Skip to main content

Opinel No 05 Carbon review: a small knife for small jobs

The classic French pocket-knife, the Opinel No 05 Carbon is a simple, durable and charming thing to carry and own

Opinel No 05 Carbon
(Image: © Matthew Jones)

Our Verdict

The Opinel No 05 Carbon is compact in form but well executed, making it a practical and versatile little tool for smaller jobs. If you only require a ‘just in case’ knife for day hikes or want a modest, pocket-friendly blade for everyday use, this lightweight and inexpensive choice is a shrewd buy.

For

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Simple, timeless design
  • Easy to sharpen

Against

  • No backspring
  • Too small for more demanding tasks
  • Carbon steel blade requires regular maintenance

First impressions

Your initial reaction when you first pick up the Opinel No 05 Carbon might be to smile. It looks somewhat petite. Cute, even. Those impressions aren’t dispelled when you unfold the blade and hold it in your hand either, since you’ll find it only requires two or three fingers and your thumb to wield it. But much like the similarly compact Fällkniven LTC, as soon as you put it to use, you’ll find the Opinel No 05 Carbon is a very effective little tool. Unlike the LTC, however, it is inexpensive and easily affordable, putting it within reach of even the tightest budgets. It’s worth noting that the No 05 is also the largest Opinel that is legal for everyday carry in the UK, since the next size up, the No 06, is fitted with a locking collar.

The Carbone No 05, equipped with a 6cm-long XC90 carbon steel blade, easily sharpened to a shaving-sharp razor edge. Like all carbon blades, it is susceptible to corrosion, but regular oiling and maintenance will keep it in good nick. Look after it and it will look after you, as the old saying goes. 

The one-piece handle is made from durable French orange beech wood, which has a cheerful charm but also sits comfortably in the hand. As an incredibly simple friction folder, the knife has minimal parts – just four in total (blade, handle, steel collar and a retaining pin). This ensures both simplicity of function and durability of construction. But the parts are all well-made. Take the tried-and-tested blade shape, which has a slightly curved point and rounded cutting profile, ensuring it works effectively and precisely. It’s even said that Pablo Picasso sculptured his figurines with the Opinel No 05...

Specifications

• RRP: $11 (US) / £8 (UK)
• Weight: 14g / 0.5oz
• Blade length: 6cm / 2.4in
• Overall length: 14cm / 5.5in
• Closed length: 8cm / 3in
• Materials: XC90 carbon steel blade and beech-wood handle
• Features: Full flat grind; straight-back blade

In the field

Being lightweight, compact and inexpensive, the N°05 immediately ticks plenty of boxes as a camping or backpacking knife. If you keep it in a pocket or a pack, you’ll hardly notice it, since it is so small and light. Just be careful not to lose it! 

There’s no getting around the fact that it is a modest size, particularly compared to some of its bigger brothers and sisters in the Opinel range. Inevitably, its usefulness is therefore slightly limited, but if you don’t need a big blade, or want something to carry ‘just in case’ that keeps you clearly within permitted everyday carry laws, this might be all you need. After all, it’s easy to keep it sharp, and the N°05 is perfectly capable of performing a host of small camp tasks – opening packets of food, cutting cordage, making field repairs to kit or cutting bandages and dressing to size in a first aid context, for example. You could happily while away an hour or two in camp whittling feathersticks or wooden figurines with it too. 

All in all, for what it is, the Opinel N°05 Carbone is hard to fault – this is a very small pocket-knife designed for equally small tasks, and it fulfils that function supremely well, hence its long-standing and fully deserved popularity.