Do you remember the Vikings? They were the ones who had a strict rule to own and carry a weapon wherever they went. For the richest ones, this meant an ax or a sword. However, for an ordinary farmer, it was possible to only have a big knife.
Norwegians followed this practice for a long time. Even today, several of them carry a strong EDC knife in a leather sheath fastened to their hip. Helle knives are purely Norwegian! They were born out of the pursuit of two brothers, namely Sigmund and Steiner Helle, which was of making better knives for the farmers who could not afford upscale knives.
They wanted something that would last, appear good, and would be used for a myriad of tasks. They knew that farmers could not afford more than one knife. Thus, they felt the need of making a really functional and versatile knife.
Made in Norway, these knives are created using a few of the same techniques that Vikings implemented centuries ago. Today, the brand is known for making mostly fixed blade knives apt for camping, survival, bushcraft, tactical, kitchen chores, woodworking, garage work, and even for collection purposes.
Most of them come with classic and chic wooden handles along with high-quality leather sheaths. All of them are made to last! Recently, it has also come up with folding knives.
If you wish for a legacy knife for collection purposes or a functional knife for practical use, consider looking for the best Helle knife.
Overview of Helle Knives
The robust Helle knives are the outcome of the inspiration by the surrounding open sea and wild mountains in the small hamlet of Holmedal, Norway. The local love for outdoor life and the Scandinavian intelligence of elegant functionality, as well as quality, make up these knives.
The brand says that its knives are designed to be used. However, they are also masterpieces for those who love to collect treasures. Each Helle knife is handcrafted; thanks to the continued contribution of experienced cutlers. Yes, it is not made using an automated machine.
In a small factory, each step of knife and sheath production is handled by skilled craftsmen, ranging right from procurement of raw material to rendering a finished product. Each knife passes up to 45 to 60 manual operations and examinations to ensure durability, consistent performance, and sturdiness.
Most Helle knives are made using stainless steel but some have carbon steel blades. Each blade is ground manually to accomplish a razor-like sharp edge.
Similarly, each handle is meticulously shaped using aged wood and finished to a patina that is rubbed by hand. It is designed to fit well in your hand and comes with unique grain and figure, rendering the knife one of a kind. Following are the main features of a Helle knife:
- Triple Laminated Steel Blades: This unique steel is the major feature that sets a Helle knife apart from other knives. Most Helle blades are composed of this stainless steel. Herein, the center portion is made using stainless steel having high carbon content and scores 58-59 on the Rockwell hardness scale. This high-alloy steel renders a very sharp edge that lasts. It also forms the blade’s harder part and holds the edge. With the drop-point shape, this blade is ideal for carving or bushcraft. On the flip side, this layer is susceptible to corrosion or breakage. To utilize the great qualities of the high-alloy steel up to its fullest potential, there are two outside layers of tough 18/8 stainless steel. This steel keeps breakage and corrosion at bay while the harder core ensures a terrific cutting edge. The outside steel layers also give a blade that you can sharpen to have a very fine, razor-like sharp edge without making it brittle. Another benefit you get is easy resharpening, as much steel discarded is softer. This technique of making a blade makes a Helle knife quite expensive but truly worthy of your money. It also shows that the brand has stuck to its philosophy of never compromising quality.
- Scandinavian Grind: Most blades of Helle knives feature a unique Scandinavian grind, which is a flat, single, wide bevel existing on each side of the blade and going to the edge. Unlike other knives, no secondary bevel exists. This grind gives an extremely keen edge that you can sharpen effortlessly without hops.
- Curly Birch Handle: Good workmanship can easily contribute to handles that fit in the hand comfortably, remain in harmony with the blade for using the latter safely, and add charm to a knife. Keeping this in mind, most Helle handles are made using hard and elegantly structured curly birch that is naturally grained. While making some handles, this wood is combined with leather or antler too. Each handle passes through the meticulous processes of polishing and lubricating to retain the natural beauty of its composed materials. Thus, Helle handles have two catching characteristics; one they feel safe and great in the hand, and the other is that they allure the eyes. Due to the use of only natural materials, Helle knives usually reflect a distinctive look.
- Nordic Sheath: Helle is proud to make some of the most striking as well as strong sheaths for their knives. The material mostly used to make sheaths is fine leather, which is equivalent to the quality of leather used to make the seats of animal riders. It is botanically tanned and dyed to meet quality control standards. Once stitching is done, the finished product is greased manually to produce a patina and ensure defense from moisture and stains. The specific sheath shape reflects the long-time practical development of quality.
The secret to why Helle has still stuck to manual production is its sustained viewpoint that skilled craftsmen best preserve quality craftsmanship. This is also the reason why craftsmen with diverse experience and expertise continue to make each knife unique.
Although these knives may not be quite pricey, they are a bargain if you consider their durability. They are made to endure the strains that any tool is exposed to when used outdoors. Thus, they are ideal for outdoor users who need a knife now and then. As each knife is made by hand with individualized patterns in the handle, no two Helle knives are identical.
2021’s 5 Best Helle Knives
HELLE Dokka Folder: Ideal General-purpose EDC
This one seems to be a functional knife as well as an art piece. While most customers use it for simply outdoor tasks, a few also use it for woodworking and bushcraft. Even Helle describes this knife as an all-purpose folder.
Although Dokka is the name of the mountain in the surroundings of the Helle factory, it is now the name of the first Helle folding knife. It is lighter than some Helle knives such as Bleja. The 84mm-long blade is made using Helle’s proprietary triple laminated steel so that you do not have to worry about its sharpness or durability.
Just like any other Helle knife, the Dokka too boasts a unique handle look. Made up of stunning curly birch, the handle has two screws and an internal rod for holding the blade. This is the rod and screw method for fixing the blade to it, which is found in some Helle knives. The other Helle knives use a full tang to ensure greater ruggedness. The handle easily hides the added steel liners that tend to fortify it.
You also get a pouch made up of real leather, which has a belt loop too.
- Sophisticated look
- Long but thick
- Comfortable in hand
- Not any
Helle Nying: Ideal as Neck Knife, and for Woodworking and Outdoor General Use
If you look for this knife on the official website of Helle, you will find that it is made specifically for the fishermen. However, this is not true. Indeed, the users of this knife have praised it for its other applications, especially woodworking, carving, slicing, and repairing car tires. Thus, it would not be wrong to infer it as an all-purpose knife. Still, do not consider this tool for bushcraft.
First made in 1977, the Nying differs from other Helle knives in terms of its wide round handle that tapers and again broadens towards the blade. This shape may feel awkward to you at first glance. However, when you start using it, you will realize how comfortably it fits in your hand.
It is liberally balanced to ensure a good grip even when you are using the knife in cold weather or with hands covered in slime. You can easily work it for a long time without experiencing fatigue, as the handle fills the palm well. The handle also looks quite stunning, as it is made using brass clinker and curly birch.
Talking about the blade, it is 2.75-inch long and made using triple-layered laminated steel. The overall size of the knife is around 7 inches. This small broad knife also comes with a pretty sheath made up of leather and reflecting a distinct cutout. It has a suspension thong rather than a belt loop and a keeper strap to involve a stud on the pommel.
If at all you buy this classic Nordic knife, you will feel proud to invest in an award-winning tool. Yes, the Nying has won the famed Norsk Designråd Award for its design.
- Stunning handle look
- Small and sturdy but for hard use
- Versatile uses
- Super comfortable handle size
- Inconsistent blade grind along its length
- Chubby handle may not fit in small hands
Helle Bleja: Ideal Utility EDC Carver
This is another knife that is named after the biggest mountain where the brand is located. While not as big as a mountain, this substantial knife is capable of performing some serious tasks including scraping the Ferro rod with the lock and not the spine.
Helle has recently come up with a few folding models, of which the Bleja is quite popular. It is admired for its novel locking mechanism featuring full liners to give you a sturdy and dependable knife. Despite being a folder, its compact body encompasses all the typical features of a fixed blade from Helle to give you a mid-sized EDC tool.
The overall construction is solid with the edge being pretty sharp. The 3.5-inch blade features a drop-point shape and is made using the famous triple laminated stainless steel.
The handle is made using the standard curly birch wood. It is slim and well-countered for allowing maximum control over a carving job. You also get a nice sheath with this knife.
- Not very light or very heavy
- For hard tasks outdoors
- Somewhat tough to close
Helle Alden: Ideal for Hard Outdoor Tasks Excluding Skinning
All Helle knives are masterpieces, including the Alden that proves that hard chores do not go well in pretty tools. Inspired by Norway’s Alden Island and with the name carved on the blade, this handmade knife is both stunning and highly functional, especially amidst the wilderness. It shows that even a beautiful knife can be remarkable in its performance.
At first glance, the knife looks attractive. When you take it in hand, it is quite lightweight. It does not feel heavy despite its handle made up of curly birch and the 4-inch blade made using stainless steel. Most people feel that it is full tang but it is not. The tang reaches a point that goes to the butt end where a brass nut secures it.
The blade is sharp out of the box. Once you start using it, you will see how strong and versatile it is. Unlike many other Helle knives, this one has a non-laminated 12C27 steel blade to give you the right level of thickness. There is a handy guard that is small enough to fit a sheath of pouch style.
The Alden also comes with a sheath made up of tanned leather. Whether for adding to your collection legacy knives or for having a reliable tool for tough use while hiking, the Alden is less likely to disappoint you.
- Cheap leather
- Uneven grind
Helle Fire: Ideal for Camping
This was the first knife with the full-tang design made by Hareide Designmill. Designed mainly for camping tasks including a Ferro rod striking with the spine, the knife reflects all the distinct Helle qualities. Interestingly, it is a bit bigger than what you get to see in images.
Designed to sustain its sharpness and consistent performance as a lifetime outdoor pal, the Fire comes with a 68mm-long blade of stainless steel that is triple-layered and a 127mm-long handle made using Masurian birch.
The stout blade reflects the standard shape of knives made for shipboards and barns, while the handle reflects a unique wooden pattern. The single-piece handle binds around the tang’s lower section and the full tang is noticeable on its upper area. Such a design guards your fingers so that they do not directly contact the tang while use in cold weather.
Another distinct feature of this knife is its lanyard hole with a carabiner clip for quick hanging. Even the black sheath is handy in which the knife resides safely with a belt fastener. It features a retaining strap. Previously, the sheath did not support belt attachment, which means you now get an improved one with a belt loop.
- Extremely sharp
- Carabiner for hanging the knife
- Handle uncomfortable for some
Helle was inaugurated as A/S Helle Fabrikker in 1932 by two young brothers, Sigmund and Steinar Helle in an old blacksmith shop residing on their farm in Holmedal. They acquired all craft traditions from their father who was a village smith.
Steinar Helle made the first Helle knives, which he used to take on his bicycle to the market. These initial knives were sold in their remote hamlet of Holmedal. However, with the increase in production, the brothers had to look for markets farther away.
For the next nine years during which their village did not have electricity, the Helle brothers built and used a small dam with a turbine. They built this dam in the hills at the rear of the shop. The production was great when it rained. During dry days, much was done by hand when water fell short.
Until 1948, the brothers made only simple knives with sheaths. However, in 1948, they started making table knives that were followed by spoons and forks. Stainless cutlery became the brand’s main production line, which continued to be so for the next 25 years. In 1975, sports knives became the brand’s staple products. In 1988, the production of stainless flatware was stopped.
Today, with just 50 employees, the company is the leading knife manufacturer in Norway. More than 65% of its production capacity is kept for knives meant for outdoor use. The remaining capacity is for hot forged blades for cutlery.
A/S Helle Fabrikker is a keystone in remote Holmedal. Although problems are faced for operating commercially in a remote location, they are easily resolved by dedicated and trained labor personnel. The benefits achieved are tough to imitate in a more populated region and are essential for manufacturing Helle knives.
Today, it offers a comprehensive product line of over 30 diverse knives sold worldwide. Ranging right from the Viking as a general-purpose knife to Sigmund as a collector’s knife, these Scandinavian knives are tools to cherish.
Even after almost 95+ years, the notion of producing a practical knife that is also a masterpiece is still the steering principle based on hard work, honesty, and quality. Although the local tradition guides the company’s philosophy and production, Helle has also been keen on introducing some novel models by coordinating with the expert, Les Stroud on designs and making a few folding knives.
These designs are seen on the Mandra for survival and Temagami for bushcraft. Despite these new designs, the company seems to continue to focus on the traditional Nordic designs of handcrafting.
Today, Helle knives are equivalent to outdoor knives that last. All its customers still savor the historical characteristics regardless of the type of knife in which they invest.
How do I sharpen a Helle knife?
Although a Helle knife will last, it does not mean you will never have to resharpen it. It is recommended to use a diamond whetstone or a fine-grained, hard whetstone with sufficient water or oil to sharpen it. You start by placing the bevel flat to the stone and work along the blade until a bit burr becomes visible on the opposite side. Now, switch the side and perform the same procedure until the burr becomes visible on the first side.
Does a Helle sheath lose its color?
The sheath tends to lose its color if it is stored under direct sunlight for some hours.
Which Helle knives are ideal for bushcraft?
The popular Helle knives for bushcraft are Utvaer, Didi Galgalu, and Temagami. The former two feature full-tang, long blades made using 12C27 stainless steel. The Temagami knife is a semi-full tang one that protects the fingers from direct exposure to the tang in cold weather.
Is it necessary to lubricate the blade?
Yes, it is essential to grease or oil the blade periodically. This is your contribution to sustaining its performance for a lifetime.
Helle knives stand apart from other knives due to their triple laminated blades of steel with distinctive Scandinavian grind and unique wooden patterns on handles. They are admired for their matchless craftsmanship and quality. It is tough to find an alternative to these knives considering their elegance, adventurous touch, and years of service. The best Helle knife will be expensive but is worth every penny.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.