Practicality leads the way in Gerber’s utilitarian, everyday carry knife.
I’ve reviewed a veritable library of knives for GearJunkie, so this confession should shock absolutely no one: I really like small fixed blades. Their durable construction, versatile nature, and nimble profiles allow them to perform all manner of fine detail tasks that large knives shouldn’t or can’t.
So, when Gerber’s social media folks began dropping images of a new Stowe model, I was immediately intrigued. A lightweight, practical tool intended to disappear on the belt? It’s like they’re speaking my language.
Gerber sent over a sample for testing and, with a 5-day camping trip on the horizon, the timing couldn’t have been better. Read on to see why the Stowe, after a full 2 weeks of service, managed to sneak its way into the “Best Fixed Blades Under $50” conversation.
In short: The Gerber Stowe is a compact, affordable, well-designed fixed blade with a versatile shape and solid grip. Its comfortable ride and lightweight nature make it an excellent companion for outdoor adventure, though the sheath itself has some flaws.
Gerber Stowe Knife: Review
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- Blade length: 2.5 in.
- Overall length: 5.96 in.
- Blade steel: 440A stainless
- Handle: Micarta
- Sheath material: Leather
- Overall weight: 3.06 oz.
Design and Pricing
At just over 3 ounces and 6 inches, the Stowe is a decidedly compact tool. Its 2.5-inch edge makes it slightly shorter than favorites like the Uinta Hunter V2 or ESEE Izula-II, while stretching a half-inch longer than the Candiru.
But with a retail price of $47 (or $40 at KnifeCenter), the Stowe is significantly cheaper than the other standouts in its class.
I particularly enjoy the leaf-shaped blade, which is reminiscent of a Spyderco Dragonfly 2 or Native 5. The taller natures of these designs tend to be steady under pressure, with the extra slope allowing for better control of the edge.
The Dibs eschews the micarta, aiming for an even more lightweight experience. I like the micarta and generally prefer some width in my grip, so the Stowe was the easy choice for review.
But if you’re a fan of the skeletonized look, the folks at Gerber have you covered.
Performance and Ride
For the first week of its stay, the Stowe was relegated to around-the-house tasks. It put in respectable service as a vegetable chopper, and it sliced mushrooms with surprising aplomb.
It also tackled packaging, cardboard, and numerous similar foes in the garage.
But clearly, this is a knife intended for the outdoors. With this in mind, I hitched the Stowe onto my belt and hit the woods.
Over a span of 5 days, it sliced cheese, trimmed a few bandages, and even helped with some basic whittling. The chamfered edges of the blade’s shoulders won’t draw sparks from a fire steel, but the knife is more than capable of shaving tinder from dry wood.
Can it baton? Yes, but why? Any stick small enough for the 2.5-inch blade to hammer through is already just about kindling size.
Still, if you must, the Stowe’s full tang will hold up to the punishment.
The edge, however, might not. See, 440A is fine as a budget stainless steel, but it’s not as tough as some of the high-carbon variants found in, say, an ESEE.
My quick batoning experiments put a few dings in the edge, so it’s not a practice I’d encourage.
Perhaps the weakest point of the package isn’t the knife, but the sheath. It’s light and comfortable, and it rides almost effortlessly at your side. But between the folded belt loop and the slot for the blade, there’s a thin, unreinforced area that appears to be vulnerable to wear.
And the nearby strap that holds the knife in place sits in an awkward position. When drawing, you have to undo the snap and tuck your fingers between the strap and the handle. Otherwise, the heel of the blade will dig into the leather.
Now, this isn’t a dealbreaker. The Stowe can be easily drawn with one hand, after a minute or two of practice.
But replacing the blade at your side may require some extra attention.
The Gerber Stowe: Conclusion
Despite my qualms with its carriage, I’m a definite fan of the Stowe. It served me well through 2 full weeks of testing, both in and out of doors.
It’s a short knife with a very tall edge, making it maneuverable and safe under grip. I’d recommend the Stowe to anyone seeking a compact, lightweight knife for camping, gardening, or even wilderness food prep.
Still, I’d like to see Gerber come out with another sheath option, especially a Kydex or similar variant. Something like what ESEE does with the Izula-II’s black molded affair — now, that would be pretty sweet.
But as it is, the Stowe is a welcome addition to the company’s lineup, and one of my top small fixed blades of 2022.