To me, the Aqua Salt knives were –yet another- ‘must have’ since I first saw the prototype. It never was the ‘must-have-now-or-else’ love affair I have with some other new models (the Phoenix comes to mind). It’s more of a ‘yep, that’s what I’ll get as soon as I get a chance’. That kind of sums up my feelings about the Aqua Salt. It isn’t very flashy or particularly innovative, but it is a handy little fixed blade that’s ‘just’ a good working knife and you’ll miss it when you lose it.
When I finally received my Aqua Salt, I immediately checked out the sheath first. The injection molded sheath was my main concern for this knife. The Perrin Streetbowie was Spyderco’s first injection molded sheath and I didn’t like it much because of the blade rattling inside it. I managed to fix it by using hairdryer to warm up the throat of the sheath and tightening it a bit. The sheath for my Rock Salt, that appears to use the same design as the Aqua Salt, has also developed a slight rattle. The Aqua Salt’s sheath, however, is still rock solid after about two months. The knife snaps in securely and stays put, no rattling. Using the ‘thumb push off’ technique works great to draw the knife fast but controlled. I think that injection molded sheaths, and the internal ‘bumps’ used to retain the knife, work best for small to medium sized blades. A blade like the Rock Salt has significantly more mass that wants to move inside the sheath. Apart from the fit, the sheath is very nice. It’s not too large, but light and fully ambidextrous. I really like the new ‘ G-Lock clip’.
There have been reports about the PE versions having rather dull edges. I’m happy to report that my SE edge came very sharp from the box. The only part that was a bit dull was the tiny PE part close to the tip. A few swipes on the Sharpmaker remedied this problem. I immediately put the Aqua Salt to work as an all-round ‘house knife’. In this capacity it opened lots of packaging, mail and envelopes, broke down cardboard and it’s been a welcome addition to our arsenal of kitchen knives. It won’t replace any of my kitchen knives, or my Morans for that matter, because the blade is rather thick compared to the aforementioned knives. However, this thickness does make the Aqua Salt a nice strong outdoors knife. The tip is sharp but definitely thicker than my Moran or Streetbeat. It should be able to take some abuse. The edge holding has increased from ‘AUS 8-ish’ from the box, to a really good ‘VG-10-ish’ type of edge holding after a few sharpening sessions. Mind you, I started sharpening as soon as I couldn’t cleanly slice newspaper print. The H-1 combined with the serrations keep the edge working for a looong time.
The handle is what makes me think of the Aqua Salt as a medium-sized Temperance. The Aqua Salt is more blade heavy than the Temperance, but the grip is equally secure and versatile. With wet hands, that were also covered with chicken grease and fat (don’t ask 😉 ), I never felt I lost control of the blade. Once you grip the handle, the knife stays put, in any of the 4 major grips. Yet when carried on the belt, the surface of the FRN is somehow smooth enough to not catch on clothing when out and about. For one type of grip, edge out/point forward/index finger along the spine (for precise point work), I’d like to see some jimping on the spine of the blade. That way, I’d get a bit more control for this type of grip.
The Aqua Salt is one of those must-have knives you should keep in your toolbox, tackle box and on your boat. It’s not a very glamorous knife, but a really nice working blade. It’s one of those designs that works pretty good in all sorts of roles, while other more specialized designs get all the attention. I wouldn’t feel “underknifed” with an Aqua Salt when hiking, camping, doing chores around the house. However, I can also imagine the Aqua Salt being useful as a diving knife, or for SWAT, Rescue and Military use. With its relatively thick tip, compact size, sure grip and very low maintenance, I think the Aqua Salt could be a nice tactical knife for Military, Police or Rescue work. I’d love to see this knife tested and evaluated by some of the people in these professions.