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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Helle of Norway Kletten > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Helle Norway Kletten Knife

Initial Report - April 14 2020
Field Report - June 8 2020
Long Term Report - July 21 2020

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 52
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 210 lb (90.7 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

Helle Fabrikker AS

Year of Manufacture:

2019

Manufacturer’s Website:

https://helle.com/

MSRP:

$199.00 USD

Dimensions [listed & measured]:

Blade Lengh 55 mm/ 2" 
Handle Length  80 mm/ 3"

Weight:

Listed: 84 g / 2.9 oz
Measured 85 g / 3.1 oz

Product Image
Product Image

Product Description:

The Helle Kletten is Helle’s smallest folding knife, designed to be an EDC (Every Day Carry) knife for everyday tasks. It uses the same triple laminated steel that Helle is known for (with a Scandinavian flat grind edge). The handle scales are crafted from curly Birch making each knife somewhat one of a kind. It features a lock back locking mechanism, contoured handle with finger guard, and a 2.1” (5.3cm) drop point blade. This knife is named after a hill near the small village of Holmedal in rural Sogn og Fjordane where the Helle factory is located, and the Norwegian word “Kletten” translates to small mountain or large hill.
The knife arrived in a cardboard tube which included an information pamphlet, leather lanyard and a cleaning cloth.

Initial Report

April 14 2019

anamation    • Blade material: Triple laminated stainless steel
    • Blade thickness: 2.7 mm 0.106”
    • Blade length: 55 mm 2”
    • Handle material: Curly birch
    • Handle length: 80 mm 3”
    • Design: Helle design
    • Year: 2019

For full disclosure I had the privilege of testing the Helle Algonquin in 2015 and I can say that it is still by far my favorite knife. With the Kletten using the same steel and basic blade design as the Algonquin, I have high expectations of this knife.

Note regarding EDC (Every Day Carry): I would mention here that laws regarding carrying a knife can differ quite a bit from place to place (some can be rather confusing) so what may be legal in one place may be illegal someplace else.

While I love the convenience of a folding knife, the engineer in me requires I maintain a bit of distrust as any mechanism no matter how well designed/built can fail. And when miles from civilization some failures could have serious consequences. I will spare you the story of when I was a kid 30’ (10m) up a mango tree bleeding profusely due to my folding knife closing on my finger. I tend to prefer fixed bladed knives (preferably with full tangs) but the convenience of having a folding blade in my pocket at all times is very attractive. So I am constantly vacillating over what to bring on a given trip. But for every day carry, I go with a folding pocket knife with a locking blade, and have done so most of my life.

The Kletten (FYI for some reason when I glance at the name I tend to think “Kitten” and so I have kind of dubbed this my Kitten knife) utilizes a lock back mechanism. There are a number of different ways a locking blade can operate and the lock back style used in this one is the most popular because it is one of the strongest as well as one of the simplest designs. It requires two hands to operate. One hand to hold the knife and disengage the lock, while the other to fold the blade. It is possible to use one hand to hold the handle/disengage the lock and an object (table top, my leg, etc) to push the blade into place but that is kind of nitpicking. The handle is shaped to make it easy to hold and control which also exposes the spine of the blade when it is folded which gives me enough blade to grab when opening it. I have found it possible to open with one hand, but the small size combined with the firm hinge friction does not make this easy. The knife is held together by 3 screws and there is a hollow pin near the base of the handle that could be used for a lanyard.

As with the Algonquin, this knife has a rather thick blade for its size. This gives an impression of not only quality but durability. I was able to baton the blade of the Algonquin to break wood down into kindling. And I get the impression I might be able to do that with this as well, but that would be excessive and abusive to the hinge/lock so will probably not try it during this test. This knife has a substantial heft to it giving the impression of quality and strength. The hinge is firm but not stiff, and I can find no wiggle in the blade or any of the parts. The handle scales are sanded smooth but are not slick and the overall size and shape of the blade fits well in my hand in multiple grips. As I handle the knife I see the wood is developing some character. It probably could use another coat of oil or two as some areas appear to have absorbed more oil than others. I periodically treat my wood handled knives with mineral oil to preserve/protect them and I expect to do so with this as well.

The edge of this knife is honed to a flat or “Scandinavian” grind. This is a single bevel from the blade body to the edge. This can make for a very thin but strong edge and can be easy to sharpen. I find this grind effective for knives I use in the field since they tend to take abuse and I normally don’t carry any sharpening equipment. Of note regarding the blade edge is the triple laminated steel that Helle uses. This is a single layer of high carbon steel sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. This provides the advantages of allowing a very strong sharp edge (the carbon steel) while the bulk of the blade body is the softer (tends to bend rather than break under stress) corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Another aspect I like is that when heavy sharpening is necessary, most of the material removed is the softer stainless rather than all high carbon, which can make sharpening and reshaping the edge easier than if it was all carbon steel. This triple layer steel is one of the things I like most about Helle knives. As with my previous Helle knife this one arrived quite sharp, and after a couple passes across a strop is now shaving sharp.

My initial impression of the Kletten is that this is a knife I can see myself carrying in my pocket every day as well as taking with me for outdoor activities in addition to, or in place of, a larger fixed blade knife. Its small size makes me worry I might misplace it so I have added a para-cord lanyard to help prevent that.

Likes: Hefty strong feeling blade, firm but not stiff action, and very comfortable and attractive handle.
Opportunities: None so far.

Field Report

June 8 2020

Usage:Snack timesnackfeather stick3lumber
  • Every Day Carry
  • Day hikes x3 (Eastern foothills of the Washington Cascades)
  • Camping, two nights

Trying to test backpacking gear while there is a stay at home order in place (right after I received the product), and trails and campgrounds are closed is quite a challenge. And as if it needed to be more complicated, when trails did start to open, the reports were of a much larger than normal volume of rattlesnakes on my local trails, and on one trail known for snakes, we instead encountered large brown ticks. (I HATE ticks!) But I guess gear testing can't be all fun and glory.

Spoiler alert: For its small size the Kletten is a beast, and I really like it. As this test progresses I wonder if I will ever go back to my previous EDC knife (which I had carried for about 6-7 years).

I have literally carried this knife in my pocket every day since receiving it. Admittedly some of those days I never left the house and spent most of my time in my basement-improvised 'home office'. Due to the small size of this knife I used the included leather cord to make a short lanyard in order to make it easier to handle as well as retrieve from my pocket. While in strict lockdown I spent some time making soft shackles and doing other things using cord and thin rope around the house and yard. This knife easily and cleanly cuts cord and rope. I also used it in the yard to cut irrigation and drip tubing. The knife cuts the soft plastic accurately and easily. Almost too easily, I found I had to be quite careful as it would go through the plastic so easily I could easily cut myself and on one occasion did. So as odd as it may be to say, I can also say it cuts flesh quite well. My cut was deep, but since it was a very clean cut, healed well and quickly. During a camping trip I used a piece of scrap lumber (fir I believe) and carved a 'feather stick' to help start the campfire. This little beast with its thick blade and substantial handle was easy to hang on to and gave me excellent control despite applying a lot of force. The stainless steel sides of the blade allowed it to glide smoothly across the wood during the cuts and I was able to make a very clean and effective feather stick. While assisting a friend in his home workshop (yes small violation of the social distancing) I needed to whittle out a grove in a piece of lumber. I had my  Kletten out and the task done before my buddy could get a chisel from his workbench. During the stay-at-home period I also built an in pond pressure-filter for my Koi pond out of a plastic bucket. I used the knife to clean and enlarge the holes I needed to make in the bucket, as well as clean the cut ends of the PVC pipe. As before it cut cleanly, easily and the knife was very easy to control even when held at somewhat awkward angles.

As for what little trail use I was able to manage, I did use the Kletten to slice cheese and dry salami during my hikes. The sharp edge cut easily but the thickness of the blade made it difficult to cut thin even slices. (Give me a break this is the closest I have come to finding anything to critique about this knife). If I really wanted to nitpick, I would mention that for some everyday carry, the blade is a bit short for some cutting tasks (e.g. a hot dog or sandwich). But over all those minor items in no way reduce my opinion of this knife.

I have used the knife quite a bit, and found it takes a sharp edge very easily. A couple of passes over any of my sharpening systems followed by a strop or two and it is almost shaving sharp. I am finding that I have needed to sharpen this blade more than I recall with my Helle Algonquin. I am not sure if that is due to using it differently, a difference in the steel (or hardening), or simply faulty perception on my part. But since it takes an edge so easily, I don't consider this a problem at all.

Long Term Report

July 21 2020
Usage
  • Every Day Carry
  • Day hikes x3 (Eastern foothills of the Washington Cascades)
  • Backpacking: 3 nights, 28 miles (45 km) Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Central Washington Cascades

I have carried this knife with me every single day for the duration of this test series using it often. I have continued to use it for everyday tasks such as opening boxes, cutting cord, cutting irrigation drip line and tubing, etc. During my PCT section hike I used it to open food packages and cut dry salami.

I have sharpened it twice since the last report. As mentioned previously it does not seem to hold an edge as long as my other Helle knife, but it does hold an edge well, as well if not better than other knives I have, and is extremely easy to sharpen. The operation of the hinge is still smooth and firm. It has gotten a bit of dirt/debris from being carried in my pocket inside the knife handle (normal for any folding pocket knife) but unlike other knives I have had this does not seem to affect the operation of the lock or hinge in the slightest.  The lock still has a very satisfying click sound and the handle is quite pleasant and soothing to handle. Kind of like my own version of a "fidget spinner", I find myself handling the knife and/or opening and closing it just for the enjoyment of it and/or to pass the time.

I really like the quality of the wood handle. I am finding the more I handle it the more character the wood gets. I am very fond of the warmth, luster, and depth of the grain in the wood.

There is one aspect of the knife that I have been trying to decide if I like or not. The sides of the knife have a 90-degree from the handle to the blade, while some knives (like my other Helle) have a bevel or taper. I find the bevel provides a more comfortable grip, while the 90-degree provides stronger grip (more traction if you will) especially when I hold it between my thumb and forefinger for fine precision cutting chores. I have vacillated over which I would prefer but can't find a compelling reason to choose either. I have contemplated rounding over the edge so it is not so sharp, but the 90-degree edge gives the knife a cleaner look so at least for the time being I am going to leave it as is.

Now that the testing period is over I anticipate carrying this a lot, but probably not every day. For backpacking I really prefer to have a longer blade, but this is purely my own paranoia (what if I need to make a shelter or split firewood?) and personal preference, it is in no way a commentary on the quality of this knife. For every day carry, as mentioned this is a beast of a knife for its size, making it a very effective utility knife which I can use (abuse?) with no concern that it might break regardless of what I am cutting or even prying. While the Kletten is more functional, it is not quite as elegant as my old every day carry knife, which I expect to at least on occasion go back to depending on what I expect to be doing, but I expect it will be a hard choice every time I go to select which I will carry.

For the final step in this report I took a close look at the knife, and aside for the above mentioned growing character of the wood and some minor scratches (mostly from sharpening) it is showing no signs of wear or age. I could easily imagine (should I manage to avoid losing it) one of my kids carrying this long after I am gone.
Like my other Helle knife, this one is both completely functional and exquisitely decorative, which I consider is the hallmark of any high (heirloom?) quality tool.


This concludes my report.
I would like to thank the folks at Deuter
and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Helle of Norway Kletten > Test Report by David Wilkes



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