Helle Applies Elements of Scandinavia to Their Knives
If you’re looking for the perfect knife to suit your inner Viking, look no further. Helle Norway makes fixed blade knives using materials native to Norway’s landscape. The results are knives that vary piece to piece. It’s important to Helle to make knives beyond novelty. While the Scandinavian geography plays a role in their designs, they prioritize function. According to Helle’s website:
The wild mountains, fjords and open seas combined with generations of outdoorsmen are the inspiration for our design. Each knife is designed with a specific task in mind. The purpose of a specific knife may be that it should replace a couple of other tools and be a versatile and multifunctional tool. Or its mission can be to be the best fishing knife around.
Founded in 1932 in a small Norwegian village, the company hasn’t changed much. It still employs a handful of people who keep production steady but small. Most of the knives fall in the retail range of $95-$200–the “sweet spot,” according to Helle rep Matt Huff. Helle knives can be purchased through their website, but they are also sold through specialty outdoor stores and some larger outlets like REI.
“They do well there,” Huff says. “Many buy them as gifts.”
Helle knives are also popular among fishing enthusiasts. Most of the blades are made with a triple layer, says Huff. This was developed to help address the challenge of corrosion.
“The leading edge is a different hue,” says Huff. “The triple layer steel is a unique Scandinavian development. And of course metal technology has improved.”
Nearly all handles (aside from few made from cork) are made from a unique birch called curly birch, which is what gives the handles a unique pattern.
“Curly birch grows very slowly and is really only grown in parts of Scandinavia and Russia,” says Anders Hugland, also a Helle representative, although he hails from Sweden.
The leather sheaths, too, are all made with Norwegian leather. According to Huff, Helle employs a longtime sheathmaker who makes many of the products by hand to this day and has given the company more than 50 years of service. (Huff notes that there’s now an apprentice on board, training to keep the tradition going.)
It’s these touches that are reflected in Helle knives. Although they’re not quite custom knife makers, their knives reflect a long Scandinavian tradition of craftsmanship.