TOPS Reimagines the Kukri with Tundra Trekker

TOPS is back at it again with another release, this time the Tundra Trekker. This modified take on the kukri format aims to be a lighter alternative to standard versions, while offering comparable chopping power.

Designer and TOPS CEO Leo Espinoza took the more doglegged blade shape of a traditional kukri and smoothed out the arc, turning the main portion of the cutting edge into one long, seamless recurve. An almost tanto-like secondary edge leads up to a bullnose tip. The entire blade runs to 9 inches. “This knife is 1095 with our famous differential heat treat, so it’ll do better in cold weather than some knives because the ‘core’ of the knife is softer, meaning it won’t get brittle as fast when the temperature drops,” explains TOPS’ Craig Powell. Along the spine a series of coarse serrated teeth open the door for notch making and general sawing tasks.

The kukri dates back thousands of years, so makers adding a twist need to be conscientious of what makes it endure in the first place. “Having the blade pointed down and forward makes them excellent for almost any chopping application,” Powell says. “But it leaves a blade near that handle that is useful for smaller, more precise tasks.” He goes on to say that Espinoza wanted to bring this versatility to the forefront. “He modified the tip to carry the forward curve of the edge as far as possible before turning it back up.” This maximizes the power a user can put behind the blade when they bring the Trekker closer to the body during a chop. “The curve of this blade will help the knife cut deeper with swings like that because the blade doesn’t round itself back out when a normal kukri would.”

TOPS Tundra Trekker

We spoke with TOPS earlier this month about their concept of lightweight gear. That idea shaped the Backpacker’s Bowie and it informs the Tundra Trekker design too. You’ll definitely notice this modified kukri when you carry it, but it’s relatively light for its size and purpose. “[It] is also thinner than traditional kukris, so it’ll chop well, but only weighs a pound unlike some of the heavier ones out there.” An open back Kydex sheath keeps the retention method as simple and low weight as possible too. The size and rejigged cutting profile truly bring the Tundra Trekker a ‘do-all’ sort of knife. “It will do the job of a large knife, but can still do the job of a smaller knife.”

The Tundra Trekker is available now.

Knife featured in image: TOPS Knives Tundra Trekker