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Five Folding Knives

Classic pocket knife designs from trappers to toothpicks

by Graham Hiemstra in Design on 15 September 2011

The token tool carried by boy scouts and mountain men the world over, a pocket knife is a useful device to have whether in a city or outdoors. The versatile tool can can cut you free in an emergency or simply slice an apple for lunch, keeping it a classic everyday necessity. Below are five traditionally-styled folding knives that will help in quick bike emergency or get you through your next hiking expedition.

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As the only knife that expert craftsman Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn carries on a daily basis, the Opinel knife's simple design incorporates a thin carbon steel blade that "holds a great edge" and a twist lock to hold the blade in place once opened. Used by shepherds, farmers and artisans in the French Alps since 1890, this basic knife is one of the great designs of the last hundred years. A staple utensil, the timeless tool is still made in France and sells online for a modest $14.

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Fit for any weathered mariner, CXXVI's Marlin Spike knife carries a 440 stainless sheepsfoot blade and a sturdy marlin spike—used in untying knots or splitting rope. For a bit of flair, the bone handle is etched by hand in Maine with iconic scrimshaw artistry in the same fashion sailors have favored for centuries. Aside from the intricate design, the four and one half-inch long knife also has a thick chain-loop for fastening to your belt or keychain. Selling for $104, look to CXXVI's online shop to purchase.

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Custom made by H.K.Parker, the Two-Blade Trapper is the outdoorsman's knife of choice. The hefty knife features two highly polished blades set in similarly polished stainless double bolsters. A jigged bone scale handle tops off the clean look. At less than four inches long when closed, the Trapper sells for $295 from Arizona Custom Knives.

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A personal favorite as far as traditional knives go, Robert Enders custom made Toothpick is the quintessential pocket knife. Nearly ten inches long when opened, the slender knife is well-balanced for ease of use. A mirror-polished blade and double-nickel bolsters resemble others, while the silver bullet shield and dark brown scales mark its own style. Genuine craftsmanship comes at a price, this heirloom toothpick sells for $350 online.

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The same classic style of your father's pocket knife from one of the most trusted names in modern knife making, Gerber's Stockman follows the same bone handle path as most classic knives. The etched bolsters add a more ornate styling to set it apart, and each piece is so superbly lightweight you may forget it's even in your pocket. We prefer the single blade which sells online for just under $34.

With contributions from Greg Stefano

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