Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sharps: Hunting & gathering

Although I haven't said much lately about financial and professional matters, my wife and I have been putting a foundation under a business of our own.

The concept focuses on preparedness, both tools and skills. As regular readers of KintlaLake Blog might expect, the business would mine local resources and take advantage of the Web's potential.

We're realistic -- we have no illusions. Right now we're up to our chins in defining the business and securing suppliers. I spend much of my time noodling ideas, evaluating products and looking for reliable sources.

It's at once frustrating and invigorating. We're still a couple of months away from going live, though, perhaps a bit more.

Related to our business, at least peripherally, I devoted this morning's surfing to choosing a folding knife for a personal survival kit. For my own personal purposes, eventually the knife will live in an OtterBox carried in the KSF Leather Holt I wrote about last week, but whatever I select also could become part of a PSK we'd offer for sale.

It's common for pre-fab kits to include a small, last-ditch razor knife, which definitely would fill the bill in a pinch. In the interest of product differentiation, however, I wanted something more, something better -- I was looking for a real pocketknife.

It had to be sturdy and compact with a useful blade. My very first thought was the ultra-thin Victorinox Bantam Alox (MSRP $24, street $16) with its spear-point blade and screwdriver-caplifter tool, but I settled on the single-blade Victorinox Solo Alox (MSRP $23, street $15).

While the Bantam is an 84mm Victorinox, the Solo, like the Farmer and the previous-generation Soldier, is a 93mm knife. The Solo's blade is longer and thicker than the Bantam's and its backspring is stronger -- and yet it's nearly as thin and only a few grams heavier.

And so an hour ago I added one Solo to my shopping cart at a favorite online retailer. When I checked the total, I noticed that the shipping charges were pretty steep compared to the price of a single item -- no surprise there, but ordering two Solos wasn't part of today's plan. It looked like I had about nine bucks to play with.

I decided to fill the gap with something I've been curious about for some time -- a Frosts Morakniv Viking 640 in carbon steel (street price $8). Mora knives have a reputation for being excellent values, the fixed-blade equivalent of the folding Opinel.

The simple Mora might be just the kind of product we'd like to offer through our business. Even if it's not, I think I'll have fun finding out how much real-world worth can be packed into an eight-dollar knife.

Watch this space for hands-on impressions of the Swiss-made Solo and the Swedish Mora.

Earlier posts
Sharps: Cheap therapy
Sharps: So you want simple?
Sharps: A modern-day Soldier

Frosts Mora
Opinel Knife & Cutlery
Victorinox & Swiss Army (USA)