• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Review | Bark River UP Bravo EDC expands popular knife design series

564 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Bark River and Knivesshipfree.com came up with a winner last year with the UP (Upper Peninsula) Bravo series.

This latest addition to the series is going to be a really popular with backpackers, hikers and folks who want a smaller knife.

by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer: I did not get a free knife, nor was I paid to write this review. Nobody had any input in it, and all I ever promise in a review is a fair shake.

I recently spent a weekend on the Mississippi River, helping guide a canoe trip. My UP (Upper Peninsula) Bravo was on my hip the whole time and was used for everything from whittling wiener sticks to cutting veggies up for lunches. It did everything very well.

Family portrait: The Bravo UP series includes from top, UP Bravo, UP Gunny and UP Every Day Carry. The handles are all desert ironwood.

Last fall, my UP Gunny was in my possession about 15 hours before it was used to help gut and skin a whitetail. It worked really well.

As has been mentioned several times, the UP series are the knives I would design for me. I lobbied for a similar configuration as far back as 2014, after trying and failing twice to bond with the Canadian. I found the Ambush Tundra, which I still consider a nearly ideal hunting knife. But combining the Bravo handle with the Canadian leaf-style blade makes the UP a hunting/bushcraft knife par excellence.

To quote me in a Nov. 26, 2018 review of the  Bark River EXT-2:

 “(Quick suggestion here, since the knife makers DO listen to user feedback: Take the Bark River Canadian blade, do a full height convex grind on it, and combine that with a thicker Bravo handle. Somebody needs to make that knife. Please!)”

So there is no reason to think that the latest in the UP series, the UP Every Day Carry, won’t continue that family tradition of in-the-field excellence.

Specifications (Courtesy of Knivesshipfree.com)

Overall Length: 7.44″
Blade Length: 3.56″
Blade Steel: A2 Tool Steel
Blade Thickness: .100″
Weight: 3.4oz.

Made in the USA

Comes with right hand leather sheath.

I started out the UP EDC field testing, as always, in the kitchen. The thin .1-inch blade and convex grind make it a slicing machine. Meat, cheese and tomatoes all were easily handled. The knife is compact, easy to carry and unobtrusive on my belt, making it handy. And if a knife is not handy, it will never make it as an every day carry knife.

There’s this:

The handle will be very comfortable for most users. A variety of handle materials are available.

Handle: The Bravo and Gunny UPs work very well for me, considering I have long fingers and a palm that measures four inches across. For me personally, the EDC handle feels a little thin and short. For people with small to medium sized hands, like my wife, the EDC is spot-on for size and comfort.

Steel: I really like A2 steel. It is a user steel that holds an edge really well and is easy to sharpen and keep sharp. A2 is also a common tool steel, meaning it is used a lot, the bugs and glitches have been worked out and the price is reasonable. That allows makers to produce a less-expensive, quality product without cutting into their profit margin too much.

Blade thickness: At .100 inches, the thickness of this blade is also just right. Most knife blades are too thick, IMHO, and that makes them unnecessarily heavy and affects their slicing ability. With today’s excellent steels, there is little need for thick, chunky blades.

Blade design: The Canadian leaf-style blade is one of the best overall blade designs ever. The centered point, belly curve and humped spine combine to make a really useful hunting knife blade. I use my UP Bravo and Gunny for bushcrafting with complete satisfaction.

I wear size large gloves and can get a four-finger grip on the EDC handle.

Point: The drop point is a really good choice for an all around knife. On the Canadian, the point is about in the middle of the blade. This is handy for drilling hole in wood (think firebow) or field dressing big game. (Read about how to decide on the best knife point.)

Grind: All Bark River knives are convex ground, meaning there is considerable metal behind the edge. I have proven to my satisfaction that a convex grind is the best choice for what I do.

Weight: At 3.4 ounces, this knife is barely noticed on my belt. That’s another important attribute to an EDC knife – if it’s heavy, the knife may be left behind.

Made in the USA: All Bark River Knives are made in Escanoba, Michigan. The crafts people get a good wage, and pay local, state and federal taxes, as does the company. Problem with a knife – call the factory and you can talk to the person who made it.

Warranty: Unconditionally guaranteed.

Do you need a UP EDC?

I like this knife a lot. And I love the series. But the handle is just a smidgen too small for me, even though I can get a four-finger grip on the handle. The handle is too slender for my liking, so this UP most likely won’t end up as my primary EDC. But my wife and daughter can use it very well, and both of them like pretty knives.

Other than my one nit-pick, this knife gets a solid five star rating. It is going to be very popular.

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