A Fun and Capable Bushcraft Camp Style Knife That Proves Off Grid Did Their Research Before Jumping Into The Fixed Blade World
Off-Grid Knives is a relatively new company that I have absolutely been ignoring. Every once in a while in a moment of weakness I have looked over their catalog of folding knives with big beautiful bellies and been tempted to buy one, but I have always resisted the urge. After all, I have a ton of knives to review from companies that have been around for decades and are highly respected. I don’t have time for some new upstart knife manufacturer with slick branding and happy customers.
Then the Tracker-X dropped. Damn. That thing looked nice. 5mm thick spine and a chunky micarta handle. “The heat treatment on the D2 steel blade is probably crap”, I told myself. But then the consumer reviews started pouring in full of positivity and a surprising lack of buyers remorse. So I pulled the trigger and bought one.
Me and a few of the other knife nerds here at Nothing But Knives have spent the last several weeks abusing this knife in an attempt to uncover its weaknesses. For the most part we failed. The Tracker X performed well at most of the tasks we threw at it.
Off Grid is primarily a folding knife company, but they jumped into the fixed blade world with a product that was a lot more than an afterthought. This was not just some knife they threw together last minute so they could have a fixed blade section of their catalog. Some person or people put a lot of time and effort into the designing and manufacturing of this knife, and it shows.
|Blade Thickness:||5 mm|
|Blade Style:||Drop point|
|Knife Weight:||10.3 oz|
|Knife Weight w/ Sheath:||12.4 oz|
|Multi carry sheath system|
|This thing is a chopping beast|
|Comfortable horizontal carry|
|Blade holds it’s edge well|
|Knife sags when carried horizontally unless you have a wide belt|
|Handle may be uncomfortable for those with small hands|
|Not great at throwing spark on a ferro rod|
The blade of the Tracker-X is so beefy that it almost feels overbuilt. The size of the blade and the lack of a finger choil make this knife less than ideal for carving, but great for chopping, branch clearing, batoning or even hammering with the flat or spine of the blade.
I am not sure why Off Grid chose a sabre grind for this blade. I personally would have preferred a high flat grind or even a scandi grind, but I can not argue with the results we saw in the field. Based on this knife’s performance I am guessing the designer knows a hell of a lot more about blade geometry than I do. Sill I would like to talk to him or her about the knife grind choice if I ever get the chance.
The jimping on the spine of the blade is well placed and helpful when doing detail work. The short taper to the tip of the blade makes the Tracker X a bad choice for stabbing things, but great for doing actual work. We dug fairly deep into some pretty hard wood with the tip of this knife, and it held up like a champ. More on that later.
It turns out my initial skepticism of Off Grid’s D2 steel heat treatment was completely unfounded. It held it’s edge as well if not better than any other D2 steel knife I have used. This blade holds an edge extremely well. On our first day of testing we chopped a few branches, did some feathersticking and then did a paper test.
The Tracker-X did not slide through the paper quite as effortlessly as it did out of the box I after I stropped it, but it still did well. While we are on the subject of sharpness I will say that the Tracker-X arrived sharp, but not Spyderco sharp. I spent a little time with a leather strop before taking the knife into the woods.
The handle is thick. Really thick. This is great if you have big hands, but if you have small hands you may want to pass on this knife or plan on sanding down the edges a bit. I have average sized hands, and I didn’t find it at all uncomfortable or difficult to grip. One of the other testers mentioned the handle felt too big when she first picked up the knife, but she had no problems once she start chopping stuff.
One area the thick handle was a plus was chopping. At 3.75 inches the handle is shorter than a lot of bushcraft or camp style knives like the Buck Compadre or Condor Stratos. However the thickness of the handle and the slight downturn made it easy to grip firmly even when the back part of my hand was hanging off the end. So once again hats off to the designer.
The “snake skin” texture of the handle felt a little rough at first, but either my hand adjusted or some rough edges wore off with heavy use. Either way the texture did its job of making the handle grippy even when wet.
The kydex sheath of the Tracker-X is surprisingly versatile for a company that is new to the fixed blade world. The ability to quickly and easily switch between vertical and horizontal carry is a feature I wish more fixed blade knife sheaths had.
The retention of the kydex sheath is great. You could do handsprings and the knife would stay in place. However, this may change after a year or so of use which is one of the downsides of kydex.
The knife’s sheath comes stock with a quick clip, which was great for us. It makes it easy to move the knife from your belt to a backpack or from the from one part of your belt to another. I do wish the belt opening on the quick clip were smaller so that it would sit tighter on regular sized belts. To prevent sagging in the horizontal carry position you have to wear a really wide belt. Fortunately the sheath is compatible with the Tek Lok Belt Clip System which is really customizable.
In the vertical carry position the Tracker-X sits higher than I like when worn on the side of the hips, but the fact that it rides high made it possible to wear comfortably closer to the back of the hips because it doesn’t smack into your butt when you are hiking.
While the Tracker-X is a bit on the heavy side even for a bushcraft knife, I barely noticed it when hiking or even crawling through the underbrush. It rides well and is easy to draw in either the horizontal or vertical carry position, and easy to return to the sheath. That is not to say that it is almost unnoticeable like the Boker Arbolito El Heroe, but it rides quite comfortably considering it’s size and weight.
The OG Lo-Pro Sheath Extension Option
It has been quite a while since I posted this initial review, and I didn’t plan to add a lot more content unless my opinion of this knife changed for some reason. My opinion of this beast of a knife has not changed, but Off-Grid release an upgrade option that forced me to get off my lazy butt and update this thing.
My main complaint about the Tracker-X was how high it rode on the hip when in the vertical position. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, because Off-Grid just announced the OG Lo-Pro Sheath Extension. They sent me a couple to test out, and now this article reads more like an advertisement than a review. Damn. The extension allows the Tracker-X to ride on the sweet spot on the hip from a comfort and functionality standpoint, and the extension can be attached to and removed from a belt without taking the belt off thanks to the velcro and snap flap.
In The Field
This thing is a chopping beast. The blade bites well and the edge holds up for quite a while. The weight of the the knife helps make short work of tree branches. If you are like me and you regularly forget a hatchet when camping or hiking, the Tracker X may be a great choice. I do think that if the handle was just an inch longer it would be an even better chopper.
As I mentioned earlier the short taper of the blade makes it really tough to break the tip. If you regularly find yourself using a knife to pry or dig, the Tracker-X should be high on your list.
The wideness of the blade and short almost stubby taper of the tip make batoning a breeze. Cutting wood is best done with a axe or hatchet, but if all you have is a knife for making big sticks or branches into smaller ones, the Tracker-X is a good knife to have. On several occasions it surprised with the small amount of effort needed to baton with the Tracker-X. “Like a hot knife through butter” is an over used analogy, but a fitting in this case.
Feathersticking is one of the tasks where a full flat or scandi grind is generally preferable to a saber grind. However the blade of the Tracker X is so tall that it actually performs a lot like a full flat grind. It handled feathersticking surprisingly well, and the fact that the spine is so wide for most of the blade’s length made it easy to use two hands on hard wood like the Manzanita pictured above. The Tracker-X actually outperformed the the Ontario Rat 3 we were testing at the same time.
One of the areas we found the Tracker-X was lacking was sparking a ferro rod. That is not to say it didn’t spark at all. It just did didn’t spark much. The spine of the blade feels like is has a slight bevel, which is most likely the problem. The tiny choil on this knife looks like it might be made for a ferro rod, but we had a harder time getting sparks there than with the spine.
In order to ensure the lack of spark was not due to user error we used the same ferro rod to throw spark with Buck Selkirk, and sparks reigned down like a meteor shower. Hopefully this will be something that is addressed in future updates of this knife.
Comparison To The Competition
|Name||Batoning||Feathersticking||Chopping||Throwing Spark||Carving||Meal Prep||Sheath||Check Price on:|
|Off Grid Tracker X||8||7||8||2||3||5||8||Blade HQ / Amazon|
|Buck Selkirk||6||7||6||8||5||6||7||Blade HQ / Amazon|
|Condor Swamp Romper||6||7||5||8||6||6||6||Blade HQ / Amazon|
|Mora Black||6||8||5||8||7||6||5||Blade HQ / Amazon|
|Condor Stratos||9||6||9||7||2||4||5||Blade HQ / Amazon|
At it’s current price point of around $100 the Tracker-X has some stiff competition in the Bushcraft and camp knife categories. The fact that it ships with a kydex sheath capable of both horizontal or vertical carry puts it a notch up from every knife pictured above other than the Selkirk. But the Selkirk’s sheath is kinda complicated and tough to convert in the field. We liked the Tracker-X so much that we added to our 2020 knife gift guide.
Off-Grid has recently released another fixed blade called the Backcountry that is more of a tactical and hunting knife compared to the Tracker-X. Check out our review of the Off-Grid Backcountry to learn more about this knife.
Another possible alternative to the Tracker-X is the recently released Off-Grid Ridgeback. It has a scandi grind, a slightly longer blade and a thinner handle. It also has a 14C28N steel blade rather than a D2 steel blade, so the Ridgeback’s edge retention is not quite as good as the Tracker-X, but it is easier to sharpen. Check out our in-depth Off-Grid Ridgeback Review to learn more.
Bushcraft and camp style knives seem to be growing in popularity. The list of companies making these types of knives is getting longer, so the competition is heating up. The Tracker-X really needed to make an impression in order to stand out from the growing crowd and help establish Off-Grid as a serious player in the outdoor fixed blade knife world. Fortunately, it did just that.
The combination of high quality materials and great field performance combined with its unique look and impressive design make me excited to see what comes next from Off-Grid. In the meantime, I will have fun with this knife. In spite of a very few minor shortcomings mentioned above I feel about as confident recommending the Tracker-X as any knife I have tested.