Undoubtedly one for the traditionalists, the Böker Barlow has timeless looks that would make it the perfect addition to your camping kit if you’re a fan of heritage outdoor gear. But it’s also a practical everyday carry tool for day-to-day tasks.
Compact and lightweight
Blade half stop
Carbon steel blade will rust easily
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Böker Barlow O1: first impressions
The Böker Barlow O1 reeks tradition. When it comes to classic pocket-knives, few designs carry the same timeless appeal as the Barlow (you can find more examples in our best camping knife buyer’s guide). Characterised by their rounded handles and long metal bolsters, they have a distinctive look and feel that has been used by multiple generations. And that’s one of their principal attractions – there’s something undeniably comforting about carrying the same sort of knife that would have been familiar to your grandfather. For outdoors lovers who appreciate heritage kit, this is an enticing knife to add to your camping arsenal. (If you like something a bit more modern see our best multitools for alternatives.)
German band Böker make several variants of the Barlow, each with different handles, blade steels and blade profiles. Our test sample was a limited-edition version exclusive to knivesandtools.co.uk (opens in new tab), featuring nickel silver bolsters, natural canvas micarta scales and a clip-point blade made from O1 carbon steel. It’s undoubtedly a handsome little knife, with timeless looks and a harmonious, understated design.
• RRP: $170 (US) / £71.95 (UK) / €81.95 (EU)
• Weight: 51g / 1.8oz
• Blade length: 6.5cm / 2.55in
• Overall length: 14.9cm / 5.86in
• Closed length: 8.4cm / 3.3in
• Materials: O1 carbon steel blade, nickel silver bolsters, canvas micarta scales
• Features: Flat grind / Clip point blade
In the field
For all the Barlow’s traditional appeal, it’s also practical. That makes sense – after all, the design wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t also a useful companion for all sorts of daily tasks, whether you’re at home in the garden or in the great outdoors. It could become one of your everyday carry essentials.
The O1 is a basic carbon steel, a choice that is both faithful to the tradition of the Barlow knife and appropriate for this type of small blade. It sharpens easily and is relatively tough, developing an appealing patina over time. It’s worth noting, however, that it is not very rust-resistant. As such, it needs a little more care and attention than stainless steel versions.
The Böker Barlow has a long, deep nail groove in the left-hand side of the blade (which makes it better suited to right-handers than southpaws). It needs two hands to open and has a reassuringly stiff backspring with a pronounced half-stop for safety. It’s a knife designed for deliberate, leisurely use rather than quick deployment. If that’s also how you like to enjoy the great outdoors – we’re thinking relaxed camping weekends in the countryside rather than ultralight mountain missions – you’ll doubtless appreciate the old-world charm of this knife.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.
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