CRKT has been developing innovative neck knives for years. The Neckolas, from notable custom knife maker Terry Renner, breaks new ground in practical neck knife design.
I have been a fan of neck knives for many years and own both the Stiff K.I.S.S. 2300 designed by Ed Halligan and the Carson F4-12 from CRKT. Neck knives, in my opinion, are often overlooked as everyday carry knives and offer an alternative to having a knife tucked into a pants pocket or clipped to a belt. Interestingly, all of the neck knives that I have used from CRKT, including the Neckolas, also come with clips and attachments which provide the ability to carry on a belt, pack strap or pants pockets. The Renner Neckolas continues CRKT’s tradition of practical knives.
The Neckolas is a fixed blade full tang knife made from 8Cr13MoV Chinese steel with a drop point blade measuring in at an even two inches. Its tang is sandwiched between two layers of blue-black Micarta with a notable index finger ring and small cut out which saves on weight. The index finger ring is a key feature of this knife and is sufficiently large enough for users with big fingers and remains comfortable under heavy use. Out of the package the Neckolas wasn’t as sharp as I would like and I had to really work to remove hair from my arm. I got out my CRKT Slide Sharp system and after 10 minutes of work got the blade razor sharp. The entire knife measures 5.38 inches and weighs only 1.2 ounces. For comparative purposes, the Carson F4-12’s blade weighs 1.3 ounces and the venerable Victorinox Spartan weights 2.1 ounces. Overall the Neckolas with sheath weighs only 2.2 ounces. For people concerned about weight this knife is ideal as it won’t put strain on the neck nor will it weigh down your gear.
Perhaps the most innovative feature of the Neckolas is the matching blue-black Micarta sheath. According to CRKT it is the first of its kind. I researched that claim and couldn’t find another manufacturer that utilized Micarta for sheath material. Most neck knives use either Zytel or Kydex for their sheaths which are lightweight but more bulky. The design of the sheath is really unique and is my favorite feature of the knife. Drawing the knife is easy and it utilizes a thumb bar that puts upward pressure on the knife while in the sheath. At the base of the blade is a small notch that catches a stainless steel pin on the bottom edge of the sheath. Unlocking the blade requires a bit of pressure and there is an audible click once the knife is free. Returning the knife to the sheath produces the same audible click to indicate the blade is safely secured. It is a cleverly designed retention system. The knife can be removed from the sheath without the use of the thumb bar but requires significant force. I do not recommend doing this as it may compromise the locking feature, which could cause it to fall out of the sheath when worn around the neck. The sheath also comes with a reversible stainless steel clip to facilitate left or right hand use. The clip has to be used in order to secure a chain or cord to be worn around the neck. Removal of screw in the clip will allow for a variety of cords to be used. Black para-cord was used in the photographs but I changed it to a dog-tag chain for everyday carry. If I were using this knife for a backpacking trip I would use a length of paracord as it is more useful in survival situations. The clip secures nicely to backpack straps and into pants pockets.
The Renner Neckolas is also available with a blunt tip, triple serrated edge and bright orange Micarta scales and sheath. This version is clearly designed with EMT’s, firefighters or boaters. The blunt tip prevents puncturing, and the serrated blade is ideal for cutting cords and seat belts. This model would be ideal in a tackle box or car survival kit. CRKT is marketing this version as a rescue tool.
I wore the Neckolas for several weeks in place of my normal pocketknife when venturing outside. I usually wore it outside my clothes under my coat. It took a little bit of time to get used to wearing a knife around my neck again but considering how light the Neckolas is, it made the transition much easier. The hardest part was getting past the trained motion of reaching for a pocketknife from my pants pocket. I also placed the Neckolas in my pants pocket where I normally carry a pocketknife with the pocket clip. The knife’s slim design and light weight made it practical to carry this way as well.
I put the Neckolas through the usual battery of tests that I have used on other reviews. The finger ring allows for great precision when cutting. The small blade worked really well for chopping up vegetables, cutting up cooked meat and slicing up plastic bottles. I was a bit disappointed with how it functioned on pieces of cardboard and nylon cord. Based on this I believe it would benefit from a serrated blade. I also used the Neckolas to try and sharpen a wooden tent stake, which didn’t work particularly well. It was more suited to thinner sticks that could be used as skewers for cooking marshmallow’s, hot dogs or vegetables over a fire.
There are two things that gave me concerns in relation to use of the Neckolas. First, the stainless steel liner of the index finger ring had a little “play” in it and seemed loose. It did not fall out nor could I force it out of the hole. Long term I wonder how it will hold up with heavy use. The second concern I had was with the sharpness of the blade. I had to hone the blade on a sharpener out of the package. After my testing, I was not able to shave the hair off my arm without requiring me to resharpen the knife. The steel used with the Neckolas is a quality steel and known for good edge retention properties. It is my hope that the knife used in this review was an anomaly. With these concerns in mind I would not hesitate to purchase this knife or the blunt tipped variant. CRKT’s has a good reputation as a quality knife manufacturer and my experience with their products has been overwhelmingly excellent.
Overall, this a really practical and serviceable knife that can be used for everyday carry as an alternative to traditional pocket knife. The Neckolas is made of quality lightweight materials and retails for a reasonable $39.99. A search of the Internet will yield prices that lower 25-30% lower than manufacturers retail price. The use of Micarta as a sheathing material is unique and innovative. I am interested in seeing more sheaths use this material as an alternative to Zytel or Kydex. I recommend the CRKT’s Renner Neckolas if you are looking for functional knife for everyday carry, backpacking, or car survival kit.