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 — now that spring is in full swing, we’ve seen the release of new rain jackets, waterproof trail running shoes and hiking boots and we can assume that lighter warm-weather gear is on the way for summer. Some items don’t fall so neatly into weather-defined timelines though, like pocket knives and EDC tools.
The companies and designers that make these items work year-round, and manufacturers that roll out as many as 50 new knives and multi-tools per year spread them out; there’s something new to ogle every week. It’s our mission to keep you up to speed with the release of knives and tools that have the potential to become your next daily sidekick or a worthy addition to any collection. In case you missed one, we’ll round up our findings here in one concise, easy-to-scroll article.
In April, Leatherman released its most significant overhaul to the multi-tool since the company invented it, CRKT made the biggest folder we’ve ever seen, and a Chinese maker revealed an affordable new model that’s prettier than its price tag would have you believe.
Leatherman Free Multi-tools
You’ll recognize Leatherman’s new Free P2 and P4 are multi-tools; they’re rectangular wads of metal that fold out to become pliers and contain an arsenal of other small tools that swivel out of their handles. But they’re different from, and better than, any multi-tool Leatherman has made in the past. The Free tools integrate a system of magnets and redesigned locks that allow users to open and use every tool with one hand.
CRKT’s new limited-edition XOC — that’s pronounced “shock” — is massive. Its blade, made of CTS-XHP steel (a type that balances corrosion resistance with hardness) is 4.258 inches long. That may not sound very substantial, but when you use the flipper tab to quickly deploy the blade and hold the open folder at its full 10.375-inch extent, it dwarves your hand (and makes you feel like a modern Daniel Boone).
This month, Benchmade released the Bailout as a follow-up to its popular Bugout outdoor EDC folding knife. It has a 3.38-inch tanto blade that comes either plain or partially serrated, a flared guard to allow for use with gloves and an aluminum pommel. Most importantly, its lightweight (2.05 ounces), so that it can appeal to ounce-counting outdoorsy types who might want to take it backpacking.
Alliance Designs Ice Lite
Alliance Designs, a company that works with knifemakers to produce custom designs at a mass scale, recently worked with Brian Efros to bring the Ice Lite to life. The blade is made of premium RWL-34 steel in a straight back shape (a shape characterized by a straight spine and an edge that curves up toward the tip), which gives the Ice Lite a gradual and full belly that’s perfect for slicing, and a fine point for precision. The knife’s blade has thumb studs on either side to make it ambidextrous, and it uses a frame lock for in-use security.
Civivi worked with knife designer Elijah Isham to make the Plethiros. Its folding, 3.45-inch drop-point blade is made of D2 steel while the handle scales are G10 with a carbon fiber overlay. Both of these materials are cheap — though still reliable — and help the Plethiros cost far less than its appearance leads on ($75).
The James Brand Hell Gap
Video: The James Brand Hell Gap First Look
The Hell Gap is named for a Native American arrowhead (The James Brand’s logo is also an arrowhead), and it’s the first fixed-blade knife that the everyday carry-focused company has made. The knife is 7.8 inches long in total and has a 3.8-inch modified drop-point blade made of Crucible s35vn steel, which is known to be tough and corrosion resistant (and is a popular choice among custom knife makers for that reason). The handle scales are micarta, and it comes with two sheaths — one nylon and one Kydex — as well as a paracord lanyard. In a way, the Hell Gap is a far cry from the EDC folders that The James Brand has produced in the past, but it still fits right in with the company’s carefully tuned modern aesthetic.
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