Machetes have grown in popularity, particularly among outdoor enthusiasts and those who love camping. With a such a useful tool, you can do a variety of tasks, clear shrubs and bushes, chop down wood, carve food, defend yourself against wild animals and simply cut your food. For decades, even centuries, people have used these tools to survive and this useful instrument has been making somewhat of a comeback. The various parts of the machete have different functions, you can open a can of food with the tip,use the leading edge to dispatch game, slice your meat with the middle reaf, sharpen your pencil with the part closest to the handle, use the blunt bottom end as a hammer or indeed use the flat top as a shovel.
What to Consider When Choosing a Machete
When you are buying a machete, much like with any other product, you will need to check out the different specs. General considerations such as price, most suitable uses, manufacturers, size and style will come into play, however, seasoned users make their choice based on specific points such as:
- Length of the Blade: If you are going to clear shrubs, a longer blade will serve you better. Blade sizes range from 10 to 28 inches. Shorter blades are more useful you are mainly going to use it to crack nuts, scale fish or chop some meat.
- Blade Material: Most blades are made of stainless steel, reasonably priced and rust free, while others are made from carbon steel, because they are tougher and more suited to heavy work. Of late, carbon stainless steel blades have been making inroads because they combine the corrosion free stainless steel properties with the toughness of the carbon steel blade.
- Handle and Tang: Handles come in various sizes and styles, The tang connects the handle with the blade. For safety reasons, always opt for a tang that fully extends into the handle.
- Price: Make sure not to go for the cheap option just to save some money. It is best to stay away from cheap options for obvious safety and durability reasons.
Best Machetes Currently Available:
Gerber Gator Machete:
This rather large tool is made of black oxide coated steel and designed for toughest use such a clearing heavy shrubs and bushes. It is less useful for more delicate work or simple cutting. The blade is 25 inches in length and is fine on one side and jagged like a saw on the other side, so it can be used like a saw as well as like an ax. Additionally, it features a tactile rubber grip for optimum control, has been thoroughly safety tested and is considered to be one of the best available in this price range. Particularly useful on jungle camping trips or for heavy gardening tasks.
Cold Steel 97MKM Magnum Kukri:
This cold steel magnum kukri is one of the most popular and yet cheapest options. It has a four star customer review rating and thanks to its convenient 22 inch size, safe 5 inch propylene handle, this machete is a popular choice for super tough jobs, like chopping wood or even digging holes and clearing rocks. The blade is made of carbon steel and features and anti rust coating. This tool is particularly loved by those who regularly do heavy outdoor work, like clearing paths from bushes and rocks or digging holes to erect large outdoor structures. It conveniently combines the functions of a shovel as well as an ax.
Kershaw Machete/Camp Knife:
This tool is available in three different sizes, with prices ranging from $34.00 to $41.00.It is particularly popular among camping enthusiasts and suitable for use much like a large knife. You can use it to prepare food when camping or hunting or indeed to crack a coconut and it is suitable for just about any job you would normally do with a knife. Campers prefer it though, simply because the sharpness of the blade makes for super easy cutting and chopping. The blade is made of steel and has a powder coating for durability and for the prevention of corrosion from water or chemicals. Reviews are positive throughout and customers have given it a 4.5 star rating.
Ontario Knife 1-18 inch Military Machete:
This super tough tool is made from hardened steel and suitable for extra heavy work. You can use it for just about anything from foraging a dense pathway, chopping and splitting firewood, to defending yourself from wild animals or indeed preparing game for consumption. The Ontario Knife has an 18 inch blade and riveted plastic handle for extra grip and safety. If you are after a multi-purpose, super strong and durable tool, this machete is for you. A sheath is conveniently available for purchase and the tool’s full length is 24 inches. This rather elegantly designed and indeed very useful machete gets a 4.5 star rating in customer reviews.
SOG SOGfari 18″ Machete MC02-N – Hardcased Black Blade w/ Saw Back, Rubber Handle, Nylon Sheath:
This is probably one of the best designed and most durable tools on the market, carefully engineered and manufactured to last. It features a jagged edge on one side and a knife edge on the opposite side, allowing you to use it like an ax or indeed a saw. This tool is most popular among hunters, foragers and wanna-be tribesmen and it is up there with the best. Made from stainless steel, this machete is resistant to water as well as chemicals and comes with a lifetime guarantee. Suitable for tough jobs and manufactured to last, this tool always gets top ratings and reviews. Included in the price is the nylon sheath, essential when not in use.
Gerber Bear Grylls Parang:
This is the ultimate jungle knife and Bear Grylls would be proud of it. It is only 19.5 inches in length, but super useful for chopping down small bushes or making mincemeat of foods items. Whether you are carving a roast or scaling a fish, this machete will make the job Childsplay. While it features no saw, and is considerably smaller than many other machetes, it will suit campers and adventurers just fine. The blade is made of robust, high carbon steel, the handle is ergonomically designed and features a full tang for optimum safety. This is a very durable and useful tool for anyone who considers himself a bit of a jungle boy or girl!
Condor Tool and Knife 14 inch Golok Machete with Leather Sheath:
Featuring a rare hardwood handle, this instrument is more traditional in style and is mostly used as a knife for food preparation despite its long 14 inch carbon steel blade. Its beautiful and traditional design make it a top choice for machete-purists, and, compared to some more modern designs, the Condor would suit the more traditional jungle man or woman. It’s priced higher than most other machetes because of its rare hardwood handle, but probably more stylish too! Reviewers praise its durability, unusual design and they just love the wooden handle. The sheath is made of leather rather than nylon like most, again adding to a more traditional look.
Whetstone Cutlery Full Tang Rubber Grip Machete with Sheath:
Featuring a jagged saw on one edge and a sharp knife on the other edge this 17 inch blade is made of stainless steel and suitable for chopping and sawing wood and bushes. It comes with a durable black nylon sheath. Unlike most machetes, the Whetstone has a grip rather than a handle, adding to its safety and making it particularly suitable for those who are not used to working with such a sharp tool. It is very reasonably priced at just over $20.00 and has a four star customer rating. This is probably the best starter machete out there, as novices can get into using a machete safely and without spending a fortune.
Schrade SCHKM1 Large Full Tang Kukri Machete Fixed Blade Safe T Grip Handle:
This multi-purpose tool is beautiful and comes with an all black blade and handle. It features a 13.3 inch curved stainless steel blade and 6.4 inch safe t grip handle. The t grip handle virtually guarantees safe use, making this tool suitable for novice jungle men and women.It is extremely light and has a convenient hole in the handle that allows you to hang it up when out of use.. It also has a polyester shoulder belt sheath and enjoys a 4.5 star rating. Suitable for both heavy and light work, this machete is a top choice for campers, hunters, gardeners and foragers as well as those wishing to clear pathways or chop some wood.
Much like with any other purchase, you ought to determine what job your chosen product is going to be used for and make your choice accordingly. Budget also matters, but ultimately when it comes to a machete, you will need to decide, what you are going to use it for, be it predominantly for jobs that you could potentially do with a knife or for jobs that could be done with an ax. The advantage of the above tools is their durability and multi-use capabilities and that’s why machetes have been so popular of late. Safety and durability must also be deciding factors and you are better of spending a little more and opt for top safety and durability, rather than choosing a cheaper, potentially dangerous tool that will be damaged within a short space of time.