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Spyderco Kiwi

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Spyderco Kiwi folding knife

A very lightweight, high-quality folding knife with a blade that's excellent for cutting things and good for food prep.

Pros

  • Very good workmanship
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent in form and function
  • Easy to clean and sharpen
  • Strong pocket clip
  • Fits my hand perfectly
  • Right size for basic food preparation
  • Back-lock means food won't gunk up lock mechanism
  • Adequate for bigger jobs and emergency use
  • Made in Japan

Cons

  • Blade doesn't open as smoothly as some Spydercos I've used


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I like knives, and I'm always on the lookout for good backpacking knives. A backpacking knife needs to be light, strong, well constructed and functional. A folding knife for backpacking should have a sturdy pocket clip so that it can be securely carried. The Spyderco Kiwi 4 meets all these criteria.

Version 4 of the Spyderco Kiwi is a significant upgrade to the Kiwi line of knives. This model has G-10 scales (handle) and a VG-10 steel blade. G-10 is known for durability and offering a slip-proof grip; VG-10 steel holds a sharp edge and is relatively easy to sharpen. It's also highly rust resistant.

For backpacking, what I most like about this knife is that it is very light (1.9 oz., or 54 g) yet has a long enough blade to be suitable for food preparation. Although I consider this a fairly expensive knife ($100+), it is functional enough that you actually want to use it in the field, not just keep it in a showcase.

The Kiwi 4 has a strong, unobtrusive wire clip which can be installed on either side of the handle. It doesn't catch on your jeans pocket the way some larger, stiffer clips will, yet it holds the knife securely in place. The knife stays put whether I'm squatting to light a stove or stretching to cross a log. I'm reluctant to carry most clip knives in my pocket when I hike, because I worry that they'll fall out and be lost forever. This one seems likely to stay put.

At 2.9 in. (75 mm), the blade is just long enough that it will handle most of my food preparation chores. I don't need a butcher knife or meat cleaver; I mainly need to slice fruit or hard cheese or maybe dice a small onion. This blade serves well for these chores. Also, since the blade is back-locked, the locking mechanism won't get gunked up with food, as a frame- or liner-lock might.

At the same time, it's a perilously sharp tool that will easily cut through anything from cord to tough fabric. In other words, I believe it would serve adequately as an emergency tool. For a lightweight knife, the Kiwi 4 is amazingly sturdy. Spyderco is known for excellent construction, and this knife is no exception.

The Kiwi 4 fits my hand as if it were made for it. If you've got ogre hands, it might seem a bit small. It fights well above its weight class, though.

Since it's held together by sturdy Torx screws, you can easily disassemble the knife to clean it. I've done this several times, and each time I was able to reassemble it perfectly.

My only gripe is that the particular Kiwi 4 I received has a bit of stiffness in the blade. It doesn't open quite as smoothly as other Spydercos I've handled. Some food-grade lubricant helps a lot, as did adjusting the pivot screw, but it's still not quite as pleasurable to open and close as I'd like it to be. But this is by no means a deal breaker.

Finally, the blade on my Kiwi 4 is perfectly centered. A slightly off-center blade is not a big problem, but, to me, a well-centered blade shows that the manufacturer takes pains to get things right. Though Spyderco is a U.S.-based company that produces many of its knives in Colorado, it also collaborates with makers in several other countries. The Kiwi 4 is made in Japan, which is right up there with Germany when it comes to high-quality knives. All Spyderco knives are known for careful attention to detail and very close tolerances. One of their trademarks is the "Spydie hole," which facilitates one-handed opening.

In sum, the Kiwi 4 is a very good knife for any backpacker who wants to limit weight but have a useful, well-made cutting and slicing tool.

NOTE: You shouldn't have to pay list price for any Spyderco knife. This knife lists at $199.95 in the company catalog, but I got mine from the The Spyderco Store, an unaffiliated online dealer specializing in Spydercos. They currently have the Kiwi 4 for $119.95. They provided fast service and excellent follow-up. They offered to swap my stiff-bladed knife for another one, but I decided to hang on to it, since I needed it right away.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $114

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Specs

Price MSRP: $199.95
Historic Range: $19.98-$114.95
Reviewers Paid: $114.00
Product Details from Spyderco »

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