Gear Review: Baladeo Carbon Laguiole Knife

This durable French knife has an odoriferous handle.

Most knives nowadays look like they came from the distant future with sleek features and curves. But this French company brings old school sexy back with their Carbon Laguiole DUB072 knife. It’s a simple, classic design with a bonus: a nice smell that will make fellow hikers do a double take when you cut the cheese. The delicious scent comes from the gorgeous juniper wood handle; snorting it became a habit, and my friends made fun of my addiction until they took a whiff, and were hooked as well.

In the early 19th century this style of knife, commonly called a Laguiole, was all the rage for its distinct, ergonomic handle shape, rugged dependability and distinct file markings. Sometimes called a “Bee Knife,” because of its embossed bee at the top of the handle, this simple, foolproof, folding slip joint design is often overlooked nowadays in favor of fancy spring-loaded blades that pop and lock open with the flick of a thumb. But new and fancy isn’t always better.

This knife isn’t loaded down with extra features, but what it does do, it does very well. On the Appalachian Trail near Damascus, VA, the fine point of the Laguiole helped me scrape my stove’s gas canister nozzle free of dirt. The 3 7/8-inch, flat ground blade worked great for whittling extra tent pegs when I needed additional guy-lines during a storm. It also sailed through more delicate work, like pepperoni and tomatoes for my famous trail pizza. Note: The blade color slowly changed after slicing the tomatoes. This is called a patina, and it happens to carbon steels such as this XC100 steel, when the acid from the food reacts with the carbon. Eventually, this type of blade gets a nice dark look, much like a well-worn pair of leather boots darkens over time—it’s not rust and is nothing to be worried about. And it looks classy!

At 3.5 ounces, this hand-made knife is no ultralight, but makes up for the weight in shear durability. If you want a workhorse knife with an old world feel, something worthy of passing down to the next generation of campers in your brood, this is a fine choice. I just hope the juniper scent lasts as long as the knife itself!

The Specs

>$80 (Also available with cork screw for $166)

>3.5 oz.