> TEOTWAWKI Blog: ESEE Izula II - Initial Review



ESEE Izula II - Initial Review

I've had my eye on the RAT/ESEE Izula since it's release. It's been a hugely popular knife on the various knife/outdoors forums - heck, here's a 26-page thread of people showing off their paracord wraps. I'm not a fan of paracord wrap grips, personally - I want a legit grip on my knives, not something I need to DIY myself. ESEE does offer micarta grips slabs for the Izula, which were on my "must get" list.

I tried to trade for Izulas a couple times, but nothing went through and my cash had different priorities. Then, ESEE released the Izula II, basically the original Izula with a slightly longer grip and, yep, it came with the micarta grip slabs, already installed. Right up my alley. I put it on my Christmas list, wrote Santa letters, and ta-da!

The Izula II is a small knife, but with the longer grip and micarta slab handles, it's very comfortable in-hand. The grip fills my hand well and offers good traction. There's also good jimping on upper spine of the knife, providing some extra control when you to choke up on the knife for fine tasks. You could do quite a bit of hard work with this knife, quite comfortably.

The knife is comfortable when held in all positions, but with a preference for edge-out grips. Reverse grip, edge in (ice-pick) feels the least secure/comfortable, but it's still pretty good. 

The Izula II is made of 1095 blade steel, which is a very well-regarded steel amongst survival-gurus. Dave Canterbury's personal knife, the $275 BHK Pathfinder, is made of this same stuff. 1095 is a high carbon steel, which means you can spark it off natural flints and it does a very good job of striking firesteels. It's also tough and easy to resharpen, but rusts more easily than other steels. The Izula II arrived shaving sharp.

The Izula's blade is coated, and I'm not a big fan of blade coatings - they don't really add any utility and they tend to get scuffed/torn up fairly quickly. I'm pretty sure ESEE uses it to help inhibit rust formation on the 1095 steel. I may remove it in the near future--apparently a fairly easy task. I'd prefer if ESEE offered a plain, non-coated Izula.

Overall, great, solid and comfortable little knife.

The Sheath
As Pig Monkey noted in his review of the original Izula, the sheath is lacking. Don't get me wrong - it is a functional, sturdy sheath. The knife fits securely in it with no wiggle. 

What's wrong with the sheath then?  Odd selection of attachment points/carrying options and it adds unnecessary bulk. The sheath is made of some kind of heavy thick plastic (not kydex), with two small holes, a slot (for a belt?) and a big hole at the top. It's overly bulky for such a small knife, adding to the overall width and height of the package. One of the reasons that I'd picked up the Izula was for a Nalgene-bottle survival kit, but the stock sheath is just too fat to fit through the mouth of the bottle. The sheath also offers very limited options for positioning if you wanted to belt carry the knife (which I do). A Large Tek-Lok will apparently fit on the two holes, and would be the recommended way of belt carrying, though you'd be limited with positioning.  

The sheath does hold the knife well. If you're just planning on neck carrying the knife, then it would work fine for your needs.

There are two different ways to buy the Izula - a full kit, and basic kit with just the knife and sheath. I didn't buy the "full kit", which costs $20 more and comes with some accessories for attaching the sheath - a neck chain, some molle clips, etc. I didn't think the accessories were really worth the extra cost, and I knew there was a pretty good chance I'd buy a better sheath anyways, so I skipped it. Without the full kit, you're left with a DIY solution for carrying the knife....a little disappointing - ESEE could include a belt clip or ball chain with the basic knife, but whatever. Pig Monkey has some good DIY carry methods in his review.

Overall, great little fixed blade with a bit of a lame sheath, which is very often the case. Why knife companies find it so hard to produce a standard kydex sheath is beyond me. I'm planning on picking up a decent aftermarket kydex sheath, which should resolve the troubles mentioned above. If you're particular about sheaths, I'd plan on getting one too. 

I'll be giving the Izula II a more thorough work out in the coming weeks and will post a follow-up review after I've gotten some more quality time with it. Stay tuned!

NOTE: I'll get some pics posted up soon, but it's just a stock Izula II like those shown here.