My parents bought me my first pen knife when I was around 6 years old.
This was probably a bit too young if I'm honest and I ended up learning knife handling skills the hard way via two cut palms. Cleaning mud off a blade with your hands isn't recommended.
Since then I've always had a penknife in the car, around the house or in the garage. When you are a tinkerer you appreciate the simplicity of a good penknife.
I first noticed Opinel on a camping trip in France - when all the locals seemed to be using one to cut their bread and cheese at various picnic spots. Lou bought me a Walnut handled No 6 on that trip and it's grown to be one of my favourite knives (and I've got quite a few..including that infamous first knife).
Opinel are still made in the Savoie region of France and have been making them there since 1890. The design and manufacturing process has changed little over the years - why would it - if you make something this well, why change?
Their marketing material describes them as - simple, robust and functional. Enough said and no wonder they appeal to me!
They make six blade sizes in their core range. We've opted to stock the No 6 which has a 7 cm blade (which is ample for all jobs) and features the Virobloc safety locking ring. Simply twist this to lock the blade in place.
We've decided to stock their stainless steel blades as they offer a good balance of rust resistance versus ease of sharpening. My Opinel often sits for long periods of time unused - in a tool bag or vehicle - until its needed. Therefore the rust resistance of stainless steel trumps the sharper blade of a carbon steel in this particular situation.
Then you have three choices of handle material;
Olive - great colour and interesting grain pattern
Oak - classic - solid and robust
Walnut - a lovely dark brown for a different look
Each knife comes in a cardboard box which makes them a really nice gift item.
Age Warning - you must be over 18 years old to buy this product.