2021 is a good year for exploration. Certainly, this New Year would see an increased number of hikers, backpackers, and campers all looking for areas to chill out or survive and explore.
If you fall under one of the above group of thrill seekers, there’s no better way to stay calm and optimistic than bringing your survival toolset one of such is the survival machete.
Our list of the best survival machete of 2021 should act as a pointer in helping you choose the right machete for your survival expeditions.
- What is a machete?
- Types of Machete / Machete Styles
- What to look out for in the best survival machete?
- How to make a survival machete
- Top 6 Best Survival Machete of 2021
- Rounding up
What is a machete?
A machete is a broad, heavy knife which can be used as either a weapon or an implement. Machetes originated from the Caribbean and Central America. They are also one of the preferred choice weapons for a zombie apocalypse or amputating a limb.
Which is better for backpacking – a machete or a hatchet or both for camping?
In deciding your preferred backpacking or camping tool, it is important you take into consideration the major reason for having the tools/gears in the first place.
If you are planning to embark on a more rigorous survival mission, then a machete or hatchet would be better. This is because both tools are heavy tools and effective cutting implements.
A machete, for instance, is usually preferred in jungle exploration and hiking activities because they can be swung quickly due to their thin-stock blades which are usually around 10-inches and above.
Machetes would easily clear vegetations – from stalks, vines and even large leaves (palm fronds, plantain, and banana leaves come to mind) strategically sprouting around the jungle.
Due to their effectiveness in chopping off, slicing and swift swings, you might want to consider packing a machete on your backpacking journey.
A hatchet, on the other hand, is a heavy, yet small axe with a small handle usually held in one hand and ideal for splitting logs of wood, chopping off branches and those sorts of things.
Hatchets, however, can be your ideal survival toolset if you are faced with a few slimy zombies but not the best for a hoard.
In going backpacking, your discretion should easily guide you on your choice of the heavy toolset.
If you would be going into an unfamiliar territory and would probably need to chop off limbs, then a hatchet could come in handy, but if you are just going to explore the jungles or a camp out in a forest area, then you could make do with a machete.
However, bear in mind that no matter your choice of heavy blade, no matter where you plan to explore or wherever your backpacking trip takes you to, you still would have the need for your portable knife.
This is because you are less likely to misplace or lose your pocket knife not when they are in a leather sheath safely tucked away in your hip holster. Also, your portable knife could just come in handy in the case of emergency.
Types of Machete / Machete Styles
Before you decide to get a survival machete, you should already know that there are different kinds or machete styles. The most popular of these styles are the Bolo, Latin, Panga, Kukri, and Parang.
The Bolo Machete Types
These types of machete are more brutal. Designed to be used for effectively for slashing and chopping, the Bolo Machete is highly rated for its self-defense styled build.
It’s a full tang construction and can be efficiently used for either breaking coconuts or chopping down a whole tree; that’s just how versatile the spear point is.
The Latin Machete Types
The Latin survival machetes are the favorite of the US Military and are perfect for heading out in thick forest regions.
The machete has a full tang construction and is an adequate tool for taking down under 3 feet shrubs, trees (if you plan on heading through thick under the bush, this is your machete).
The Kukri Machete Types
The Kukri machetes are rated as one of the best self-defense machete types and also boast of being the weapon of choice of the Nepalese Ghurka.
Asides being a great weapon of choice, they are very effective for splitting branches, vines and yes in a zombie apocalypse – limbs!
The Kukri machetes have sharp edged spear tip which can be used to carve in details. They are also some of the most versatile survival machetes around, made to be durable with a robust full tang construction.
The Parang Machete Types
The Parang machetes are originally built and used in Southeast Asia but a new model ‘survival parang’ which takes after the original Parangs are slightly heavier and also more compact and portable.
The new Survival Parang machetes are efficiently built to chop and remove thanks to the model hooked blade.
The Panga Machete Types
The panga machete types are effective wood choppers. Though they are not the most effective self-defense tools due to the lack of a direct spear-point, they can be vicious attack tools due to the weighted end which in turn leads to a great striking power.
Long distance hikers might, however, want to rethink packing this machete due to its heavy weight.
What to look out for in the best survival machete?
When searching for the best survival machete, there are certain considerations you are expected to have in place.
These are factors which would ultimately determine how effective or ineffective your survival machete would be.
Some of them include;
- Blade Material, and
Before opting for a survival knife/machete, it is very important to check out the handle style of the machete. You would need to purchase a machete with a comfortable handle, a sturdy handy and one with a good grip.
For instance, plastic handles are sturdy but tend to become slippery when in contact with water. Wooden handles, on the other hand, are sturdy till they are exposed to water when they would probably crack. But they are comfortable to hold and swing and provide warmth.
There’s also the Micarta handle. This handle is usually very sturdy and known to fair well with water, unlike plastic and wood.
However, unlike the other two, it’s not the cheapest handle available.
If you would be backpacking for a long time, you’d want to consider the weight of your machete. A large and heavy machete might be a good chopping tool but would you want to tag along with something that’ll slow you down?
Just like the handles, there are different blade materials which include; carbon stainless steel, carbon steel or stainless steel.
Stainless steel blades are less likely to rust thus if you plan on hiking to the wetlands, they are your best choice.
Carbon steel, on the other hand, is great for dry lands and general purpose hikes because they are durable and somewhat cheaper.
Carbon stainless steel blades would come in handy if you are hiking to an unknown destination. This is because it possesses the properties of the other two – however, it is more expensive.
The tang construction of the machete is also one to consider. There are full tang constructions and partial tang constructions. Any machete which maybe touted as the best should possess a full tang construction.
A full tang construction means the machete’s blade is present in all areas of the knife, including the handle. This makes the full tang constructed machetes more durable with increased strength. They can be a little more expensive than partial tang machetes and knives.
How to make a survival machete
There are various ways to make a survival machete, let’s go through with this one from instructables.com
- Dowels or steel rods
- 1/8” x 3” x 3’ metal of your choice.
- Belt sander or a disk sander
- Jigsaw or any cutting tool of your choice
- Tape measure
- Safety glasses
- Grinding wheel and/or sharpening stone
- Vice and clamps
- Sharpening tool
- Rasp or file
First step: Design and hack
The first thing you need to do is have a set design. For instance, we are going to be having a simple, yet full tang constructed blade which would be built into the handle or the machete.
Back to the calculations, cut ½” near the end of the steel and have it tapered to 1 ¼” at the conference point between the handle and the blade. Also, taper the handle to about 1 1/4” or 1 1/5.”
Have an outline of the blade shape drawn on the steel and begin the cutting process. But before cutting, ensure your securely hold put the steel, or it would keep bouncing around making it difficult to cut – DON’T FORGET TO WEAR YOUR SAFETY GLASSES.
Next step: Refine
Once you have successfully cut through a blade and hilt 9not exactly necessary at this point), you can begin the refining process.
You should straighten those edges with a belt sander to have them a nice appearance.
Now the handle
We’ve talked about how crucial the machete handles are in the ‘what to look out for’ segment.
Well, for this part we’ll be making do with wood (since there’s no Micarta handle present). Using a jigsaw, have a small blade handle fashioned, make some holes in the handle.
Get your machete and the new handle ready and use the epoxy to hold tight. Have the handle clamped in a vice for roughly 12 hours or just leave it overnight to hook.
Once you’ve unclamped your machete’s handle from the vice, you can have one last go with the finishing.
You can decide to give the machete and edge or sharpen the blades with a sharpening tool or even retouch the handle for a more comfortable grip.
Whatever you choose to do, give it a unique style and make it a distinct survival machete with a touch of your personality.
Top 6 Best Survival Machete of 2021
1. Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete
The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete takes a unique look as well. The Gerber Bear parang machete is made with a full tang construction and thus boosts durability.
The blades of the Bear Grylls machete are made of carbon steel which is refined for improved strength, resistant to corrosion and sharpen ability.
The machete has an overall length of 19.5” and weighs 1.6 pounds. The blade is angled perfectly for clearing brush or maybe in a zombie apocalypse – limbs.
Features and Pros
- The blade is angled which is perfect for clearing brush.
- Corrosion resistant carbon steel blade
- An ergonomic textured rubber grip for a comfortable hold (reduces slippage too)
- Full tang construction maximizing durability.
- Comes with a military grade nylon sheath
- Overall length of 19.5” making it the perfect survival machete
- It is relatively a cheap survival machete, affordable for all
- The Bear Grylls is also very easy to sharpen, and it comes super sharp straight out of the box.
- It’s also a best seller on Amazon to prove its survivability and prowess in cutting down
- Might be difficult to carry about for long at 1.6 pounds
2. Cold Steel 97BWM12S Bowie Machete
Made by Cold Steel, this Bowie Machete is a distinct looker. The blade is made of 1055 carbon steel coated with black baked on anti-rust matte finish.
The machete is light thanks to the design which sees the flat blade doesn’t have any raised back. Additionally, the machete has a polypropylene handle which is decent enough.
Features and Pros
- The Cold Steel Bowie Machete has an overall length of 17 5/8.”
- It is made of 1055 carbon steel blades
- Has a stunning look
- Anti-rust matte finish
- Decent handle made of polypropylene
- Light weight and thus fitting for long distance hikes
- It’s also very inexpensive compared to combat knives of the same build
- Has the look of a combat knife
- Comes with a Cor-Ex protective sheath
- It’s not so much of an efficient chopper or splitter this is due to Bowie design and its thin size.
3. Ontario Knife Co 1-18” Military Machete
The Ontario Knife Co military machete is a full sized survival machete measuring 24” overall with blade length pegged to 18”.
The blade of the knife co military machete is made of high quality 1095 carbon steel which is hardened to 50-55 HRC for maximum strength.
The survival machete has a molded plastic and riveted handle which can be slippery when exposed to water.
It’s also quite heavy, weighs about 8 pounds. But, it’s one of the high sort after survival machetes due to its durability and strength.
Features and Pros
- The knife co military machete is powerfully built, capable of cutting down trees, shrubs, grasses, etc
- Its blade is made of a high quality 1095 carbon steel which has been hardened to 50-55 HRC
- It has an overall length of 24” while its blade length is 18”.
- Features a plastic and riveted handle
- The machete is also reasonably cheap and affordable
- This is a military grade machete and thus would last for several years.
- Weighs about 1.2 pounds.
- The black finish tends to rub off easily
- The riveted plastic handle tends to get slippery. You might need to wrap with cloth or tape.\
4. Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri Survival Machete
The Ka-Bar Kukri survival machete is an awesome looking Kukri style knife from reputable knife producer Ka-Bar. This survival machete is perfect for chopping off just about anything from logs of wood to limbs.
The blade of the machete is made of high-quality carbon steel which is durable and exceedingly reliable, also finely coated matte black to give it a sharper look and also corrosion resistant. The machete is military grade and tested for quality and durability.
The machete handle is made of ergonomic kragon G thermoplastic for a sturdy hold – however, you might want to avoid using while your hands are wet as it could slip away.
Features and Pros
- Blade is made with high 1085 carbon steel
- The machete comes with a black leather and Cordura combination sheath
- The machete is lightweight, weighing about 1.7 pounds and measuring 17 inches.
- Features an ergonomic kragon thermoplastic handle
- This Ka-Bar Kukri survival machete is military grade and sure to last several years
- It is quite cheap too.
- The machete is a powerfully built outdoor tool, capable of cutting woods, branches of trees, whole trees or limbs.
- Coating falls off with time
- Synthetic rubber handle can slip off hand when wet, and also has a tendency to fall apart over time.
5. Ontario Knife Co Military Survival Machete
This military survival machete is made by the Ontario Knife company which has been making high-quality knives and outdoor tools in the USA for over 70 years.
This 18-inch (blade length – 25-inches overall length) machete is a soothing outdoor companion if you’d like to try to survival camping or hiking to a no man’s land.
The machete has its blade made from high quality 1095 carbon steel while its handle is made of a toughened polymer-type handle which is smooth to a fault. It has a matte black finish to give it an impressive look.
The overall build quality of this survival knife is A+, and it also weighs less (about 1 pounds) for a lengthier carry time if you plan on taking long distance hikes.
Features and Pros
- Has a sturdy and attractive build quality.
- Toughened 1095 carbon steel blade for taking down trees, splitting logs and limbs.
- Useful for outdoor camping or survival activities and it’s built to last
- Has a good sized blade (18”) for effective cutting
- It’s less bulky and lightweight (1 pounds), for easy carriage
- Probably the worst part of the build is the handle. First, it’s made of a kind of polymer plastic which isn’t the best to hold, then coupled with the fact that it’s so smooth that even a drop of a lubricating element like water would make it easily slip out. However, you can always wrap with a piece of cloth or twine or hold with gloves.
6. Kershaw C10 Survival Machete
The Kershaw C10 survival machete is a versatile piece of the outdoor machete.
Suitable for creating batons for splitting logs of woods, for chopping trees and sticks for building a shelter or just clearing woods.
It’s not the longest blade out there with a measurement of 10-inches blade length and 16-inches overall length. This survival machete is full tang constructed and thus can be relied on for stability and durability.
It is also adequately lightweight, weighing just about 1.4 pounds. The blade is made from 65Mn carbon steel which is powder coated for increased strength and wear resistance.
This survival knife is built to last and comes with a sheath.
Features and Pros
- The Kershaw survival machete is a full tang constructed machete built to take a beating.
- Blade of is made of 65Mn carbon steel and powder coated for increased strength and wear resistance.
- Lightweight blade so you can take on long hikes
- Comes with a good fitting sheath
- Has an injection style rubber handle which is both comfortable and easy to grip.
- A blade is pretty sharp straight out of the box.
- The sheath is made of plastic and pretty noisy. It’s also a little bit heavy as well.
If you are seeking a machete for a survival getaway or in hopes of meeting zombies to hack away at, the top 6 reviewed machetes are good tools to look at.
Most have the machetes have full tang construction which sees the steel blades built into the handle for a longer lasting experience. Machetes like the Ka-Bar Kukri and the Ontario military knife are also adopted defense usages and built to military specs.
The best part of the review is the price point of the reviewed machetes. All of them come with reasonably good pricing with the highest (the Ka-Bar Machete) being raised up a notch.