Survival Gear Review: Helle’s New Folding Bushcraft Knife, the Bleja
A first look at a beautiful Norwegian blade
In a bustling knife factory in western Norway—one long known for world-class fixed blades—the craftsmen at Helle have spent the last three years trying to design and perfect a new folding knife that holds up to their standards. The result of their effort is called the Bleja, named after the stunning 4,000-foot peak that emerges from a nearby fjord. But does the Bleja make the cut for me? Let’s find out.
Right from the tube-shaped package, the first thing I noticed about the Bleja is the gorgeous curly birch handle scales on this lockback folder. I’m a traditionalist, and a sucker for wooden handles. I know, the latest space-age handle materials are stronger and last longer, but most of them also lack the beauty of natural wood. And for a wood-devouring bushcraft knife, I’d expect nothing other than a wooden handle. But enough about the pretty wood choice.
I’m not sure how Helle got my hand measurements (I guess you can get anything on the internet these days), but the handle was a perfect fit in my hand. The grip seemed custom made—it was comfortable in the hand and it indexed perfectly. I can tell exactly where my edge is will be, even in the dark. Would I change anything about the handle? Well, maybe. Four of the six stainless steel screw heads stand a little tall on the handle scales. I’d prefer to have them flush and smooth against my palm and fingers, but this may be part of the design – for added grip. Full handle stainless liner scales, a crisp lockback mechanism, and a small lanyard hole complete the handle’s design.
And what about the blade? This is a knife review after all. The triple laminated stainless steel drop point blade bears the traditional Scandinavian grind and it comes from the factory with a razor sharp edge. I have long felt that the Scandi grind is the best edge profile for wood carving, and if a knife like this can’t make a believer out of you, nothing will. The blade carves cleanly and easily, with and against the grain of wood, both hard and soft species. The blade of the Bleja is exemplary: it’s strong, sleek, sharp and sturdy. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. And as a handy bonus, the Scandi grind is easy to sharpen, even for beginners. If you’re looking for a high end bushcraft knife for someone special (or just for yourself), this is a great choice. Yes, it’s expensive, but it takes 45 separate manual operations to build this knife, and it’s built to last. Here are the specs:
Weight: 5.29 ounces
Blade material: Triple laminated stainless steel
Blade length: 4 ½ inches
Handle material: Curly birch wood
Handle length: 4 ½ inches