion. For me, corrosion resistance is high on my list as I tend to sweat a lot and live in the hot hot South, so I’m generally not a fan of carbon steel. The Opinel 6, however, uses Sandvik stainless steel, which is more resistant to corrosion and requires less maintenance. Sandvik steel may require a bit more sharpening, but it’s a welcome trade off in my opinion.
The main feature (and only complication) on this otherwise plain knife is a steel collar that can be used to lock the blade open or closed. The “virobloc” collar is simple enough to use, though I would argue largely impractical for quick use. There is enough friction and lack of grip to dissuade the user from engaging the lock for a simple task, which eliminates a lot of the safety benefits. For extended use or carving or something like that, it would certainly be a benefit.
Ultimately, my overall impression of the Opinel (in any size) before purchasing was the same after purchase – outdated, overhyped. There’s nothing particularly wrong about the knife, but there’s nothing particularly great about it either. Cut for me.