It is possibly the first image that pops into your head when someone says “survival gear” – nothing says survival like a big, sharp machete! Whether you are looking for a knife to help you survive the zombie apocalypse or something to simply help you clear brush on the way to your favorite camping spot, we have reviewed the best models for you.
What Makes a Great Machete?
A great machete should have a wide range of qualities. Here are the most important ones to consider:
Sharpness: A machete will not do you much good if it can’t quickly and efficiently cut through a variety of materials, will it? You want to find a machete with a nice sharp blade, and preferably one that does not dull quickly after sustained use.
Ease of use: There are a lot of sharp, effective machetes out there that have such poorly designed handles that their users will get a cramp after five minutes of slashing. You want a machete that will easily fit into your hand, not give you cramps, and be something you can easily wield potentially for hours at a time.
Versatility: A lot of machetes can be one trick ponies. The best machetes are those that can easily chop through wood and brush, but also be used for finer slicing and dicing if necessary. You never know what you may need to use your machete for, so versatility is a big plus.
Types of Machetes
When you start looking for a good machete to buy, you will likely begin stumbling across some terms that may be a bit unfamiliar. There is a particular lingo to describe different types of machetes, and we decode that lingo here:
Kukri: Kukri is a highly popular type of machete blade, mostly because of its versatility. The blade is tapered closer to the handle and widens out at the end of the blade, making it effective both at chopping and at more precise cutting.
Panga: The Panga blade is probably what comes to mind when you visualize a machete, with its iconic curved shape. Panga blades are heavier at the tip than at the handle, which makes them great for chopping, but not ideal for other uses. Nevertheless, Panga blades are probably the most widely purchased type of survival machete – and it is certainly effective in this role.
Straight (also known as Latin): A straight blade machete is exactly what it sounds like – a purely straight blade. This blade cannot really accomplish chopping effectively, though, so it is mostly left out of this list.
Review of the Best Survival Machetes
Now that you have a better idea of what the market for machetes looks like and some of the lingo surrounding machetes, let’s go check out some actual blades!
Ka-Bar 2-11249-9 Kukri
The Ka-Bar 2-11249 Kukri is an efficient blade made of strong carbon steel. Users report that using this blade on thick branches and small trees (up to 6 inches around!) is like using a kitchen knife to chop carrots: no breaking or sawing necessary, just a clean cut straight through. Even after multiple years of significant use, this blade retains its edge and barely needs sharpening. It is also sustainable in other ways: the included sheath is hardy and comfortable to be worn for extended periods of time, and the machete itself is light enough to not weigh you down on long hikes or camping trips. It is also on the smaller side, despite its prowess in cutting – and a smaller blade allows for more precise cuts, which is always better in terms of safety. You really cannot go wrong with the Ka-Bar.
· Good for chopping, whether on smaller trees or thick branches
· Feels natural and easy to use
· Rubber handle is easy to grip
· Compact size allows for more precise and therefore safer chopping
· Durable – users report using it for over five years and having no problems
· Curved blade is difficult to sharpen
The Ka-Bar 2-11249 Kukri is the ideal machete to bring along with you for bushwhacking or safety purposes. Its sharpness and ease of use will make it virtually unstoppable out in the wilderness. The only consideration you may want to make is that the curved blade can be hard to sharpen – but given how sharp the blade remains over time, this is practically a non issue.
Ontario SP8 Machete
The Ontario SP8 Machete is one of the most versatile machetes you will be able to find. It is specifically designed to be able to accomplish a variety of tasks that would cause irreparable damage to any other machete blade, including steady chopping and even digging. This machete is able to multi-task so easily that it is the only tool you will have to carry along with you on hiking or camping trips. And do not think that its ability to accomplish a wide range of tasks means it cannot do any one task particularly well – this bad boy can slice straight through hardwood in just one swing! Its back edge has a saw blade for even more versatility. You will never be left stranded when you are carrying along the Ontario Machete.
· Good for a variety of tasks, from cutting firewood to fine woodworking
· Versatility of this machete makes it so this is the only tool you have to carry
· Smaller size makes it effective when cutting dense brush and there is not a lot of swinging room
· Has a saw edge on the back of the blade
· On the heavier side
The Ontario SP8 Machete is an awesome tool that can accomplish pretty much anything you may ask of it. The price of this versatility is an increased weight, but when you take into consideration that this tool is likely the only one you will have to pack along with you, its weight does not seem like such an inconvenience after all.
Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete
The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete lives up to the tough Bear Grylls name and then some! This blade arrives sharp and ready to go right out of the box. If you have ever visualized yourself bushwhacking through high grasses or other brush a la Bear Grylls or Indiana Jones style, this is the ideal blade for you. This is a great blade for clearing smaller plants and forging your way through the untamed backcountry. It is lightweight enough to be carried for long distances and still leave you ready to put in some work. Its sturdy sheath is comfortable and easy to wear, so you can forget you are even carrying this little blade until you are ready to use it.
· Good for bushwhacking and for cutting limbs up to two inches wide
· Feels solid and sturdy but not bulky
· Comes with a strong sheath with an included survival guide
· Shock absorbing handle
· Additional at the end of the blade to give the machete extra forward momentum
· Blade chips easily
· Not good for use on thicker branches or small trees
The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete is a great little machete for lower grade bushwhacking and plant clearing, and for carrying along with you on long hikes and day trips. For clearing any plant matter that may be on the thicker side, and for any kind of tree, you will want to find a blade with a bit more bite.
CRKT Onion Half-chance Parang
The CRKT Onion Half-chance Parang is an awesome machete with positive reviews reported by almost every user. It is primarily designed as a chopper – it can easily cut through smaller trees (up to about three inches thick) and backcountry brush, usually in just one cut. It can also slash through some thicker trees in a pinch, but it will require some additional hacking and probably should not be done unless necessary. This machete will hold up over time and not require a lot of sharpening, even after extended use. It can be used every day and will not wear down, users report. It is great for sustained yard work in all different types of climates and ecosystems, and is also excellent for clearing out paths when hiking and camping in the backcountry. It is also just a fun knife to use – it looks powerful and feels great!
· Handle is easy to grip and does not fatigue the user
· Secure sheath
· Sleek aesthetic
· Smaller size makes it easy to maneuver
· Black blade coating holds up after extended use
· Handle becomes loose easily
The CRKT Onion Half-chance Parang is a great machete for clearing brush and smaller trees, and even some bigger trees when needed. It is durable and will last you a long time, even after prolonged and sustained use. After some time, the handle may become loose because the screws putting it in place may need tightening.
Condor Tools and Knives 60217
The Condor Tools and Knives 60217 is an awesome machete knife that has a lot of different qualities working in its favor. It comes from the reliable Condor brand, so you know you are getting a knife that is high quality. It is gorgeous to look at, with a beautifully crafted walnut handle – even the sheath is pretty! This blade can be used for a wide range of tasks and complete each one with ease. Users report it is a good blade both to cut wood down and then to carve and shape it later, believe it or not.
· Versatile – can be used for slicing, carving, chopping, and more!
· Made of high quality materials
· Can chop through branches up to two inches thick
· Blade size strikes a good balance between provided power and ease of management
· Not great for beginner machete users
The Condor Tools and Knives 60217 is a fantastic machete for accomplishing a variety of different outcomes, including bushwhacking and clearing the way for camping and hiking. Because it is so sharp and powerful, it is not advised to be used by beginners without a lot of machete experience. But, if you have some knowledge of machete use and are looking for a versatile blade that will be able to easily do any task you set to it, you will not be able to find a blade better than the Condor 60217.
If you are looking for something to keep you safe while out camping or hiking, something that can effectively clear your way of plants and smaller trees, and something that is also versatile enough to be used for a multitude of uses around the yard, you cannot really find something better than a machete. Take into account blade shape and intended use, and you will be able to find a blade that will serve you well for a long time.