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Opinel No. 8 Review

A high value, low-weight, classic, and simply designed pocket knife for camp kitchen and everyday use.
Opinel No. 8
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Price:  $17 List | $16.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, simple
Cons:  Two-handed operation, thin blade is flexible.
Manufacturer:   Opinel
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 31, 2018
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44
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 19
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 6
  • Ergonomics - 20% 4
  • Portability - 20% 5
  • Construction Quality - 20% 4
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

If you were to line up our tested knives, the Opinel No. 8 would immediately stand out visually. The simple, light-colored wood handle is clearly something different. Look closer, and you see even more differences. First, the price belies the overall utility and construction quality. Next, the design optimizes camp kitchen and household 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 hits the sweet spot. For everyday carry and as part of your backpacking or picnic kit, the Opinel is perfect. It is affordable enough to have a few in different places.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, simpleGreat 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 Two-handed operation, thin blade is flexible.Expensive, no assisted opening functionPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveLarge, no assisted openingLarge in your pocket, expensive
Bottom Line A high value, low-weight, classic, and simply designed pocket knife for camp kitchen and everyday use.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 Opinel No. 8 Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Benchmade Griptilian 551 Benchmade Barrage 580
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Ergonomics (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Portability (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
5
Construction Quality (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Other Features (10%)
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
Specs Opinel No. 8 Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade... Benchmade... Benchmade Barrage...
Weight (ounces) 1.5 oz 3.2 oz 3.4 oz 3.9 oz 4.2 oz
Blade Style Clip Point, Straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Opening Style Fingernail Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud
Lock Mechanism Virobloc ring Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis)
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket None Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip, lanyard hole
Blade Material Sandvik 12C27 Steel CPM-S30V stainless steel 154CM Steel 154CM steel 154 CM stainless steel
Handle Material Beech wood Stabilized wood Plastic Plastic Valox
Blade Length (inches) 3.3 2.9 2.9 3.5 3.8
Closed Length (inches) 4.3 3.9 4 4.6 4.8
Overall Length 7.6 6.9 6.9 8 8.5
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) 0.8 0.53 0.57 0.6 0.7
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

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 knife design brings a very high overall performance, given its low price.

Performance Comparison


For camp cooking  the Opinel is just what the doctor ordered.
For camp cooking, the Opinel is just what the doctor ordered.

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 overall blade grind is so narrow that the final edge bevel is virtually indistinguishable. Again, the most salient characteristic of this blade, especially as compared to the more "contemporary" designs we test, is its narrow profile. For cutting food and other softer items, this is a dream. The blade virtually cuts under its own low weight. For more robust tasks, like 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.

For a picnic  the Opinel is just right. The thin blade slices through all kinds of food with ease.
For a picnic, the Opinel is just right. The thin blade slices through all kinds of food with ease.

Ergonomics


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 essentially a rotating steel collar with a slot in it for the blade.

With the collar slot lined up with the blade, you can open and close the blade. With the collar slot turned aside, the blade cannot be opened or closed. This is elegant in its simplicity. The disadvantage of the opening method and locking collar is that all operations essentially require two hands.

Opening the Opinel requires two hands. This is a little more primitive than some of the newer offerings.
Opening the Opinel requires two hands. This is a little more primitive than some of the newer offerings.

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. Comparing to the other inexpensive knives reviewed, the Opinel doesn't stand out quite as much.

This image shows the locked configuration of the opinel. The silver collar is turned such that the blade is blocked from hinging closed.
Here the "Virobloc" ring of the Opinel is turned to allow the blade to close and open through its slot.

Portability


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 is that it has no pocket clip nor 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 the knives with blades this long, the Opinel 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 do wish that the Opinel had a pocket clip, though that would interfere with the classic, simple design appeal.

The classic  enduring design of this Opinel knife is visually pleasing  unassuming  and backed up with a serviceable design.
The classic, enduring design of this Opinel knife is visually pleasing, unassuming, and backed up with a serviceable design.

Construction Quality


In a field dominated by sturdy, stiff "tactical" tools, the lightweight and wooden construction of the Opinel feels a little underwhelming. When pressed to cut rope or in 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 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.

For whittling we wish for a thicker blade and more robust overall construction. Clearly the Opinel works  but a more rugged knife feels better.
For whittling we wish for a thicker blade and more robust overall construction. Clearly the Opinel works, but a more rugged knife feels better.

Other Features


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.

Value


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 its limitations, but the overall value to performance scoring is very much worthy of your consideration.

We don't always recommend that children play with knives. But we did get your attention. Arwa and the Opinel  grilling in Grand Teton National Park
We don't always recommend that children play with knives. But we did get your attention. Arwa and the Opinel, grilling in Grand Teton National Park

Conclusion


It took us a few years to get an Opinel included in our review, and we ask forgiveness for that oversight. For many OGL readers, the Opinel No. 8 will be an excellent value and all you need for camping and household use.


Jediah Porter