This Minimalist Knife Is a Cut above the Rest

A WEEK WITH

tjb
Gear Patrol Studios

Brand: The James Brand
Product: The Pike
Price: $120
From: thejamesbrand.com

There are two types of knife owner — one has a "knife" in a kitchen drawer that's used for any and all knifelike purposes; the other has a "knife drawer" that isn't in the kitchen with knives designed for every purpose imaginable. The latter has a knife collection; the former has a knife collecting dust. It doesn't take an expert, however, to tell when one knife is a cut above the others. Quality, in this case, is tangible and easy to recognize — when you feel it, you just know.

Speaking of quality, The James Brand was founded in Portland, Oregon nearly a decade ago by a group of designers and adventurers who were looking for exactly that — quality. They wanted well-made products built from premium materials, with a clean aesthetic and clear attention paid to every detail, resulting in what's now a solid line of knives, tools and pens for a modern and minimal everyday carry. To get a better sense of the brand's products, we provided our tester with The James Brand's refined pocketknife called The Pike for first-hand insights.

From the Brand

“The Pike started with a simple brief: create a modern take on your grandfather’s knife – a simple, clean interpretation of the classic non-locking slip-joint. We paired inviting, warm materials with a clean, modern form meant for those unable to carry a blade at their hip. The result was a slim, minimal design that takes on a whole new generation of heirlooms."

gear patrol studios
Gear Patrol Studios
gear patrol studios
Gear Patrol Studios

What We Like

Our tester found The Pike to be substantial and pleasantly heavy right out of the box — or rather, even while it was still in the box. The knife arrived on Friday afternoon, perfectly housed in a felt-inlayed wooden boxa discreet slab of hardwood, really — with an additional felt sleeve for lower-profile storage. The contrast between the rosewood scale on the handle and the pale wood of the box — as well as our tester's desk — was a subtle touch that speaks to the brand's knack for saying more by doing less.

Excited to field test the new knife but unsure of exactly how to do so, our product tester did what every sinister movie character with a pocketknife does — slice an apple into bite sized wedges. The Pike was well suited to the task at hand, and our tester was grateful for the excuse to enjoy an afternoon snack.

On first impression, The Pike seemed to offer just the right sharpness for an everyday pocket knife — not so sharp that you have to hold your breath and count your fingers while opening and closing it, but sharp enough that they were surprised by how frictionless the blade felt gliding through the flesh of the apple.

Back at their desk, our tester examined the knife in detail. To provide some practical context, The Pike is 5.7 inches when open, with a 3.4 inch handle and a total weight of 2.2 oz. The blade is a straight wharncliffe shape cut from Sandvik 12C27 steel, with a nail nick opening style and a slip-joint lock. In other words, it's about the size of a Bic lighter and you open it using the small, fingernail-shaped groove on one side of the blade. It's designed for ambidextrous use, and the slim profile makes it easy to discreetly pocket while the nylon lanyard makes it easy to fish out at a moments notice.

gear patrol studios
Gear Patrol Studios
gear patrol studios
Gear Patrol Studios

Our product tester, being a relative stranger to the finer points of knife craftsmanship, spent the next few days looking for more opportunities to put The Pike to the test. One such opportunity came by way of a large package in the mail containing art-supplies — namely excessively wrapped canvases. The Pike sliced through all the cardboard, tape and plastic with ease. So much ease, in fact, that our tester decided the following morning to take The Pike to task with some end-of-summer houseplant maintenance. It made easy work of pruning dead, dried leaves off smaller or more delicate plants, but our tester was also pleasantly surprised at how easily it could slice through the thicker, branch-like stems of a Bird of Paradise or Monstera plant.

By the end of the week, it was clear The Pike was an approachable and even quite enjoyable knife to have on hand. It felt more like a well-crafted tool than a weapon or an unnecessary aesthetic object. In terms of its design, The Pike is an exercise in balance, nuance and practicality — a piece of functional artwork might be an exaggeration, but it wouldn't be by much. In the end, our product tester found that they were pleasantly surprised by how convenient it was to have The Pike on-hand throughout the week. While it wasn't strictly necessary for any particular task, it made otherwise mundane or everyday chores more enjoyable, and ultimately that's what good design is all about.

gear patrol studios
Gear Patrol Studios

Who It’s For

If you self-identify as a knife collector, then you probably already have a simple pocket knife that's similar to this one — but the beauty of The Pike is in simplicity itself. You don't need a dozen different gadgets on your one-and-only knife — and if you own a dozen different knives already, the simplicity of The Pike might be just the thing to remind you of why you started collecting the first place.

Verdict

Whichever type of knife owner you are — the casual knife owner or the casually knife-obsessed, The Pike is simply a well-crafted tool that gets straight to the point of what a quality pocket knife looks and feels like.

BUY NOW: $120

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