First thing’s first, this is a lock-knife with a blade of 3.3 inches and as such you cannot carry it on your person in the UK unless you are engaged in an activity which justifiably requires it. Read our guide to knife law here.
But, handily, I’ve spent the last month in a new, very old house doing lots of renovation work and the Opinal No.8 Outdoor has been a bit of a companion which has been put through its paces.
I had a friend when I was at school, named David, who was half-French. He always carried a little wooden Opinel knife “because he was French” and that was that. These knives are as much a stereotypical part of being French as an odd patriotism for quirky cars and a desire to close up shop in August. So how would it fair on a sleepy Shropshire hillside?
Well, for a start, it was pretty sharp. Not samurai sword sharp out of the box, but capably sharp at opening parcels and whittling pencils. I imagine that it would see its way through an onion or a lump of brie with ease, but might need a bit of a sharpen before tackling a rabbit-skinning session.
But stop-the-press on the serrated part of the blade. Opinel say it’s designed to cut through rope efficiently, and I tested it on 30ft of rotten woollen carpet. It cut through like a dream – WAY easier than a stanley knife and really, really impressed me.
One thing to be careful of is the lack of finger guard. It’s not inconceivably difficult for your hand to slide up the blade and on to the sharp serrated area, so this isn’t a stabbing, slashing kind of knife. It’s more of a gallic shrug at violence, and laid-back slicing of an apple kind of knife. That said, the handle is quite grippy when your hands are dry and full of youthful dexterity.
Opinel have designed this particular No.8 with a few nice nods towards the outdoor industry. The hole in the blade is designed to act as a wrench (shackle key) for those of you who use shackles. And the handle has a built-in pealess whistle which gives a fairly loud and pleasing toot when you blow in to it. That’s quite neat.
The plastic handle of the Opinel is fitted with a short lanyard, so you can carabiner or tie the knife somewhere convenient, or perhaps tie it on if working at height.
And on to Opinels neat locking system (which makes this knife a bit of a problem in the UK). It’s a very simple twisting affair where the silver collar in the middle of the knife just swivels a few degrees and locks the blade in place so that it can’t snap back closed on to your fingers (a friend had a very nasty cut from a Swiss Army Knife a couple of months ago when that happened) or spring open in your pocket. It’s a beautifully simple system.
Summary: The Opinel Outdoor is a really nice, simple bit of kit that takes a French classic and brings it right up to date for the outdoors. It’s like a Camelbak full of Chateauneuf-du-Pape – a great idea but only practical in the UK for those of you who are engaged in the right kind of activity. IF you are, then take a look. The rating reflects the fact that it can’t be carried for general use.