The James Brand Ellis Slim review in a sentence: Quality materials, premium construction and small form factor make the Ellis Slim the best pocket knife for those who've never even considered considered having one.
In recent months, I was getting desperate to find a suitable product to add our best camping knives guide. Then, out of the blue, The James Brand got in touch with me, asking if I wanted to try their latest knife, The Ellis Slim. Apparently, this full-size pocket knife packs down smaller than a pack of gum, yet feels solid in the hand, as well as being durable and stylish.
When researching The James Brand, you might across terms such as EDC, which refers to 'everyday carry', a product that forms part of a minimalist's daily setup. When we say minimalist, we mean modern, 'Instagram minimalism' that focuses on quality, sleek products that you can photograph next your MacBook and slimline, leather wallet.
I don't mind that; however, I was more curious if The Ellis Slim was any good in a real-life outdoor setting. So I took it with me to the forest for a bit of foraging – well, foraging might be a strong word for what I was doing – and also used it around a campsite for various tasks. Should you buy The Ellis Slim for yourself? Read my review to find out.
The James Brand Ellis Slim review: price and availability
The Ellis Slim was released in 2023 and is available to buy now directly from The James Brand UK and The James Brand US with prices from £99/ $99. This is the price for the straight-blade variety, with the serrated version costing £109/ $109. AU price and availability TBC.
The James Brand Ellis Slim review: specifications
- Blade shape: Drop point
- Blade material: Sandvik 12C27
- Blade type: Straight
- Lock type: Non-locking slip-joint
- Blade length: 2.6" / 6.6cm
- Overall length: 6.5" / 16.5cm
- Overall thickness: 0.3” / 8mm
- Weight: 1.8 OZ / 50g
- Pocket clip
- Orientation: Right-handed
- Tools: Pry bar/flat-head screwdriver
The James Brand Ellis Slim review: design and build quality
The James Brand (TJB) Ellis Slim is the more compact sibling of The Ellis and maintains the same overall design but loses scissors to reduce the knife's size and thickness. TJB says the Ellis Slim is thinner than a pack of gum, which I guess is true, but it's worth bearing in mind it isn't smaller than a pack of gum. It's certainly pocket-sized, though.
Available in both straight-bladed and serrated versions, The Ellis Slim features the same Swedish Sandvik 12C27 steel TJB use for the standard Ellis and Elko knives. And although the Ellis Slim hasn't got built-in scissors, it inherited the 'deep-carry' wire clip to attach it to your trouser/backpack pocket, as well as the 'All-Things' scraper, which triples up as a flat-head screwdriver and pry bar.
The good people of the UK should rest assured that The Ellis Slim is legal in the country, thanks to its two-handed, non-locking operation. This means that you need two hands to open it, and that the blade doesn't lock when it's open, like Swiss army knives.
The James Brand Ellis Slim review: ergonomics and performance
The Ellis Slim comes in a fully recyclable gift box, giving it a premium feel. The knife itself is slim and lightweight and feels comparatively small in the hand. I have pretty big hands, so people with normal-sized hands might feel it's the perfect size. Even in my hands, The Ellis Slim felt big enough to hold and operate.
Opening the knife is easy and also has a good, solid feel to it. The blade is beautifully crafted and razor-sharp; TJB recommends keeping it that way. I like my knives sharp – who doesn't? – and the best way to achieve that is to sharpen them a little almost continuously. Well, as often as possible.
I sharpen my knives at home before every use using a kitchen knife sharpener, which I wouldn't do with outdoor knives. Instead, I'd recommend getting a smallish whetstone and giving the blade of The Ellis Slim a few precise strokes after you use it. I'd also recommend wiping the pocket knife after use if you can, and make sure to keep it dry and the joints well-lubricated.
From a performance point of view, there is little to criticise about The Ellis Slim. It's well-balanced and easy to hold, making it ideal for all manners of camping activities. The thin construction and the wire clip help keep the weight down and ensure The Ellis Slim stays in position in your hiking backpack. The blade is thin enough to cut through most materials but not too thin to concern you that it might break if you applied some force.
The James Brand Ellis Slim review: verdict
The James Brand Ellis Slim is a superb pocket knife ideal for camping and other activities when a compact yet sturdy knife might be required. Based on my experience, using The Ellis Slim for mundane activities only would be a crime. This nifty little knife performs very well under 'proper' outdoor conditions, so you might as well use it for that purpose, as well as opening boxes and unscrewing things at home. The quality materials, superior construction and small form factor of The Ellis Slim ensure you will be able to use the knife for a long time – as long as you don't mind looking after it.