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Kershaw Chill Review

Small, well-made, and functional for moderate daily use and excellent for your backpacking cook set. It will cut vegetables and cheese all day long.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $44 List | $23.10 at Amazon
Pros:  Compact, excellent construction, adequate materials
Cons:  No assisted opening, slender handle
Manufacturer:   Kershaw
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 24, 2019
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 19
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 6
  • Ergonomics - 20% 5
  • Portability - 20% 8
  • Construction Quality - 20% 7
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

The Kershaw Chill sits squarely at one of the points in the market where value and function intersect. In a crowded field, where prices range from single digits to nearly four digits, there is a whole range of values available. In the under-50 price range, this is an excellent knife. You get careful design and excellent construction. The materials are adequate, especially for the casual user. Discerning knife consumers, heavy daily users, and those that are particularly detail oriented will notice the cheaper blade steel, the lack of assisted opening function, and a small-diameter handle. We like this knife for the camp kitchen and routine backpacking use. For EDC, it will work well too, but the slender blade and narrow handle limit it to casual to moderate tasks.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Kershaw Chill
Awards Best Buy Award  Editors' Choice Award   
Price $23.10 at Amazon$128.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$130.00 at REI$108.89 at Amazon
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$134.98 at Amazon
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Pros Compact, excellent construction, adequate materialsGreat blade, classy wooden handleIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityProven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomicsImmaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performance
Cons No assisted opening, slender handleExpensive, no assisted opening functionPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveLarge, no assisted openingLarge in your pocket, expensive
Bottom Line Small, well-made, and functional for moderate daily use and excellent for your backpacking cook set. It will cut vegetables and cheese all day long.A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.
Rating Categories Kershaw Chill Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Benchmade Griptilian 551 Benchmade Barrage 580
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
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6
10
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9
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Ergonomics (20%)
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5
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8
Portability (20%)
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Construction Quality (20%)
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Other Features (10%)
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Specs Kershaw Chill Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade... Benchmade... Benchmade Barrage...
Weight (ounces) 2.3 oz 3.2 oz 3.4 oz 3.9 oz 4.2 oz
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes Yes No Yes
Opening Style Back-of-knife finger tab Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud
Lock Mechanism Liner lock Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis)
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip, lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip, lanyard hole
Blade Material 8Cr13MoV stainless steel with bead-blasted finish CPM-S30V stainless steel 154CM Steel 154CM steel 154 CM stainless steel
Handle Material G-10 laminate Stabilized wood Plastic Plastic Valox
Blade Length (inches) 3.2 2.9 2.9 3.5 3.8
Closed Length (inches) 3.9 3.9 4 4.6 4.8
Overall Length 7.1 6.9 6.9 8 8.5
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) 0.3 0.53 0.57 0.6 0.7
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

For day to day and backcountry use, we really dig the budget products from the knife industry's heavy hitters. A company like Kershaw has the scale and know-how to make a price-point knife, but they can't bring themselves to dumb it down too much.

Performance Comparison



Long and slender Chill. For backcountry use  the lightweight and thin profile pack away nicely and cut food well.
Long and slender Chill. For backcountry use, the lightweight and thin profile pack away nicely and cut food well.

Blade and Edge Integrity


8Cr13MoV steel, as is used in the Kershaw Chill, seems to be fast becoming the lower cost steel of choice for the big knife companies. Kershaw's heat treatment is excellent, making for a finely tuned hardness. In normal use, you might sharpen the Chill once every few months or so. The blade geometry is thin and somewhat delicate. We didn't have any troubles with the blade of the Chill, but our experience with other blades sharpened to a shallow edge angle indicates that heavy use might chip or roll the Chill's edge.

Ergonomics


Ergonomics and portability are, to a certain degree, at odds. The narrow handle profile of the Kershaw Chill fits unobtrusively in your pocket or your compact backpacking kitchen bag. The catch is that it doesn't quite fill even small hands. The squared off handle corners and small handle "diameter" don't support heavy cutting forces. Also, the back-of-blade index finger tab for one-handed opening isn't as slick or fast as a thumb stud. For fast, daily use, an assisted opening function would be nice too. The Chill deploys slowly; it is best for more occasional and deliberate tasks.

Pull that finger back on the barely-visible tab to deploy the Chill's blade. This is the same blade deployment as the CRKT Jettison. The Kershaw Leek also has an option like this.
Pull that finger back on the barely-visible tab to deploy the Chill's blade. This is the same blade deployment as the CRKT Jettison. The Kershaw Leek also has an option like this.

Select a thumb-studded, assisted opening knife for frequent use. The Chill doesn't deploy as reliably fast as something equipped with thumb stud opening.

A slender knife like the Chill isn't as well suited to whittling as a more robust option. Nonetheless  you can tackle a fair amount of wood shaping with this knife.
A slender knife like the Chill isn't as well suited to whittling as a more robust option. Nonetheless, you can tackle a fair amount of wood shaping with this knife.

Portability


The Chill is on the small and lightweight end of the pocket knife spectrum. Of course, there are even smaller knives. However, any smaller than the Chill and you enter the novelty category. In short, the Chill is as portable as we want in a full-function knife. The pocket clip is tight and solid, the option to add a lanyard is nice, and the external profile isn't too sharp or rough. It isn't as gentle on the pocket as some, but it won't do too much damage either.

The Chill pocket clip is small and neutral in color. Only the very top of the knife itself peeks out of your pocket; just enough to grab ahold of but not so much that it is painfully obvious on your nice pants.
The Chill pocket clip is small and neutral in color. Only the very top of the knife itself peeks out of your pocket; just enough to grab ahold of but not so much that it is painfully obvious on your nice pants.

Construction Quality


We noticed no issues with construction quality on the Chill. Generally, this is our experience with budget items from the major knife manufacturers. They reach the price point with down-graded materials and elimination of some amenities but still assemble the knife well. This makes for a well constructed product.

When assessing construction quality, we look at tension and friction in hinges, locks, and the pocket clip. In these ways the Chill is right in the mix with the more expensive award winners.

Other Features


There are no additional features on the Kershaw Chill. This is just an excellent blade that folds into its handle. Simplicity in action.


If you want screwdrivers or beverage openers on your pocket tool, check out the Victorinox Climber or any one of our many tested Multi Tools.

Related: The Best Multi-Tools of 2019

The compact handle of the Kershaw Chill disappears entirely in an average adult hand. You'll notice this only in the heaviest of tasks.
The compact handle of the Kershaw Chill disappears entirely in an average adult hand. You'll notice this only in the heaviest of tasks.

The Chill flicks open with the index finger of the same hand holding the knife. True one-handed deployment  if you have a quick finger.
The Chill flicks open with the index finger of the same hand holding the knife. True one-handed deployment, if you have a quick finger.

Value


The Kershaw Chill has great function but won't break your heart if you lose it. For small items, this might be the definition of value.

We tested these two knives extensively  side-by-side. The Chapter from The James Brand is nearly 10 times the cost of the Chill. The Chapter materials are significantly upgraded  but every tester's first impression valued the longer blade of the Chill.
We tested these two knives extensively, side-by-side. The Chapter from The James Brand is nearly 10 times the cost of the Chill. The Chapter materials are significantly upgraded, but every tester's first impression valued the longer blade of the Chill.

Conclusion


Of course, we like super high-quality knife blades. In most cases, excellent steel and careful attention to detail jack the price way up while making the blade nicer to a discerning eye. To the typical user, though, the marginal gains in blade quality and detailing aren't noticeable. You might use the Kershaw Chill right next to one at 2-4x the cost and notice zero difference in the blade. When we look closely, we can tell the difference. Over years and years, you might tell the difference. In the meantime, the Chill will do all you need it to do at a much more affordable price. In comparing to award winners, remember that the Chill also cuts out an assisted opening and thumb-stud activation. These things are nice but perhaps not worth the extra cost for a typical casual user. The Chill is the knife we recommend for installing in your camp kitchen. If you lose it, you aren't out tons of dollars. It cleans up easily and holds an edge for that occasional backcountry steak.

The Chill holds its own among this high-end selection.
The Chill holds its own among this high-end selection.


Jediah Porter