This $85 camping cutlery set is the only one you'll ever need - here's what it comes with
- Opinel makes lightweight stainless steel and carbon steel knives that will shave the hair off your forearm right out of the box.
- I took its new travel-friendly Nomad camping cutlery kit ($85) out to the beach to see how I'd make out with nothing but its three knives, cutting board, and microfiber cloth.
- It was everything I needed, nothing I didn't, and from now on I'll be taking it just about everywhere with me.
My uncle gave me my first Opinel pocket knife (a No. 9) when I was in my late teens. I took it fishing, camping, and once even used it to skin and eat a rattlesnake that was getting a little too flirtatious with the idea of slipping into my sleeping bag.
The Opinel enchanted me from the start with its lightweight wooden handle, paper-thin stainless steel blade, and the traditional aesthetic of the thing overall (I'm a sucker for that stuff, but I know I'm not the only one). I felt like Huck Finn or Jeremiah Johnson. Meanwhile, I was about the furthest thing from them: just a suburbanite adolescent kid with a pocket knife and a dream.
Opinel makes lightweight stainless steel and carbon steel knives that will shave the hair off your forearm right out of the box. Sure, they'll eventually dull, but only in due time. And when it does come time to hone and sharpen, they're much easier to work with than a lot of other stainless steel blades, which can be a chore and a half to get an edge on.
But what I received in the mail from Opinel this past month was something that possessed me, body and soul.
Opinel Nomad cooking kit
The Opinel Nomad cooking kit is an everything-you-need, nothing-you-don't set of knives. You'll get a No. 10 (10 centimeters/3.9 inches) folding paring knife with a 3.9-inch blade and built-in folding corkscrew, a No. 12 (12 centimeters/4.7 inches) folding serrated knife, and a No. 6 (6 centimeters/2.4 inches) peeler. It also comes with a small but still accommodating 10-by-3-inch beechwood cutting board, which, no, you won't be filleting fish upon, but can handle your basic hiking and camping meal prep.
All the handles are varnished beechwood, a tough, tight-grained, abrasion-resistant wood often used in construction. In other words: They'll last. Each knife also comes with Opinel's signature Virobloc Safety Ring, which keeps your blades open and closed. (This might seem like it's something that goes without saying, but a couple of the brand's knives don't come with the ring, and I'm afraid that I have the scratched sunglasses lenses to prove it).
Everything fits and wraps tidily into the microfiber dishcloth (also included) which doubles as a travel pouch for the whole kit: Each of the knives fit into their own elastic tab, and there's a loop at the corner that straps everything shut.
My field notes
The knives all worked as they should have, and that was no surprise. But I take Opinel's quality for granted in the same way that a lot of those familiar with the brand do.
What I really liked about the Nomad was that after prepping, when everything was a mess - cilantro, pepper seeds, hot sauce, and steak juice had gotten everywhere - I could easily do a preliminary cleaning before I neatly folded everything into the cloth to contain the mess, and even after I forgot it in the back of my sun-drenched truck for two weeks, it was still exceptionally easy to clean.
The bottom line
Whether you're a regular camper or just a veritable bon vivant, you probably won't find a cutlery kit for life on the move that's designed as well or will last as long as the Opinel Nomad. No, $85 isn't cheap. But then, what's a good paring knife run for these days? A serrated one? A corkscrew? A veggie peeler? A microfiber cloth that doesn't pill or shed? How about a solid hardwood cutting board? Chances are that your arithmetic has led you to a tally somewhere around $85.
Suffice all that to say that from now on, this kit is going to be coming with me just about everywhere.
Pros: Small, stowable, lightweight, excellent knife blades
Cons: Cutting board could be a little larger
Buy the Opinel Nomad cooking kit for $85 from REI, Amazon, Patagonia Provisions
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