One to Watch: TOPS BOB Fieldcraft Folder
Tony Sculimbrene 05.04.18
TOPS Knives is a US-based knife company out of Idaho. They made their name in the fixed blade world. The recipe is pretty simple—1095, thick powder coat, good handles, and interesting designs. For a long time TOPS had two knives that caught the eye of knife knuts everywhere—the TOPS Tracker and the BOB Fieldcraft. Both show what kind of company TOPS is: they make knives for folks that work and/or play outdoors. The blades are tough, unusual and purpose built.
Like many folks, it was the Tracker that caught my eye years ago and got me watching TOPS’s line up. Based on a custom knife developed by noted outdoorsman Tom Brown, the Tracker is part axe, part saw, part knife, and part spokeshave. The end result is a distinctive looking knife, one eye catching enough to play a starting role in The Hunted alongside two human actors—Tommy Lee Jones and Benecio Del Toro. The TOPS production model captures the essence of the Tom Brown original and makes affordable enough that the masses can carry their own.
But if the Tracker is the knife that lures you into the TOPS line up, it is the BOB Fieldcraft that pulls hardest on your wallet. This was a knife developed in conjunction with a bushcraft group. After much debate (because, you know, debate and not bowl carving is the #1 most important bushcraft skill), the group members had reduced the design and features to its elemental form and the Fieldcraft was born. It is a medium sized fixed blade with a scandi ground 4.5 inch 1095 blade. The handle is a classic Coke bottle handle. The knife comes with a nice kydex sheath. You can get an upgraded version with 154CM steel and a leather sheath. In all, this knife has been praised by knife knuts of all stripes, bushcrafters or not, for years. The Tracker is the sizzle and the BOB Fieldcraft is the steak of the TOPS brand.
Over the years TOPS produced a smaller version of the BOB, the CUB. They also have a wide variety of handle materials and colors both on the 1095 version and the 154CM version. The BOB Fieldcraft also inspired a number of sheath makers including the amazing Hedgehog Leatherworks folks. Like the best fixed blades, the BOB Fieldcraft is more a platform for a survival kit than just a knife.
So when TOPS debuted the latest BOB variant—the folder version, it was a bit stunning. The whole idea of the BOB Fieldcraft was that of a fixed blade and now here is a version that, as Ethan Becker likes to say, is “prebroken.” Thanks to trends towards larger folders, the folder version looks quite stout. It uses a beefy linerlock and the same materials as the original BOB. It also comes with a nice leather belt sheath, though the knife also has a pocket clip. The knife opens via a thumb oval. If you loved the BOB but wanted something easier to carry, take a look at the BOB Fieldcraft Folder.
- What: TOPS Knives Brotherhood of Bushcraft Fieldcraft Folder
- Cost: Around $190
- Where: Blade HQ and other knife retailers
- When: Available Now
- Made in the USA: Yes
- Highlight: BOB goodness, in folder form