Thursday, April 30, 2015

When Gear Goes Wrong - The Kniper


If you follow sites like uncrate or cool material, chances are you've been made aware of the Kniper. Billed as a "throwing knife & multitool," it is impossible to miss in neon green and mirror finish and filled with a million little cutouts and holes. 

I'm not here to be rude or write a hit-piece on these guys or anything (this blog has, to-date, under 400 pageviews so my audience is practically inconsequential), but there's just a lot of problems with the Kniper, or at least as I see it there are. 

First, I doubt the actual utility of a lot of the features that have been added to the Kniper. That green finish, for one thing. Some blade coatings can be extremely durable, but I'd worry that this is going to chip or wear, which would render the ruler and rangefinder and other things useless. There's nothing that says those things are etched into the steel, so they may be painted on as well. 

The saw on the top edge of the blade is not going to be fun to use, especially because there is no handle material to speak of. I guess you could cord wrap it, but then you're rendering some of the features useless. Even with a better grip surface, those dinky saw teeth are hell to actually use. I've tried them before on other tools and they're more like cheese graters than actual saws. 

Having a fork on the end of the handle is another questionable decision. That doesn't look easy to manipulate if actually used as a fork, especially if you have to hold it by the sharpened edge to use it. Ditto for the prybar and screwdrivers. Seems like a surefire way to get stitches. I'm sure the lashing straps and bottle opener work fine, but things like the "tobacco" pipe just put it into the realm of the absurd. 


Being loaded to the gills with supposed uses, would you really want to be throwing this at things? If the Kniper is the survival skeleton key you've always been looking for, I would not recommend chucking it across the wilderness for any reason, because you multiply your odds of damaging or losing it. If your very survival depends on this one tool, I would be a little more careful with it than that. 

Bottom line, it's trying to solve too many problems and makes too many compromises along the way. But it's also not marketed at the kind of person who might be looking at it in this way. Or at least it shouldn't be. No self-respecting EDC practitioner would consider the Kniper beyond gag gift. It's an updated version of the $12 "Rambo" knife you can find on Amazon. Only, Urchin Sky is asking $75 for the pleasure of owning the Kniper. This is why I decided to write this, because that's not a good deal even at 1/2 price. 3/4 of a Benjamin for a hacked up piece of 420 steel? No. Not when there's so many other better, budget offerings out there.

If I only had $75 to spend on adventure/survival gear, I'd take a fixed blade and separate multitool instead of trying to combine them. You actually have a lot of flexibility within that budget, too. You could get something like a Mora for the knife and still have a lot of performance for not a lot of money, leaving you more to spend elsewhere. Or get a pared-down multitool, like the CRKT Eat N Tool if you'd rather have more knife. 

To try and split the costs evenly, though? I'd maybe look at a very capable and inexpensive Schrade fixed blade for about $35, and the legendary Leatherman Wingman for close to the same, based on current online pricing. With the $5 or so you'd have left, put together an altoids survival tin or buy an inexpensive firesteel, and you'd be ready for a lot more than the Kniper can help you with. 

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