Opinel Knife – A Review

Knives are a bit of a taboo subject these days and I do wonder if others, like me, have an uneasiness whenever I carry one in my rucksack. However, I still believe there is a place in my rucksack for a camping knife and still pack one for any trip including an overnight stop. I use my knife for a variety of reasons and all legitimate ones on a camping trip. My knife is made by opinel and is small but perfectly formed.

opinel pocket knife

opinel pocket knife

Opinel do a range of knives in various sizes. All have the same basic design. When closed, the knive folds into the wooden handle and is closed in place with a little metal locking collar. When open, the metal collar locks the blade in place. Very very simple, very cheap and very light. I like the simplicity of the knife most of all and it is sharp and well suited to a variety of cutting duties. Mine is one of the smallest in the range and weighs a paltry 30grams and cost me under a fiver. If you are really worried about carrying even the smallest of camping knives, opinel even do a round tipped safety knive.






none so far and only time will tell about its longevity


About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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55 Responses to Opinel Knife – A Review

  1. Old Winter says:

    The con for this type of knife is British law. As it can lock, it is illegal and if you are discovered with it in a public place, it can lead you into difficulties. The result will largely depend on your attitude, the reason you state for having it and the police officer that stops you (guess which is the more important element of the 3).

    As long as the officer accepts your reason for carrying the knife given the circumstances all will be well.

    With the current modern hysteria around knives it is best to be aware of these issues and act accordingly.


    Gives some more information, but the re-examination is, it is legal to sell them, not possess them, naturally the change they are looking for is making them illegal to sell.

    Sorry to be a bore on the topic but would not want any of you to come unstuck on the basis you imagined because you had bought it legally it was actually legal to possess. Lawyers would not be paid so much if it was that easy.

  2. backpackbrewer says:

    some good points there Old Winter. As you say if you are stopped with a knife you must be able to give a good and valid reason for doing so. I only ever have a knife when I go camping (I dont carry one when doing day walks only) and its always at the bottom of the rucksack. I never, ever carry one on my person OR when in public. I know that in the unlikely event that should I be stopped whilst walking, i might have a difficult conversation with the law but I feel relatively ok with this

    and no, you are not being a bore on the subject, it is important to discuss issues such as this freely and without prejudice on my (or any other) blog

    cheers, Dave

  3. Dave Hanlon says:

    I like these knives. Another pro: Being carbon steel they take an edge very well (watch your fingers).

    A big con: In humid/wet weather the blade rusts quickly, the handle swells up and you can’t get them open.

    • Sam says:

      They aren’t all carbine steel. They come in either stainless of carbon. The stainless ones say “INOX” (Inoxidable = Stainless) on the blade, the carbone ones say “Carbone”. But judging from the Inox I have, those are pretty darn sharp as well. Fascinating knives; I can’t imagine living in a place where I had to worry about violating weapons laws for bringing a knife with me when I’m out backpacking in the woods. As far as I’m concerned a knife is one of the primary pieces of equipment in a place like that.
      Although from what I gather: A. It’s not illegal to POSSESS a locking knife in the UK, it’s just illegal to have it outside your home (or to use it to defend yourself, I assume). How you get it home in the first place, I have no idea. Same goes for a new kitchen knife; how do you get it home from the store?. I presume if you are stopped and searched the law will cut you some slack and not prosecute as long as you still have it in the unopened package and have a receipt showing you just bought it. Unless they feel like charging you anyway….what a cozy feeling that must be, living at the sufferance of the police!
      B. It IS legal to carry a knife in the UK, as long as it is under 3 inches (76mm) and doesn’t have a locking blade. A 2.5in knife is far better than no knife, and smaller Opinel’s don’t come with a lock, plain friction (for that matter the “lock” is a mere afterthought on the larger Opinels and are not at all required for the knife to function properly. The metal band can easily be removed with simple tools in under a minute, leaving a plain friction “peasant knife”, which is how ALL Opinels were sold until like the 1960s or so, when the started with the locking rings (which aren’t very strong anyway). Even if your knife is over 3 inches it would probably help you to avoid trouble with the officer if you can show him that it’s just a simple, unlocking friction knife, and you’d be better off using it to sharpen a stick to stab someone with than to use it as a weapon itself (although it would serve if you really needed it).
      Caution, I am not from the UK nor a lawyer, I’m only repeating what I’ve heard on the interwebs and what common sense tells me: how that agrees with the law, I can’t say. For all I know by modifying a knife in the UK you would be violating some ultra-severe law that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. So better check first.

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    yes Dave, they are uber sharp!

    didnt know about the rain/moisture aspect…..will look out for that thanks

  5. I picked up the one of these knives for about a fiver last year whilst on holiday in France. I got it in the newsagents and the only reason I noticed it was because the shopkeeper sold one to a boy of about 10 yrs of age in the queue on his own!!

  6. backpackbrewer says:

    different attitudes (right or wrong) on the continent for sure. Mind you can you see the headlines in the British press if that happened here?! 😮

  7. Somewhere on the Pennine Way there lies my 6″ bladed Opinel, a memory of a more civilised time only 18 years ago when fresh-faced sixth-formers were allowed to wander the country with such impliments. I still miss that knife, you could put a edge on it that a surgeon would be proud of.

    Japan (home of the sword!) has gone all silly over knives recently too. Nothing with a blade over 6cm, or that locks, or with an automatic launcher that takes the blade through more than 45 degrees. I’m still trying to figure out why I can walk through Tokyo Station during rush-hour with two razor sharp axes strapped to my pack (the Trotsky killers), but my swiss army standard is a no-no…

  8. backpackbrewer says:

    its all gone a bit mad I’m afraid. A couple of years ago I flew out of Birmingham airport to Belgium and forgot I had a titanium spork in my rucksack. I had to spend 15minutes arguing with the security people that I wasnt a threat to the plane and could take it on board with me!!!!!

  9. thejamppa says:

    Opinel’s are great. For England and Denmark, which both have knife ban against locking mechanism, I recomend Opinel’s 2-5 which have no lock. The ring lock Opinel’s are famed are from #6 to # 13. #5 and below are just regular small folders without lock so they are legal in sense of British and Danish laws.

    Opinels also come Stainless and High Carbon blades. Moisture is not problem to High Carbon steel if you maintain your blade well. Regularly coating blade with mineral oil will keep high carbon blades rust free for decades even in humid environments.

    Coating wooden handles with mineral oil and rubbing it in with cloth also prevents wood handles bloading and breaking down due moisture.

  10. backpackbrewer says:

    thanks for this info Jamppa, good to know the knife should last well

  11. thejamppa says:

    You’re welcome. Of course there are Monday pieces even in Opinel’s but Opinel’s prices are so cheap that it doesn’t matter and one more detail. When I mean mineral oil, I don’t mean such you use for cars but food grade mineral oil you can get from pharmacies. Food grade mineral oil is excellent to maintain your blades conditions aswell protect your wood handles.

  12. sean says:

    I just bought the #7, fairly poor edge stock but it sharpened easily to be a very nice knife, if your worried about the lock in Britain, just pop off the outer collar, and it wont lock anymore. Living in Canada this isnt a problem for me, it also seems like an incredibly stupid law, making knives more dangerous to operate seems very strange.

  13. backpackbrewer says:

    Thanks Sean and Jamppa.

    I guess its just one of those things and not something I considered in great depth previously when carrying one for camping purposes. To be honest, I dont always put one on the rucksack for trips but find a use for it when I do!

  14. jim says:

    thanks for all the good info. i like how they lock with a twist. what is the best way to sharpen my new opinel No.12

    • backpackbrewer says:

      not sure Jim as I havent had occasion to have to sharpen mine yet. I suspect that a standard knife sharpener you get for kitchen knives should do the job

  15. Jorge says:

    Hi Im just like pocket Knives I been reading reviews and so far they are good I live In Dallas Tx. So I own kershaw, oldtimer, benchmade, just like to add one of this knife to my collection < I fish, camping so just want to ask if its worth it?

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Jorge,

      its a good knife, in fact the entire Opinel range of knives are good in my opinion. Very handy and very cheap

  16. Dave R USA says:

    I’ve just become familiar with the silliness over knives you poor folks have to deal with. It makes our knife laws here in the states look almost permissive!! Any way to start petitiong your public servants to roll back some of these downright stupid laws? Perhaps if enough people write, call, and generally bitch in an organized fashon some common sense changes can be effected.
    Good luck!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      thanks Dave…..yes, we live in a nanny state over here and it drives us all nuts from time to time. What ever happened to good old common sense?

      Unfortunately knife crime has been getting a lot of press in the last 12months so I think for now its a no-go with regards to getting anything changed……

      • This is why we fight so hard for gun rights. we are not all gun nuts. first its guns then kinves ; of which i use mine every single day just to open imposable plastic boxes that every thing comes in now days.and rope/string and hard plastic bands. after kinves what do we have left farm tools ,sharp sticks and rocks.
        and as fare a locking blade goes there fare safer to use i have seen hands get closed in them its not prity at all. i have come clost to doing it as well mine times.

  17. Jack Gordan says:

    When knives are outlawed only outlaws will have knives. They can take my Boker when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  18. Civich says:

    I require two things from a knife – to spread peanut butter and fight grizzlies. Seriously – how can you deal with daily living without a pocket knife at your disposal? Knife laws? What the hell is that? I don’t need no stinking knife law – my Opinel No. 6 is all the law I need. God created man – Opinel made them equal.

    Damn! I think I just channeled John Wayne!

  19. Sammy says:

    Some of what you’ve said about the law is slightly wrong. Knives that lock or have a cutting edge exceeding three inches are not “illegal”, you just need to have a good reason why you need a lock and/or a blade that long if you are going to be carrying it in a public place (mountains etc. are still public places, though you won’t find many police ;)) If your knife does not lock open (like most normal swiss army knives, for example) and the cutting edge of the blade does not exceed three inches length, you do not require any reason to carry it in public. Obviously it will still be illegal if you do/say/act anything to make a police officer think you’re up to no good. They would need an actual reason to think this (such as you threatning someone or waving the knife about).

    A lock is easily justified, and a really good idea if you’re in any location that’s off the beaten track, especially if there is limited/no moblie phone coverage. You don’t want to be getting a nasty cut that needs medical attention if said medical attention is miles away across a bog.

    Common sense is the order of the day really, but don’t let “knife crime” hysteria stop you from carrying a useful tool. At time of writing you are not doing anything illegal by carrying a sub 3 inch non locking blade in public with no particular reason, or a longer and/or locking blade when you need them. Obviously operators of private property may refuse entry because you have a knife on you (I’m talking urban private property here) but they can refuse entry for any reason they like (presumably providing it’s not racist or discriminating unjustifiably).

    Carrying a normal swiss army knife in public is against no more laws than logging onto this website is.

    From here: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/ukpga_19880033_en_14

    (1)Subject to subsections (4) and (5) below, any person who has an article to which this section applies with him in a public place shall be guilty of an offence.
    (2)Subject to subsection (3) below, this section applies to any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed except a folding pocketknife.
    (3)This section applies to a folding pocketknife if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 3 inches.
    (4)It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had good reason or lawful authority for having the article with him in a public place.
    (5)Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4) above, it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had the article with him—
    (a)for use at work;
    (b)for religious reasons; or
    (c)as part of any national costume.
    (6)A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
    (7)In this section “public place” includes any place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted access, whether on payment or otherwise.
    (8)This section shall not have effect in relation to anything done before it comes into force.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      blimey Sammy……awesome reply and observation. Impressed 🙂

      I wouldnt like to be in the position to test the law if the “Mountain Police” swooped down on me at 800m and demanded to know why I have a small locking knife buried in my rucksack but I am sure reason would prevail as you say


      • TheMomo1501 says:

        Well, I personnally think that (as in switzerland) everything built to kill (like butterfly knives, automatic opening knives) should be prohibited, but locking blades not. I mean, how to you want to baton through a wooden log to make a fire (split) without a locking blade?
        If you’re in the outdoors, at 1800 meters, it’s snowing and you need to get a fire going to keep you warm, what do you want to do with a tiny 2 inch non-locking blade?!

        Cheers from the swiss plains (at 500 meters above sea level) 🙂

        • backpackbrewer says:

          good points! and hello to the Swiss plains from the estuarine plains of South Wales!

        • as fare as knives for killing i have i steel pin that could do the same work so its not the kine its the person that makes it a killing device. not that i have any use for the knives that you are talking about. it would still be a last dich weapon 🙂

          • Jason says:

            Interestingly enough, 100 years ago they were making “hat pin” knives so women could defend their lives and/or virtue.

            The more regulations you make to keep the population defenseless, the more victims you’re going to have.

        • Sam says:

          But that’s exactly what’s stupid about these laws. Don’t you see that knives that “are built to kill” like switchblades and butterfly knives are not actually any more lethal than a standard kitchen knife? The most you could say for them is that they are easy to conceal and deploy rapidly…but it’s not that much harder to hide a 120cm kitchen knife in your pocket, and both knives are the same: sharpened pieces of steel meant to cut or puncture things. A large kitchen knife is actually MORE deadly. You are absolutely talking about banning things based on what they “look” like they are mostly meant for. Has no bearing on how dangerous they actually are or how a person will use them (unless you actually believe that a person who is holding a “killing” knife is physically going to be inspired to use it to kill someone just because it’s a “killing” knife, where he won’t have any bad thoughts when holding a nice peaceful kitchen knife. Or axe. Or hedge-clippers. Or chainsaw. Or club of wood, pipe wrench, length of pipe. Or sharpened stick. It is far easier to kill a person by bashing them with a heavy club than stabbing them to death with a knife (let alone slitting their throat!).
          Seriously, what you just said makes banning semi-automatic rifles with pistol grips, plastic stocks and bayonet lugs while leaving semi-automatic rifles with “normal” wooden stocks legal look quite logical and reasonable.

  20. Dirty Harry says:

    I suppose its no great hurdle to think up a reason to be carrying a locking knife! Could one not simply say: “I keep it with me in case I need to cut something.”

    What a silly law!

  21. Chris Kavanaugh says:

    Unless your knife is strapped upside down on tactical web gear instead of discretely carried in a pocket most LEOs aren’t exactly going to notice. Carrying the knife in association with outdoor activities; a bird watching guide, matchsafe and compass will give evidence of intent of use.
    A photo of the Queen or a pocket New Testament doesn’t hurt either.

  22. Stone says:

    I have carried a pocket knife with me since I was about 7. That was a very long time ago. I use a knife everyday of my life. I too find your law very silly. I would not leave home with out one. The crime should be the the attack it’s self, not the tool that that was used.

    We have some folks here that are not in good standing with the law. These folks carry big screw drivers instead of knives. No one ever looks twice at a screw driver.

  23. Bill says:

    When they’re finished outlawing screwdrivers, the next logical step is outlawing hands (since they can be formed into a fist).

    I bought an Opinel #6 stainless/walnut for my mom here in the U.S. She likes knives and has to open packages sometimes at the gift shop where she works.

    Regarding fear or guilt of carrying a knife camping, when I go overnight camping I take I good-sized pistol! Animals of every description are aware you might be armed, and it’s very peaceable.

    Good luck to you, my friend.

  24. bush pakiha says:

    hello all! im sorry to here about your unfortunate knife laws =/ we arent subject to such unjutices as that down here in New Zealand.
    something u may all want to look at is the Svord Peasant Knife, 3″ blade and although it has a locking system i am almost certain that it is legall in the UK, it is definatelly worth your while to have a look at these beautys.

    (u will se what i mean by th ‘locking blade’ when u look at them)


    • Sam says:

      I have one. Great knife. I prefer the “Mini” version, with the 2.5in blade. I wouldn’t want to carry one any longer than that in my pocket, with that “straight razor” full tang sticking out. Which I assume is what you mean by “locking system”. I thought the whole point was that it manages to basically lock the blade without technically being a “locking’ knife…it’s plain friction that holds in in place (and your own grip), so I doubt it counts. But I’ve given up trying to guess when it comes to UK laws. Charged with intended murder for admitting you carry a knife in case your life it threatened? Idiots.
      As for the Svord, the exposed tang does make it awkward to carry (I can deal with the Mini though), but on the contrary, that tang is handy…you can use it to pry and probe things (I think I’m going to suggest he integrate a screwdriver into it), and you could also use it to inflict pain and minor injuries on someone/something you didn’t want to actually stab with the blade, or in order to give yourself time to deploy it (although it’s hardly an ideal self-defense knife). I think it would hurt, a LOT, to grip the knife it your hand, tang downward, and just hammer at a persons head and body with it; It wouldn’t puncture, but it’d focus all the force on a small area and cause a lot of pain, probably cut a scalp up.
      But jeez, I don’t plan on having to use it that way ever. Just a idea. Seems pretty horrible…but I’d do it if I had to, I hope.

  25. Eamon says:

    I love my Opinel no. 10, but for all of you in Britain , here’s a tip: you can easily remove the locking ring, thus making it more cop-freindly over there. At least with the latest models there is a notch that lets you lock it closed. If you try to open the blade while it’s locked closed the locking ring will pop right off with a little bit of pressure. It doesn’t damage the knife in any way, and you can easily put the ring back on to convert it back to a locking blade.

  26. Kate Strand says:

    As an American, all this broohaha over knives sounds kind of silly. Most people I know carry folding lock-knives. They’re useful in a million day-to-day situations, like cutting cheese for the kids at a picnic, opening a plastic package on a new toy, getting the tails off a line after splicing it…every mom should have one. My sister’s British husband was suprized to find one in her purse and educated her about British law during their recent holiday over there. She was as bewildered by the fuss as I am. (And yes, I’m about to buy an opinel no 7 for the diaper bag.)

  27. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Kate,

    I quite agree with you. For me its a piece of equipment like a tent peg or a rain mac. If we go too far down the route of excluding things from being allowed then surely the kitchen knife, the garden shears and the wood axe as sure to follow soon.

  28. Nat says:

    My word….I hope my country never heads down that path. I feel for you. Where I live, I can and do legally carry a concealed handgun, and I keep a loaded M4 carbine under my bed for home defense. Knives are a bit funny, as some municipalities view a Buck 110 more harshly than a Glock 17. In general, though, knives are perfectly legal outside of schools and airports.

  29. The Tater says:

    As of now we in Texas can carry most any kind of knife wherever we go except on an airplane.
    No ballysong knives or switchblades but a pistol or rifle is just fine. Odd we are allowed to carry
    Loaded guns hidden under clothing but not a ballysong knife. Well, I’m sure if our grand leader Obama gets elected again we will have to Turn in everything short of a spork.
    Praying for hope and change 2012.

  30. Carl Vale says:

    Opinels are great knives, maybe the best for an outdoors man. They’re sturdy, light, perfectly shaped in the handle and the blade, easy to sharpen and cheap. I use #10 inox blade that I bought by the box of 6. I have one of them in several places : rucksack, kitchen, workshop, car, etc. Can’t live without it ! I used to own bijou knives, folding or not, but in the end they were too nice or too heavy for serious use so I got rid of them. Opinel is just the right tool for me.

  31. Joe says:

    Love my Opinel Knives. I have a keychain # 4 which is always with me, and a number 8 I use for other tasks(Whittling when I have the Time). Reasonably priced and work well. Can Believe how sharp I get them! Unreal..

  32. James Douglas says:

    HI BPB, do you still carry the Opinel? which size is it? I’ve always carried an Opinel No 8 Knife ever since I was about 15 and my grandad gave me one saying it was the perfect size for any task I will ever need to do camping. Recently I came across this variation of it. The Opinel No 8 Outdoor Knife. I’m not really sure what I make of it to be honest. its a bit bright and loses the fine edge you get on most opinels but I suppose its practical too.

  33. stravaigerjohn says:

    Not the knife that is the threat but the people behind it, When I was a boy I had endless knives – positively encouraged in the Wolf Cubs. We need to educate people not keep banning things.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      agreed. Just about any everyday item can be a weapon if used as such….

      Its like anything else (alcohol, road sense, manner etc), you need to teach people early in life to become aware of but treat such things with respect.

      I was in the cub scouts and we were allowed to whittle with knives at an early age (as well as light fires and cook!)

      People had more sense back then I think

      • stravaigerjohn says:

        I do wonder if one problem is that children are kept in so much these days and don’t have the experience of relating to the real world. Then when they are finally let out they relate to life as if it was a computer game rather than reality. I grew up using knives and never felt the need to use them as offensive weapons.

        • backpackbrewer says:

          me either and agree with your comments re kids. They need to get out more, be taught life skills early and encouraged to try a wide variety of hobbies and healthy oudoor pursuits

  34. Jani F says:

    Greetings from Finland! I just got my first Opinel! It´s a carbone 8, i bought it for edc purposes. Sorry to hear about strick knivelaws, i have had no problems in here, and i usually carry at least a multitool and quite often folder as well. Police has asked me twice why do i carry knive with me in city center, and a first time they believed as i replied that it´s a tool as i was riding my bike. Another time i was drunk in athe city and happened to pass a fighting. A cop stopped and checked me and found a folder from a pocket of my jacket. I said, truthfully, that i forgot it there and i have absolutely no intention to start using it in anything/anyone since i´m drunk in a city. He said ok and passed me on my way.

    I, as many others, am familiar with blades from my childhood. I come from north, quite a woodlands there, and using a knive properly was a essential skill. And it was not a toy, even in young age.
    When we were teens, we made all kinds of knives ourselves, and the more threatening it looked the better… Basic model was somekind of “rambo”, impractical, mostly useless but they were not made for use anyway. Point is, i quess, that we all knew that even when they looked as hilarious toys, they were quite dangerous blades and we all had the proper respect to it and we didn´t hurt anyone with them.

    So, where was i… …oh yes, i bougt my first Opinel! I heard good things about them, i while owning several fixed blade “puukko”s and few cool looking folders decided to give a chance to a cheap frank.
    My first impression was that the knive is simple and honest, and if it keeps going that way i see that it gets lots of use in the future.
    Simple and honest, just the way i like it! =)

  35. A Puckish 1 says:

    Well, I used to get wrought up about such injustice, but I’ve finally traded that in on simply living my life. The wonderful thing about an Opinel is that the locking ring is simply removed (just look for “taking apart an opinel”). Keep the ring in your pack and the knife in your pocket; it no longer locks unless I take the extra moment to slide the ring back on. A bit of a hassle, but less time than determining how it should be/could be legal.

    That said, the quotation from Old Winter states “Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 aptly describes the lock knife as: ‘A folding knife which is secured in an open position by a locking device and can only be released from the open position by the pressing of a release button.’” It could be argued that an Opinel uses a twist collar and not a button…but I’ll just avoid the situation for now.

  36. Don Sayenga says:

    In 1967 I went to Europe for the first time. In Paris in a park I saw a young man eating an apple by slicing it with his Opinel. I admired the knife. He told me it was a #5 and he told me where I could buy one which I did. When I got back to the states a friend told me to be sure to coat blade and handle with mineral oil which I’ve done for half-a-century. The handle became discolored but the blade has never rusted. It takes a remarkable edge! Last week I gave it to my grandson.
    The best knife ever in my opinion.

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