An Ideal Woodsman’s Knife?

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The Bark River Bravo Vortex with green micarta scales.

I have just received what I think is the best woodsman’s knife design I’ve ever seen, the Bark River Bravo Vortex. Or, perhaps, I should say the other best design. After a few months testing, I’ll do a review on it along with my other favorite, the Pasayten (that I’ve been carrying awhile now). Both are drawn from ancient know-how. The Pasayten was a favored design among the French Canadian fur traders and coureurs de bois, and is ideal for processing food, game and moderately good for woodworking. It’s weakness is it doesn’t have much fight in it and lacks a very stout point. The Vortex is clearly modeled after the Hudson Bay Company’s Roach design. Just slightly larger than the Pasayten and quite a bit thicker and stouter, it has the piercing drop point that became very popular among later American and Canadian frontiersmen, giving the knife some fight. However, the drop is slight, providing a lot of belly for skinning, butchering, and other backwoods tasks. A stouter point makes the Vortex much more suited to bushcraft tasks, such as pinholing fire boards. Both are extremely good all around designs, with the Pasayten favoring tasks like foraging, fish and game processing and camp cookery and the stouter Vortex being more an extremely good jack-of-all-trades but favoring bushcraft and large game processing. Both these knives are in my top 3 designs now.

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Tops Pasayten

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Pasayten sheath.

Those who appreciate good woodsmen’s tools know of the unfortunate fact that many excellent knifemakers do not seem to understand at all what it is that woodsmen and bushcrafters want in a sheath, and we often end up replacing the sheaths their knives come with for custom made work. However, the Pasayten and Vortex both come with remarkable sheaths that really cannot be improved on in any way that I can see. The Pasayten is straightforward, functional kydex. As one might expect, the Bark River made Bravo Vortex is fine leatherwork, but made after much consultation with expert woodsmen.

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Bark River Bravo Vortex sheath.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “An Ideal Woodsman’s Knife?

  1. Vidarson

    Cliff, I just ordered the exact Bark River Bravo Vortex. I wasn’t aware of this model but when I saw it, I recognized it’s great potential. Your endorsement sealed the deal! Do let us know how it works for you.

    • I hope you like it as much as I am sure I am going to like mine. I haven’t gotten to use it too hard yet but I am pretty sure this is going to be new favorite, go everywhere in the woods knife. Did you get the A2 or S30V steel?

      • Vidarson

        I got a great deal on the A2 version at Knifesupply.com. A2 has always been good to me. How about you? I was happy to see you chose the rampless version, though I understand that Bark River will grind that ramp off for a owner if they want. For chores, the rampless just seems to be the way to go.

  2. I don’t like ramps on anything. Really, on a knife, what I want is a comfortable, tough handle, a small guard on the lower side and a blade. No ramps, choils, or any other silly survivalist/tacticool/bushcraft-fad nonsense. I want a tool. Drop or spear point, flat ground spine, good edge, good temper on the steel. Nothing else.

    I got the A2, as well. I have found with my other Bark River knife, the Teddy II, that their A2 resists rust very well. Just oil it now and then. And it’s easy to sharpen. I leave on the comvex edge til it dulls and then reprofile a typical V edge on my water stones because it is much easier to sharpen a V edge in the field with small stones. And the A2 version of the knife was cheap enough to use. One should never buy a knife so expensive you’re afraid to use it. Such a knife isn’t really a knife, it’s fine china.

    • Vidarson

      Agreed on your points….and your last statement applies to all things. There’s a sweet spot of practicality in all things between cost and use. I learned that the hard way, many times and good of you to point out for everyone to ponder. Thanks for the reply. Enjoy all your books.

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