Gear / Hard Goods / Water Gear / July 29, 2013

Water Gear: NRS Co-Pilot Rescue Knife

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NRS Co-Pilot Rescue Knife $45

The Good: Small and light, quick release mechanism keeps knife close and alway available. Blunt tip protects inflatable boats from accidental stabbings.

The Bad: Flat handle can be hard to hold securely in large hands.

The Awesome Extra: Built-in bottle opener is a nice touch for post-whitewater relaxation.

Having a knife close at hand is useful in so many situations.  A reliable blade can filet a fish, open a package, or even whittle a canoe. But the most important use for a sharp blade is the emergency situations we hope to never encounter.  When the moment comes where a knife means the difference between going under or going home, a blade needs to be close at hand.  When looking for a good rescue knife, a few items are key: first, the sheath must be mountable in a convenient location that is easy to reach but doesn’t get in the way. Next, the knife needs to stay put unless I need it, but also be in hand within seconds without looking down or fiddling with locks. Last, just like the rest of my gear it needs to stand up to the water because that’s where I play.  Extras like a bottle opener and oxygen tank wrench in the handle are welcome bonuses as well.  With that in mind, the NRS Co-Pilot is a blunt tipped short rescue knife ideal for rescue situations, but designed well for multi-use on the river. The 6″ total length knife has a 1″ serrated edge, a 1″ straight edge, and a blunt tip to protect rafts (and thighs) from an accidental shanking. The blade is made from 420 HC stainless steel that holds an edge well, and survives in watery environments (there is a titanium version available for saltwater application. The nylon sheath is small and lightweight with a front spring loaded release that makes drawing the blade just about effortless.6-29-13 Gear Shoot-210

We strapped this little blade to our life jacket and headed out to play.  The knife fit snug on straps and gear attachment points with a flat profile that didn’t snag when paddling (or falling out of my boat). The unique release mechanism of this knife is impressive, just a quick squeeze and it’s in hand but it holds rock solid when locked in. The handle is flat and minimalist  offering little comfort, but it was easy to hold; larger hands may find the NRS Pilot to be a better fit. (Another good option is the Gerber River Shorty Blunt-Tip, not as streamlined, but offering a larger blade.)

Take along the right gear, and the adventures can keep coming.  The NRS Co-Pilot is a solid choice for whitewater or diving applications where a streamlined profile keeps it close but out of the way.

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Bottle Opener?  Sure, why not.

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David Skinner
David Skinner
With a wife & two kids, adventure has to come close to home. It’s a good thing he lives in Northern California where a short drive in any direction will land him near the water, a trail, or a mountaintop. His passion for adventure comes from a growing up in the Trinity Alps, and a few trips to the other side of the world. With about 10 years of paddling behind him and mountains all around, he’s ready to share a fun take on what makes this world a wonderful place to explore – one adventure at a time. Contact him at

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