TOPS just put out the Sheep Creek, the 2022 winner of their yearly employee knife design contest. The Sheep Creek takes advantage of the sheepsfoot blade shape’s properties for a combination everyday carry/outdoors fixed blade.
Since 2017, TOPS has been running a yearly knife design contest for their employees. Any member of the TOPS crew can submit a drawing; these drawings are collected and voted on, with the knife that garners the most votes gets inducted into the company’s production lineup. This year, TOPS gave a couple of parameters for the would-be designers to shape their blades around: they wanted to see a sheepsfoot or wharncliffe blade, and capped the overall length at 8 inches.
The winning creation came from TOPS employee Dylan, who was inspired by his excursions in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, a famous hiking/camping/recreation spot in the TOPS home state of Idaho. Looking between the sheepsfoot or wharnie options, Dylan opted for the former, creating a stout yet manueverable 3.75-inch workhorse. When it comes to fixed blades, we think of 3.75 inches as an in-between length, toeing the line between something someone could carry every day, and an outdoors user for day hikes or companion to a larger fixed blade during extended sojourns. In either role, the 154CM blade steel will prove a durable, easy to maintain material.
Looking at the handle, we see the Sheep Creek has a humpbacked shape that drops the cutting edge below the center line of the knife. That’s a characteristic particularly prized in knives intended to work around food, and indeed TOPS says that food prep (outdoors or in) is yet another role the Sheep Creek can fill. The topographical sculping on the Micarta scales fills the hand and provides good traction; there’s even a jimped, concave spot near the tip of the Sheep Creek’s blade for indexing in push cutting scenarios. The 7.1 oz. Sheep Creek comes with a Kydex sheath.
As mentioned above, the Sheep Creek is the fifth winner in the TOPS Employee Design contest. Other winners include the fishing-focused Bull Trout, and Grandpa’s Ax, which was designed by TOPS CEO Leo Espinoza’s father.
Knife in Featured Image: TOPS Sheep Creek
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