TOPS Turns CEO’s Pet Project into Latest Release

TOPS has just put out the Camp Creek, an outdoor fixed blade that functions as a riff on the classic Nessmuk knife. It also marks the debut implementation of S35VN steel in TOPS’s standard production line.

In reliable TOPS fashion the Camp Creek is a more muscular interpretation of the Nessmuk. It comes with a 4.38-inch leaf-shaped blade and measures 9 inches overall. The handle shows a little more modern attitude than a traditional Nessmuk, too, with a flared pommel and two oversized finger grooves. Designed for outdoorsmen of all stripes, the Nessmuk comes with a Kydex sheath molded to look like a leather one, and weighs 6.2 oz. outside of that sheath.

TOPS’s Craig Powell tells us that the Camp Creek started out as a pet project of CEO Leo Espinoza, who didn’t consciously intend on making a Nessmuk-style knife. “It was more after he cut out the profile that he realized that it looked very much like that,” Powell says. “He just liked the way Nessmuks have a blade that is almost all belly with a high grind and the wide profile in the middle of the belly.”

Espinoza had the pattern cut out and started using it. “Leo showed the one he made for himself around the building and everyone liked it,” Powell shares. “Then it just worked so good that we decided it would be dumb not to make it.” The company took the opportunity to outfit the entire production run – as opposed to a limited number – in S35VN steel. Compared to TOPS’s normal 1095 it offers a boost in edge retention and corrosion resistance, while sacrificing a little toughness. For the traditionalists out there: the Camp Creek could eventually see a carbon steel release if the stars are right. “It would be something that we might do in 1095 to release an option with a somewhat lower price point if it looks like that is what people want.”

The Camp Creek has opened the gates for more modern steels in TOPS knives. “We would like to have plenty of options with S35VN and probably some in 3V or other high end ‘super steels,’” Powell reveals. But he says that the company’s well-regarded 1095 isn’t going anywhere for now. “We’re going to slowly work through that because we still love 1095 and the performance that we’re able to coax out of it with our differential heat treat and other finishing processes.”

Knife featured in image: TOPS Camp Creek