Review: the Civivi Odium punches well above its weight
The Odium is a modern little powerhouse of a pocket knife.
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Ever since my time in the Army, I’ve been curious what types of knives cost the least but actually get the most bang for their buck. More recently, I’ve been watching the knives coming out of the Civivi store and have been eager to get my hands on some of their wares. The reason is simple: so many EDC-oriented Instagram accounts appear to use Civivi for their classy appearance, and I’m curious to see if their usefulness actually matches their aesthetic. And while I tend to wait until I can see them behind a display case before purchasing, the company was kind enough to send us a batch of knives — including the Civivi Odium — to test out and review.
Civivi’s parent company, the China-based We Knife, produces futuristic-looking blades that might look comfortable on a movie set about street fighting in Hong Kong but might also appear a bit odd in a tackle box down by the river. In recent years, Civivi has challenged this dynamic to make quality knives with sensible designs that are engineered for function over form. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t have cool knives, but it does feel silly whipping out a dragon-shaped blade to harvest cactus on the side of the road in New Mexico.
Still, Civivi retains some of its brand edge in the name of the Odium, which stands for “an intense hatred or disgust for a group of people or individuals after observing their actions.” Let’s see if that’s how I feel about this knife after testing it, shall we?
Civivi knocks it out of the park with their unboxing experience. The knife comes in a beautiful white package with the Civivi logo on the side. The white box has links to their social media and sales departments, along with the name of the knife model. Inside, the knife comes in a plastic bag inside a nylon zippered case. The case has a high-quality microfiber cloth to clean and maintain your new blade. The inside of the case is made out of a soft, plush blue material for your new baby knife to rest while not in use at your campsite.
This Odium comes with a D2 steel blade and black G10 handle. It offers a reversible pocket clip but neglects a lanyard hole for modified personal aesthetic additions. It also comes in blue, gray, natural, orange, or a blacked-out blade, and you can obtain this pocket knife with high-end wooden handles and Damascus steel as well. With a blade length of 2.65 inches, the knife’s total length reaches just barely over 6 inches. For smaller frames, this knife could be the perfect fit, although it was just a tad small for my hand. However, it is still a great knife for lighter use, especially since I always find large knives uncomfortable to carry in public unless on a campsite.
Civivi included a sticker and asks you to post on social media if you truly enjoy your knife. After snapping some pics of mine, I had to admit: this is truly a knife made for both work and Instagram.
How we tested the Civivi Odium
After the dazzling unboxing experience, I tested the knife’s sharpness through my standard paper slicing test. The Odium passed with flying colors: fresh out of the box, this knife slices through a sheet of paper with almost zero effort. Even renowned utility knife companies like Opinel and Victorinox rarely ship knives this sharp, and it speaks to Civivi’s intent to impress from the start.
This knife spent around two weeks riding around in my pockets either clipped to the pocket or sloshing around at the bottom. The knife is tough and doesn’t blemish easily. Even the several boxes I had to slash through for home improvement projects didn’t blemish the knife. The fiber cloth that Civivi provides all the maintenance you need to wipe the blade clean after cutting into a box covered in adhesive or the sticky dried cactus juice that covered my piece. I’m surprised the abuse this knife took without even a dent to the finish or the blade itself.
The other test we put this slicer through was harvesting prickly pear fruits from wild cactus in the New Mexico desert. To harvest these little fruits, you need a razor-sharp blade to avoid the teeny burrs embedding themselves in your skin. The blade is a little short for harvesting on the cactus itself, but its small design made it perfect for defanging a prickly pear on the fly.
What we like about the Civivi Odium
This knife makes an ideal small cutting tool with an overall length under 7 inches. Folks under 6 feet tall should have no problem manipulating this blade with one hand, while larger folks may have a few issues with this knife and should exercise caution when using it with gloves on. Despite this, the razor-sharp edge with the pocket clip makes it the perfect tool for smaller hands but also for everyday functions like cutting open boxes and packages.
Because of its size, this knife is very discreet for any user. It’s under 3 inches when folded and fits neatly into most fifth jean pockets. In fact, it’s so small I carried this knife in a windbreaker for three days thinking I had lost it; it was so small I didn’t notice it gliding along in my pocket. The lightweight, sleek design can be slipped nearly anywhere on your person and the reversible pocket clip will keep it there if attached to a piece of fabric. The ambidextrous clip allows for even more diversity of use than many single-sided knives, and the blade is given a gray stonewash finish that prevents any shine from the blade at night.
Finally, the ergonomic design makes this knife usable for almost anyone with a civilian job. It has thumb grids on the top of the blade when flipped open and boasts an index finger indent that allows for a sure-footed grip. The handle’s indent allows the user to safely grip the knife without gloves, making it a perfect desk tool. It’s also great for outdoor uses provided the work isn’t cutting up trees.
What we don’t like about the Civivi Odium
I love the Odium because it’s difficult to find such a durable, effective knife at a price point below $60, but Civivi figured it out. However, it has a few issues that I don’t like. If you are over 6 feet tall, the knife is a tad too small for heavy work. I am a large-framed person and need a larger handle to effectively manipulate a knife, but the knife’s finger notch attempts to make up for it. If it were just an inch longer, it would offer a more robust handle for larger-framed people. Hopefully, Civivi will make a larger model and continue to offer the odium in updated versions through the years.
Tiny handles make any tool difficult to fully grasp for heavier work. The Odium is by design a smaller pocket knife and a common size, but be careful if you purchase this knife for uses other than basic tasks. With gloves on, I’m not able to feel the flipper tab to open the knife. I can make it work by smashing my finger in the area I know the tab is located, but it is difficult to find. The frame lock is also difficult to depress with a glove on, making it a two-handed knife with gloves on despite its small size. The small slit in the blade makes it slightly easier to manipulate.
Furthermore, while the knife blade length under three inches accommodates some of the most stringent knife laws in the United States, it leaves much to be desired for camping purposes. You can carve a walking stick with this, but you cannot split logs, nor can you effectively skin game with this knife beyond a squirrel.
Civivi dazzles from the unboxing to the first use of the knife. Razor sharp, it’s ready for use within seconds of sliding it out of its protective plastic, offering an unfussy, small everyday carry knife that delivers every time it’s used. The blade’s D2 steel is extremely hard and might require a diamond stone to sharpen, but the edge out of the box is immaculate. Civivi earned a spot in my EDC drawer for life with this piece. I am excited to see where this company goes in the future.
FAQs about the Civivi Odium
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q. How much does the Civivi Odium costs?
A: This model lists on Amazon for $52.70
Q. Who is Civivi? I’ve never heard of them.
A: Civivi was founded in 2018 under the We Knife brand. The company intended to provide quality, utilitarian knives for everyday carry purposes. Civivi knives tend to be less flashy than some more popular brands, but based on this knife, I would say they have succeeded with flying colors.
Q. Can Civivi live up to American standards of manufacture?
A: Yes. Civivi sent us this Odium from the same pool of inventory that is purchased on Amazon. While Civivi doesn’t offer a slick customer service program or sharpening service, they do provide a cheap knife with quality steel that you can sharpen yourself. I’m not sure how they are able to offer such quality packaging at the price point, but I’m a fan of the product.
Q. Does Civivi offer any upgrades to the black G10 and D2 steel?
A: Yes. Civivi’s brand image appears to be more low key than it’s parent company, We Knife. However, there are incredible materials available for Civivi knives like the Ferrum Forge Odium with Guibourtia wood handles and damascus steel. The upgrade won’t increase the function of the knife, but it looks like the way a good whiskey tastes with the subtle accents and swirled black and white steel pattern. Civivi’s designs without upgrades are timeless — with the fancy materials, these make the perfect holiday gift.
Q. Why buy a Civivi?
A: Civivi wants lifelong customers for their brand. To gain your trust, they’ve designed a well-made, low-cost product that offers very little flash and tons of function. Based on what the company sent us for review, they’ve gained a life long customer in me. If you want low-cost gear that will last a lifetime, Civivi is your brand. They are offering brand new 2021 models with knife designer Justin Lindquist. If this particular model doesn’t make you happy, they have many years of design projects ahead. I’m eager to see this company’s growth in this niche market.
Got questions? Comment below & talk with T&P’s editors
Dennis White joined the Army in 2006 as an infantryman and served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He left the military in 2015 to pursue education and graduated with honors from Wesleyan University. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and spends most of his free time hiking in the wilds of southern New Mexico.