It’s easy to get carried away. Especially when you’re on the hunt for a the perfect EDC or gentleman’s pocket knife. You start with a budget and a general idea, next thing you know – your budget has doubled and you are struggling to decide between two or three super steels. We’ve been there many times; with purchases of all shapes and sizes. It’s easy to get analysis paralysis… especially with awesome new knives being released.
However, before you go crazy figuring out whether S90V or Elmax is better for your daily tasks… take a look at the Urban Trapper. It’s not the newest, or most exotic – but it may represent the best value in its category.
This classy little knife from Boker has everything you likely need at a very attractive street price. It looks great (especially in Cocobolo or G10), offers top shelf materials, and it’s very functional for everyday light duty tasks.
So, before you start pinching pennies to buy something like a Chris Reeve Sebenza; hear us out. The Urban Trapper is an awesome value, and might be the perfect classy carry knife for those of us with a limited knife budget.
Specs and Details
|Locking Mechanism||Liner Lock|
|Blade Style||Plain Edge Clip Point|
|Handle Material||Cocobolo, Carbon Fiber, Metal Scales, G10|
|Pocket Clip||Deep Carry Pocket Clip|
Brad Zinker designed this knife to be a great slicer. The Urban Trapper’s blade pays homage to the profile you see in some of history’s greatest slip joint knives. But, this is not your grandfather’s pocket knife. Its blade safely deploys with the flick of a thumb stud, locks into place with the help of a frame lock, and holds an awesome edge thanks to a great blade steel.
Crafted from VG10 the Urban Trapper’s blade outperforms pretty much any comparably priced pocket knife. There are a few… like a Spyderco Delica but nothing that comes to mind that would classify as a gentleman’s knife.
Some might point out that VG10 can be a little fragile, but we’ve never had a problem. If the performance of our Fallkniven F1 or Spyderco Endura is any indicator you’ll be fine with the Urban Trapper. And if you do abuse VG10 it will roll, dull, or deform… but it’s easy to sharpen.
So we’ve established that VG10 is a great blade steel. But, is the design up to snuff? Well the blade measures 3.5 inches in length, which may be a little long for some. For us, the blade’s thin profile offsets any concerns about how long the blade is. It’s definitely not intimidating to knife fearing passersby or onlookers. We’re comfortable pulling it out pretty much anywhere. And, the straight clip point / swedge combo makes for a very effective slicer.
We also like the high, nearly flat grind, a lot. And the satin finish standard on al Trapper configurations looks amazing. Although some say they prefer the first releases’ mirror finish.
Overall we think the design, material, and utility of the Urban Trapper blade is a winner for common lighter duty EDC use.
The Trapper is a frame lock flipper. Which is great for this style of knife. It’s not too aggressive, like something with a bit of assistance might be. And, it’s easier to manipulate than something with a thumb hole/stud or nail nick. However, when it comes to frame lock flippers in general the trapper is not perfect by any stretch.
The flipper deploys the smooth, but not as nice as knives costing two, three, or four times as much. But it shouldn’t be. Before writing this I was playing with one of my higher end Benchmade flippers and was surprised at how smooth it is. The Trapper definitely isn’t three times worse.
Where it is much worse than the Benchmade or almost any higher priced flipper is the tab itself. The Urban Trapper’s is a bit sharp in comparison. You definitely don’t want it in the same pocket as something delicate or easily marred.
It’s a standard fare frame lock. Ours locks up nicely and seems pretty well done. However, Boker has a bit of a reputation among knife nerds for QC problems. When it comes to the Urban Trapper we haven’t heard many complaints since it was released in 2014.
If you’re used to higher end liner or frame locks you may see a few issues in the Trapper’s mechanism. But, for the price they aren’t too terrible. We’ll cover the specifics a little later in our “what we don’t like section.” But, for now just be aware that the frame lock on this knife is not the best (especially on the all Titanium version).
The deep carry (tip up) pocket clip is of good quality and works well in a variety of pockets. It might be a little too tight for really heavy pants / pockets, but most of us won’t have a problem. It works well on our jeans and has zero issues on slacks or khakis. However, if the attachment hardware did sit proud of the clip or handle that would definitely not be the case.
We definitely appreciate that the screws are countersunk and the clip itself is recessed into the handle. This is a great approach to streamlining a commonly bulky feature of modern folders. The design also shows a nice attention to detail by the knife’s designer / Boker.
However, while we do appreciate the design… a less conspicuous clip would be a welcome improvement. But it’s not a deal breaker. On nicer pants we don’t even use clips. So a low profile is actually a bigger benefit than a stealthy clip that doesn’t announce the presence of a pocket knife.
Taking all of that into account we’ll concede and say that the low profile clip does a nice job of meeting the needs of those who use a clip and reducing the impact on those who do not.
One last thing to note the clip cannot be relocated to the other side or for tip down carry.
Build Quality / Fit and Finish
Some of the reviewers on YouTube go a little overboard in praising the Trapper. Watching theses and if you didn’t know any better you’d think it was a $200-300 semi custom pocket knife. It’s not, and that should come as no surprise.
However, for the price… it’s pretty damn nice. Especially when you consider the respectable blade steel, higher end materials, and thoughtful design.
For a Chinese made knife at this price point you will not be disappointed. Actually… for any knife at this price point you’ll be pleased with the quality and craftsmanship the Trapper exhibits.
So, we’ve covered the blade quite a bit so we’ll just say its good to go and move on to the other components.
The Cocobolo handle on our knife is pretty nice. Similar in quality and finish to our Mcusta. Granted there isn’t as much labor invested in shaping the Trapper’s scales. But, the examples we’ve seen are beautiful. Also worth noting the very attractive Cocobolo is the lower priced handle option in the Urban Trapper lineup.
Also available are scales made from carbon fiber or G10. Though you’ll pay a bit more for the non wood options. You’ll also pay more for the full titanium version.
To keep things light weight pretty much everything in the frame/liner is made from titanium (stone washed finish). That means overall weights ranging from 1.05 to 1.72 oz. And as you know Titanium is crazy strong, and corrosion resistant. The only downside; is that the Trapper would be even more affordable if it had a slightly heavier steel frame and liner.
Finally the blade pivots on an Ikoma Korth Bearing System (IKBS). Which probably explains why a knife at this price exhibits a surprisingly smooth deployment.
This knife was released “way back” in 2014. Since then there have been some minor… but worth mentioning changes. First, all blades were changed to the satin finish you’ll see in current production models. Originally some variants offered a polished blade.
Another difference is the flipper tab is larger on newer knives. The original was pretty small. Is it an improvement? Sort of. The first version was a bit small. But the new larger one requires that you get your finger/thumb out of the way for full deployment. If you don’t the tab kind of sticks to your finger as the tab rotates into the frame. Not a huge deal, but it’s worth noting.
The final difference is a somewhat revised pocket clip. And the change isn’t drastic enough to really say whether it’s good or bad – just a little different.
Some of the early Urban Trapper reviews we read or watched did mention that earlier models did have a problem with the blade being centered in the frame and that some had a bit of play in the folding mechanism. We haven’t seen any, but think the problem(s) may have just been under tightened hardware. Either way… the reviews of the “gen 2” trapper haven’t really mentioned either issue. And the Trapper we bought for this review is completely fine.
The biggest draw for the Urban Trapper is as an every day carry knife. And, in this role it’s outstanding. For 90 percent of us… the Boker will handle anything you throw in its direction. It slices like a champ and handles lighter duty tasks with ease.
If you’re a heavy user, kicking down doors, or surviving in the bush… you may want a more robust knife. But, for those of us who aren’t busting drug dealers, building shelters in the forest, or prying open banded crates… the Trapper will be a great EDC.
So what’s a gentleman’s carry? We explain it in great detail in our Gentleman’s Folder guide, but to keep this review concise we’ll stick to a short version. It’s basically EDC for those of us who occasionally wear slacks or a suit.
The Urban Trapper’s slim design and non-threatening appearance are some of the main reasons this is an outstanding gentleman’s folder. Beyond that its light and that’s great for carry in a suit or slacks.
What we like…
We have a hunch that the growing popularity of these sleek gentleman’s style knives are a response to years of clunky folders. Not that we’re opposed to awesome EDC blades with a bit of heft. But, it’s refreshing to carry a sleek, lightweight knife.
So the first thing we really like is more of a property held by this and similarly style knives. The good news is that the Urban Trapper scratches that itch without breaking the bank. And it looks great.
Speaking of money, this knife falls into that “just right” price range. It’s substantial enough to get good material and features. But affordable enough that you don’t worry about misplacing it or letting someone use it.
1. The blade…
The grind, length, and overall design of the VG10 blade make this a great slicer suited for myriad day to day cutting tasks. From slicing an apple for your toddler, to opening packages, to processing firewood. Kidding about that last one… but the blade on the Trapper is pretty versatile. It’s also a great stand-in for a steak knife.
2. The materials…
Moving away form the blade the materials that comprise the frame and handle are pretty impressive as well. Titanium and cocobolo are great materials that you’ll find in much better knives. As is G10 and carbon fiber.
We really respect that Boker can get the price down while using excellent materials. But, if we’re being honest the execution isn’t up there with higher end knives. But, it shouldn’t be. You can’t have great materials, a nice blade, and insanely good craftsmanship for a hundred bucks. But you can get two out of the three with the trapper. Just adjust your expectations accordingly and you’ll be fine.
The Urban Trapper’s light weight makes it a great EDC carry blade. Especially if you wear lighter weight or loose fitting pants / shorts. If there’s a sure fire way to get us to use a pocket clip its if a heavy knife is bouncing around in our front pocket like a brick in a bag.
4. Smooth Bearings…
Without getting into lengthy comparisons between knife that do and don’t have similar pivot points, we’ll just say that the Trapper is impressively smooth. But, that is subjective. So don’t complain when its not as buttery as your $300 ZT. And, don’t run around boasting about how great it is compared to a sub $20 knife.
What we don’t like…
There really isn’t much to dislike about this knife, especially when you consider what it offers in exchange for a pretty reasonable amount of money. With that said… here are a few of the things that we can kind of complain about if we really look for things we don’t like…
1. QC Issues…
Some examples do have some attention to detail slip ups that don’t really affect function. One example that you may see is the consistency on grind from side to side. We saw, on a YouTube review, a trapper with pretty inconstant edge. On one side the edge hit the choil rather nicely, while the other side was kind of sloppy in the same spot. In the same video the reviewer also mentions that the flipper stud had a pretty significant burr that had to be filed. But, ours was fine… a little sharp, but fine. For a point of reference its sharp enough to scratch your iPhone in the same pocket but not so sharp that it hurts to open.
2. Frame Lock…
Probably the biggest downside for us is the frame lock. It’s not terrible by any means, but compared to others it falls a bit short. Compared to larger more robust knives it’s a little flimsy. In fact on the Titanium version you can squeeze the scales (when open) and hear the lock sliding against the blade.
3. Too Long for Some Pockets
In some pants, the overall length of the Trapper (when closed) can be a bit annoying. If you’re wearing dress slacks and the knife goes horizontal it sticks out like a sore thumb. The deep carry pocket clip fixes that problem, but in darker colored slacks the light coloring makes the pocket clip stand out. So, we found that putting the knife in the inside pocket of our suit jacket remedied that problem. If there’s ever been an argument for a lightweight stubby pocketknife its pocket carrying in slacks.
If the closed length and slacks is of concern there is a more petite version if the Biker Urban Trapper. But we think the standard length is the most practical for slicing, opening and cutting tasks.
The thin design does have a drawback compared to other styles of EDC knives. That is that from an ergonomic standpoint, a gentleman’s knife becomes a bit uncomfortable after extended use. Think of carving something… say a spoon. Would you rather have a handle that fills your hand more? Or would you rather use something slim like the Trapper? We thing bigger is better in many situations. Sort of like how two or three Phillips screwdrivers can all work on a screw. But, when you change the duration of use or force required – handle shape and size are game changers.
Who Should Buy One
If you own, or want to own, more than one EDC knife… this would be a great option for pretty much anyone. It’s versatile and useful while being different enough from the typical pocket knife to warrant a look.
If you wear a wide variety of clothes (Jeans, Slacks, Shorts, etc.) this knife is a great option that won’t annoy you as your wardrobe transforms from work to church to relaxing around the house. It is even a good option for people who hike, backpack, jog, or bike. It’s super light and tends to resist flopping around haphazardly in a pocket or pack.
This is a great knife for someone looking to dip their toes into the classy end of the pocket knife pool.
Who Should Not Buy One
This is a tough one. The Urban Trapper is a solid value and we could see it in pretty much any collection.
So… maybe if you buy your knives from a gas station avoid the Urban Trapper. You can probably get 5 brass knuckle zombie bowie knives or 9 skull camo folders with a biohazard symbol on the blade for the price of the Urban Trapper.
Or, if you are really hard on knives and don’t have a reason (or the budget) to buy an affordable gents knife… skip the Urban Trapper. In fact, if you’re looking for a medium duty knife we’d recommend that you look elsewhere. It’s just not a robust knife by any measure.
Sources / Items Referenced in this Article
- Boker USA – Urban Trapper
- Boker USA – Ikoma Korth Bearing System Article
- Chris Reeve Knives – Sebenza
- Fällkniven AB – F1
- Spyderco – Delica | Endura