benchmade bugout - upgrade
Photo Credit: Josh Wussow

Bespoke Benchmade Bugout: I Customized My Favorite Folding Knife to Make It Even Better

I built a custom Benchmade Bugout — one of the brand’s most popular — with premium features tailored to my own lifestyle. And you can, too.

The original Benchmade Bugout hit me at a perfect time in life. I’d just moved to northern New Mexico and most of my weekends were spent in the mountains. Exploring the trails and canyons of the San Juans, I found the knife’s lightweight nature and adventurous spirit really resonated.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one. In the years since its debut, the Bugout has become one of Benchmade’s more popular outdoor folders. And, with its easy ride and comfortable handle, it’s bridged the gap from the backwoods to the elite level of everyday carry pocket knives.

The company even introduced a customizer tool, allowing users to spec out their perfect model.

However, Benchmade still wasn’t satisfied. In an attempt to capture the high-end crowd, the brand introduced several premium options into the fray. And when fortune favored me with Benchmade’s offer to try out one of my own, I leaped at it.

My goal: Create a Bugout version equally at home in the forest as it is in the kitchen, garage, or a nice pair of pants. Here’s how I did it.

benchmade bugout - upgrade
Photo Credit: Josh Wussow

Benchmade Bugout: What’s New

At the base level, a customized Bugout starts at $175. This nets users a satin CPM-S30V blade, along with a choice of hardware and handle colors for the original glass-filled nylon scales.

But the new kids to the party kick things up a notch. Custom Bugouts can now be spec’d with S90V (+$30) or Damasteel Ladder patterned ($200) blades. Benchmade added titanium (+$150) and carbon fiber (+$100) options out back.

Benchmade Bugout S90V Titanium
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The Benchmade Bugout is a light, versatile pocket knife perfect for hiking and EDC. Now the brand has a deluxe option with titanium and carbon fiber scales. Read more…

These come in addition to previous choices such as M4, 20CV, G10, and Jade. Buyers can also include a custom etching on either (or both) sides of the blade, and there are 10 colors available for the lugs and thumb studs.

Custom Benchmade Bugout Build Spec

Full disclosure: As a reviewer, I’m not really what you’d consider luxury-minded. With a few exceptions, most of my gear clocks in well below the $150 mark.

I like simple, well-built tools that punch above their price tier. So, with that being said, let’s talk about the $365 knife I built.

Benchmade’s Customizer is a sight to behold. As you select your preferred materials, you’re treated to a full-3D mockup of the knife, viewable from any angle.

After perusing the options, here’s what I came up with: a black coated S90V blade (+$30, and another $10 for the black), blue thumb studs and spacers, black AXIS lock hardware, titanium scales (+$150) with satin screws, and a black pocket clip.

And though partial serrations are only available on the S90V models, I opted for a smooth edge on the drop point blade.

benchmade bugout - upgrade
Photo Credit: Josh Wussow

Yeah, that looks nice.

Bugout Customizer: Review

GearJunkie has featured several articles on the Bugout over the years, including the original review here. In order to keep from repeating myself, I’ll avoid an analysis of the design (spoiler: it’s great), and focus instead on the particulars of this specific knife.

In short, my custom Bugout has performed flawlessly. The AXIS lock was well-sprung, the blade came perfectly centered, and the overall fit and finish were among the best I’ve encountered on a production knife.

The action is snappy, the grip is solid, and the color palette is definitely attractive. And, like the original Bugout, it cuts like a monster. It came hair-popping sharp, and the S90V has held up well over its brief stay. Food? No problem. Cardboard? Easy.

Everything the original could do, the new version does even better.

benchmade bugout - upgrade
Photo Credit: Josh Wussow

Perhaps my favorite additions, however, are the titanium scales. Though some have disparaged the plastic handles on the first Bugout, I never encountered a problem with them. But the titanium adds a wonderful rigidity to the knife, increasing the confidence in hand.

And with an overall mass of just 2.57 ounces, this maintains the lightweight ethos of the original.

Get Yours

The question remains: Is the Bugout, which you can purchase in its most basic model for just over $130 at Blade HQ, worth the cost and effort of upgrading? After playing around with Benchmade’s Customizer and handling the results, my conclusion is definitely, yes.

While the original knife was all about getting the best possible blade in the lightest possible package, these new materials fulfill the true potential of the design. The relatively simple nature of the Bugout makes it a perfect platform for customization.

No matter what options you select, you’re not going to screw up the functionality of this elegant, efficient EDC tool.

Photo Credit: Josh Wussow

So, how do you get one? Check out Benchmade’s official website, where you’ll find more than 479,000 possible combinations.

Check Benchmade’s Customizer Here