More and more hunters and camping enthusiasts are using machetes, and it’s understandable given their versatility. The best machete performs the same tasks that survival knives and hatchets do. Because of their versatility, you can use a machete as your primary tool.
If you’ve never purchased a machete before, the following information may help. We rounded up the top machetes and reviewed them. We know you don’t have time to browse and compare online, so feel free to go over these and pick the one that suits you best.
Table of Contents
Condor Golok Machete
KA-BAR Cutlass Machete
Ontario SP8 Machete
Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri
Cold Steel Jungle Machete
Gerber Bear Grylls Machete
Elk Ridge ER-523B Bolo Machete
Z-Hunter ZB-020 Machete
Whetstone Cutlery Machete
Gerber Gator Machete 31-000758
Gator grip rubberized
It’s easy to buy a machete nowadays, but you have to make sure it’s the right one for the job. To make things easier we have prepared the following tips.
A standard machete is 18 to 22 inches long, though shorter versions are available. Determine how you intend to use the machete as well as the size you’re comfortable with. If you’re going to cut a lot of grass, a long machete is preferable as the long reach simplifies your work. However, a short machete is portable though it’s not as effective. It really depends on your needs.
The longer the machete the heavier it will be. Just like length, you have to strike a balance between your comfort level and the type of work you need to do. If you need to do heavy duty work, a heavier machete is ideal. Cutting lots of grass, shelter creation and wood carving also benefits from a powerful machete.
If you’re going for a short camping trip and don’t expect to do a lot of heavy work, a light machete will do. The good news is a lot of machetes – even the long ones – are lighter now compared to older models.
The machete’s handle must be comfortable and won’t slip from your hand. Your hand will get slippery from sweat, rain or if soaked in water. If the machete has a solid, nonslip, ergonomic grip, you’ve got a good handle.
Machete handles are made from different materials. Rubber handles are firm, but they get brittle eventually. Steel handles are solid but can be slippery. Try different machetes and get a feel on how comfortable you’ll be holding it.
Go for a full tang blade whenever possible. Full tang means the handle and the blade are joined. If the machete is only partial tang, the blade part could suddenly fly off after a hard strike. So for safety and efficiency, buy a full tang machete.
If your machete doesn’t come with a sheath, get one. A sheath is necessary to protect the machete blade and to ensure no one gets injured accidentally. Nylon is the most common material used, but there are others.
There are three options: carbon steel, stainless steel and high carbon steel.
Carbon steel is an alloy of carbon and iron, and it’s the most widely used in machetes. Carbon steel blades are hard, but they are brittle. The material is harder compared to stainless steel and remains sharper for a longer period.
Carbon steel is more difficult to re-sharpen than stainless steel. Its biggest drawback is vulnerability to rust. If you have a carbon steel blade, regular maintenance is necessary to prevent moisture and rust.
Stainless steel is essentially carbon steel with chromium and nickel added. It costs more than carbon steel, but the addition of chromium and nickel makes it resistant to rust. This also means stainless steel doesn’t require as much maintenance as carbon steel blades. While stainless steel isn’t as hard or sharp as carbon steel blades, being easy to re-sharpen gives it an advantage.
High carbon stainless steel blades combine the features of stainless steel and carbon, giving you the best of both worlds. These blades are resistant to rust but have excellent edge retention. These are however, the most expensive of the three types.
The handle is carved hardwood, practical and comfortable to use. A leather sheath is included and while it’s nothing fancy, it’s still going to protect the machete. Soft pads are included and they’re replaceable too.
The KA-BAR Cutlass Machete is equipped with a 20 degree angle edge, 1085 carbon steel blade. Built for heavy duty use, the machete also comes with a Kraton G thermoplastic elastomer grip, ensuring you have control during its use.
Apart from the hollow grind handle, the machete has a Condura combo sheath you can hook up to your belt.
The Cutlass Machete is a versatile tool that handles a wide range of tasks including cutting, campsite clearing, removing weeds, branches and more. Finally, the machete weighs only 1.1 lbs.
The tip of the blade can be used as a chisel or prying, while the section opposite the blade is serrated, allowing you to use it like a saw. This is also a full tang blade so you’ll be able to apply heavy pressure without the blade dulling.
The Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri has an 11.5 inch carbon steel blade, making it extra durable.
The combination of the durable blade and the comfortable handle makes this a good choice for chopping undergrowth in the forest, woods or your backyard.
Its handle is built out of thermoplastic so it won’t slip even if your hand is slippery.
The blade is full tang so you don’t have to be concerned about the knife splitting in half while you’re using it. The machete is 17 inches long overall and weighs just 1.7 lbs.
The combination of a solid spring temper and carbon steel gives the Jungle Machete the strength to chop saplings, vines and small trees. The sharp tip is also ideal for skinning game in a pinch. The machete is also sharpened so you can use it right out of the box without any prep needed.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete has a 13 inch blade. Weighing just over a pound, it is light and powerful, an excellent choice for chopping wood.
It’s also an efficient grass cutter, and the sharp carbon steel blade doesn’t need frequent sharpening.
The full tang blade increases its durability and consistency with every chop you make.
The rubber handle is comfortable and reduces the possibility of slippage. The Parang Machete also comes with a nylon sheath, and you can loop a cord around it.
Elk Ridge ER-523B Black Bolo Machete is equipped with a 12.9 inch blade so you can cut palm trees, branches and roots. Whether you’re in a garden or forest, this 19.5 inch machete is up to the task.
Its stainless steel blade is resistant to corrosion and rust so it doesn’t need a lot of maintenance.
The Black Bolo comes with a 1690D nylon sheath to protect the machete and prevent any possible injuries.
The handle is ergonomic and nonslip, and the contoured rubber design fit in your hand snugly. The blade goes well into the handle so it’s not going to fly off even when force is applied.
Whether it is for hunting or camping, the Z Hunter gets the job done. With its full tang blade, you can use this for heavy duty work and get consistent results time and again. For camping or zombie hunting, the Z Hunter works fine.
A nylon case is included, and there‘s a belt loop attachment. At 22 inches overall, the Double Deuce is built for heavy duty use, be it for your home or if you’re camping. The machete’s light weight is another plus as it won’t tire your arm even when used for long periods.
The handle is rubber, giving you full control without compromising grip. Apart from the comfortable handle, a nylon sheath is provided, protecting it from accidental injury and rust.
Machetes come in different forms and shapes, depending on their function.
Bush Machete: this is the general all-around machete and can be used for everyday chopping and cutting. Also called a Latin machete, a bush machete has a straight back blade and solidly built.
Survival Machete: as the name implies, a survival machete is built for outdoor use, survival and camping. Also known as camping and rescue machetes, they have heavy duty blades to split and chop wood. The blunt tip on a survival machete allows for prying and on certain situations, digging.
The flat part of the machete is durable and you can use it for pounding stakes, and the backside can be used like a saw. Survival machetes can also be used for everyday tasks in the backyard and garden.
Kukri Machete: this machete is most suited for chopping vegetation and other camping chores. A typical kukri machete has three parts, the pointy tip, a narrow section close to the grip for carving and a thick middle for chipping. This machete is also known as a khukuri and bush hog.
Heavy Machete: this is perfect for chopping hard vegetation, splitting wood, prying and cutting thick brush. Functionality wise, a heavy machete is like a combination of a knife and ax. It has a flat cutting edge for easy chopping with a dull and removable tip. This is the kind of machete you need for heavy work. They’re also known as weighted or barrignon machetes.
Bolo Machete: you use a bolo machete to cut tough vegetation, shrubs, tree limbs, branches etc. Its function is similar to a heavy machete as is the design. The difference between the two is the bolo tip is a more pointed and bulges out. It is this extra bulge that gives the bolo machete strength and weight when you chop. Its blade is also thicker than the average machete.
Golok Machete: This machete is notable for its curved edge and spine. Also known as the golok or parang, the machete is ideal for wood cutting. This shape isn’t just for design purposes, as it also gives the machete power and force. The curved shape also keeps the blade from getting stuck on the material it is chopping.
Billhook Machete: this machete is known by many names such as trimming hook, sheaf hook, bagging hook and panga machete. No matter what it’s called, the function is the same, strip buds and shoots off branches. A billhook machete is also useful for cutting vines and other wood related tasks.
Hawkbill Machete: this machete is used mainly to cut grass. Its curved shape allows for sharpening of both sides as well as the curve’s interior. The blade also prevents grass from slipping off the blade’s end.
A machete has several uses apart from basic chopping and cutting. Here are some of the ways a machete can simplify your work.
You can use a machete to cut and clear trails. Fishermen and hunters rely on machetes to create shooting lanes, remove brush to make fish habitats and animal funnel points. The Kukri machete is especially good with this task. Hunters will also find the machete is an excellent self-defense weapon. Even surveyors can use a machete to clear grassy areas.
Machetes are suitable for butchering poultry, livestock and other wild game. A heavy duty machete lets you quickly break down animal carcasses, and you can even use it to harvest nuts and fruits.
The many capabilities that we have pointed out here goes to show that machetes make for an excellent hunting and survival tool. With a machete you’ll also have a weapon that can fend off wild beasts, poisonous snakes or attack by other people.
A machete performs many of the functions that axes do, and more efficiently at that. You can use it to gather tinder and firewood as well as general clearing. Machetes are also useful for when building a shelter. With a machete you’ll be able to create poles and prepare roofing material for your shelter.
Machetes make it easy to work on wood. With a machete you’ll have an easier time readying wood for treatment. Coppicing and cutting tree stump to stimulate roots development are also easier to do with a machete.
Use a machete to harvest oats, buckwheat, barley, millet, rye, corn and sugar cane: a sickle style or billhook machete is among the best options here. These machetes also let you take out residues from dead plants and remove cover crops. Whether it’s a garden or farm, you just need to scalp the ground above it. Machetes also make it easy to get rid of vines.
A machete can clear and prune vegetation, and it’s also the tool to get rid of side branches from a tree’s trunk. Hunters, campers and even landscaping professionals use machetes to quickly trim tall grass, plants and branches. You can use a machete to remove underbrush and minimize the possibility of a forest fire.
There are other many other uses for a machete, such as the following:
These are just some of the many, many ways you can use a machete. Apart from what we have already mentioned, a machete helps you prepare livestock fodder and narrow woodlot so trees can grow. A machete is also a useful tool for coppicing charcoal and ground preparation.
Stainless steel blades, while needing less maintenance than carbon steel, should be oiled on a regular basis. This helps maintain their shiny appearance, perfect if you want to display the machete. To prevent rust on carbon steel blades, apply a thin layer of oil over it. Application should be done on a regular basis so moisture doesn’t build up. A 3 in 1 oil is preferable to the non-detergent type.
Dry your machete after use. Do not store in the sheath until the blade is completely dry. Plastic handles don’t need any maintenance except wiping to remove dirt and dust. For wood handles, apply furniture polish or lemon oil to prevent warping.
Store the machete in a dry place to prevent humidity. Clean off any rust as soon as soon as possible.
Those who have never used a machete before may think that it is only for agriculture, but as we have shown they’re actually versatile. With the information and reviews presented here, you can now make the most out of that machete. Choose one from the list of best machete above that meets your needs.
A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!