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Review: Why Ontario’s ‘Any Adventure’ SPL Pack Knife Falls Just Short of Amazing

So much promise, and it came so close — but the Ontario SPL Pack Knife had two key issues the kept me from truly loving it.

(Photo/Josh Wussow)
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Choppers, splitters, carvers, and slicers — when it comes to outdoor knives, specialists are a dime a dozen. But the most elusive species of companion is at once both more complex and simple.

When it’s time to hit the woods, I want a tool that performs as Ontario describes its SPL Pack Knife: “at home as a backpacking, hiking, climbing, camp, [or] hunting knife … anywhere corrosion or moisture could be an issue.”

With its drop-point Magnacut blade, G10 handle slabs, and molded plastic sheath, the SPL’s design lands somewhere between ESEE and Morakniv. Hey, I like both of those, and all-purpose blades are my jam. So, when Ontario agreed to send a press sample my way, I was eager to put the SPL through its paces.

In short: The Ontario SPL ($170) wants very much to be the perfect all-around hiking/camp tool. Its classic shape, Magnacut steel, and wood-splitting abilities highlight the pattern’s potential, but a poor belt interface and slight dullness of our tester’s (rather thick) edge hurt its top-line potential. Properly sharpened and with a better sheath, the SPL may yet live up to its billing.

Ontario SPL Pack Knife


  • Overall length 8.00"
  • Blade length 3.90"
  • Blade thickness 0.125"
  • Blade material CPM MagnaCut
  • Overall length 8”
  • Handle material G10
  • Weight 5.00 oz.
  • Sheath material Molded plastic w/Snap Lock
  • Country of origin USA


  • Maganacut mystique
  • Excellent firecraft potential
  • Respectable price
  • Versatile blade shape


  • Narrow/nonadjustable belt loops
  • Thick-ish edge
  • Thin-ish handle

Ontario SPL Pack Knife Review

First Impressions

According to the maker, SPL stands for “Sport Leisure.” I like this, actually, as it’s a more humble and comfy name than something like the “OUTDOOR EVISCERATOR 5000!”

And true to its name, the SPL is a fairly easygoing tool, with a friendly high-viz coloration and a comfortable (if a bit slim) handle. Yet, this knife feels substantial for its size. The relatively thick full-tang spine (Blade HQ says 0.10 inches, but my measurements say 0.125 inches) and 5-ounce weight provide an impression of solidity, as does the generous flat of its 3.9-inch blade.

This is a great middle ground, with enough length to power through chores in the campground, backyard, or garage without weighing down your belt in the process.

Ontario SPL: Where It Excels

(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Ontario claims that the SPL is “tough enough for light chopping chores.” After splitting a pile of small logs without issue, I absolutely agree.

The handle is a bit short for real chopping work, but when used as a batoning tool, this knife performs outstandingly. Its edge bites nicely into branches, and there’s an overall feeling of durability in both the shape and nature of its Magnacut super-steel. And while I’m sure it’s not recommended, a run through the dishwasher cleared off the mud and grime with nary a rust spot to be found.

For a real all-around camp tool, there’s one last criterion to meet. Can the knife generate sparks with a ferro rod or fire steel? Though it’s not pictured here, let me assure you the SPL absolutely can (and did).

I’m not mad about the price, either. Sure, $170 may seem like a lot for 8 inches of steel and G10, but the heft and quality materials give the impression of capable quality.

(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Where the SPL Struggles

Unfortunately, my first SPL loaner didn’t come terribly sharp. At least, it was not as sharp as I’ve come to expect from Ontario. And I say “first” because, due to a separate mixup, a second knife showed up a few days later. This additional loaner was a bit sharper, but the paper, cardboard, and food-cutting tests of the first knife got things off on the wrong foot.

Speaking of food, the SPL’s “good slicing and food prep abilities” didn’t quite live up to its claims. “Adequate” would be a better way to describe it, but I found it to be more of an onion splitter than a cutter. Maybe it was the semi-sharpness of the blade or the thickness of the edge. This is a bummer because the shape and corrosion resistance of its Magnacut belly should make this a perfect paring knife.

But the weakest point of the SPL lies not in its various bevels, but the sheath. I like the Snap-Lock system, and the plastic itself is quality.

But due to the narrow gaps of its integrated belt loops (just 3/16 of an inch), I was unable to wear this knife as intended. Every belt I own was either too thick, or featured a clip or buckle that prevented them from passing through the holes.

And when I attempted to squeeze it onto my usual leather belt, you can see what happened …

(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Scuff city. Personally, I find this to be a hugely limiting factor.

The sheath itself features good retention and shaping, and I like the overall setup. But if its holes are too small for even my average-sized belt, then where does that leave larger folks?

Conclusion: Ontario SPL Pack Knife

Full disclosure: I’m a fan of Ontario as a manufacturer, and have been since the first time I picked up a RAT. The company’s more recent offerings such as the RAT 6 and Epoch have been positive additions to the catalog, and I felt that the SLP had the chance to continue the streak.

(Photo/Josh Wussow)

On some level, it succeeds. The knife’s size and shape are great, its in-hand ergos are good, and the ability to take to the woods with a capable chunk of the latest super-steel is enticing.

Heck, it even works with a firesteel! Unfortunately, the slight thickness of the edge and integrated belt loops challenge its billing as a true all-arounder. Sure, I could rig up a dangler with cordage or clips. But at $170, that feels like the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Would I still wear an SPL on a camping trip or extended hike? You bet your backside, I would. And look to see this knife pop up again, in a future article on the Magnacut itself.

But two things must happen first: I’ll need a thinner belt, and the knife needs a trip to the sharpener.

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