After a decade in the business, knife maker Daniel Fairly is expanding his focus in a big way. He plans to transition into from custom, limited batch work to a high quality production outfit, bringing his designs to as wide an audience as possible. And he’s kicking things off with a new mid-tech run of his Backpacker fixed blade design.
“The Backpacker is one of my earliest designs and I have probably made about 1000 of them since 2011,” Fairly, based in Southwestern Colorado, tells us. Over the years, the compact fixed blade’s design has been renovated, tweaked, altered. “It has been a goal to improve subtle features of the model on every run and I think these latest in Nitro-V are my best yet.” Nitro-V has been a popular choice for custom and small batch production makers these last few years, and it caught Fairly’s eye for this favored design. “When I saw the formula of Nitro-V I knew the Nitrogen and Vanadium would be a game changer.”
Although the name “Backpacker” suggest the outdoor category specifically, Fairly points out that the knife is designed to do anything under that falls under the EDC umbrella. “The Backpacker really is a true EDC blade in all ways, from pure utility to food prep in the kitchen.” The 2.5-inch, v-ground wharncliffe blade shape is easy to use, and accentuated by careful attention to the small details. “Edge geometry and heat treat are a huge emphasis here,” notes Fairly. “They make it very satisfying to use. Nitro-V steel has exceptional edge stability which allows me to engineer a real performer.”
The work-ready, flexible blade is complemented by a purposefully neutral handle shape. “I personally like to use a non-indexing style of handle on my EDC knives as it is more versatile than a handle that locks in one place,” Fairly explains. He also pays particular attention to sheath design. “A great knife also needs a great sheath for carry and to keep it safe. I put a lot of time into my sheaths for both function and design.” For Fairly, his goal was to make all of these elements come together into an EDC fixed blade that makes you forget about your folder. “It is the fixed blade that is easier to use or carry than a folder.”
Fairly is frank about the challenges of fixed blade design. “This is an extremely competitive field with everyone from one man blacksmith shops to huge corporations working to be the best,” he says. But he hopes to make 2021 the year he establishes an even bigger customer base for his work. “I am planning 4-5 large runs this year,” he reveals; in this runs we will see a bowie-style EDC and possibly a large chopper.
If all goes according to plan, Fairly can move away from the custom maker scale and into something more universal. “I’m working with a very small team that took years to develop and without them this wouldn’t be happening,” he says. “I’m shifting my focus from small runs and one offs to being the very best small production company. The very best knives, always USA made and affordable.”
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