By Johnny Mack
A good knife is something to be valued, and in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “There never was a good knife made of bad steel.” This statement still rings true today and Benchmade delivered when creating the Altitude.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Benchmade Knives, they are a company that prides themselves on combining precision machined parts with the quality control of a hand made touch. Resulting in a high quality product that is assembled all by hand and thus spurred the name “Benchmade.”
One of the cool features of buying a knife from Benchmade, is their Lifesharp program. This program allows users to send their products to not only be resharpened, but also completely disassembled with all worn parts tuned or replaced, lubricated and sharpened back to a factory edge and bringing your knife back to life for free.
ABOUT THE KNIFE
The Altitude was specifically created for the ounce counting backcountry enthusiast who wanted and or needed the strength and reliability of a fixed blade but with packability and weight savings of a smaller knife. Even though it is light on weight, it is heavy on quality and build.
Prior to using an altitude, I carried a Gerber Vital folding replaceable blade knife with me on my hunts. If you have never used a replaceable blade knife before, they can be quite intimidating and scary sharp. Even though replaceable blade knives are known for being super sharp, they dull quite quickly, especially when you start making contact with bone. A dull knife is an unsafe knife.
To remedy the issue, you would need to carry multiple blades, along with figuring out how to dispose of blades that have already been used (Gerber helped with the disposal by providing replacement blades in a package that collects the old blades safely CLICK HERE). At the end of the day, you are roughly into a knife for $70 + tax that you will need to continually buy new blades for in the future and can at times feel unstable when working around joints and the skull.
For me, dealing with replacement blades and everything that goes along with the process got pretty tiring and God forbid I forget replacements while out on my adventures. With all that came my desire for a knife that would last and be tough enough to withstand the beating I put it through.
My every day carry (EDC) knife is a Benchmade Barrage mini and I have been extremely pleased with it. So when Benchmade released their Altitude, I knew that it was going to fill the need I had in a backcountry hunting knife. The one major downside to carrying a non-replaceable blade knife is that it is recommended to carry a sharpener also. Even though you can cut ounces with the knife, you end up adding ounces with the sharpener. To remedy the issue of having to constantly sharpen you knife or for people who do not want to carry a sharpener along at all, the Altitude is made of S90V steel. S90V steel is known for excellent edge retention and very good corrosion resistance with good toughness. For those of you that are unsure as to why the price tag of the Altitude is $199, it is based upon the steel used. Higher quality steel is going to cost more. Benchmade’s website lists the Altitude at $235, although you can find it on Amazon and other retailers for around $199. For more information on a great sharpener, read our review of the Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener.
In the fall of 2019, I was blessed to be able to use the Altitude on a blacktail doe and a whitetail buck. It was my first time actually putting the knife to use and getting a good feel for it. Before going afield, I noticed that the handle was pretty thin for my liking, and felt like grip could be lost. I opted to wrap para-cord around the handle to aid with wet or slippery hands and it ended up working great.
After field dressing and skinning of both skulls for euro mounts, I was more than pleased. The S90V steel stood up to the test and I only sharpened the knife once or twice during each process, and that was mainly due to the hip joints and skinning the skull (I am super picky about my knife being extra sharp).
Some things to note about the knife and sheath are: the sheaths “belt” openings are only large enough for 1″ webbing. Keep that in mind if you want to attach it to anything. It is also why more people use para-cord to wear it around their neck instead.
Mechanism/Action – Fixed
Blade Steel – CPM-S90V
Blade Length – 3.08″ (7.82cm)
Blade Thickness – 0.090″ (2.286mm)
Overall Length – 7.38″ (18.75cm)
Handle Thickness – 0.35″ (8.890mm)
Weight – 1.67 oz. (46.34g)
Blade Style/Shape – Drop-point
Sheath Type – Kydex
The Benchmade Altitude is made in the USA.
YOUR NEXT KNIFE
If you are interested in getting your hands on a Benchmade Altitude, I highly recommend them. The quality and features are very well done and it is a purchase you won’t regret. The ability to trust your equipment and have confidence will allow everything to go much smoother once the real work begins.
Thanks for reading this gear review. If you want to know more about the Benchmade Altitude and our experience with it, feel free to ask by clicking here. In the meantime make sure to go subscribe to the Washington Backcountry YouTube channel as well as follow us on Instagram @Washington_Backcountry. Knowledge is power and MENTORSHIP IS CONSERVATION.