Spyderco

Showing 82 posts tagged Spyderco

Spyderco Chaparral Review & Giveaway
For many of us, small pocket knives make up a core part of our EDC. However, since the advent of “tactical” knives in the 80s, the traditional, general purpose folders your grandpa was likely to carry faded to obscurity. Even the commonly recommended blades for EDC of today have origins in tactical-style folders. Recognizing this, Spyderco has been producing smaller knives distinctly with everyday utility in mind instead of pursuing the tactical trend. The Chaparral is the latest in their line of EDC-centric folders.
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The Chaparral design comes from the founder and head of Spyderco, Sal Glesser, and is manufactured in Spyderco’s Taichung, Taiwan facility, which makes easily some of the best production knives in the world. The Chaparral is available with three different handle materials: carbon fiber (as shown in the review), and two different patterns of titanium (at a significantly higher pricepoint). Later production runs of the knife incorporate one of my favorite new steels, CTS-XHP. Other features include a back lock mechanism and a wire pocket clip for a deep, right-or-left-hand tip-up carry.
Upon handling the Chaparral, you can quickly realize how its design emphasizes an EDC role. Its blade stock and handles are staggeringly thin, making the entire package an excellent knife in the hand, in the pocket, and at the cutting board. Its overall shape and appearance make it very similar to a ¾-scaled Spyderco Sage, and its size and ergonomics compare well to the Strider PT. Its thin profile and half-and-half finger choils improve its slicing ability beyond that of the Strider’s. Able to recognize and capitalize upon the increasing popularity of compact EDC knives, Sal delivered another impressive stroke of genius in the Chaparral, proving yet again why he’s one of the best in the business.

A great idea of a design like the Chaparral needs to be executed well to truly be successful. In general, Spyderco’s level of fit and finish is quite good, as seen in their knives from Japan, China, and America. However, nothing they make anywhere else in the world comes close to their Taichung, Taiwan-made knives. The fit and finish of these knives, including this Chaparral model, rivals that found on Chris Reeve’s Sebenza and similarly pristine Al Mar knives. The carbon fiber handles are finished well, with no stray threads or fibers. The blade grind is meticulous, even, and clean. The spine of a lockback knife often proves problematic for other lockback knives, but not here—it’s airtight. A good pivot and a well-cut Spyderhole delivers a smooth opening. Simply put, this is as good as it gets in the production world. 
The Chaparral’s excellent performance as an EDC-knife can be attributed to its impressively thin profile. This design decision yields plenty of benefits: carryability, ergonomics, and slicing performance. Its slimness lets the knife just disappear in the pocket. The shape of the handle, with its half-and-half choil, good jimping, and flare at the tail of the blade, helps lock your hand in a secure grip. It’s thin enough to allow a true four-finger grip, despite being on the smaller side. This thin blade, easy-to-grip handles, and the ultra-hard CTS-XHP steel all help to overcome the lack of heft when slicing, making the Chaparral an excellent slicer for almost all everyday tasks.
The only noticeable downside was that the wireclip generates an almost instant “hotspot,” or point of discomfort, when applying heavy pressure. Even whittling sticks or prepping tinder to start a fire reveals that the wire clip protrudes too aggressively and uncomfortably for heavy, prolonged use. Given how rare these situations arise, it’s not a great cause for concern, but nonetheless something to keep in mind. 

Everyday Carry Score: ★★★★★
Pros:
Designed with EDC in mind
Great blade size and shape
Excellent ergonomics
Truly superior steel on CTS-XHP versions
Cons:
Boxy wireclip causes discomfort with heavy or prolonged use
Very few knives on the market can compare to the Chaparral. Its size is perhaps the best available for the average EDCer (although I prefer the Dragonfly by a small margin). The thin profile, superior steel, and refined design of this knife are hard to pass up. If you are looking for an EDC knife, you’d be hard pressed to find better than the Chaparral, especially for the money. It stacks up nicely to my other knives that cost nearly three times as much. My personal recommendation, however, would be to skip the titanium models—their design isn’t for everyone, they cost more, and add unnecessary weight to a knife that functions best as a lightweight EDC. 
The carbon fiber model is the one to get, and it can be yours through this giveaway: just leave a comment on this post below, and in one week (05/06/14), a winner will be chosen and notified via Disqus reply to receive the review copy shown here, courtesy of the reviewer, Anthony Sculimbrene. Good luck!
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Update 05/06: The giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Jim M, whose comment was randomly selected to win the Spyderco Chaparral from this review. Thanks everyone for participating! If you didn’t win this time, be sure to keep an eye out for future giveaways and try again. High-res
Spyderco Chaparral Review & Giveaway

For many of us, small pocket knives make up a core part of our EDC. However, since the advent of “tactical” knives in the 80s, the traditional, general purpose folders your grandpa was likely to carry faded to obscurity. Even the commonly recommended blades for EDC of today have origins in tactical-style folders. Recognizing this, Spyderco has been producing smaller knives distinctly with everyday utility in mind instead of pursuing the tactical trend. The Chaparral is the latest in their line of EDC-centric folders.

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Multitools are ounce for ounce the most useful thing you can carry, albeit at somewhat of a compromise. They may never be the best tool for the job, but they’re rarely the wrong one. Recently, the multitool market, once justifiably dominated by Leatherman and Swiss Army Knife tools, has seen much greater diversity with the rise in popularity of one-piece multitools—ultra-compact pieces of metal designed to hang on your keychain with a number of functionalities. In the third installment of Carry Smarter, we list our top picks from both classic multitools and the new wave of one-piece multitools.
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The one-piece multitool trend has not gone unnoticed by the big manufacturers—both Leatherman and Gerber, among others, now sell one-piece tools. Of all the mass-market one-piece tools out there, the Shard stands a cut above the rest. Its simple, functional design features a swift and easy-to-use bottle opener, a decent pry tip, and most notably, a unique 3D Philips screwdriver on its end. Its black coating hardly holds up to everyday wear and tear, but the premature patina is forgivable given the Shard’s price and performance.
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This gem is one of our favorites – we’ve mentioned in another post how much we love it. Few tools are as classy, useful, affordable, and well-made as the Cadet. Victorinox swapped its iconic bright-red cellidor scales in favor of a ribbed aluminum material they call Alox—making the tool not just visually appealing, but also more durable and much thinner. The Cadet’s tool implements are uniformly excellent as expected in a Victorinox knife. Unfortunately, you won’t find scissors or pliers on the Cadet, as it foregoes these implements to achieve a great balance of useful tools and slimness. The Cadet is often found riding shotgun to much more expensive custom knives in a given carry, and understandably so—it’s a real worker that makes any EDC better, regardless of your budget.
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Released just less than two months ago, the ClipiTool is a strong newcomer to the multitool market. It’s a phenomenal tool—compact, inexpensive, and very easy to use. Being a Spyderco design, it unsurprisingly has wonderful ergonomics with a one-hand opening blade, a pocket clip, and an in-hand feel unmatched by any other multitool available. Its blade is also impressively useful, thanks to its full flat grind. The ClipiTool line offers three variants: blade + scissors, blade + saw, and blade + driver/opener. We prefer the driver/bottle opener configuration best, as it provides more distinct functions instead of merely different methods of cutting.
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Of the myriad of options from Leatherman and SOG for general purpose, medium-duty work, none are better than the Skeletool CX. An inconvenient commonality of multitools is that they’re heavy, bulky, and generally lacking a strong knife implement. The Skeletool CX avoids all of these missteps with its excellent knife, robust drivers, and comfortable design that feels great in-hand and rides lightly in the pocket. Perhaps its only minor shortcomings are that its pliers are stubby and aren’t spring loaded. Nonetheless, the Skeletool represents a huge leap forward in design from Leatherman. The CX is the version to get for its better blade steel alone, as its carbon fiber doesn’t significantly reduce weight. Overall, its great medium-duty tools and fantastic knife implement make it a viable replacement to a dedicated pocket knife in your kit.
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If the Skeletool doesn’t have enough tools to get the job done, you have a few options—the Victorinox Spirit or Swiss Tool, the Wave, a few SOGs, and the Charge. Natural selection in the marketplace has shown the Wave reigns supreme. Time and time again, companies release tools designed to best the Wave with little success. Even Leatherman’s own feature-packed Charge, meant to improve upon the Wave, falls short. The Wave’s success lies in its compliment of tools—it has everything you could reasonably need and nothing you don’t. Furthermore, its blades can be easily accessed using one hand, without opening the tool. Its pointed pliers are decent, but we feel their lack of a spring-loading mechanism holds the Wave back from truly being heavy-duty perfection.
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Carabiner-based multitools seem so promising in theory—always hanging around, doing work even when they’re not being used—but they are often disappointing in practice. Although a few carabiners deviate from this trend, none are as awesome as the Carabiner V.3. While it features only a minimum selection of tools, each one is extremely well-executed. An amazing one-piece design outfitted in premium materials, hand-made in small batchces by master craftsman Jens Anso, makes the V.3 easily worth its steep price. 
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Once legendary, Gerber’s quality has declined significantly over the past decade. Compared to the competition, recent Gerber products have suffered from dreadful fit and finish causing multiple major recalls, and exorbitant prices for subpar materials. The Dime, however, is a glimmer of hope for a turnaround to Gerber’s former glory. With its more complete tool complement, the Gerber Dime outclasses the popular Leatherman Squirt as the new reigning champ of the keychain tool market. The Dime was the first keychain tool to feature a useful clam-shell cutter for stubborn retail packaging, setting an example for other keychain tools to follow suit. Its fit and finish varies wildly, but for the price, a good copy of the Dime is a steal.
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In this Internet Age, where a mill and a blog can give rise to a new tool brand, the market has seen a proliferation of one-piece multitools. Peter Atwood is the most famous and his tools are the most sought-after, but the Chopper from TT PockeTTools matches, if not bests the functionality of Atwood’s finest designs. The Chopper is a perfect one-piece multitool—compact, with a great bottle opener and a handy assortment of other implements. The snag edge, just under the pry, is perhaps the best surprise here—enough to tear open a package but not so sharp as to cause concern when stuffed in your pocket. Compared to Atwood’s tools, the Chopper is fairly affordable and reasonably available to purchase (the newest batch will restock in May).
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Multitools are ounce for ounce the most useful thing you can carry, albeit at somewhat of a compromise. They may never be the best tool for the job, but they’re rarely the wrong one. Recently, the multitool market, once justifiably dominated by Leatherman and Swiss Army Knife tools, has seen much greater diversity with the rise in popularity of one-piece multitools—ultra-compact pieces of metal designed to hang on your keychain with a number of functionalities. In the third installment of Carry Smarter, we list our top picks from both classic multitools and the new wave of one-piece multitools.

Read more