If you were to line up all the best pocket knives included in our review, the Opinel No. 8 would immediately stand out visually. The simple, light-colored wood handle is something different. Look closer, and you see even more differences. First, the price belies the overall utility and construction quality. Next, the design optimizes household and camp kitchen use, while the modern trend in pocket knives is to lean towards more robust "tactical" style uses. Most of us who carry a pocket knife use it far more frequently to cut an apple than we do to slice our way out of a cargo net booby trap. For "normal" use, the Opinel No. 8 hits the sweet spot. For everyday carry and as part of your backpacking kit, the Opinel No. 8 is perfect. It is affordable enough to have a few in different places.Editor's Note: We updated this review for Opinel No. 8 on August 25, 2022, with an assessment of overall value and suggestions for other comparable products that may better suit your needs.
Opinel No. 8 Review
Cons: Two-handed operation, thin blade is flexible
Compare to Similar Products
Opinel No. 8
$18.00 at REI
$54.94 at Amazon
$29.95 at REI
|$19.99 at Amazon|
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$10.66 at Amazon
|Pros||Lightweight, simple||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Serrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steel||Small, portable, well-constructed||Inexpensive, functional, heavily featured|
|Cons||Two-handed operation, thin blade is flexible||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Rudimentary construction, primitive lockback||Not made for heavy-duty use||Unremarkable construction, low quality steel, bulky|
|Bottom Line||A high value, low-weight, classic, and simply designed pocket knife for camp kitchen and everyday use||A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value||The best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbing||A tiny, multi-function pocket knife||A fully-featured tactical pocket knife at an unbeatable price, but it lacks high quality construction|
|Rating Categories||Opinel No. 8||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Victorinox Classic...||Albatross EDC Tactical|
|Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Opinel No. 8||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Victorinox Classic...||Albatross EDC Tactical|
|Weight||1.5 oz||3.1 oz||1.5 oz||0.8 oz||3.8 oz|
|Blade Length||3.3 in||2.9 in||2.7 in||1.4 in||2.5 in|
|Blade Material||Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel||Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel||Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel||Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420)||440 stainless steel|
|Handle Material||Beech wood||410 stainless steel||Nylon||Plastic||Stainless steel|
|Blade Style||Clip Point, Straight||Drop point, straight||Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Opening Style||Fingernail||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab||Ambidextrous thumb hole; ridged traction ring||Fingernail||Assisted, flipper|
|Lock Mechanism||Virobloc ring||Frame lock||Lock back||None||Liner lock|
|Carry Style||None||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Carabiner hole||Keyring||Pocket clip|
|Closed Length||4.3 in||4.0 in||4.2 in||2.3 in||3.9 in|
|Overall Length||7.6 in||7.0 in||7.0 in||3.8 in||6.5 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip)||0.8 in||0.3 in||0.5 in||0.4 in||0.4 in|
|Other Features or Functions||None||None||None||Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring||Seatbelt cutter, glass breaker|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Our overall scoring matrix rewards the all-purpose product. With a long, well-reputed history and decades of subtle refinements, the Opinel No. 8 knife design brings a very high overall performance, given its low price.
Blade and Edge Integrity
On some level, you get what you pay for with blades. However, in an economy of scale and with careful materials selection and design, a great blade can be made for a low price. Opinel has refined the blade of their knives for over 100 years. With patience and an eye to value and all-around function, the result is a thin, convex-ground, clip-point blade shape. The stainless steel, straight-edge blade we tested (they also sell serrated and carbon steel designs) holds an edge but responds well to attentive resharpening.
The blade grind is so narrow that the final edge bevel is virtually indistinguishable. Again, this blade's most salient characteristic, especially compared to the more "contemporary" designs we test, is its narrow profile. This knife is a dream for cutting food and other softer items. The blade virtually cuts under its own low weight. For tougher tasks, like cutting rope and webbing, the narrowness of the blade, the friction-hinge, and the natural give in a wooden handle feel a little flexible. It does the job, but it sometimes feels as if you are pushing harder than the knife is designed for.
Open and in use, the Opinel No 8 is similar in dimensions to a small steak knife. (Opinel makes this same general design in a whole range of sizes. You can get an Opinel blade from 3.5 cm to 22 cm. The "No 8" we tested is the most popular size and has an 8.5 cm blade). The blade opens with a traditional fingernail slot and locks with a proprietary "Virobloc" safety ring. The Virobloc is a rotating steel collar with a slot for the blade.
With the collar slot lined up with the blade, you can open and close the blade. The blade cannot be opened or closed with the collar slot turned aside. This is elegant in its simplicity. The disadvantage of the opening method and locking collar is that all operations require two hands.
Most knives with a more "modern" design can be opened and locked with one hand. Assisted opening springs in our favorite knives make deployment easier. The top-scoring knives in our review have assisted opening function and one-handed thumb stud blade deployment. The Opinel No. 8 doesn't stand out quite as much compared to the other inexpensive knives we reviewed.
With the wide range of sizes available, you should be able to fit an Opinel knife into any part of your life. As the "standard" size, the No. 8 is fairly "average" regarding portability. At 1.5 ounces, the weight will be barely noticeable. The round profile handle takes up more pocket space than a flatter-handled style. The main disadvantage of the Opinel No. 8 knife is that it has no pocket clip or lanyard hole. The only viable way to carry it is loose in your pocket. Thankfully, the low weight and smooth wooden external profile make this a reasonable proposition.
Among similar knives with blades this long, the Opinel No. 8 is super lightweight. Most models with such a long blade weigh twice as much as this knife. The only knives coming close in weight have much shorter blades. We wish the Opinel No. 8 had a pocket clip, though that would interfere with the classic, simple design appeal.
In a field dominated by sturdy, stiff "tactical" tools, the lightweight and wooden construction of the Opinel No. 8 feels a little underwhelming. When pressed to cut rope or whittling, the flex inherent in the wooden handle, friction-fit hinge, and narrow blade profile is noticeable. That said, our long-term testing and the thousands of Opinel knives still in use after decades and decades proves that the simple design, though lightweight, holds up to heavy use.
Something is appealing about wood and steel construction. We can easily tell that the Opinel No. 8 is just five pieces; blade, handle, hinge pin, and the two metal collars that serve as the "Viroblok" locking mechanism. This simplicity is lightweight and proven to be reliable.
There are no other features on the Opinel No. 8. Opinel makes versions that include bit drivers or a corkscrew. However, the simplicity of the version reviewed here is its primary appeal.
Should You Buy the Opinel No. 8?
Somehow, Opinel is selling this well-made, functional, and stylish piece of equipment for about what you'd expect to pay for a mass-produced, low-quality "gas station counter" pocket knife. It has limitations, but the overall value relative to performance is worthy of your consideration. For many OGL readers, the Opinel No. 8 will be an excellent value and all you need for camping and household use.
What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?
Even though the Opinel No. 8 falls at the bottom of the barrel, you must understand that we are reviewing some of the best knives on the market. This knife only scored low relative to the stiff competition it was pitted against. The only option with a comparable performance at this price point is the Sanrenmu 7010. If you are looking for a stronger knife with a dirt-bag price tag, then the Petzl Spatha is well worth your consideration.
— Jediah Porter
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