12 February 2013

GEAR: rustproof knife

There is no other subject that generates more interest than talking about knifes (Justin Bieber excluded). Websites and forums seem to spark seriously opinionated debates when it comes to the perfect blade.
Myself, I have been looking for a knife that would work well for sea kayaking.
I don't need no Bear Grills knife, no Crocodile Dundee blade or a knight's Excalibur; all I want is a knife that does not rust, and stays sharp.
No many knifes will not rust, in a marine environment.
While I can get plenty of sharp knifes that will do so well for general outdoor pursuits (like backpacking) finding a blade that will really stay rustproof in salt water is not easy.
I hear good reviews of some knifes that use some really high-end steel alloys; unfortunately those knifes are also ridiculously expensive.

I have a knife on my PFD, that despite being inexpensive, after years of regular exposure to salt water is still looking perfectly shiny. One problem: it ain't sharp, and no matter how much I sharpen it, it just does not hold an edge. The blade is also very soft and bendy (yes bendy... trying to pry open some oysters, the blade just bent!).

I was pleased that in the search of the perfect knife, that would cost me less then a small kayak, an importer of outdoor goods suggested I should look at ceramic knives.

open knife_c

I have seen and handled a few ceramic kitchen knifes but never have I seen a small pocket knife or one suitable for paddling. My search for one in a holder/sheet (diving style) was unsuccessful but I did find this great offering instead.

in hand_c

I sourced the knife on eBay for a silly price compared to sharp rustproof steel knives.
The size is perfect and fits my hand well, and my PFD pocket.
There are no spring to snap it open and it does lack a blade latching mechanism (there are other offerings that might have that) but I know that the knife will not rust.
The blade is very sharp (I could shave with it) and it folds neatly into the plastic handle. The retention of the blade is just simple friction between blade and handle.


I am not sure if this knife is the perfect choice for a rescue situation (non locking folding blade) but suitable for other common tasks. And as somebody once asked: does it cut the cheese?
I will report: yes it does :-)

cutting cheese_c



  1. Interesting alternative. But I think you should be careful in sandy environments, due to the brittleness of ceramics. Bend loading should be avoided, too.

    I hope to read some further report after a certain time of use... would be very interesting.

    I'm using a (a small) divers knive, made of stainless steel. But I'am cleaning it after every use (regardless of which type of water it has been used in). After cleaning and drying I put on a thin layer of Ballistol oil, which is 100% bio-degradable.

    Best regards,


    1. Oh yeah, no prying oysters off the rocks with the ceramic knife!
      I am not a fan of maintenance and I would find oiling my knife after every outing very tedious and most likely I would forget; it’s bad enough that I have to wash my kayak down with fresh water…

  2. Keep an eye on the screw at the pivot point, thats not going to be immune to rust and seizing up unless its high grade stainless. Perhaps try and source a better screw if it does start showing signs of rust.

    Knives which spring out or can be opened with a flick/shake motion (including ones which can gain the flick after screw friction is loosened off) will be seized by customs if they detect it, so it makes it hard to get a folding knife suitable for on water use. They are even reported to be seizing some leatherman brand multitools now.

    Your emergency PFD knife is best preserved for that purpose, pack a heavy duty dive knife for use around camp and gathering oysters.

    1. that screw is dodgy and certainly not stainless steel; when/if starts to fail I will replace it with a 316 s/s. Then again at $7 delivered, I am very impressed with that knife.

  3. This is what I have had secured to my PFD for about 4 years now... http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Paddling/KnivesSnorkelGear/PRD~5004-128/wenoka-squeeze-titanium-knife.jsp ...I do not rinse it off after paddling and there are no signs of any rust on it....


    1. that looks like a great knife and if it does not rust it seems ideal for sea kayaking. One question: is it really sharp?

  4. Gnarly, it is plenty sharp, although it is softer than stainless steel... you can get the same knife in a stainless steel model for half the price. I have not had to use it a lot and have it more of a 'just in case' item on my PFD. I've seen a lot of people use this type http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Paddling/KnivesSnorkelGear/PRD~5023-233/nrs-pilot-knife.jsp but it does rust with the salt water. If you are looking for a knife that you will use a lot the titanium may not be the best choice, but if you want one that will not rust this certainly seems to one... maybe the titanium on the PFD for safety and occasional use, and a good stainless steel one kept in a drybag for harder usage like around camp...

    BTW, I enjoy your blog and visit on a frequent basis.


  5. Do you have a link to where you can buy this knife?

    1. search on eBay for "ceramic folding knife", there are several offerings there

  6. What about filling the handle with resin and converting it into a fix blade? Sheath could probably be made from some thin/bendy plastic and pop rivets.

    1. Nathan, there are many offerings on eBay for ceramic knives that already have a fixed blade, if that is what you want.
      I could not find one tho that has a nice sheath like the diving knives where I could attach it to the PFD. Some tinkering, like you suggest, might be required :-)

  7. knife is looking so sharp and its very good for scuba diving.


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