Opinel is a beautifully designed knife that has stood up to the test of time. The have a rustic look as well as a simple design. I own the Opinel Number 9, which is the largest pocket knife they make with a 3 ½ inch blade. They are incredibly light weight do to their design and materials.
I was first introduced to Opinel knives about 5 years ago on a trip through Europe. They were literally all over the place. Every gift shop seemed to have them. They seemed to be the most popular brand around yet I had never heard of them. I bought a few and brought them back home and boy, were they a head turner. The Opinel knife has a beautifully simple locking mechanism to lock the blade into position.
Opinel was founded in France in 1890 and is still going strong today. They manufacture and sell around 15 million knives annually. The knife was originally designed as a working man’s knife, and that it is. I bought my latest Opinel knife about a year and a half ago. I work full time as a ranch hand on a horse ranch. As such, my knife gets a lot of use and abuse. I would be surprised if any pocket knife could stand up to everything my Opinel knife has been through and it doesn’t show any signs of falling apart. I have used it for everything from shaving wire to chipping ice. The knife did get a small nick a few months ago. However, that was only because I was using a rock as a cutting board on a fishing trip.
Cons: Opinel makes many of their knives with a beechwood handle. However, they also make them with a large range of other woods and materials. The common issue with the beechwood is that it expands when wet. When this happens the knife can be incredibly difficult to open. The blade is made with high carbon steel. As such, it is prone to rust and needs to be oiled and wiped down every once in awhile. I typically wipe mine down once every 4 months or so. You can also get Opinel knives with a stainless steel blade.
Another drawback is that they have a round handle. As such, you tend to notice it more than slimmer brands when you are carrying it in your pocket. However, the rounded handle also makes it easier to get a good grip on the knife.
Pros: As previously stated, Opinel blades are commonly made with high carbon steel (you can also get them in stainless). The nice thing about high carbon steel is that it’s easy to sharpen and holds a good edge. I use my Opinel every day for over a year and I have only sharpened it twice. The knife is also incredibly affordable (around $14). It might be inexpensive, but it’s far from cheap. There is literally no other knife in that price range that can compete.