The Legendary P-38

P38People always forget to bring a can opener. If your cans have pop tops or you have a sturdy knife with a full tang, you can make do. However, if the tops don’t pop and you only brought a puny folder (foldng knife, that is), you might end up taking a forced diet. Around the tenth time you forget a can opener, you start to remember. In fact, you end up bringing can openers when they’re not even needed, “Oh, we’re going to that new pizza joint? I’ll crab the can opener.” To avoid the humiliation and hunger that comes with forgetting to bring a can opener, you should just do yourself a favor and get a P-38.

We have tons of cutting edge gear and gadgets in the store, but one of the most commonly requested items is a can opener that was designed 70 years ago. We often get seasoned campers coming through the store, walking past the carbon fiber trekking poles and state of the art solar-chargers as if they had blinders on, only to stop dead in their tracks when they spot the shiny little can cutters.

Known as the “John Wayne” by U.S. Marines, the P-38 is 38 millimeters long and tough to boot. It’s designed to fold flat with a rectangular metal tab that acts like a handle and a curved metal beak that bites through can tops.

In addition to being tiny and shiny, these little suckers are extremely light. The P-38 maybe weighs as much as a quarter, but is entirely more useful when you’re out in the woods. If payphones still cost a quarter, or if payphones existed any more, that previous statement would maybe be up for debate.

Speaking of quarters, the P-38 can opener is dirt cheap. We’re talking maybe 50 cents kind of cheap, which means you won’t lose sleep if you end up losing it.

Since it’s so small and light, it doesn’t hurt to keep in a pack at all times. P-38s come with a little hole punched in them, so they can fit on key rings, or you can string a loop of 550 paracord through them so they don’t get lost. Coming in at half the price of an awful cheeseburger, you can afford to buy one and make it a permanent fixture on your pack. That way you never leave home without it.

We carry P-38s by the bucketful as well as “John Wayne’s” big brother, the P-51.


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