If you hang out in bushcrafting circles you’ll often hear folks bemoaning the lack of a good folding bushcraft blade. There are a ton of great folders on the market, but very few with a Scandinavian grind edge—and a Scandi edge is often the preferred edge of bushcrafters due to its great woodworking and carving abilities. After years of campfire conversations about the subject, the dreams of Scandi lovers are finally coming to fruition. The folks at Helle have heard the pleas from the masses and have stepped up to meet the demand with their much-anticipated Dokka folder.
The Dokka is Helle’s first foray into folding knives and they took their time and made sure everything was right before releasing it into the wild. If you’re a Scandi fan, you may have heard about the Dokka way back in 2010. I was one of the folks who picked up on the early news about the folder, and let me tell you, the wait until they were finally available was agonizing. But the end result is worth it. Helle did a great job in producing a very traditional Scandi knife in a folding package.
80 Years of Excellence
If you aren’t familiar with Helle, they’re an 80-year-old company located in the Norwegian hamlet of Holmedal, and they have a long tradition of making fine, quality blades for hunters and outdoorsmen. Regular readers may recall that we did a piece on the Helle Temagami fixed blade knife developed in conjunction with Les Stroud of television’s Survivorman fame in the January 2012 issue. Point being, Helle knows their stuff and they’re very in tune to the needs of outdoorsmen.
You might ask why the hue and cry for a Scandi folder when there are so many Scandi fixed blades available. Arguably a fixed blade is better suited to many of the outdoor tasks that you’d expect a Scandi folder be subjected to. That’s probably true but there’s still a good niche for a folder like the Dokka. First off, there are places where you can’t take a fixed blade knife, either due to laws or regulations or because it’s simply more socially acceptable to carry a discrete folding knife than to have a fixed blade strapped to your belt. Secondly, there are folks that may still use a fixed blade in the woods but would appreciate a good traditional Scandi folder for everyday carry. Whatever the reason, there have been a lot of folks asking for something like the Dokka and the folks at Helle are glad to accommodate them.
Tradition Goes Folding
With the Dokka, Helle does a great job of taking a very traditional Norwegian tool and turning it into a compact, folding version of the same. Their knives are largely handmade and you can see the detail that goes into each piece. The handles are classic Scandinavian—birch has a great depth of pattern and color and the pieces chosen for the Dokka are no exception. I’ve had a chance to handle a number of Dokka’s and all have had extremely attractive pieces of wood on them. Underneath that birch is a set of stainless steel liners for strength and a brass-lined lanyard hole is located near the rear of the handle.
While the birch handle scales draw the eye to the Dokka, the soul of the knife is the blade. Helle uses a 3.3-inch long blade of their triple laminated stainless steel. The blade is 2.7mm thick and has a true Scandi zero grind edge. Blade markings are a simple “Helle” with their logo over Norway and “Dokka 3L” on the left side of the blade. The blade has a thumb nick for opening and rolls open on an adjustable pivot pin. Lockup is by means of a mid-position back lock. Lock up is secure with no blade play present.
Being a relatively traditional knife, the Dokka is not fitted with a pocket clip like so many folders out there. While I am a fan of the pocket clip on folders, I have to say I’m glad they left it off on the Dokka. First off it would have ruined the clean lines of the knife, and secondly, the Dokka is a fairly thick folder at around 0.75 inches at its widest part. It’ll fit in your jeans pocket okay but it seems better suited to ride in a field coat pocket or in a belt sheath. Helle must have thought so too, because they provide a nice leather belt pouch with the knife. The Dokka’s sheath is made out of sturdy brown leather and features a belt loop and strap that goes over top of the knife and snaps into place. It’s rather ingenious in its simplicity. The whole thing is made from a single piece of leather cleverly folded, stitched and riveted together. It works quite well and carries the knife comfortably on the belt so its function is just as good as its form.
If you’re a regular Scandi user, the Dokka’s performance will be no surprise to you. That’s a very good thing. The Dokka performs just like you’d expect any good Scandi to do. The excellent factory edge and relatively thin blade make for extremely efficient cutting. The Dokka bites deeps and hogs away wood fast when you need it to, and seemed to do equally well on both green and dried wood. It isn’t just raw power, either. The edge is fine enough to make fine curls for fire starting material and for doing detailed notches for trap triggers.
The Dokka’s handle is very comfortable for wood carving and crafting. It may not be quite as hand filling as some of Helle’s fixed blades, such as the Temagami, but it does a good job of balancing comfort with reasonable size for a folder. As mentioned, the Dokka is around 0.75 inches thick at its widest point, and that’s a palm swell located at the midpoint of the handle. The scales taper fore and aft of that and allow you to lock your hand into place on the handle. Overall length is a respectable 4.6 inches. A small integral guard keeps your hand off of the blade. The overall handle shape and thickness helps to keep your hand from cramping up during long work sessions. This is always a big issue for me, with bushcraft style knives and something I look at in fixed blades. Rarely do folders come close to meeting my standards for this style of work, so I don’t even generally factor it in when reviewing a folder. I was very pleased, however, to find that the Dokka worked as well or better than many fixed blade Scandi’s I’ve used over the years.
The Dokka isn’t just about bushcraft and woodwork either. The Scandi edge works just fine for day-to-day utility chores, too. It also should make a decent folding hunter. While the bushcraft crowd sometimes gets focused on craft skills, let’s not forget that Nordic knives have spent a lot of time in the hands of hunters. The Dokka comes with an excellent factory edge, and the thing I love about Scandis is that the edge is easy to maintain. I’ve been using my Dokka for around eight months now and all I’ve done to keep the edge hair-popping sharp is to strop it occasionally on my JRE Industries Stropbat. Any sort of leather strop loaded with some honing compound works, although I personally like a wood backed one like the Stropbat for use with my Scandi knives. If the knife gets really dull, it’s still a simple task to bring it back to sharp by just laying the wide Scandi bevel on a stone and using that as your angle guide as you sharpen.
If you’ve been in the market for a good folder with a Scandi edge, the wait is finally over. The Helle Dokka takes all of the good things we’ve come to appreciate in Helle’s fixed blades and brings them to a pocket near you. Suggested retail on the Dokka is around $154 and you can check out Helle’s website for a list of vendors who might have one waiting just for you.