Al Mar Nomad
Blade Length: 3"
Weight: 3.5 oz.
Scales: Textured G-10, Black
Black Anodized finish on the blade
This is my carry knife, so yes, it's my boat knife, along with my every other kind of thing knife. You only need one knife, not dozens scattered all over the boat in various potential use spots, and it should be in your pocket at all times, sharp and ready to hand.
Yes, I love it. I wouldn't carry something I didn't love. Knives are like boats that way.
Yes, it's a folder. Straight knives are illegal to carry most places. At first I didn't like the liner lock, but now I really appreaciate it: it's easy to close the knife with one hand and the liner lock provides the strongest and most robust locking design I have yet seen on a folding knife (and I own a lot of folders.) The 3" blade is shorter than I have carried for most of my life. I've always been a 4" blade man, buying the large size of any folding line (typically folders come from a given manufacturer in 1.5", 3" and 4.5" standard blade lengths.) But a 4" blade really scares the **** out of people, even when you just whip it out to cut your bagel. 3" seems less dangerous, but don't think I couldn't dice someone up if I had to - the Nomad's blade is fat and wide, with a drop point and a curved cutting edge. The VG-10 is easy to sharpen and holds an edge through quite a bit of cutting. It will cut 5/8" nylon three-strand more than a dozen times before needing to touch the edge, and it takes a new edge in three or four strokes on a smooth carborundum. Once I strop it on my jeans, it will take hair off my arm. The G-10 scales provide a comfortable, secure grip, and the handle is shaped to fit my hand.
About blunt tipped knives, let me just say this: the tradition for blunt tipped knives on ships did not arise from a excess of concern for the user's safety. Rather, before setting off on a long voyage, the crew was required to give their knives over for blunting in order to prevent them from stabbing each other to death once the confines of the ship and the company of fellow crew became untenable. Blunt tips are inconvenient when you find yourself in need of a point and with modern knives, if you blunt them yourself you stand a good chance of ruining their temper. Buy a blunt tip knife if it makes you feel nautical, but I think they're like topside brightwork: a nice-looking but useless relic of a bygone era. (And don't talk to me about stabbing yourself. If you can't avoid stabbing yourself with your own knife, even on a pitching deck, then you shouldn't be operating the tool.)
The Nomad came with a clip, as is the fashion these days, but I removed it - there's nothing I hate more than advertising my knife, and I can spot a clip knife in someone's pocket from across the room. And no, it won't save you from a concealed weapons charge - because just about everywhere (in the US at least, I know it's different elsewhere, as in the UK) it's legal to carry a folding knife with a blade under 4" in your pocket. I simply drop the knife in my right front pocket where it's easy to get to - but I admit it was a long search before I found a knife that was thin enough and light enough to ride unobtrusively in my pocket and yet still be beefy enough for heavy use.
I would never carry a knife/spike combo. The spikes that come with knives are just not robust enough for serious work. If you want a marlinspike, buy a marlinspike. I have two spikes, and when I was in the Navy and needed one regularly, I carried it in a leather sheath on my belt. These days it lives in my toolbox and only comes out when I need to splice. I use my Leatherman for opening shackles (which, like everyone else, I wear in a nylon sheath on my belt.)
If you had your choice, what features would you have on a knife that you feel are essential and what would you consider optional?
Hah! By definition, the only essential option on a knife is a blade. Everything else is frou frou. Yes, I own several Swiss Army knives. Yes, I own several multi-tools. Yes, I use them, and yes, they have blades on them. But on my knife, the tool that I won't change rooms without let alone leave the house without, the only thing I want or need is a good blade.
I bought it online at the Cutlery Shoppe, which has great prices. The MSRP is $209, I paid $110 plus shipping (he's up to $131 now, though). Yes, good knives are expensive. Don't hand me anything that cost you thirty dollars and expect me to be impressed and yes, I am slandering your Gerbers and your Bucks.
The hinge and bolsters are solid, no worries. So is the thumb stud.
As you can probably tell, I am pretty opinionated when it comes to knives. That's what you get from being a third-generation knife fanatic. I have always carried something and after long consideration and evaluation, I am of the opinion that Al Mar makes some of the finest civilian carry folders available on the market today. They are innovative in their alloy selection and blade shapes, and they produce absolutely beautiful knives. Check out the Falcon and Eagle blades - they're nearly perfect and both my dad and I have carried them for years. I switched to the Nomad because I like to use my knife a lot, not just carry it for self defense and opening mail. The anodized finish on the Nomad really protects the blade from scratching with heavy cutting (though you can gouge it on the stone if you're not careful), and I have seen no sign of corrosion after 2 years in a salt air environment. One unexpected thing about the finish is that with use over time the it's starting to show wear near the edge, particularly near the point. It gives the blade a well used, comfortable look that I find attractive - kind of like the uneven surface finish aging you get from a carbon steel blade - the kind that we've all but lost appreciation for in our quest for shiny stainless steel knives.
My advice for buying a knife is the same as for buying a boat: buy something you like. But buy a knife, not a wanna-be tool box.
Edited to add: my Leatherman is also a Wave, and it's ok, but not nearly corrosion resistant enough.