One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to knives.
by Leon Pantenburg
What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to hunting knives – different handles are for different-sized hands. If the handle doesn’t fit you, it may be uncomfortable to use, and worst case scenario, potentially dangerous.
That was my situation when I did the initial review of the Bark River Trakker Companion. I have large hands, and must have at least a four-inch handle on a knife to use it comfortably.
I tried and tried, but the Trakker Companion just didn’t work for me. So I sent the knife off to another experienced gear tester, my old college roommate Robert Patterson, of Mankato, Minnesota. (Incidentally, Bob has smaller hands than I do!)
Bob is on my short list of people to go into the wilderness with. Bob is a skilled outdoorsman, an avid deer hunter, and for two decades, did an annual solo, two-week canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
His career choices make Bob a great guy to review gear. A retired firefighter and first responder, Bob was also an EMT, and his job required he be out in all sorts of nasty, cold Minnesota weather. (He knows his foul weather gear!) Bob is also a retired member of the National Ski Patrol, and a certified rope rescue instructor. He’s my go-to guy when I have questions about winter camping, rain gear or other survival clothing.
I sent Bob the Trakker Companion with no instructions other than “Use it, and tell me what you think.” Here’s Bob’s comments:
By Robert Patterson
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Bark River, Trakker Companion fixed blade knife. The name, Companion, is very fitting as this is a great utility knife that a person would carry with them every day. Its shape, size, and sturdy blade, easily make it your “go-to” knife to do the multitude of cutting chores on a daily basis.
The Companion felt very nimble with a balance point between the first and second fingers, making it easy to use especially in fine work like carving sticks for a figure-four trap and food preparation. The blade is stout enough to easily split kindling.
Bark River obviously takes pride in manufacturing this knife. The handle has good symmetry but also shows attention to hand crafting. The metal and wood interface is extremely precise, giving it a smooth feel. It’s also very sturdy with a four-millimeter spine, full tang, and solid rivet construction.
The blade has a good utility shape that works well from whittling to skinning. The taper from spine to edge gives it strength and an edge that is easy to keep sharp. The square corners on the spine are sharp making it very effective for use with a ferrocerium rod in creating a good spark for starting a fire.
The model I received has a dark curly maple handle, which is really beautiful wood with a tiger stripe appearance that serves pretty well for camouflage too.
The handle is grooved for the first two fingers. It does not have a finger guard, but the Companion’s contoured shape gives it secure control even when slimy. The size of the handle is for small hands, which I have. It fits me very well, but will give the person with large hands some serious manipulation control issues. (Editor’s note: Like Leon!)
The Companion comes with a unique ambidextrous sheath. It is a full-length sheath with a friction fit.
I love it. The knife can be left with the butt exposed for convenient access, or shoved farther in for extra security. With the straps on the back of the sheath, it can be worn either vertically or horizontally. The sheath is stitched with heavy nylon and riveted. The rivets are hollow which allows it to be lashed to pack straps for easy access where it won’t interfere when wearing a pack waist belt.
The sheath is not waterproof treated and quickly absorbs any liquid leaving water stains – or worse. I would suggest treating the sheath before taking it out in the field.
Overall, the Companion is a utilitarian workhorse that should provide the user with a long life of service. Just keep in mind the size of the handle is best suited for smaller hands.
(Editor’s note: I talked to Bob on the phone recently, and he mentioned that there is a 10-point buck hanging around an area he hunts. Blackpowder season starts soon, and the Trakker Companion will hopefully get used for field dressing!
The bottom line – for any outdoor equipment – is ALWAYS: It has to work for you!)