Bark River Trailbuddy III Camp Knife Review


Exploring the world of outdoor gear and tools often leads enthusiasts to uncover hidden gems that redefine reliability and craftsmanship.

In the realm of camp knives, the Bark River Trail buddy III emerges as a promising contender, blending artistry with practicality. Renowned for its impeccable construction and versatility, the Trailbuddy III embodies the legacy of Bark River Knives, a brand synonymous with quality and precision.

This comprehensive review delves into the intricacies of the Trailbuddy III, dissecting its design, functionality, and real-world performance to uncover why it stands as a coveted companion for outdoor aficionados and camp enthusiasts alike.

Trailbuddy III Camp Knife


Bark River Knives Company

Bark River Knives, formerly Bark River Trailbuddy III Camp Knife & Tool, is a family-owned company located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In addition, BRK is run by veteran knife-smith Mike Stewart who teaches and employs a number of skilled artisans. Together, they make some of the finest knives made today and thus, Bark River defines quality American craftsmanship.

High Quality Bark River Knives:

Bark River Knives feature extremely high-quality workmanship from the tip of the razor-sharp blade to the end of the ergonomic handle. Plus, Mike Stewart has his heat-treatment regimen that exploits the specific strengths of each of the steels he uses. But, first and foremost, Bark River Knives are made to be used.

Crafting Excellance: Mike Stewart’s Precision in Every Tool

Therefore, Mike designs some of the hardest-working knives in the industry and they are employed all over the world. In fact, every single knife is made with specific uses in mind. For instance, hunting knives are all designed with field dressing, skinning, butchering, processing, or other hunting tasks in mind. Whereas, camping knives are built to take on the most demanding outdoor tasks. Thus, the first time you hold one of Mike Stewart’s survival knives in your hand, you will know that you can stake your life on it.

Bark River’s Trailbuddy III Survival Knife


  • Overall Length: 13 inches (approx. 33 cm)
  • Blade Length: 8 inches (approx. 20.3 cm)
  • Blade Thickness: 1/5 inch (approx. 5 mm)
  • Handle Length: Approximately 5 inches (varies with handle choice)


  • Blade Steel: A2 tool steel (non-stainless)
  • Blade Grind: Deep, flat grind
  • Blade Type: Persian Clip Point
  • Handle Materials: Various options including linen Micarta, plain woods, exotic woods, burl woods, and natural materials

Bark River’s Trailbuddy III Survival Knife Construction

Bark River’s Trailbuddy III survival knife is certainly constructed with this philosophy in mind. This knife features an overall length of 13” with an 8” Persian Clip Point blade made from 1/5”, A2, non-stainless, tool steel with a continuous curve, a deep, flat grind, and a Rockwell Hardness of 58. In addition, it is available with your choice of several different types of handle slabs consisting of linen Micarta in numerous different colors, plain woods, exotic woods, burl woods, and natural materials. Plus, the knife is supplied with a fine quality, heavy-duty, pouch-type, leather sheath.

When I first saw this knife, my first reaction was “Holy Cutlery Batman! Now that’s an awesome knife!”

1. Suitable For Camp

The new Trailbuddy III is Bark River’s Version of a modern Camp Knife and, although this is a relatively large knife, it is not actually all that heavy in the hand. Therefore, it’s surprisingly quite suitable for a number of different camp jobs such as clearing your campsite, butchering your game, and helping out in the camp kitchen.

In addition, it will also make a pile of kindling for your campfire in short order. In fact, the actual inspiration for the design of this knife is rooted in the 1915 Woodcraft model. But Bark River has intentionally made the knife much larger and specifically designed it to fill the role of a dedicated Camp Knife.

2. Efficient Slicing Tools

Consequently, this large, highly versatile, knife is comfortable in the hand and has a natural balance that will not tire the user. Last, the extended curve on the edge of this knife combined with the flat grind makes it a very efficient slicing tool, and yet it is also agile enough to use to prep vegetables for your camp meals.

3. Very Hard Blade

Furthermore, the A2 steel used in the blade is a very hard (0.95-1.05% Carbon) and very tough (1.0% Manganese & 0.90-1.40% Molybdenum) non-stainless steel (4.75%-5.50% Chromium) with a very fine grain structure (0.15% – 0.50% Vanadium) and thus it will take and hold a very sharp edge. Yet, the steel is tough enough to easily withstand the shock applied to the blade when the knife is used to chop saplings and smaller trees and when used with a mallet to split small logs.

Preserving Excellence: Maintenance Tips 

However, since it is a non-stainless steel, it does require special care to maintain a corrosion-free surface. Therefore, I would suggest Tuf Glide to keep your knife’s surface like new.

Ideal Handle Choices

The Trailbuddy III offers a variety of handle options to suit different preferences. The choices include linen Micarta in numerous colors, plain woods, exotic woods, burl woods, and natural materials.

I personally have a distinct preference for linen Micarta handle slabs for this type of knife since they are impervious to moisture, abrasion, chipping, cracking, and splitting and thus, I know that they will last at least as long as the knife blade and will not let me down in a tough situation when I REALLY need my knife to perform.

Beauty Meets Functionality: Versatility Beyond the Campsite

So, in my opinion, the Bark River Trailbuddy III Camp Knife is not only one of the prettiest camp knives I have seen yet, but it is also one of the best designs I have seen yet. However, just because this knife is primarily billed as a camp knife, don’t be fooled because, like many of the others we’ve broken down in detail, it would also be an excellent choice for a dedicated survival knife or EDC carry knife.

Survival Applications:

The Trailbuddy III’s robust construction, durable blade material (A2 tool steel), and versatile design render it highly suitable for survival tasks. Its 8-inch Persian Clip Point blade, featuring a deep, flat grind, offers a fine balance between slicing efficiency and durability. This makes it adept at various survival tasks, including shelter building, wood processing, and food preparation in emergency situations. The knife’s ability to hold a sharp edge and withstand rigorous use, such as chopping and splitting, enhances its utility in survival scenarios.

Everyday Carry (EDC):

Despite its larger size, the Trailbuddy III can serve as an EDC knife for individuals who value durability and versatility in their everyday tools. While it might be larger than typical EDC knives, its ergonomic handle, comfortable grip, and balanced weight distribution ensure usability for everyday tasks like cutting, slicing, or even light outdoor chores. The knife’s reliability and ability to handle diverse tasks make it a dependable option for individuals looking for a sturdy and multi-functional EDC tool.


In conclusion, the Bark River Trailbuddy III Camp Knife stands as a testament to precision, versatility, and enduring quality. As a quintessential companion for outdoor adventures, this knife embodies the heritage of Bark River Knives, showcasing craftsmanship that transcends mere functionality. From its robust construction to the thoughtfully designed blade and handle options, every aspect speaks to the dedication of Mike Stewart and his team in crafting a tool that’s not only reliable but also a work of art. Its adaptability extends beyond the campsite, proving its mettle as a survival knife or an everyday carry companion. Embodying the perfect blend of beauty and functionality, the Trailbuddy III remains a standout choice, promising not just an exceptional knife but an invaluable partner for those who rely on their gear in the toughest situations.


The Out sider

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