I work in a cubicle at Blade HQ making YouTube videos, but when I’m not at work, I’m out running down rivers, climbing through canyons and pounding down peaks. I love being outside! I’ve always been thirsty for adventure, but I wasn’t always good at taking the right tools. Now I’m a changed man and I carry a blade with me wherever I go. This means my knife has to hold up when go whitewater rafting, canyoneering, SCUBA diving, water skiing, and swimming. So I went on a quest for a knife that loved the water as much as I do. Here’s what I chose, as well as how that little blade held up:
I wanted a knife that was small enough to fit in my pocket without noticing it was there, yet big enough to get the job done. While Benchmade makes several great dive knives, I needed something more discreet and pocket-friendly. Spyderco’s Salt series caught my attention. All of the knives in the Salt series are made with H1 steel that is hardened using nitrogen instead of carbon. This means it won’t rust. Plus, the H1 steel has a Rockwell hardness of 57-58rc. Not bad at all.
Once I narrowed it down it down to the Spyderco Salt series, I started looking at blade styles. I don’t do any guiding or rescue work, so the sheepfoot blade was out. I cut rope occasionally, but not often enough to warrant serrations; I also wanted to be able to cut branches and perform tasks outside of the realm of serrations. Three inches or less would be plenty on the blade. With those specs in mind, I finally settled on the Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Salt. From the get-go, I liked how lightweight it was, plus the blade shape, thumb ramp and finger choil all tickled my fancy. I carry a Spyderco Delica every day, so I was accustomed to the Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN) handles of the Dragonfly and the back lock wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. The Dragonfly 2 fit well into my size preferences and expectations for function. I went for it.
This knife came hair-shaving-sharp out of the box. It’s got great detent, solid lockup, and a smooth pivot. It’s a production knife, but Spyderco doesn’t mess around with low quality.
I carried it for a week straight through the wet and sandy terrain of Lake Powell. It cuts like a dream. The Dragonfly 2 slices paracord like nobody’s business. It makes quick work of duct tape, plastic bottles, and opening boxes. This blade is a champ when it comes to small cutting tasks that don’t require a lot of force to get the job done. The handle of the knife is small (3.3 inches), but the finger choil and thumb ramp allow me to get my whole hand on the handle; this design also lends itself nicely to detail cutting.
On the flip side, being a small, lightweight knife means it is not nearly as proficient when cutting through thick rope or larger branches. After using the Dragonfly 2 all week, I did a cut test on one of the thick ropes on the boat. It took significant force to get through the rope and there was a fair amount of play in the blade as I was cutting. Two things contributed to that: I had used and abused the knife all week and it was no longer hair-popping sharp. The second thing is the lack of steel liners in the handle– a feature that keeps the weight down to a mere 1.2 ounces, but the trade-off is that you lose rock solid lock-up during hard cutting. The knife got the job done with larger cutting tasks, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for extended use on larger tasks.
Some of the knife purists out there might cringe when they see me using the back edge of the blade as a screwdriver to unscrew the gas cap on a boat. I’m not a purist. I believe in taking care of equipment and tools, but I don’t believe in pampering a piece of steel when I need it to do a job. That back edge of the blade sees use all the time in my everyday life… and it performs like a champ in that capacity.
The FRN handles are not glamorous, but they are highly functional. Even with wet hands, I didn’t have to worry about my hands slipping off the handle. The pocket clip is a deep carry, wire clip. I wish it were deeper carry, but it’s deep enough. It worked great keeping the knife in my pocket throughout the entire trip. Scrambling over rocks, squeezing around boulders and shimmying up the canyon left the pocket clip scratched and slightly bent, but I bent it back into place and the scratches added character. No complaints there.
The pivot of the knife got sand in it throughout the trip and didn’t open as well as it had previously, but it didn’t ruin the knife by any means. I cleaned it out when I got home and it’s as good as new. The sand scratched up the steel around the pivot area, adding some sweet battle scars to blade.
I carried the knife in my back pocket the entire time; it was wet most of the trip. There wasn’t any rust or even a hint of oxidation. H1 steel works like a boss. The edge retention doesn’t stack up with S30V in my opinion, but it was still sharp at the end of the trip and it wasn’t a rusted out piece of steel after days in the water. Nice.
In reality, I rarely need a knife when I’m out on a water adventure. This year at Lake Powell, we didn’t have any emergencies that required a knife and I probably could have gotten by without a blade. However, feeling prepared is worth carrying a knife. Any combination of “what ifs” could have left us in a tight spot that a knife could have solved. The Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Salt version with H1 steel was a champ throughout the trip. I wouldn’t make it my primary blade for heavy cutting tasks, but it is perfect for my adventures in the water. At the end of the day, the knife you carry depends on the functions you need it to perform. For me, this knife is exactly what I need for the type of activities in which I participate. Win.