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Hiker’s Dream Knife: Benchmade Bugout Review

Hiker's Dream Knife: Benchmade Bugout ReviewThe Benchmade Bugout is a top knife for hikers and backpackers; (photo/Josh Wussow)
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The Benchmade Bugout is a useful, versatile folding knife that weighs less than 2 ounces. We put this ultralight folding knife to the test for this review.

Benchmade Bugout Review
The Benchmade Bugout; all photos by Josh Wussow

Few knives in recent memory have made as big of a splash as the Benchmade Bugout ($135 on Amazon, $120 at REI). When it came to market in late 2017, its arrival sent shockwaves throughout the gear community – pretty impressive, given its billing as an ultralight option for ounce-counters.

Benchmade’s website hails it as the perfect blade for “the modern outdoor adventurer, incorporating the lightest, best performing materials in an extremely slim yet ergonomic package.”

Benchmade Bugout Review

In both the marketing and the literal sense, it seems like folks are buying what Benchmade is selling. The Bugout has been flying off shelves since its initial release, making it somewhat difficult to find. Benchmade was kind enough to send one my way for review, giving me the chance to see what all the buzz is about.

Benchmade Bugout Review

Benchmade Bugout Review

Here’s what you’re buying with the Bugout: 3.24 inches of drop-point, flat ground CPM-S30V steel. Overall opened length stretches to 7.46 inches, with a width across the blade of just 0.09 inches. This makes for an incredibly cut-capable design, with its thin stock gliding through paper and packaging.

Aft of the blade is Benchmade’s iconic AXIS lock. This particular implementation features small steel insets on both sides. While this yields a sizable reduction in weight, it does allow the grip area to flex a bit under heavy pressure. This isn’t a huge concern for me given the knife’s clear medium-duty mandate.

Benchmade Bugout Review

The rest of its 4.22-inch handle is composed of a material known as Grivory. For those of you not familiar with this bit of branding, it feels like high-quality molded plastic (because that’s what it is). It’s one of the nicer lightweight materials I’ve encountered, equally pleasing to the eye and hand.

Benchmade Bugout: Ultralight Knife

I’ve saved the most important stat for last. Despite its 3-plus-inch blade and solid lock, the Bugout weighs an astounding 1.85 ounces. That’s lighter than the Benchmade Proper I reviewed a while back. Pretty cool, right?

Benchmade Bugout Review

This lightweight nature makes the Bugout astonishingly easy to carry. Its reversible, deep carry pocket clip further boosts this aspect while making it a truly excellent option for left-handed users.

The light weight and utilitarian design mean this knife can do pretty much anything reasonably well. For hikers in particular, this is a dream blade as it will hold an edge and do most any camp chore while adding almost no weight to a pack.

AXIS Lock, Disassembly

Let’s briefly touch on disassembly. As with all AXIS locks, the process can be rather fiddley. Those omega-shaped springs need to be perfectly positioned, and putting it back together requires a bit of patience.

Benchmade Bugout disassembled

It’s honestly not something I’d recommend, especially on a knife with this sort of easy-access, flow-through construction. It’d be much simpler to rinse it off, blast compressed air through to dry the mechanism, and drop some oil onto the washers on either side of the blade.

Medium-Duty Mastery

Benchmade bugout reviewWhen using a tool like the Bugout, it’s important to consider its intended role. Despite its crap-hits-the-fan moniker, this is not a survival knife. You won’t be building shelters or felling trees with under 2 ounces of steel. But once you set aside these sorts of expectations, the Bugout really begins to shine.

Let’s talk target audience. We’ve already said this isn’t the knife you’d want for the end of civilization. So, who out there would benefit from a capable, ultralight tool?

Simple: day hikers, backpackers, and anyone looking for unencumbered capability. With its effortless deep carry and cutting credentials, this is the perfect knife to throw in your pocket before hitting the trail. It’ll slice cord, food, and other natural material with ease. It’ll carve too, but I’d avoid setting it against anything bigger than a finger-width twig.

The Gripe on Grivory

Benchmade Bugout Review

One of the most common complaints I’ve heard about the Bugout goes a little something like this: “Why are they charging so much money for a knife with an intentionally lightweight design? Shouldn’t we be paying less since it has less steel in its construction?” I understand the question, and, in a lot of ways, I agree.

But, given the design, blade steel, and overall construction of the Bugout, I’m not so sure that $135 is out of the ballpark. Would I be happier paying $100 for this knife? Sure, but I don’t think its current retail is outside the realm of reason.

Benchmade Bugout: Final Thoughts

Benchmade Bugout Review

I think part of the Bugout’s struggle with cost has to do with its perception as an outdoor-only folder. That’s certainly how I envisioned it before getting my hands on the review sample. But, to my surprise, this turned out to be one of my favorite daily companions. From its excellent action to its effortless carry and cutting ability, it’s been hard to kick the Bugout out of my pocket. There’s much more to this blade than its weekend warrior marketing or desperate-duty naming would lead you to believe.

Buy Now ($120) at REI

I’m not saying this is the only knife you’ll ever need for your outdoor activities. For all its prowess as a hiking buddy, it won’t be much help when it comes time to split wood or strike fire. But whether you’re looking for a knife that can keep pace with you on the trail or just act as a solid plan B – it’s hard to beat the Bugout.

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