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Best Machete: Cut Your Way through Obstacles in the Wild

Best Machete
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Have you ever needed a reliable cutting tool so that you can clear the brush off a path in the woods or maybe prepare some lumber in order to build a shelter or start a fire? You will agree with us that simply a regular pocket knife cannot handle such tasks. Carrying the best machete possible would be a fine solution to such survival situations.

Having a trustworthy machete in a survival situation is absolutely vital. Not only will it provide you with the ability to cut and chop branches and brushes but it should be lightweight enough to carry. Additionally, a good machete is also a useful self-defense weapon.

Machete

In order to help you out pick the right tool for your needs, we’ve done our homework and decided to tell you more about the features that matter the most, as well as the most popular products on the market. We have compiled a thorough guide which will surely help you detect the knife that will satisfy your bushcraft needs the most – follow up to learn more!

Our Top Picks

ProductBlade LengthWeightHandlePrice
Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri11.5 inches1.7 poundsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
Ontario Knife Co 1-18" Military Machete18 inches1.4 poundsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
Whetstone Cutlery Trademark Colossal Machete20 inches1.28 poundsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete9.3 inches2 poundsRubberCheck price on Amazon
Cold Steel Jungle Machete16 inches1.8 poundsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
Tramontina Machete Wood Handle18 inches0.4 poundsWoodCheck price on Amazon
Gerber Gator Bolo Machete15.5 inches1.3 poundsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
SOG SOGfari 10" Machete10 inches0.9 poundsRubberCheck price on Amazon
Kershaw Fixed Blade Camp Knife10 inches1.4 poundsRubberCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

Even though when we speak about knives things seem pretty straightforward, this isn’t always the case. There are a number of characteristics that need to be taken very seriously when spending money on such a survival tool. We have divided them into five major categories suggesting that these are the most important aspects of a good machete.

Length and Shape of the Blade

Without a doubt, the metal part of your machete is what makes the tool so important. The functionality of your knife is determined by the length and the shape of the blade. The longer it is, the stronger your strokes will be. Not to mention that longer blades make your machete look way cooler than others.

Machete Blade

Image credit: woodsmonkey.com

However, you don’t want it to be too long – you aren’t wielding a sword after all. As the blade is longer, the point of balance of the machete moves somewhere on the blade and not on the handle.

That is rather important when it comes to strength and fatigue. Some blades are recurved which can be beneficial as the machete meets the branch first and not your knuckles. However, such blades can be tougher to sharpen.

Grind

The degree of the grind is exceptionally important as it determines how effective each stroke would be. About 20 degrees is the most popular measure as it makes the blade very sharp and gives it a multipurpose character. Of course, thickness matters as well.

Machete Grind

Some blades which do not have a very decent grind are not very efficient when it comes to peeling the bark off a piece of lumber. As you chop a thicker branch you need to hit it at a certain angle so that your machete bites it properly. Again, this is where the grind really matters.

Handle

Without a good grip on the handle, you risk a serious injury. This part is all about comfort and safety. You should always look for the characteristics of the handle as a lot of them (if not all) are rather important.

Rubber handles are perhaps the most suitable ones especially for long periods of chopping action. If there is some enhanced grip on it or at least curves for your palm and fingers, then this is a handle to have.

Machete Handle

Most handles you will encounter on our list will be plastic ones. While they are reinforced with rivets, they can still be somewhat uncomfortable to hold. Look for finger guards for extra safety and make sure you wear gloves most of the time. Wooden handles are perhaps the worst but they can at least be easily customized. If a lanyard cord is included, then that’s a great bonus.

Protection Sheath

Speaking of safety your sheath is what will keep your sharp machete nicely tucked in. For the price range that we have in our reviews, you will see that the most popular material for sheaths is Nylon. Some machetes come with a leather sheath but this is a rarity and it is debatable how functional a leather sheath is in a moist, dirty wilderness.

Machete Sheath

Image credit: knifeguides.com

Some sheaths also feature a ring so that they can be tied to something while most have a strap for your belt. Look for riveting on the edges of the sheath but bear in mind that it will be mostly plastic.

Durability

The best machete must be able to sustain a lot of beating and still keep going. After all, survival isn’t about good looks and glamour. There is dirty business to be taken care of and you will surely count on your reliable metal helper to be around.

Machete Durability

If the blade bends easily, dings are visible or you can even see chips, then ditch the machete you’re looking at and buy another machete. Some knives have thicker blades but this makes them a little heavier and not suitable for delicate procedures when you need to be a little bit more careful with the piece of lumber in your hands.

Best Products in Today’s Market

Without further ado, here is our list of top machetes you can get. Pay close attention to the features we have described for each model and type. While price really matters, see if you can always get a mid-level option which will address your economic as well as survival needs.

Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri

Price: Approx. $52Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri

Weight: 1.7 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 11.5 inches, overall length: 17 inches

Specific features: 11.5-inch blade, Kraton G handle, carbon steel, leather sheath, 20-degree grind, imported

Best use: Outdoors use, survival

Coincidentally, the first item on our list is also the most expensive one. An argument can be made that this machete is perhaps the most reliable cutting tool you will see on our list but this is why it comes at a price. The Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri is made in Taiwan and its specs will surely impress you.

It is made out of carbon steel with a hollow grind, the edge angle is at 20 degrees and the machete also features a Kraton G handle. The handle is also ergonomic. It is curved at the end so that your hand doesn’t slip when you fatigue and start losing your grip.

The sheath is made out of leather and it is also really secure. In fact, the blade stays there really nicely tucked so that you can rest assured that no accidents will happen. The ring on the bottom is plastic when it should have been metal in order to be more effective and look nicer.

As far as the coating goes, it is rather rugged when you buy it but with time it will smoothen out. This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage of the Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri but it should be mentioned.

When it comes to the effectiveness of this knife, we aren’t even going to bother mentioning cutting regular plants or materials. In fact, you can even chop wood with it which makes it exceptionally vital to your survival kit. Of course, don’t expect it to be as effective as an axe but chopping a few pieces of wood for some fire is definitely plausible.

If you are a hardcore survival enthusiast and look to get top notch equipment, then consider this machete.

PROS:

  • Large and powerful knife
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Carbon steel
  • Tight sheath
 CONS:

  • Plastic ring on sheath
  • Pricey
  • Coating smoothens out

Related: For just about $7 you will be able to keep your machete sharp at all times using the Puck Dual Grit Knife Sharpener. This multipurpose tool is easy to use anywhere. It will allow you to always be prepared when a survival situation arises. The sharpener works with all types of knives and axes.

Check the price on Amazon

Ontario Knife Co 1-18″ Military Machete

Price: Approx. $20Ontario Knife Co 1-18 Military Machet

Weight: 1 pound

Dimensions: Blade length: 18 inches, overall length: 24 inches

Specific features: Black zinc coating, 1095 Carbon steel, riveted handle, US made, 24 inches overall length, 0.125-inch blade thickness

Best use: Survival

This next survival machete radiates toughness with all its components. The Ontario Knife Co 1-18″ Military Machete is US made and has been around for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, many of its properties haven’t been re-developed and this has led users to customize the knife heavily nowadays.

The grind is really nice with its 90-degree spine. This makes it perfect when looking to scrape bark. It is indeed fairly even but it should be extended a little. Some bushcraft experts do it themselves as they find to be sort of a disadvantage.

Speaking of customizations, the handle is perhaps the most problematic part. While it is shatter-proof and exceptionally sturdy, it is also rather even and blocky. This makes it very uncomfortable. It needs to be rounded and a lot of folks sand it down at home so that it can fit their hand better. Additionally, the pinky guard will hurt your finger upon impact.

Speaking of impact, the ruggedness of this machete really shows when you try to hit a rock. The blade won’t even tremble and your machete will surely pass the “rock test”. It is made out of 1095 carbon steel and has black zinc coating to prevent rust. The thickness of the blade stands at 0.125 inches.

People looking for an everyday, bare-bones survival knife which can take a lot of beating are going to love this machete. However, it’s a big minus of this fine knife that it doesn’t come with a protective sheath.

PROS:

  • Long blade
  • Very durable
  • Black zinc coating
 CONS:

  • Uncomfortable handle
  • Grind is too short
  • Doesn’t come with sheath
  • No improvements over the years

Related: It is imperative that you keep your knife sheathed when not in use. Since the Ontario Knife Co 1-18″ Military Machete doesn’t come with a sheath, you will need to buy one. The Ontario Knife BSH Machete Sheath is your best option. Even though it costs half of what you will pay for your machete, there is simply no way around it. It is made of nylon and the color is black.

Check the price on Amazon

Whetstone Cutlery Trademark Colossal Machete

Price: Approx. $27Whetstone Cutlery Trademark Colossal Machete

Weight: 1.3 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 20 inches, overall length: 25 inches

Specific features: Black oxide steel, standard handle, pinky guard, nylon sheath, 25 inches in length

Best use: Everyday use

The Whetstone Cutlery Trademark Colossal Machete is among the longest blades you will find on our review list. With such a machete you will have plenty of force in your hands even without committing to a maximum swing.

The price is somewhere in the upper mid-level but according to many users, it just might be worth the buck. Keep in mind that the knife is fairly light meaning that you might not be able to chop some very hard pieces of wood. Well-dried and seasoned branches might give you challenge making your survival a little tougher than expected.

The handle is similar to the ones used in Ontario machetes and it is definitely not the best one. Yes, it is riveted, shatter-proof and overall very reliable but your hand just doesn’t feel good there at all. Fingers will hurt with every swing and wearing gloves is simply a must when wielding this machete.

The material is Black Oxide stainless steel really making this piece durable. However, for this price, it might actually be just an “ok” machete. It is heavy duty indeed but somewhat oversized and may not be exceptionally comfy when handling. A pretty average bushcraft tool overall.

PROS:

  • Durable
  • Good value for money
  • Length allows for strong swings
  • Coating is decent
 CONS:

  • Very basic
  • A little too long
  • Handle doesn’t feel well
  • Price doesn’t correspond to the quality

Related: Orientation in the mountains or the forest is key and you ought to be aware of the surrounding environment constantly. A pair of Steiner AZ842 Binoculars will make your life easier and will let you scan the area. It is made out of silicone, comes with a bag and a strap. Additionally, you get Steiner’s Industry Warranty.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete

Price: $24 – $30Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete

Weight: 2.1 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 9.3 inches, overall length: 15 inches

Specific features: 1055 carbon steel, mildew-resistant sheath, rubberized Polypropylene handle, 9.3-inch blade, lanyard wrist cord

Best use: Survival, outdoor activities

For a pretty low amount, you can get a trademark machete named after one of the most well-known bushcraft and survival specialists in the world – the Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete is an improved version of the original machete that Bear Grylls uses.

The blade is the first thing people notice as it is pretty curved. It is composed of carbon steel and is also corrosion resistant. Because of the blade’s shape, your knuckles are protected at all times. The curved part of the blade always arrives first at the point of impact. However, the lower part of the blade is the one that touches the target first. It is arguable how convenient this is.

The handle really stands out. It has a textured rubber grip as well as two rivets holding it together. Additionally, there is a lanyard cord which acts as a guard but can also be used in various survival situations if in need of rope.

The sheath that you get with this machete is a military-grade nylon sheath. The thing is also mildew resistant. It also allows for horizontal as well as vertical carry. IF you flip it on its back you will find a chart with rescue signals. Along with the sheath, you also receive a pocket survival guide.

The point where the blade meets the handle is the weak spot of this machete. There have been documented cases that the tool can break there upon impact and Gerber has pulled some pieces back for fixing.

All in all, this one might be one of the best value options on the list. Excellent all-purpose machete but with somewhat limited capabilities due to its size and shape.

PROS:

  • Curved blade
  • Rubberized handle
  • Comes with sheath
  • Includes a rope, rescue signals chart, and a guide
 CONS:

  • Has a weak spot
  • Blade is pretty short
  • Rather heavy

Related: If you are a fan of Bear Grylls and Gerber respectively, you will also be glad to improve your survival kit with the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter. While your machete will be useful for cutting and chopping wood, the fire starter will also let you get warm or send signals. It is a top class product with an emergency whistle, lanyard and is fully waterproof.

Check the price on Amazon

Cold Steel Jungle Machete

Price: $24 – $40Cold Steel Jungle Machete

Weight: 1.6 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 16 inches, overall length: 22 inches

Specific features: Symmetrical grind, pointed blade, Polypropylene handle, 1055 carbon steel, nylon sheath

Best use: Survival, bushcraft, outdoors, camp use

The Cold Steel Jungle Machete might be one of the best all-around knives you will find on our list today and the main reason for this is not its price but the workmanship of this thing. It is South Africa made, comes with a Polypropylene handle and a 16-inch blade. The material is 1055 carbon steel.

Once you get a grip on this machete, you should feel that the handle is really comfortable. It has good guards for your index and pinky fingers. Additionally, it is slightly bent so that you will not hurt your palm as you chop away. An annoying thing to deal with may be the huge sticker on the blade. It is tough to remove and you have to leave it there to wear out.

An impressive aspect of the machete, however, is the point of balance. It is not on the handle but somewhere in the middle of the blade. This goes to show you how light the handle is and that the tool will give you some strong chops.

Since we are still on the chopping topic, this machete has many uses. It can actually substitute for a light camp axe. The edge is simply marvelous and has a pretty well-done, symmetrical grind. The thickness of the blade is 0.125 inches. It is pointed enough to be used in the thrust. Just a reliable knife for bushcraft, survival or even the Zombie apocalypse.

The sheath is an “ok” piece since it is nylon made and has plastic buckles. The knife also doesn’t fit very tightly in it, so you have to watch it. There is a loop at the end making it easier to carry. When you pull the machete out you need to first pull up and this sort of slows you down.

PROS:

  • Exceptional workmanship
  • Strong, symmetrical grind
  • Heavy near the top of the blade
  • Convenient handle
 CONS:

  • Annoying sticker on the blade
  • Nylon and plastic sheath
  • Doesn’t fit well in the sheath
  • Pulling it out of the sheath is slow

Related: Pair your machete with a Titan Extra-Thick Emergency Mylar Sleeping Bag for an ultimate experience. Your outing will run smoothly when you clear brush off your path and sleep tight in this extra-thick and warm sleeping bag. It was designed for NASA and has a compact design while still able to accommodate a full-grown adult. Comes with an olive-drab Nylon bag for storage.

Check the price on Amazon

Tramontina Machete Wood Sword

Price: Approx. $10Tramontina Machete Wood Sword

Weight: 0.4 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 18 inches, overall length: 23 inches

Specific features: 1070 steel with a full tang, imported, wooden handle with 3 rivets, 18-inch blade, lightweight

Best use: “Backyard” survival

Everything about this next knife on our list can be summed up with just one word – easy. The Tramontina Machete Wood Sword is easy to buy as it is by far the cheapest item in our article. Along with that, it is easy to sharpen even with a cheap kitchen knife sharpener. Dings can be removed from the blade with few efforts. On top of all, it won’t give you any troubles when looking to deal with brush cutting.

You, the user, are the one to decide whether the machete will give you the best value for money or not. In all fairness, there are a lot of drawbacks to this item and we simply cannot skip mentioning them. The knife itself is light. Actually too light and this can be a problem when looking for more force in your swings.

While it does have some flex to it and shouldn’t be too tiresome on your hands, the handle is simply not very convenient. It is too small so people with larger palms will struggle to get a good grip on it. Additionally, the bottom will hurt your palm and modifying the handle is simply a must in this case.

It is imported from Brazil and should prove to be effective in your bushcraft ventures but besides self-defense, you cannot use it for many other things. One of the biggest disadvantages is that it comes without a sheath.

PROS:

  • Really cheap
  • Easy to maintain
  • Good for brush cutting
  • No plastic parts
 CONS:

  • No sheath
  • Has a blunt end
  • Too thin and light
  • Handle is too small

Related: Not only that your knife has to be durable when we talk about survival, but your clothing needs to be reliable as well. Opt for the Mens Outdoor Soft Shell Polar Fleece Pants and enjoy an emergency-free outing. This item is weather and water resistant. The fabric is made out of 93% polyester but also has about 7% spandex giving you extra flexibility. The pants are antistatic and breathable.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber Gator Bolo Machete

Price: $22 – $33Gerber Gator Bolo Machete

Weight: 1.3 pounds

Dimensions:  Blade length: 15.5 inches, overall length: 22.5 inches

Specific features: Full tang construction, lanyard cord, nylon sheath, Gator grip handle, 15.5-inch blade

Best use: An all-purpose knife, camping, backyard use

Now, this machete is among the more popular ones on the market and this is pretty much because of Gerber’s reputation. Almost everyone finds the Gerber Gator Bolo Machete very good looking and it should be pretty effective. However, there are questions which need to be asked regarding the durability of this piece.

Nothing unusual can be noticed at first glance with the blade length standing at 15.5 inches and an overall length of the knife at 22.5 inches. The handle is fairly decent and it is obvious that Gerber took their time perfecting it. It can even hold in wet conditions so you shouldn’t expect your hand to slip. There is also a lanyard cord for extra safety.

The sheath is exactly what you might expect for such a price – nylon and Velcro made. But a nice perk here is the zipper which provides some extra protection when the machete is sheathed. There is also a belt clip and plastic riveting on the case.

With its full tang construction, this machete is the choice of many but unfortunately, a number of complaints can be found regarding the durability of the blade. After chopping only thin branches some dings can be seen.

What’s worse is that it doesn’t take very long to observe chips on the blade. All that bad feedback (most of which is documented) speaks that the main purpose of a machete – to cut and chop isn’t very reliable. The knife bites through wood effortlessly but it gets damaged really easily. This is a bad sign regardless of the price.

It is very tough to find a good use for a blade which might turn out to be unreliable. Other than that, this machete is an all-purpose knife.

PROS:

  • Cheap branded piece
  • Very good handle
  • Comes with sheath
  • Cuts wood effortlessly
 CONS:

  • Gets damaged easily (that’s pretty conclusive)
  • Not as durable as other blades

Related: Ultimate survival simply isn’t possible without clean water. Among the tools needed such as a machete, you would also benefit if you get the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. This inexpensive gadget will filter up to 1000 liters of water without requiring any batteries or extra parts. It removes 99.9999% of all waterborne bacteria and 99.99% of all waterborne protozoa even though the size is fairly small – 9 x 1 x 1 inches.

Check the price on Amazon

SOG SOGfari 10″ Machete

Price: Approx. $21SOG SOGfari 10 Machete

Weight: 0.9 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 10 inches, overall length: 16 inches

Specific features: 3 types of blade – saw, tanto and straight, textured handle, 3CR13 hardness of steel, beveled edges on the handle, nylon sheath

Best use: Survival

If there is a machete that will have you completely covered in any situation in the forest, it is this one. The SOG SOGfari 10″ Machete is a wide-range, multipurpose knife with plenty of survival capabilities. It has a very interesting tanto-shape. All sides of the blade have a certain function. You get a saw blade on top, tanto edge in front and a straight edge blade on the bottom.

The steel is impressive with its 3CR13 hardness. The Kraton handle will definitely make your life easier as it is very secure. The handle is textured for added grip. There is a lanyard hole but no cord is included. The bottom of the handle has beveled edges in case you want to cut off that final piece of rope you need. The SOG SOGfari 10″ Machete comes with a nylon sheath.

There is hardly anything you will not be able to do with it. It doesn’t have the best saw in the world but it will do the job. Chopping and stabbing are definitely among its finest qualities. One drawback of the machete might be the length. The blade is only 10 inches long so it generates less force when swung.

This machete might give you the best value for your money among all that we have reviewed. The drawbacks are neglectable by many. This machete will meet your survival needs especially if there is also cutting involved and not only chopping.

PROS:

  • Has a saw blade
  • Sturdy steel
  • Sharp edge
  • Multipurpose machete
  • Handle with extra grip
 CONS:

  • Shorter than necessary
  • Doesn’t come with a lanyard

Related: The same brand will also offer you the SOG Entrenching TOOL F08-N which is basically a folding shovel. It is a great thing to have outdoors as you might have to move dirt or sand at any moment. This little tool also features a pick making it easier for you to dig. It is lightweight and has a tri-fold design for portability. Comes with a nylon carrying case.

Check the price on Amazon

Kershaw Fixed Blade Camp Knife

Price: Approx. $40Kershaw Fixed Blade Camp Knife

Weight: 1.4 pounds

Dimensions: Blade length: 10 inches, overall length: 16 inches

Specific features: 65Mn steel, rubber handle, finger guards, holes for lanyard, plastic sheath, recurved blade, full tang handle, Velcro belt strap

Best use: Survival, bushcraft

Some of the features really stand out in this last machete on our list. You will notice that the blade of the Kershaw Fixed Blade Camp Knife is recurved making it very useful when looking to chop wood or brush. However, this shape also makes it a little more challenging to sharpen. You will likely need to use a rod for that purpose.

The steel of the machete is 65Mn and it originates from China. You can count on it to hold its ground even against alive and green branches. The blade while not very long (10 inches) is pretty thick and at its widest, it can reach about 3 inches. This makes it pretty powerful and hefty. Swings are definitely effective.

The handle here might be really the star of the show with its rubber surface. The full tang handle has reinforced grip and also comes with a finger guard. There are 2 holes designated for a lanyard. One small disadvantage is the plastic back of the handle. You cannot use to beat on anything as it will likely break.

The sheath, although included in the set, is far from perfect. It is made out of plastic so the machete rattles when sheathed. Along with that, there is a strap in order to keep it tight. However, this strap goes around the handle and is pretty short. It can be annoying to clip.

The belt strap is a Velcro strap which might cause problems in the long run. You need to be alert at all times making sure that your machete doesn’t fall off your belt. Another drawback of this knife is that it is not very effective when looking to strip some bark off a piece of lumber. However, if this is the only machete you have in a survival situation, it should get the job done.

PROS:

  • Hefty
  • Handle has good grip
  • Strong steel
  • Thick blade
 CONS:

  • Tough to sharpen
  • Sheath is not very functional
  • Not good for stripping bark

Related: There’s no guarantee you will have to cut brush only during daytime. Always be prepared by pairing your machete with the Wowtac A1S BSS TAC V2 LED Flashlight. It will light up your path to up to 909 ft. The maximum amount of lumens you will get is 1150 ANSI. It includes various power consumption mode so that you can easily plan the duration at which you will use it. The battery is rechargeable and has 3400 mAh.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping Up

This is the final word of our article which hopefully has helped you determine the best machete for your endeavors. In all fairness, it is tough to go wrong as the differences between the items reviewed above are minimal.

Best Machete

Image credit: thesurvivallife.com

If you cannot test them all physically then pay close attention to the measurements provided in the description sections. See which handle would fit best in your palm and decide whether the length of a certain blade is going to solve your bushcraft issues.

Do you have a favorite when it comes to machetes? If that’s so – and we happened to miss out on it – then feel free to leave us a comment and tell us more about what you loved about it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.