Opinel’s original and timeless No. 08 folding knife has gotten even prettier. The new Sampo Curly Birch limited edition 08 trades out the already classic wood handle for one made from a special Nordic silver birch. The new design adds a unique splash of depth and color to a knife that’s already one of the most naturally aesthetic available, and it does so at a fraction of the price that other special edition knives might set you back.
In a global marketplace increasingly defined by polarized choices between cheap, poorly built knock-offs and well-made originals with exorbitant price tags, we’re always excited to find designs that are both well-made and affordable. We consider Opinel’s lineup of folding knives to be an archetypal example. Its folders are made in the French Alps, feature a simple, functional design that just works, and are more beautiful than most, to boot. We particularly like the intuitive ring lock that keeps the blade secure during use and ensures easy open/close.
When we first went shopping for an Opinel, we were expecting price tags somewhere in the $50 to $100 range but were (pleasantly) shocked to find that two of the company’s best sellers – the No. 07 and No. 08 – each cost a mere $19. We figured it was some type of special sale or closeout but then realized that’s just the MSRP. In fact, a number of Opinel’s other folding knives price at or below $20, with the majority coming in under $50. And a limited lifetime warranty is included, as well.
The new No. 08 Sampo Curly Birch isn’t quite as low-priced as those originals, but at $70, it’s well less than you might spend on a special-edition folder from other brand-name knife makers. And it brings the classic wood-handled Opinel aesthetic up a notch with a curly birch sourced sustainably from Finland’s Karelia forests.
As Opinel explains, the extreme conditions of this particular birch’s habitat cause it to twist while growing, creating different hard and soft layers that contribute to the swirling marble-like patterns. The company says the wood will range from pale yellow to light brown with variable veining, which should give each handle a look distinct from the next.
Beyond the new wood, each knife has the same type of features that made the No. 8 one of Opinel’s best sellers in the first place: a 3.2-in (8.1-cm) stainless steel blade, a smooth-folding action, and a “Virobloc” ring lock that twists easily for locking and unlocking the blade in both open and closed positions.
As for the “Sampo” name, it’s used to denote a magical object in Finnish mythology that brought wealth to those who possessed it. It was ultimately stolen and lost or destroyed, leaving no one who knows what it looks like. Could it actually be the No. 08 Sampo Curly Birch, Opinel asks playfully.
The Sampo price tag may not be as much of an impediment as with other special edition knives, but availability could be. Opinel plans to launch the Sampo in the US around the first week of November and will offer only 300 examples. The knife is already listed as “sold out,” but those still interested can drop in their email at the link below for info and notifications.