Friday, July 24, 2015

Trolling for Hate: This Isn't For You

I love listening to the Pen Addict podcast with Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley.  Its not just that I love pens--I do.  I also like their banter--its great to be a witness to two friends chatting.  But there is another level to my enjoyment of the show.  As a guy with an enthusiast website I like hearing Brad and Myke's thoughts about products.  They are an enthusiast podcast.  Brad runs an enthusiast site.  I do these things too.  I have written about this before, but there is a bond among those that have an enthusiast mindset.

Recently Brad and Myke ranted against the positively overhyped Moleskine.  They were hit with a barrage of angry emails and the like.  For many the Moleskine is the epitome of the pocket notebook.  I used them for a long time.  Lots of other people still use them.  But over time I realized that I was more attracted to the idea of the pocket notebook than the actual pocket notebook itself.  Since then I have abandoned the Moleskine.  In fact I have abandoned daily carry of a pocket notebook all together.  I have some Doane books and some Field Notes stashed places, so I have easy access to them, but they are no longer part of my EDC.  

Their rant on the Moleskine and its response reminds of the response I received for reviewing the Kershaw Cryo.  In  many ways the Cryo is the Moleskine of the knife world--a product built on a hype train like no other.  It is a product that is made famous and popular not by its performance, but by the names associated with it.  The Cryo is a great knife when done correctly (see the Cryo G10),


but the original is a overhyped underperformer.  It is also the perfect knife for the non-enthusiast crowd.  As Thomas put it both in his written response and on the podcast--this knife is not for us. 

The Moleskine and the Cryo are not for us.  They are for the non-enthusiast.  Don't look for me to speak of them as lesser folks, hoi poloi.  They aren't.  They have different interests than enthusiasts.  They are concerned with other things, but what they like in a product, usually its price or its image, is the exact opposite of what we care about.  That's not a bad thing.  Being an aesthete or a snob is a bad thing, but relishing quality is not.

But enthusiasts don't have to be snobs to have good critical points about mass market products.  You know what?  The paper on Moleskines, the small black version, is wretched.  That's not a comment that comes from snobbery--its a fact.  There are many metrics and specs associated with paper and the Moleskine paper fairs poorly on that front.  The Cryo did so as well.

Here is the heart of the issue--true enthusiasts appreciate good quality and design regardless of price. Its not about $1,000 knives, its about appreciating quality and performance.  Show me a Cryo SS and I will point you to the Strobe--a similarly priced knife with better performance and better specs.  Brad pointed his readers in the direction of Fieldnotes or Rhodia pads.  Its not about price and its not about snobbery, its about quality.  

Brad's rant also reminds of Kyle Ver Steeg's rant on the Knife Journal podcast about Moras.


I have Moras in for testing right now.  They are good out of the box, but they do not stand up over time.  Sure they are cheap to replace, but again the ethusiast preaches the message of quality, durability, long term use.  This isn't about a flash in the pan.  Buying good stuff means that you consider how it will perform now and years from now  You consider how it will perform AFTER you have to fix it (as opposed to just throwing it away).

There is lots of stuff that is not for us the enthusiasts.  Its called junk.  This isn't to say that people that buy it are stupid, its simply to point out that there is better stuff out there.  I review gear to help folks find better ways to spend their money.  There is high value and there is cheap.  They are two vastly different things.  Enthusiasts know the difference. 


  1. You were dead on about the original Cryo. The G10 verson is so much better and so much more comfortable to hold I was convinced it was larger than the original. It wasn't; it was just a better design. I also liked the larger Cryo 2, although I took off the clip.

  2. Tony, the more of your philosophy on gear I hear, the more I find myself agreeing with you. I tried the pocket notebook thing for a while too, and have gone the same direction as you, dropped from my rotation. It's all about what works, both in general and for the individual user, not about fanboys and the must-have gear/maker of the month.

  3. Gee, I'll read those thoughts on Moras with great interest! I've got a Mora Bushcraft Black which I feel I could drop a bomb on. Daily use for 18 months when I had a place out of town. Still use it often as I can, and its still solid as a rock. Im in the same camp witt little notebooks. The notes part of my phone fits the role.

  4. I think differentiating between "high value" and "cheap" is the crux of this discussion. No need to buy "junk" when you can get a quality tool for a similar price. I do think that's where sites like this come in, because there's really no other way to know a cryo is junk without trying it and coming to the realization on your own, and by then you've already wasted money that you could have spent on a strobe (or a skyline, or whatever).

  5. The thing about the Cryo is, it's a $30+ knife. That makes the "it's not for you" argument a nonstarter. There's tons of genuinely well thought out tools in that tier, knives that even enthusiasts own and appreciate.

    I am more sympathetic to that line of argument if we look at the sub-$20 price tier, which is very challenging. Yet even there, some makers manage to thread the needle and deliver knives that EDC enthusiasts can still appreciate.

    Folks should go check out the Mora review at Alloutdoor -- highly astute.

    1. That's a good point. $30 might be the line where it shouldn't be hard to find a good knife. Sub-$20 gets dicey.

    2. Your argument makes no sense. The Cryo 'isn't for us' because it's cheap, it isn't for us because it's geared to non knife enthusiast people who just want a cool looking knife that thwacks open from the spring. It's marketed for the masses who have no clue what kind of steel goes in a knife. Tony even said in his article that the Strobe is a superior knife which costs the same, uses the same materials and is made by the same company. But Diskin isn't Hinderer and the knife looks like a utilitarian design and isn't spring assisted (which makes up like 90% of actual folding knives sold volume wise).

      Same with the Moleskine, there are plenty of better quality products for the price. Price is not a factor in this discussion, just quality.

      You have to realize that Gerber sells more knives than probably Spyderco, Cold Steel, CRKT, Benchmade combined.

      Kershaw at one point probably sold more Cryos than anyone one of those brands sold all knives. The Cryo when it first came out was their #1 selling knife beating the Leek. I doubt that's still the case but if you have any concept of Leek sales numbers, that's a CRAP ton of Cryos and several factors above the userbase of every gear/knife based forum combined.

      Kershaw could probably sell one Strobe a month to every knife enthusiast in the world and it probably would still get dwarfed by the Cryo in terms of overall sales.

  6. This exact thing is why I read this site and have boned up on quality EDC and EDC-ish products. I wanted to do better with my money and this site has been an amazing resource for that.

  7. I was in a Staples the other day and handled a black Moleskine notebook and I remember thinking how bad the paper seemed compared with the stash of Rhodia and Life notebooks I recently received. The Moleskines were more expensive as well.
    I find its often the cast that some products are "value engineered" to a "price point" (dislike that term) the producer believes has the highest marginal demand, that is the price vs quality level which maximizes profit. It is also the case that only a marginally higher price often results in a much higher quality product, but that price might be just a little "too much" for the average consumer so the volume of sales will be markedly lower. The producer might then charge a higher price than is required by the higher production cost (ignoring other factors that increase prices like Veblen pricing which I believe you have written about Tony.)

  8. The notebook dropped out of my EDC when I realized I only needed it if I had an ongoing major project. Even then I had to add a rubber band or a bulldog clip to hold receipts and warranty cards/booklets. So my Field Notes are being kept for that. My phone's notes app covers "notes" for small things to remember. They are good, but just not a daily necessity. I'm tempted by the new, better Cryo, but then I think of my Skylines (yes, I have a spare) and cannot imagine why I'd buy one. I still carry my SanRenMu 605 or whatever the nubmer is for the little red clip point one more than any other knife. It does my everyday tasks and is unobtrusive. Tonight I used my L3 Illumination 4-level clicky light to help the propane service guy replace my regulator. He had a Lowe's special 3-AA that he got for Christmas, and with just one AA I had far more brightness and throw. Even on level 3 it was equal to his single-level light. Clearly superior.

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  10. Tony, I tend to agree with much of what you said in this post but I am curious as to your impressions of Moras.

    My primary camping and hiking knife is an old carbon steel Frosts Clipper that I've had for almost 20 years. Given its cheapness I've never been particularly careful with it. Yet it's held up remarkably well.

    Should one not expect that sort of performance in the contemporary Moras?