Maker Spotlight - Columbia River Knife & Tool / CRKT
It is always super fun to launch a new brand on EDCaddiction, but this one is special for me personally. I am not exaggerating when I say that this brand is probably most responsible for the deepening of my EDC addiction. It was also one of the brands that I had on my “wish list” when we started EDCa back in 2018. This brand really brought custom makers to the mainstream and I am unashamed to say that I was part of the mainstream when I got swept up by this brand. With a goal to “build knives and tools that would inspire and endure” I would say they succeeded. So, with that ALL being said, I would like to welcome Columbia River Knife & Tool to the EDCaddiction stable of brands!
A Quick History Lesson
Columbia River Knife & Tool was founded in 1994 by two former Kershaw employees: Paul Gillespi and Rob Bremer. Before you cry too many tears for Kershaw, remember that company was founded when Pete Kershaw left another knifemaker (a story for another post). Their first breakout hit was a design collaboration with Ed Halligan called the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple), released in 1997.
This was a true hit, selling out several times during the 1997 edition of the S.H.O.T Show. This release, and the way they went about creating it, appears to have laid the groundwork for CRKT’s future success.
Collaboration as a Key to Success
The K.I.S.S. showed the market potential for a well-designed knife, from a well-known knifemaker, at an accessible price could help catapult sales to the moon (not that it should come as a surprise now). CRKT is one of those companies that readily acknowledge that knives do not design themselves. They also seemed to realize that promoting an in-house designer with no following could be a risky proposition. So, instead of hiring an army of designers, CRKT selects some of the most well-known independent knifemakers to design knives for them. They are also willing/interested/motivated to produce a production version of a custom knife design. As of this writing (09/2020), CRKT has 44 designers that read as a “who’s who” of independent knifemakers. Since these are the best of the best, their names are included on the knives that they designed. I really think this acts as a point of pride (for CRKT and the designer) as well as a point of research (for a N00b like me at the time). I learned about more than one iconic maker from his/her CRKT design, which I suppose means the plan worked to perfection on me. I think that this could be another reason why folks might choose CRKT to produce their design.
So, tell me about the knives…
Regarding the knives themselves, wow. These pieces are designed for work. Materials and finishes are what you might expect from a production knife and as a result, CRKT knives have a certain “industrial” style that might not exist in the designers’ other work. The build quality of these knives is amazing and readily obvious as soon as you pick one up. What makes this quality even more impressive is that there is no sacrifice made for quality/durability.
My "go to" example is a the SQUID (designed by Lucas Burnley): it feels incredibly solid in hand, simple to operate, holds an edge well, and I have no problem trusting it with the task at hand. I reach for it often because it 100% lives up to the CRKT slogan “confidence in hand.”
So, I hope it is obvious to you, dear reader, that I am excited about CRKT. I think that carrying a brand that was most responsible for my EDC addiction is a real full-circle moment. I hope that you take some time to discover these knife (if you haven’t already), and add a great daily carry to your own stable.
See you out there,
(if there is a CRKT knife and/or tool that you are looking for, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get it for you)