A knife is a tool.
Something to prepare food, prune some plants, whittle a bit, snip some rope, and other everyday life activities.
Yet, somehow, like much gear, we tend to fetishize it.
The simple pocket knife became a “tactical tool” for “operators.”
A market for people who want to look military or swat team-like, but seem more enamored by the look of said items than the inexpensive practicality.
I’m old enough to remember when this type of gear or clothing merely had the label of “surplus.” And I admit that I find the use of certain surplus items or similar to be of much use.
My well-worn boonie hat testifies to inexpensive utility, the base layers are of the same Polartec material as higher-end gear, BDU-type pants make inexpensive and durable trail work pants, and I cart in my gear in a dirt cheap and rugged duffle.
The surplus gear fits in my overall gear quivers of higher-end equipment, thrift-store finds, cottage gear specialties, and discount store specials.
And along those lines, I don’t need a “tactical” knife. I want something simple.
In my everyday life, I like having a simple knife on me. Though I tend to carry a Swiss Army Knife Classic for backpacking, my other outdoor activities, everyday life, and even guiding sees me taking a more substantial, but still compact knife. In today’s parlance, an “everyday carry knife.” In plainer words, a knife for all parts of your life.
Enter NoBox. A Utah-based company that approached me to test some of their gear. At first, I thought they were yet another company asking me to test wallets, survival bracelets, or something else that does not fit my life or what I generally write about.
Then I looked at their website. NoBox state’s on the company website:
We make and discover products that enable people to focus on what matters to them. Our products blend quality, function and design, at a cost that’s more affordable for everyone. We believe it’s important for everyone to unplug from the daily grind — and simply, have a little fun —no matter how you choose to live life outside the box.
Functional, affordable, and used in all parts of an outdoor person’s life? OK, that sounds more applicable!
The first item I tested by them is the Single Blade Folding Knife.
The knife reminds me of an updated version of the pocket knife your grandfather might have always carried. The kind used for gardening, chores, or yes, slicing fruit and cheese. Not “tacticool” foolishness, but an excellent tool for all aspects of life. At $35, a fair price for a knife of good quality.
As a locking blade, I find it easier to use than a non-locking blade, it folds small enough to fit easily into my pocket, and the aesthetics are of an older-style knife but made with newer material. The X50CrMoV15 type of stainless steel used is of German design, keeps an edge, resistant to rust, and takes a beating.
As with all pieces of gear, the less I think about it the item, the better I know it is for me. The 4″ folded knife sits in my pocket, works when I need it, I put it away when done, and I don’t think about it in my pocket until I need it again. Perfect.
Though heavier at 3.5 oz than my solo-backpacking knife, a good weight for an all-purpose tool on group trips with food prep, or carrying some luxuries during a day hike. Naturally, it works exceptionally well for car camping and road trip use.
A winner and one I’ll use for years to come.
And speaking of using years to come…
I must confess that the next knife I reviewed is less part of my love of the outdoors and more for my equal passion for food and cooking.
The NoBox Chef Knife is an admitted splurge at $110 for most. But made of the same German steel as the folding knife, it makes for an exquisite kitchen knife. Marketed as a multi-use item for the camp kitchen, I’ve been using this knife at home. Why? I used to have a well-made German knife set for my home cooking. Alas, when I found myself no longer married to the German national who provided the said knife set… 🙂
The knife is incredibly sharp, well-made, and again requires little maintenance — meat slices easily in chunks, and the vegetable slices thin with ease. The full tang means it can chop with impunity vs. a standard kitchen knife. The knife is one that will last a lifetime.
Is the knife worth the price? That’s something I can’t decide for you. I will say unequivocally that the locking blade knife above makes a great bargain. The chef knife? It is a knife for those who are heavily into home cooking, can afford the price, and might use a knife for other purposes beyond cooking.
I love the knife; I must admit I’d be hesitant to buy it on my own. On the other hand, Joan and I both use pads that retail for $200 at full price, and I paid almost $300 for a winter weight puffy. And this knife will outlast both.
It is telling that I use the knife almost every day, and I would have a hard time switching back to the cheap kitchen knife I’ve been using before that time. And the $110 price makes it competitive with similar quality knives.
Despite my budget inclinations for commodity items, the Nobox Chef Knife is a tool that I feel justifies itself with the price the more you use it over the years. And based on my the amount and love of cooking, this knife will be a part of my everyday life a lot going forward. An excellent testimonial for any tool.
NoBox makes tools for your everyday use. Not just for the outdoors, not just for home, but tools for those who feel comfortable in both environments with ease. The tools aren’t trendy or have any explicit message. They are tools you will use for all parts of your life, will work well, and will use for many years going forward.
Disclosure: NoBox provided both knives for my review.