Merkur Safety Razor

Merkur Model 180 Long Handled Safety Razor. $37. Purchase. Blade Sample Pack. $20. Purchase.

The Merkur Model 180 is one of the best straight edge razors available today. It’s made of chrome plated steel, which is durable and gives it a nice heft to provide inertia for smooth shaving that is especially noticeable when coming from today’s plastic razors. The handle is knurled for non-slip use and is the perfect length for my big mitts. I could go on and wax poetic, but it’s already been done so many times I thought I’d just mention two places, besides reddit, where it has

been heralded as primo. The regular-length-handle version was chosen by The Sweethome as the best safety razor in their extensive testing and the long handled Merkur Model 180 (photographed here) is used by Lex Friedman in his essay The Wet Shave (which, as a side note, is featured in The Magazine: The Book, a collection of the editor’s favorite stories from the first year of The Magazine).

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Review: Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556S Pocket Knife

Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556S Mel Pardue Design in Yellow for $95. Purchase.

In a world of multipurpose gear I still cherish single-purpose products that are designed with such incredible attention to detail and insight so as to charm me time and again with their thoughtful features. The Benchmade Mini Griptilian is one of these products.

I bought the Mini Griptilian as a replacement for my CRKT M16-13, whose locking mechanism broke after I hammered on it with a log while creating tinder for a fire. Admittedly I shouldn’t have been doing this, and knew at the time something bad might happen, as pocket knife 101 certainly includes no hammering and no prying, however, I persisted. Thankfully, in the long run, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it caused me to search for a knife with extreme durability, leading me to Benchmade.

The blade is razor sharp, the opening action incredibly smooth, and the locking mechanism slides into place with ease while doing double duty to provide a small amount of force when the blade is almost closed, snapping it shut; I believe this also helps prevent it from opening in my pocket.

Additionally the clip is reversible, allowing me to clip the knife in my pocket with the blade-side facing into the seam, further reducing the chance of accidents.

The body is an intense, but not quite neon, yellow, which is excellent if you’re not in the military. I tend to put tools down distractedly while cooking, which can quickly become problematic in the backcountry when the knife isn’t sitting on a clean countertop, but rather lurking amongst the leaves with an open blade. The handle is made of a glass-impregnated nylon, which combines good strength and abrasion resistance with low weight. I’ve used it to pop bottle caps, while holding it similar to a lighter, and it’s taken a little damage, but only aesthetically. The plastic body is also beneficial while camping in the winter, when it’s difficult or even dangerous to touch metal for any duration.

The stand out feature of the 556, however, is the patented AXIS locking mechanism, which differentiates it from other pocketknives. Typically, folding knives use a piece of spring steel that snaps in line behind the knife when it is

rotated open. This spring is similar to an unstrung bow, which flexes when the ends are pushed towards each other. Eventually, if enough pressure is exerted, a bow or this spring lock will buckle, allowing the knife to bend backwards beyond its designed range of motion. The Mini Griptilian, on the other hand, locks the blade in the open position with two, double shear pins, providing unmatched strength among folding blades. The pin preventing hyperextension is static, while the pin that prevents the knife from closing is part of the sliding AXIS locking mechanism, and thus moves easily with the push of either thumb.

All of this combined creates a knife unmatched in the industry: light weight, highly visible, exceptional build quality, a bullet proof and ambidextrous locking mechanism, ergonomic dimensions, a textured thumb pad, and a reversible clip. All designed and made in the USA. Benchmade and Mel Pardue are a great team and have created what I consider to be the best folding pocket knife available.

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Muji Fountain Pen

Aluminum MUJI Fountain Pen. $16. Purchase.

UPDATE [11.17.2014] While I love the design of this pen, it has not proved to be the most useful. Let me preface by saying that I don’t know enough about fountain pens to write knowledgeably on the subject, but in my experiences the pen dried out rather quickly, not from use, but from the passing of time (evaporation due to no seal?). After replacing the cartridge and cleaning the

head of the pen of the dried ink, it never quite wrote smoothly again. Consequently, I’ve given up on this pen and wouldn’t recommend it. Instead I’d recommend the Parker Jotter, which I’ve been happily using daily for well over a year. They’re different styles of pens and thus not exactly comparable, but if you’re looking for a minimalist EDC pen go with the Jotter.


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