Editor’s Note: Welcome to The Best New Knives and EDC, a monthly column surfacing the latest knives, tools and any other item worth carrying in your pocket.
Some product launches are predictable — hiking boots and rain jackets in spring; skis and jackets for winter. Other things don’t fall so neatly into weather-defined timelines though, like pocket knives and EDC tools. The designers and makers behind these items never stop, and manufacturers that roll out as many as 50 new knives and multi-tools per year don’t do so all at once. Instead, they’re revealed in a steady but unpredictable flow, and there’s something new to ogle every week. We make it our mission to keep you in-the-know as knives and tools that have the potential to become your next daily sidekick are released. But just in case you missed one, we’ll round up our findings in one concise, easy-to-scroll article.
In December, we saw an innovative karambit, a knife set for outdoor chefs, one of our favorite knife maker’s very first pen and more.
Prometheus Design Werx SPD Field Kitchen Knife Set
The benefit of car camping and overlanding is that, unlike in backpacking, you don’t have to carry your gear. You’re also afforded all of the storage of a vehicle’s trunk and roof, which means you don’t have to go ultralight if you don’t want to. You can bring a tent big enough to stand up in and a full-sized air mattress instead of a sleeping pad. Adventuring by vehicle also allows you to take more seriously one of the most important aspects of backcountry travel, meal prep, by trading out your pocket knife for a proper chef’s blade.
That’s the concept driving Prometheus Design Werx’s new SPD Field Kitchen Knife Set. PDW’s approach to outdoor cooking is multi-pronged. Aesthetics are important — the knives are good-looking with handles made of maple — but utility and practicality aren’t forgotten. The set comes with a six-inch chef’s knife and a four-inch paring knife so that you have blades for various cutting tasks, and the maple box that they come in unfolds and functions as a cutting surface. The steel used in these knives (Carpenter CTS BD1N) isn’t commonly found in cooking blades but is known for its high resistance to corrosion and edge retention, so you won’t have to fuss over them as much as you might with the knife in your kitchen at home.
Earlier in 2018, a knife maker named Joe Caswell created waves by introducing an entirely unique take on the folding pocket knife with a blade called the Morphing Karambit. Instead of folding downward into its handle, the knife uses a mechanism that draws the blade up and out, allowing users to not only open it with one hand but also to do so while maintaining a full grip on the handle. That innovation on its own makes the Morphing Karambit notable and helped it earn over $350,000.
Around the time of that Kickstarter campaign, Caswell dropped a hint that a major knife brand might bring his design to life as a more affordable production model, and CRKT just revealed that it would be the company to do that. Its version of the Morphing Karambit is called the Provoke, and it’s almost identical to the original but uses less-premium materials to create a more approachable price.
CRKT and Caswell have dubbed the distinctive opening mechanism “Kinematic,” and while it remains to be seen whether or not it’ll show up in future designs and different types of knives, the karambit makes a suitable point of entry since it can be held with the blade pointing back. Historically, karambits, which were created in Indonesia, have been used as weapons but it’s believed that they took after the sickle and were originally used for agricultural purposes, with the claw-like shape designed for slicing vegetation and churning up the earth. Today, karambits are used for everything, from martial arts to emergency response to outdoor survival. Caswell has already proven that with a little creative thinking karambits can find mass appeal, and CRKT clearly believes the same.
The Seismic was designed in Brazil by Flavio Ikoma and debuts CRKT’s proprietary Deadbolt locking mechanism. The system uses interior steel bolts that wedge into the blade and liner when open, providing strength without bulk. The lock is released by pressing the oversized button that also marks the knife’s pivot point.
Field Strip might be CRKT’s most innovative mechanism to date. It was developed by esteemed designer Ken Onion and allows users to completely take apart a knife for in-the-field cleaning with the switch of a lever and the spin of a wheel. That technology has expanded into a handful of new knives, perhaps most notably the Slacker, a slim everyday blade also created by Onion.
CRKT Pilar Large
Another notable model from CRKT’s 2019 preview is the Pilar Large. It isn’t an entirely new model, but rather a bigger version of the Pilar, which was made available in 2017 and became a fan-favorite for its folding cleaver-like design. It was designed by Jesper Voxnaes (and named after the boat that Ernest Hemingway used to do recon on German U-boats in the Caribbean during World War II), and now it’s available in a slightly larger size that also includes a flipper tab. It’s also available in black.
Malboro & Kane Claw
Malboro & Kane just released what the brand is calling the “world’s smallest multitool.” The Claw is less than one-inch long and attaches to your keychain, allowing you to take it just about anywhere. It’s made from aerospace-grade titanium (Grade 5), so it’ll last a lifetime. As a bonus, it’s TSA-approved, so you don’t have to worry about bringing it on an airplane, and at just two grams, it’s incredibly lightweight. Whether you’re always searching for a quick way to open bottles, paint cans and more, this multitool is the one for you.
It works equally well in the office as it does at your home on the weekend. For something that’s roughly the size of a penny, it’s worth a test.
The James Brand Benton
Often when we use the phrase “EDC-friendly,” we’re talking about a pocket knife. That’s because as a category, knives is vast; the quantity of blade shapes, lengths and functions is innumerable, and not all are fit for everyday use. Everyday carry is more general than knives though; it includes flashlights, wallets, keychains — anything that we might carry and use on a daily basis. Even writing utensils are fair game, and The James Brand, a company best known for creating some of the prettiest EDC pocket knives out there, released its first pen this month.
The James Brand has always maintained daily use as the driver of its creative engine. The first pocket knife it ever made was born of its founder Ryan Coulter’s desire to create a blade that he and his team actually wanted to carry every day. They wanted an alternative to the overly-utilitarian and tactical-focused knives that characterize much of what the knife industry produces. So they came up with the Chapter, a sleek, geometric tool with titanium scales and a steel blade. Then they made more knives to complement it: a more-classic lockback, a keychain model, even a slightly tactical model.
The James Brand cemented itself as a knife company, but then it made the Hook, a ruler/bottle opener contained as a key carrier. This year it followed that up with a lanyard, a bladeless tool, a carabiner and now, a pen. Named the Benton, the new pen is 5.5-inches long and made with a stainless steel barrel. It’s capless, using a lanyard-equipped push button to deploy its writing point. The Benton is available in black and stainless (for now — the company frequently unveils new colors for its products) and follows the company’s refined design schema (attention to materials, clean lines, minimal branding, subtle hits of lime green). It also reinforces an important idea: The James Brand isn’t just a knife company anymore.
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