Bear Forest Knives
American Outdoor Guide|February 2022
"Three power-packed blades with desert roots."
Story and photos by Reuben Bolieu

Garrett Tremblay, founder and creator of Bear Forest Knives (BFK), poses the question, Is there any greater feeling than finding self-reliance and solitude among the mountains and valleys?

BFK

Bear Forest Knives is based in Palm Desert, California. Working with metal as a fabricator, Tremblay is no stranger to hard work. He's made tools for himself and friends to use on camping and hunting trips, which became his passion. Eventually, he became a full-time knifemaker. Good, honest handcrafted knives made in America are what you get with BFK. He uses a variety of high-carbon steels such as 80CrV2, 1095 and 52100.

I love these steels because of their strength and durability in real-world applications and the ease of re-sharpening, Tremblay said.

I've been fortunate to use several different Bear Forest Knives models, both prototypes and one-offs, for over a year. However, these three gems are from the company's production lineup. Although there are standard features and colors, everything can still be tweaked with a little communication with the folks at BFK.

Tremblay sent me two prototypes for his new rustic, puukko-looking knife with a 4-inch blade. Two thicknesses are offered: 1/8 and 3/32 inch. I also received the Sierra Trekker, a stout, 3/16-inch-thick knife with a nearly 5-inch blade. Going bigger, the Mini-Bolo is nearly 6 inches long and is based on a Filipino-shaped bolo knife.

SIMPLE

Indicative of its name, the Bear Forest Knives Simple is just that. It's 8 inches overall with a 4-inch handle and a 4-inch-long blade-simple! It's still in the prototype phase.

The company sent both the 1/8- and 3/32-inch-thick versions. This model uses white oak scales, which take on an amazing patina over time. The sheath is a standard, high-quality BFK creation. It's flawless.

During the months I tested the Simple knives, I was also hanging out with the Randalls Adventure & Training/ESEE Knives crew for a series of classes. That meant that not only did I get to test and use these knives, but so did any interested students. And try they did.

Patrick Rollins was leading these classes in Alabama, and he used the Simple for knife safety and use, as well as crafting. During the school's Advanced Bushcraft Class, the Simple was used to make a bucksaw. All the pieces were carved with the knife as the demo saw. It performed well on greenwood to lightly baton and carve notches.

During the fire portion of the class, Rollins made a bow drill set using the Simple to carve dry cedar to make the spindle, fireboard and notch. In addition to that, he showed the students how to process down wood using the knife to get kindling and shave thin feather sticks for tinder. The Simple performed like a champ.

At the Rollins residence in Georgia, it was time to grill. The Simple was used to make some Taiwanese-style kabobs, cutting bacon, green onions, asparagus and mushrooms. Beef stew was also on the menu, and the Simple was called on for some culinary work. Slicing onions, carrots and beef was no problem for its zero-ground Scandinavian blade.

Sitting around while cooking allows plenty of time to work on other crafts. Fire prep for the grill is always welcomed: Poplar, oak and hickory were shaved thin for the next fire and kept dry.

While waiting for the coals to be established for the grill, we used the simple to make a try stick, which is a practice stick for the variable notches one would use for traps and camp crafts, such as making pot hangers, stakes and fletching.

The handle on the Simple mimics popular Scandinavian puukko knives: It features a plain, oval grip without any finger grooves or guard. This type of handle serves as a blank canvas, allowing users to hold the knife however they see fit. This type of knife doesn't need a guard, because stabbing isn't a task regularly associated with these crafting knives; they are slicers/ carvers.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine