Hands On with the Spyderco Stretch 2 XL Lightweight Salt

The Stretch 2 XL Lightweight Salt is the latest in a long line of Spyderco folding hunting knives. The back locks started out 30 years ago, and have gone through a series of tweaks, refinements, and variations along the way.

The Stretch 2 XL bumped the size up, and the Lightweight versions added FRN scales to make it easier to carry. Now the Salt version adds incredibly corrosion-resistant H2 steel to the mix.

Salty Solutions

The Stretch 2 XL Lightweight Salt (that’s a mouthful) has a 3.99 inch blade of H-2 steel with a hollow grind. It’s available in both a plain edge and fully serrated version. Lockup is by means of a classic, tried and true back lock.

Handles are of bright yellow FRM with a bi-directional texture for positive grip, especially in the wet conditions this knife is designed to be used in. Closed, it’s just under 5 inches and open it’s nearly 9. It’s a good-sized folder, although the weight is only 3 ounces.

The 2 XL Lightweight Salt is only .118 inches thick to so it’s easy to carry despite its size. You have a lot of carry options, too with a pocket clip that’s both right and left hand reversible, as well as tip up or tip down carry.

The Stretch 2 XL is made in Japan to Spyderco’s always excellent tolerances, and carries and MSRP of $186.50, although I’m seeing street prices closer to $130.

H-2 Steel

H-2 is the successor to the Japanese H-1 steel used previously in the Spyderco Salt line. H-1 provided a good balance of cutting performance and extreme corrosion resistance. Unfortunately, H-1 production fell prey to Covid-19 restrictions and never recovered.

Spyderco worked with their Japanese steel partners to develop a new replacement steel appropriately named H-2. H-2 is actually even more corrosion resistant than H-1, and is easier to produce. H-1 and H-2 are what is considered austenitic steel. Austentic steel doesn’t use a traditional hardening and tempering processes like high carbon martensitic steels. It’s hardened through rolling and cold-working processes.

H-2 is extremely corrosion resistant. I’ve worked with H-1 over the years and had a buddy test it long term while he was living on a sail boat. Even with daily exposure to salt water and salt air, including full immersion into salt water for days, then being pulled free and just left to dry, the most he was able to get it to do was discolor the blade etching slightly. More mundane testing around the lakes and creeks of Western Pennsylvania didn’t produce any different results. If H-2 is even more corrosion resistant than that, I can’t imagine what it would take to affect it.

It’s also extremely tough steel, and has a slightly lower (although still respectable) Rockwell hardness than H-1, at 55-57 HRC. That means you may need to touch your edge up a little more often, depending on your use.

In the world of super steels, I know folks gasp in horror at sharpening their knives, but it really isn’t a big deal. A Spyderco pocket ceramic stone would do nicely for an occasional touch up in the field. You trade a little bit of edge retention for extreme corrosion resistance, at what’s still a pretty affordable price.

Hands On and Thoughts on Use

In hand, the Stretch 2 XL is a comfortable knife. It has a big, well contoured handle that works well for folks with larger hands, or when wearing gloves. A buddy of mine stopped over when I was working with the Stretch 2 XL and he has big hands. He loved it. He ended up buying one after checking mine out. With that said, it’s not too big for mid or smaller hands either, it just gives you more room to choke up.

Opening the knife is easy with the classic ambidextrous Spyderhole, especially since you have a solid platform from all of the gripping area on the handle. Lockup is positive with no blade play, and the blade is well centered when closed, which I’d expect from Spyderco.

The factory edge came hair-popping sharp. Honestly, after reading that H-2 may have a bit less edge retention than some other steels, I didn’t expect it to start as sharp. I rapidly found out that I was dead wrong, and I ended up with a bare patch on my arm after skimming the Salt over it. Suffice it to say that it still comes with that precise Spyderco edge that I’m used to with their other models.

I had both a fully serrated version and a plain edge version for testing. Although I’m usually a plain edge guy, I can see the benefit of the fully serrated version if you’re working around water and cutting a lot of ropes or lines.

I have an older, fully serrated H-1 Delica Salt and I’ve used that on many beach trips over the years. Even though I like a plain edge, I can’t say having the serrated version ever impeded me in any way. The nice thing is you have the option of either edge style, depending on what your preference is.

Despite being a fairly big knife, the Stretch 2 XL carries like a much smaller blade. It’s thin, flat, and only weighs 3 ounces. Sure it takes up a little more pocket space, but that isn’t something I even noticed. The reversible clip and tip-up or tip-down carry option is nice, too as it lets you set it up for however and wherever you want to carry it.

The Salt series classically have bright yellow handles and I’m a fan. I know tactical guys may not like them since they’re bright and, well, not black or FDE. But for camping, hunting, fishing or anything of the sort, I love the bright color. If you set your knife down when you’re using it or drop it, that yellow really stands out. These really are designed as hunting, fishing, and utility knives so the color makes a lot of sense.

Wrap Up

Would I use one of the Salt series for regular EDC? It depends. If I lived near the ocean or worked around water constantly, then yes for sure. For me though I use a more conventional folder for regular EDC like my Spyderco Para 3’s, but I love having the Salt available for trips to the beach, canoe or kayak trips, or even just hiking or camping trips in foul weather. It’s nice having a tool that you don’t have to worry about, even in the most extreme elements.

Specifications: Spyderco Stretch 2 XL Lightweight Salt

Overall Length: 8.9″
Blade Length: 3.99″
Steel: H-2
Closed Length: 4.97″
Edge Length: 3.46″
Weight: 3oz
Blade Thickness: 0.118″
Handle: FRN
Clip Position: Ambi
Tip Carry Position: 4-position
Lock Type: Back Lock
Grind: Hollow
Origin: Japan
MSRP: $186.50


2 Responses

  1. Thank you for the thorough description. I was surprised by the price; I expected significantly higher. I would purchase the smooth blade. Not that I need another folder. Just because.

    But first, there’s that 10mm Bear Creek carbine I’ve been thinking about for over a year. And the mortgage.
    Mortgage first…mortgage first…then gun and ammo…then….

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