Review: Vosteed Mini Labrador

The Vosteed Mini Labrador might be a lot of things. It might be Vosteed’s best value for money to date. It might be their best fifth-pocket knife to date. It might be their best gentleman’s knife to date. Let’s take a look at the newest offering provided by Vosteed for this review.

Specs

  • Blade Length: 2.73″ | 69.30 mm
  • Overall Length: 6.23″ | 158.20 mm
  • Blade Width: 0.72″ | 18.40 mm
  • Blade Thickness: 0.098″ | 2.50 mm
  • Blade Material: 14C28N
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Finish: Black Stonewash
  • Hardness: HRC 60±2
  • Handle Length: 3.50″ | 88.90 mm
  • Handle Width: 0.72″ | 18.30 mm
  • Handle Thickness: 0.374″ | 9.50 mm
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 1.93 oz | 54.80 g
  • Opener: Back Flipper
  • Lock Type: Frame Lock
  • Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing
  • Pocket Clip: Non-reversible | Titanium
  • Carry Position: Tip-up
  • Knife Type: Manual Folding
  • Backspacer Material: Titanium
  • Designer: Yue

Observations from Use

The specs above don’t tell the whole story of the value that this knife offers. The handle has full titanium construction including the milled pocket clip (which is great by the way) and backspacer. The blade is 14C28N which is as good as it gets for value steels. The lack bar features a steel insert that also includes an integral overtravel tab. These are materials and construction that is normally reserved for knives well above the $69 price point of the Mini Labrador.

This tiny fifth-pocket knife is built like a lot of knives costing 2-3x as much… but tiny is the operative word. I think everyone I have shown it to has made the statement that it was smaller than they thought it would be (and that is important to know if you are considering buying one). The specs given by Vosteed are spot on but somehow the knife seems smaller than you are prepared for. I think that is part of the success of the design as a gentleman’s knife that can still do some real cutting as opposed to a jack-of-trades EDC knife or a work knife. This knife is visually smaller than you thought it would be and yet medium-sized hands can get a 3 or even 4-finger grip for real work. It’s voodoo.

This knife is SOOO slim and SOOO light (under 2 ounces!). Normally, I would say something like, “It’s a joy to carry.” But that would indicate that you are actually aware that you are carrying it which seems unlikely with this featherweight. It’s perfect for the fifth-pocket of jeans thanks to plenty of clearance under the clip or dress slacks where it won’t weigh down lighter or thinner fabrics.

The Mini Labrador is an aggressive cutter. The blade has a full-height flat grind, thin blade stock, and is very thin behind the edge. The point is very acute which I think is especially useful on a gentleman’s knife.

This knife has a single opening method, a back flipper. It works very well inspite of how tiny it is thanks to a perfect detent and very smooth action. My example started smooth and only became more smooth as it broke in. It is smooth enough that it will drop shut with some light shakes and that is noteworthy when you consider how lightweight the blade is.

Normally, I try to have some constructive criticism for these knives but I am struggling to come up with anything for the Mini Labrador. In terms of a gentlemen’s knife design, this is a great success. It is an actual tool first, slim, light, and easy to carry while also being classy and a great value. I would love to see Vosteed try more titanium frame-lock folders, maybe some that are larger with more opening methods.

Wrap Up

If you are looking for a high-value knife that is as easy to carry as possible or something to carry at the office, this is a great option. If you just want a fifth-pocket knife that is built like a tiny tank, this is a great option. Vosteed has made some great small knives like the Mini Nightshade and Chipmunk but if you want something that works hard but is truly small, this is what you are after.

The Mini Labrador is currently available at Amazon (sold out at Vosteed.com): Vosteed Chipmunk at Amazon.com

You can learn more about all Vosteed’s offerings at Vosteed.com.

These two images may help give a sense for how compact this knife is. The Mini Labrador is similar in blade length and overal length to the Chipmunk but it is signiificantly slimmer and lighter. The Chipmunk (top) seems more like an compact, jack-of-all-trades EDC while the Mini Labrador (bottom) comes across more as a svelte, compact, gentleman’s knife.
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Review: D&M Leather Mini Composition Book Cover

The affordable, simple, minimalist leather cover for mini composition books is probably my favorite EDC item purchased in 2023. D&M Leather sells these on Amazon, claiming them to be hand-sewn with a saddle stitch. I was skeptical but took a chance based on the customer pictures. I’m glad I did.

I often carry a standard mini composition book in a back pocket to log workouts, take notes in church, log range data, remind myself of appointments, or anything else I would like to track on actual paper. These notebooks can be surprisingly durable if you buy the type that is stitched and then taped on the binding. However, the basic cardboard or craft paper covers will eventually degrade faster than I can fill one with notes. This is where the leather cover comes in…

The cover does a great job of preventing the notebook from breaking down which allows these dirt-cheap composition books (3 for a $1 at your local Wal-Mart) to last long after you fill it with notes. Not only that, but it looks great and it is actually real saddle-stitched leather. I am blown away with the quality for the price.

You can spend more than the cost of this cover for just one notebook that will stand up to the rigors of pocket carry but you don’t have to. This affordable leather cover adds class and style to your EDC while allowing you to reuse it over and over again on affordable, readily available mini composition books. It is one of those things that is does just one thing and does it satisfyingly well.

D&M Leather Mini Composition Book on Amazon.com

Notes on mini composition books: Look for books with bindings that are stitched and taped. The ones that are glued or stapled will never hold up. Also, this cover comes with a 50 page book but it will easily fit the standard 80 page mini composition books.

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Review: Vosteed Chipmunk

The Vosteed Chipmunk is small in size but big on fidget-factor. It also happens to be a useful, fifth-pocket knife option that won’t break the bank. It fits squarely in the “small but mighty” folding knife carry that I like so much.

Specs

Blade Length: 2.64″ | 67.10 mm

Overall Length: 6.15″ | 156.20 mm

Blade Width: 0.88″ | 22.40 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Modified Drop Point

Blade Finish:  Black Stonewash

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.51″ | 89.10 mm

Handle Width: 0.82″ | 20.90 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.488″ | 12.40 mm

Handle Material: G10

Weight: 2.53 oz | 71.70 g

Opener: Front Flipper | Back Flipper | Thumb Stud

Lock Type: Liner Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Observations from Use

The Chipmunk is a fidgeter’s dream but before we get to that, I want to make it clear that this is an actual, useful knife. The Chipmunk has a useful blade shape that gets a lot done. It came with one of the most refined edges I have seen on a Vosteed to date. And, it is much more hand-filling than its small size would lead you to believe thanks to thick, micro-textured G10 scales. This knife is clearly designed to be used as much as it is designed to be fidgeted with while you are stuck on endless Zoom calls at work.

The Chipmunk combines very smooth action with a great detent and basically every type of opening device known to man. It can be front flipped, top flipped, back flipped, slow rolled, thumb flicked, middle finger flicked, and probably other opening techniques that I am not skilled enough to execute. The detent is tuned such that all of these work well but I find it particularly satisfying to middle finger flick as Vosteed designed this with large comfortable thumb studs with great access from either side.

I also want to call out the back flipper on this knife. It projects up above the pivot rather than out the back. This means there is nothing sticking out the back of the knife knocking into the other items in your pocket when it is folded. There is also nothing to get in the way of choking up on the knife when it is open. In fact, this design allows me to get a full, four-finger grip on this very compact knife. I would like to see Vosteed explore this style of flipper on more knives!

The Chipmunk seems like a knife that Vosteed can really riff on. A little-big knife like this has all kinds of potential for new blade shapes like a wharncliffe or some kind of modified sheepsfoot. These are blade shapes Vosteed also does well on models like the Raccoon and Valkeryie.

There are a couple of changes I would suggest. First, it would be nice if the point was dropped just a bit more on a knife this small. This would make it easier to use the point for cutting which is useful in such a compact design that is so well suited to EDC tasks. Second, it would be nice to see a hollow grind on this design. As I mentioned, the edge came very sharp and very well refined to almost a mirror polish. However, it is a little thick behind the edge thanks to the very short blade height. It cuts very well but this design would be even more laser-like with a hollow grind.

Wrap Up

I have mentioned how much I like this little-big knife/companion knife genre countless times before as someone who carries a fixed-blade knife basically daily. This one is near the top of my list right now. It is a ton of fun thanks to all the fidget potential but it is also just a solid user that offers a surprising amount of grip in such a compact package.

The Chipmunk is currently on sale for up to 15% off for Valentine’s Day at Amazon: Vosteed Chipmunk at Amazon.com

You can learn more about all Vosteed’s offerings at Vosteed.com.

Review: ThermoWorks ThermoDrop Zipper-Pull Thermometer

I picked up this ThermoDrop Zipper-Pull Thermometer to help fill in the temperature data gap in my favorite areas to explore in my area. The forecasts in my area come out of a city that is about 2 hours away by car and there are countless microclimates between here and there. There are mountain weather websites that do their best to make some algorithmic guesses about forecasts but they often miss the mark which leaves me guessing about how to gear up for trips into the mountains.

Last summer, I spent a night out on a mountain bench just below the tree line. According to forecasts for that elevation, I should have seen temperatures down around 32F. The actual temperature never went lower than 56F which was MUCH closer to the forecasted temps for the valley below. This will help inform future trips into this area.

There are a few specific attributes of the ThermoDrop that make it so useful. First, it is extremely compact and lightweight (smaller than the diameter of a US quarter and weighing in at half a gram). Second, it shows the current temp but also records the lowest and highest temp since it was activated which is the real game changer versus most cheap zipper-pull/keychain thermometers.

I have found no end to the usefulness of this little thermometer. I’ve used it to monitor the temperature inside a cooler during power outages, check temps in a crawl space during a cold snap, test my comfort level in various sleeping bags and insulation layers, and even check temps on training runs/walks during hot summer days.

This is GREAT gear that has changed the way I hike and train. It is small enough that you’ll never leave home without it and useful enough that you won’t want to. I highly recommend it.

ThermoWorks.com

Review: Vosteed Corgi

You’ve likely noticed that I am on a bit of a Vosteed Cutlery kick lately. That is for good reason. One, I think they are offering some very compelling and unique knives at a variety of price points. Two, I think they are a brand that is worth watching because they are making some major moves. The Vosteed Corgi is a great example of that. This is a knife that has an incredible, eye-catching, stylish design while also offering great performance. When they offered to send one, I jumped.

Stats

Blade Length: 2.99″ | 75.98 mm

Overall Length: 7.17″ | 182.12 mm

Blade Width: 0.84″ | 21.31 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Drop Point

Blade Finish: Black Stonewash

Hardness: HRC 60±2 

Handle Length: 4.18″ | 106.14 mm

Handle Width: 0.92″ | 23.32 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.49″ | 12.33 mm

Handle Material: G10

Color: Jade

Weight: 3.50 oz | 99.22 g

Opener: Front Flipper | Back Flipper

Lock Type: Trek Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Knife Type: Manual Folding

Backspacer Material: G10

Backspacer Color: Jade

Button Material: Stainless Steel

The insert colors and materials vary by model. My Corgi review sample has silver titanium inserts but other options like brass and copper are also available.

Observations from Use

I want to go hard on the design of this knife so I am going to get the cutting performance out of the way up front. It cuts well – really well. Vosteed’s factory edges are great and this relatively thin 14C28N blade has great cutting geometry thanks to the full-height flat grind. The point is excellent thanks to a long swedge grind. It is almost like a scaled-up Swiss Army Knife blade – thin, flat, and slicey.

Now… that design. Oh my. What a great-looking series of knives. The Corgi gives a great first impression with its symmetry which is very stylishly executed. I don’t know of another production knife that is quite this symmetrical.

After you take in that satisfying symmetry, you notice the modern-traditional details that make this knife both futuristic and a throwback at the same time. The shape of the knife and the way the blade slips fully into the handle is a call back to the slim pen knives of yesteryear. The metal inserts around the pivot colors look super slick and hint strongly toward older, bolstered designs like barlow knives while still looking very modern. You have to admit, this is a great-looking knife.

The design isn’t just there for show. The symmetry means that the button lock is always under thumb… easy to find and ready to use. The slimness of the design means this knife slips easily into the corner of the pocket, out of the way, and unlikely to ever get in your way. The Corgi is VERY easy to carry.

The design also bakes in a lot of fun. If you like to fidget with your EDC knife, this one gives you a lot of options. You can depress the button lock and open it with just a flick of the wrist… a very small flick because it’s buttery smooth. You can front flip it, back flip it, slow roll it off the front flipper, or even reach over to snap it open with your index finger (knife guys call this the “reach around”).

The fit and finish are excellent. Vosteed does a lot of machined micro-textures on their handle scales and I don’t think enough people call this out when reviewing these knives. This texture provides great grip without shredding your pockets. It’s a nice touch that you might not notice until you have one in hand.

The Corgi in particular is Vosteed flexing on everyone with their fit and finish because the design doesn’t let them hide a thing. The way the blade nests flush with the handle and the fitting of the inserts around the pivot would make any kind of fitment issues painfully obvious. You won’t find them on my example. Everything is straight as an arrow and satisfyingly flush.

As thrilled as I am with the style of this knife, I do have a nit to pick. The detent is lighter than I would prefer. I suspect that this is on purpose to support all of the various opening methods that this knife offers. I am not saying this is going to open in your pocket. It’s not a dangerous detent. It just isn’t a strong detent like you might find on a liner/frame lock. It would be nice if it was just a bit stronger and the action might feel even snappier.

Finally, because I know the knife guys will be wondering. I spine whacked this knife multiple times and it passed every time. I spine-whacked it lightly at the tip and back at the base of the blade when I took it out of the box. I repeated this after a week of carrying/fidgeting with it and I have done it multiple times since. It never failed and, typical for button locks, the lock-up has actually improved with use. The knife now belongs to my daughter. I trust it.

Wrap Up

This knife is a great cutter. It’s super fun to play with. It carries like a dream thanks to a very slim design. And, as much as I want to say form follows function and looks don’t matter… this knife looks so good, it turns that whole sentiment on its ear. Style is subjective but, to my eye, this is the one to beat.

Learn more at Vosteed.com. Vosteed often has increased inventory and frequent sales at Amazon. The Corgi is 15% off right now for Valentine’s Day: Vosteed Corgi at Amazon.com.

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