Spyderco Aqua Salt Marine Knife Review

Whilst I’ve been served really very well by my Al Mar Sere knife, it has suffered from the very same fate that almost all high-quality steels will face when excessively used in and around salt water – it rusts. It wouldn’t happen if I was more vigilant (by that I mean rinsing & lubricating after each trip) but I’m way too lazy for that. For the most part, iron oxidization really only appears as surface rust on this steel (S30V), save for one crucial part – the sharpened edge. That too is easily removed by sharpening, although this also means sharpening it even more than would otherwise be required. And it’s too good a knife to grind down like that, so I’ve decided to relegate that as my bush/hunting knife and have elected to replace it with something that promises to solve the yak fishing usage dilema I have.

There are quite a few ‘rust-proof’ knives out there and many of them are exactly that. Typically, however, achieving rust-proof status has always meant increasing the chrome content, inadvertantly effecting the strength, sharpening responsiveness and edge-holding ability of the steel. Stainless steel that has excessive amounts of chrome is simply more brittle and when compared with blades with higher amounts of carbon (which does corrode quickly), are downright difficult to maintain. After looking into the matter again recently I noticed that there has been somewhat of an industry breakthrough, with a truly high-quality rust-proof stainless steel appearing on the market. Spyderco wasted no time getting on the ‘H1’ steel bandwagon. And knowing this company and their products the way I do, made no hesitation in ordering one of their new H1 fixed blade knifes to replace the Al Mar Sere. Say hello to the Spyderco Aqua Salt.

I haven’t actually taken it out kayak fishing, nor have I yet used it to cut anything and obviously haven’t had a go at sharpening it yet. But I know enough about knives to know that this is a very high quality blade and I’m pretty fond of the sheath that comes with it as well (though I haven’t yet decided whether or not to fix it to the PFD or RAM tube) . As is typical with Spyderco knives, it’s available with a full straight edge or otherwise a full serrated edge. I chose the former, as a straight edge is far better for most fishing applications (and I have a serrated blade on my Leatherman anyway). It’s available with yellow or black handles. I chose the latter… because I’m a badass!

Here’s what Spyderco have to say about this particular knife:

Whether sporting or laboring in saltwater two features rate highly in choosing a fixed blade utility knife, reliable cutting performance and the knife’s ability to remain rust free without maintenance. The knife industry toyed unsuccessfully with non-rusting steels for years until two years ago when Spyderco started manufacturing blades using an alloy called H-1. H1 is precipitation-hardened steel, utilizing .1% nitrogen instead of carbon. Carbon is the component in steel that makes the blade hard and allows it to hold an edge. Carbon also reacts to chloride, making rust. With nitrogen replacing the carbon; hardness and edge retention are realized but nitrogen doesn’t react to chloride so it physically cannot rust.

Aqua Salt’s H-1 blade is thick for hearty use with a weight reducing swedge grind on the spine. It is available fully PlainEdged or SpyderEdged and has a thin, hollow-ground cutting surface. For enhanced visibility the fiberglass reinforced nylon handle is available in cornea searing Marine Yellow or subdued black and comes aggressively textured keeping the knife in your hand even if wet, cold or slippery. Injection molded Fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) sheath with multi-position FRN G-Clip.

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