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Three Rivers Atlas camping knife review: an extremely capable cutting tool

Small but surprisingly capable, this US-made blade is well-designed and superbly executed for everyday carry, backpacking and hiking

Our Verdict

Everything about this knife impressed us, from the high-end blade steel to the lightweight titanium pocket clip. Despite its short and stubby appearance, it’s an extremely capable cutting tool.

For

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Excellent blade steel
  • Good build quality
  • Blade half stop

Against

  • Not the cheapest

First impressions

The Atlas is a compact US-made slipjoint folding camping knife from TRM (Three Rivers Manufacturing), a small but fast-growing knifemaker from Massachusetts. The brand has built its reputation on outstanding quality, honest pricing and first-class customer service. Our experience was no exception, and the fit and finish of our test sample was top-drawer, while the company were a pleasure to deal with. 

The knife itself is a clean and well-thought-out design that takes quality components and puts them together to create a stubby but surprisingly capable little knife. So, you get a thin, slicey blade made from high-end S35VN steel. The hand-sharpened blade comes shaving-sharp straight out of the box. It has a pronounced drop point but a broad profile with plenty of belly and a robust tip. This makes it feel like a serious knife despite its compact dimensions, and one that is built for hard work. The blade also has an enlarged cut-out that can allow for one-handed opening, enabling quicker deployment. The bevel extends all the way to the ricasso, which allows for complete edge sharpening – learn how to sharpen a camping knife in our guide.

Specifications

• RRP: $142.50 (UK) / £136 (UK)
• Weight: 60g /2.1oz
• Blade length: 5.7cm / 2.25in
• Overall length: 14cm / 5.5in
• Closed length: 8.57cm / 3.375in
• Materials: S35VN stainless steel blade, titanium liners, spacers and pocket clip, G10 fibreglass composite scales
• Features: Flat grind / Drop point blade

In the field

The handle fits snugly in the hand, incorporating a finger choil and slimmed down rear end for added comfort and dexterity. Spine jimping also adds to an overall sensation of firm, reliable control in use, whether you’re cutting cordage or whittling wood. Similarly, the very positive blade half stop feels reassuringly safe, and there is ideal tension on the backspring that means the blade snaps open and closed securely. 

Scales are made from textured G10 fibreglass composite, though versions with micarta and carbon fibre are also available. The scales themselves are easy to swap over, allowing you to customise the knife to your tastes. The liners, backstraps and deep pocket clip are all machined from titanium, which is a great weight-saver. This is a very lightweight knife, ideal for ‘fast and light’ backpacking trips.