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BACKPACKER Gear 360 Review
The compact FREE K2 looks more knife than multitool, but it plays both parts well. We found that it’s easy to grip and has a pleasant weight (4.9 ounces), which we appreciated when we cut into wood or thick cardboard. The FREE K2’s 3.3-inch stainless steel blade locks in place easily and folds away smoothly; it was easy to deploy and then stash when we cut some loose threads on a shell as we hiked. (We would prefer some serration on it for cutting wood or cord, though.) The variety of screwdriver heads in the handle—a Phillips and two flatheads— proved perfect for a variety of projects around camp, from fixing up a stove to opening headlamp battery compartments. However, the lip designed for swinging out the screwdrivers is stiff, and we usually pried them out by the heads instead of flicking them out with our thumb. We were able to open the blade one-handed, although it occasionally required additional effort. The tool’s pocket clip stayed put on the trail and wasn't hard to slide on and off. We'd recommend the FREE K2 to any outdoorsperson who wants to get even more out of a workhorse blade.
I took the FREE K2 on a backpacking trip to Wayne National Forest in Ohio, a Boy Scout campout and rendezvous, and used it around the yard and in town for a multitude of tasks. This thing has some serious heft. It’s nearly 5 ounces in weight, and is a folding knife first and a multitool second. Most of that weight is dedicated to the rather large handle and one excellent blade, with secondary consideration given to three folding tools on the handle of the knife. Both the blade and the tools lock solidly and release easily, so there’s peace of mind in knowing that the blade won’t fall open in your pocket or pack.
I loved the feel of this tool in my hand, as did virtually everyone who tried it. It has a nice weight to it, a comfortable handle, and the provided belt clip has the option of being attached to either side or removed altogether—a nice touch. The blade is just excellent and held a keen edge for all of my testing thus far: It cut through a beef loin easily on a car camping trip but also stood up to making a wood bow drill from hardwood branches for fire-starting.
If you’re a gram-counting ultralighter, then the FREE K2 is not the knife you’re seeking. If you want as many tools & features packed into the smallest, lightest possible tool then you’ll likewise be disappointed. But if you want a tough, capable knife and would like a couple of extra tools on the side, then give the FREE K2 careful consideration. It’s more versatile than a plain knife of this size and weight but doesn’t give up anything in terms of blade capabilities or hand feel in the bargain.