Norwegian knife maker Helle crafts some of the most beautiful knives the world over. Its latest is particularly special, celebrating the past while making a call to action for the future. The new limited-edition Rein knife honors the company’s heritage and favorite animal: the reindeer. The knife features an ornate handle crafted from reindeer antler, dark oak and leather and serves as a reminder to protect those things we value most.
Since its founding in 1932, Helle has relied upon natural materials, including oak, birch, leather and reindeer antler. The “Rein,” a Norwegian term for reindeer, celebrates that heritage with its multi-material construction. The Rein’s 4.3-in (110-mm) handle is crafted from a combination of sustainably sourced reindeer antler inserts, dark oak and leather, brought together to mimic the earthy multi-tone coloring of reindeer fur.
“The reindeer has been one of the most important animals in the Norwegian fauna for thousands of years, and the indigenous Sami population has herded and tended their ‘domesticated’ herds of reindeer since at least the 1500,” Helle explained when introducing the new knife. “The Rein has been the most important source of wild animal proteins in Norway since then. In addition, the reindeer has supplied the people of the Nordic countries with pelts for warmth and – most importantly for Helle – antlers for crafts.”
The special edition handle is shaped for ergonomics when cutting and whittling with the 3.5-in (90-mm) polished, triple-laminated stainless steel blade. Helle calls it a classic Norwegian outdoor knife, well-suited to most activities for which you’d use a knife on outdoor adventures.
The Rein has a rather gorgeous and distinctive look, if you ask us, and will be limited to a handcrafted production run of 1,000 knives, worldwide. The 2.6-oz (92-g) knife comes with a sheath made from vegetable-tanned leather and debossed with a reindeer logo.
In addition to paying homage to the reindeer and Helle heritage, the Rein is also designed to spread awareness about the current struggle of the species. Helle explains that humans have been increasingly encroaching upon the territory of northern reindeer, in Norway and other Nordic countries.
A knife made from reindeer antler, by humans, might seem an odd way of highlighting the problem of human encroachment, but Helle explains that the antlers are sourced sustainably, without harming living animals for their antlers:
“There are two primary ways one can acquire antlers, depending partly on whether they come from wild reindeer or ‘domesticated’ herds. The first is from picking fallen antlers in the wild. The male reindeer (who have the largest antlers best for knife handles) fell their antlers in late autumn/early winter, and if you are knowledgeable and get your timing right, you can harvest the antlers before they start to decay. The second is antlers from animals harvested for meat. Domesticated Nordic herds are carefully monitored to make sure that the flock is kept at a sustainable level and that only the surplus is harvested. By using antlers in our knife handles, Helle also contributes to using the whole animal, ensuring that the amount of waste is kept to a minimum.”
Helle launched the Rein in mid-April, and it’s available now through select retailers for US$179. Those who don’t snag one of 1,000 might find something in the company’s greater knife lineup, which is filled with equally aesthetically striking knives designed for hunting, fishing and general outdoor use.