Petzl Spatha Knife Review

The first time I saw a picture of the Petzl Spatha Knife, it immediately caught my eye. With its high-vis blue or yellow grips and novel carabiner hole, it’s a knife that stands out in a crowd.

Petzl is not a knife company. They’re a climbing gear company, and as far as I can tell the Spatha is the only knife they make. With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to hold the Petzl Spatha to the same standards I would hold any knife to, while also keeping in mind that this is a niche tool for a very specific purpose. 

I’ll also be honest with you: I’m not a rock climber. But I do spend a lot of time hiking and backpacking, and one of the reasons this knife grabbed my attention was because it looks perfect for those pursuits, and easily adaptable to regular EDC as well.

Petzl Spatha Knife: First Impressions

I expected the Petzl Spatha Knife to be lightweight, but I was still taken aback by just how little it weighs. I shouldn’t be surprised, given that it’s made for climbers and hikers. I’m also glad to see that it’s a good sized knife, whereas a lot of the other “climbing knives” on the market are tiny little micro-knives that get lost in my hand.

Measurements & Specs

The Petzl Spatha Knife has a 3-inch blade by my measurement, though Amazon’s listing has it at 60mm, which is just over 2.36 inches. Either they need a new tape measure or I do. It has a 4.25-inch handle and measures just a hair over 7 inches fully open. The blade is made of Swedish Inox 12C27 stainless steel, and is connected to a nylon handle with a large ribbed ring or wheel, which functions as a carabiner hole. 

At just 1.5 ounces, this is quite a lightweight knife. Definitions of “ultralight” may vary, but this is certainly a knife I would throw into (or clip onto) my hiking pack and not sweat the extra ounce and a half. 

Blade Shape & Sharpness

The Petzl Spatha Knife has a drop-point blade with a sabre grind. It has a half-serrated, half-plain edge (If this was a Spyderco, I’d call it a CombinationEdge™), which is intended to make it a do-anything knife that can easily cut ropes and cordage as well as normal, everyday uses. 

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I have mixed feelings about serrated knives in general. I think that a plain edge knife can do anything a serrated knife can do if you keep it sharp enough. In this case, I understand that it’s the way it is for a good reason. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call the combo edge a huge advantage, at least it isn’t too much of a liability.

I’m a fan of 12C27 steel. It’s a solid, old-fashioned stainless steel that Morakniv uses in a lot of their classic knives, and it’s nothing fancy, but has excellent corrosion resistance, good toughness and decent edge retention. It’s also a very easy steel to sharpen, and takes a fiercely sharp edge with minimal effort. 

Deployment & Lockup

One-handed deployment is one of the big selling points of the Petzl Spatha Knife, and with a large blade cut-out for thumb deployment, it works as advertised. This isn’t a knife you can flip open with a flick or your wrist—you really have to push it open with consistent thumb pressure—but it opens smoothly enough. 

The Spatha Knife also has a second deployment method. The carabiner hole is surrounded by a textured wheel which can be used to manually turn the blade open with one’s thumb and forefinger. It’s easy to accomplish even with heavy gloves on, which is a huge advantage if you’re an alpine climber or anyone who needs a knife in cold winter conditions. It’s one of my favorite things about this knife. 

The Spatha has a simple but effective lockback, which snaps firmly into place when the blade reaches the open position. The lockback has what amounts to a small button or lever on the spine of the handle, which releases the blade. It’s not a state of the art locking mechanism by any means, but it’s simple and effective. 

Comfort & Carry

Arguably the most prominent feature of the Petzl Spatha Knife is the large hole that allows it to be clipped to a carabiner. You don’t have to carry it that way—it can be easily slipped in and out of a pocket like any knife, though it doesn’t have a pocket clip—but you might as well. The carabiner hole makes it easy to clip the knife to a belt loop, backpack, keychain or just about anywhere. 

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In-hand comfort leaves a bit to be desired. The nylon handle has some good checkered grip texture, so I don’t foresee slippage being an issue, but the shape of the handle never quite settles into my palm the way I want it to. 

The wheel surrounding the carabiner hole is right where a finger choil would be on a typical knife, but it’s essentially the opposite of a finger choil, bulging out and getting in the way instead of creating an indentation for one’s finger to rest in. Try as I may, I find it hard to get a good, satisfying grip.

Build & Durability

If you’re accustomed to a high-end EDC knife, you’re going to find the durability and build quality of the Petzl Spatha lacking. Having said that, this isn’t really that kind of knife, and it doesn’t feel entirely fair to hold it to that standard. The Spatha Knife is essentially a light-duty knife. 

It’s designed to be super lightweight and simple to use, and in exchange it sacrifices a bit of durability. I don’t get the feeling that the knife would fail me under normal use, but the nylon handle has a light, plastic-y feel, and there’s a little bit of side-to-side play in the blade. It’s nothing I would raise a fuss over given the price point and the knife’s intended use, but it’s worth taking note of. Let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend prying things with it. 

Final Thoughts on the Petzl Spatha Knife

There are a lot of things I really like about the Petzl Spatha Knife. It’s light as a feather. It’s razor sharp. It’s made of good, solid budget stainless steel that’s easy to sharpen. It has a unique and effective carry and deployment mechanism that makes it a brilliant choice not just for climbers, but also for anyone who spends time outside in unforgiving conditions. 

Is it perfect?

Not quite. I’d probably be more inclined to carry this knife every day if it had a plain edge instead of the plain/serrated combo edge. And I also wouldn’t mind seeing the build quality and durability of the knife beefed up a little bit, even if it meant making it slightly heavier. 

At around $35, it’s also a budget-friendly blade. It’s not going to become my go-to knife for everyday carry, but I can see myself clipping the Petzl Spatha Knife to my pack any time I go for a walk in the woods.

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