THE TRILOBITE LINE cutter is designed as an Emergency Cutting Tool (ETC) and not meant to replace your primary dive knife. That said, it will put the best knife’s cutting capabilities to shame. It’s seriously sharp, we’re talking razor sharp, and the ergonomic design is pretty edgy too. It’s extremely compact (it fits into a two-inch by four-inch webbing pouch), weighs less than two ounces, and can be mounted almost anywhere. A double-edge stainless-steel blade fits in the handle and offers about 1.5-inches of cutting surface on each side. A loop of webbing secures the tool with Velcro; this same loop is used to pull the Trilobite from its pouch when needed. Once deployed a finger hole provides a steady grip, ready to rip.
The blade is made of 440a stainless steel. This grade of stainless holds a sharper edge than the 420 stainless found on many dive knives, but it’s also more susceptible to corrosion, especially in salt water. For this reason the manufacturer recommends lightly coating the blade with silicone and then rinsing with fresh water after a day’s diving. Of course, one of the cool things about the Trilobite is once the blade does eventually get dull or rusty, you can easily replace it with a new blade and start fresh.
Let’s Slash Something
The Trilobite is rated to cut line up to a width of 8mm, and it’s capable of cutting webbing of all thicknesses. Nothing we love more than a challenge. We pulled out our box of ropes and lines and webbing materials that we use for cutting tests and assembled a test inventory consisting of most of the lines an average diver might encounter under water. This included ½-inch nylon three-strand, commonly used for anchoring; 3/8-inch polypropylene three-strand, commonly used to rig lobster and fishing traps; ¼-inch Amsteel line, a very light but very strong braid used in place of wire rigging for some specialized sailboat applications; and finally, 30-pound monofilament fishing line. We also threw in ultra-stiff two-inch weight belt webbing just to keep things interesting.
Did it Make the Cut?
Our test Trilobite line cutter devoured the smaller lines like an appetizer, then chomped through the polypro like so many bread sticks. We thought it would choke on the main course of ½-inch nylon three-strand since it’s thicker than the blade’s opening. To our surprise, the plastic guard stretched wide enough to enable the blade to keep on cutting. It was at this stage of the tests that we really noticed how the blade guard not only protects the edge, but also forces the material you’re cutting down onto the blade as you pull.
Okay, we were making it too easy on this cutter, so we pulled out the high-tech stuff, line so strong it’s used to replace wire cable in racing sailboats. It’s called Amsteel, and the ¼-inch test line we forced on the Trilobite did slow it down—but only for a few seconds. It took the cutter a couple extra bites to get through the near-indestructible inner core of the Amsteel, and then it was all over. The final cutting test pitted the Trilobite against some two-inch weight belt webbing, but the Trilobite sliced through this stuff like butter so we gave up, stowed the Trilobite in its pouch and went diving.
All cutting tests used loops of line or webbing which the Trilobite could trap in its slicing triangle and go to work on. This cutter is not designed for sawing against a flat surface or against the face of a tightly bound rope; for those kinds of cuts you would use the open blade of your primary dive knife. But for quick jam cuts the Trilobite is one scary-sharp cutter. It comes with a webbing storage pouch and two replacement blades.
And don’t forget, to minimize corrosion we found it’s important to give the Trilobite a good rinse after a dive, and make sure to dry the sheath and cutter separately. Then apply a light coat of silicone to the blade and you’ll be ready for your next outing. SGR