Updated Sep 2, 2022 6:19 AM
Take a look at the market for the best machete and you’ll see just how many choices are out there. It can be confusing. What’s the difference between a Kukri and a Parang, or a Bolo and a Bowie machete? What use is a curved end? Does it matter whether a blade is made of stainless steel or carbon steel? Do you need to use it in the event of a survival situation, or simply to chop through some tall weeds and brush in your yard?
The good news is, machetes in general are very affordable, so you won’t drop a bundle making a very good choice. The challenge is zeroing in on the right tool for the job.
Different Things To Consider While Looking For The Best Machete
There are many different types of machetes available, and the spectrum runs from long and thin to short and thick. Choosing the perfect one requires thinking about your target. Are you looking to chop hard wood, or softer reeds and brush? Will you be targeting specific things to chop, or will you be a blade-whirling, trail clearing machine…or do you need a blade that does both? Here’s how to cut through the choices and narrow the field.
Are You Looking for the best All-Around Machete?
Since so many blades are made for somewhat specific uses—some are better at chopping wood, others at slashing through hanging vines, and others at carving wood and chopping firewood—it can be tough to zero in on one that does everything well. Fortunately, there are great choices.
For a general-use machete, you definitely should steer clear of abruptly curved blades and those with heavily weighted ends. You’ll want a tool that will cut through small brush quickly and cleanly, but with a light enough build that you can swing it for hours on end. A solid sheath will help you transport the blade, either inside your vehicle or into the field. Choose a great all-purpose design and it will double as an emergency tool, camp machete, and a handy companion every time you’re in the field.
Best Machete All-Around: Gerber Gator
The best all purpose machete needs to be able to slash through just about anything—hanging vines, tall reeds, shrubs, and the occasional hard brush. The Gerber Gator is one of the best Gerber products. With a rubberized grip for both control and impact protection, as well as a serrated saw blade down the entire spine for cutting off thicker hard wood, this is our pick for the best machete overall. It’s a straightforward design that excels in a million uses.
Will You Be Clearing an Overgrown Yard?
If you’re looking for something to cut through soft vegetation, you don’t need a brawny blade designed to chop wood or fend off zombies. A great machete based on a proven Latin American design is just the ticket.
Such a knife will have a blade ground to a slightly finer edge, so it will cut grass and briers with ease. You can’t bash it through tree trunks or the edge will curl or chip, but it will lay down the overgrown grass like crazy, and a slightly longer blade means you can clear a wide path.
Best Machete for Tall Grass and Briars: Condor Tool & Knife El Salvador Machete
The Condor Machete is the best machete to keep around the house or home workshop. The classic “pig leg” design carries the weight of the blade evenly all the way to the tip, so it won’t wear you out. And the relatively narrow profile doesn’t get hung up in heavy brush. Made of high carbon steel, it’s a snap to resharpen with a file, and the high impact polypropylene handle can take a serious beating.
Do You Need a Machete for Camping?
Campers have many uses for a machete: Clearing a campsite of brush, cutting firewood, clearing an overgrown trail. And you might use it to cut tent pegs or create shavings from kindling to start a fire. Such a blade will need some heft and strength, but also allow you to control it for making finer cuts.
Best Machete for Camping: Gerber Gator Kukri
The Kukri machete design makes it the best machete for camping. The pointed tip still carries enough weight for powerful swinging cuts, while the wide midsection is brawny enough to chop firewood and fell heavy shrubs and small trees. And if you need to carve a tent stake or a fuzz stick for firestarting, the narrow waist of the blade just above the handle is great for fine-motor-control whittling tasks.
Do You Need a Tough Machete?
Let’s face it: Machetes are the kind of tool that you toss into the truck bed, or under the seat, and then forget about it. The result can be a buildup of rust on the blade that can dull the edge, weaken the grind profile, and lead to failure in the rivets that hold the handle to the blade. If you need a machete that won’t require a lot of special care, and can stand up to rough handling, get something with a stainless steel blade.
Best Machete with a Stainless Steel Blade: Outdoor Life Fixed Blade Machete
This parang machete carries lots of weight along the entire blade, making it a superb wood chopper. And since the blade is stainless, it just might be the one tool you own that can take all your abuse and still come out swinging.
Will You Be Clearing Very Dense Vegetation?
Machetes are often called on for the nastiest of tasks—cutting through thick brambles, clearing the densest brush, and shearing off shrubs and trees that block the way. While some are designed to swing through grass, or lop off limbs, a heavy-brush blade needs to be built for the long haul.
When you’re clearing a jungle, consider not only the strength and cutting ability of the blade, but how well the tool protects your hands when you wade into the nasty stuff. Look for those with smartly designed hand guards, ergonomic handles that ensure you’ll get a comfortable hold, and extra straps to keep the blade from coming free of your grip.
Best Machete For Clearing Heavy Brush: Snake Eye Tactical Full Tang Two Tone Handle Fixed Blade Machete
Once you get your hand on this fixed-blade machete, you may never let go. And that’s a good thing. The toughest jobs often take place in the grimiest, sweatiest conditions, so you’ll want a tool that won’t slip out of wet hands, and can handle grit, sap, dirt, and hours of slashing. With a saw-toothed blade spine and a stout 3mm thick blade, you’ll likely give up before this machete will.
Do You Need a Survival Machete?
If you’re looking for a blade to use a part of a survival kit or go bag, first make sure that it’ll fit. A too-large machete is a machete that may get left behind. Also make sure it’s solidly constructed so it won’t come apart after rough handling. You can guess what you’ll be using a survival machete (or knife) for, but you won’t know for sure until you’re in a survival situation, so this is no place to go low.
Best Survival Machete: Ontario Knife Company 8683 SP8 Machete Survival 10″
Sure, you can make jokes about fending off the zombies, but this highly crafted Ontario Knife Company survival machete is just the ticket to get you out of the bad places. The components are absolute top quality, with a carbon steel blade. The 10-inch length is long enough to get the job done, but short enough that it is easy to store and carry, so you’ll have it when you need it most. A lot of survival machetes are a joke. This one is nothing to laugh about.
Best on a Budget: What You Get for Less than $25
That said, you can still get the best machete without spending a lot of money. The steel used in most isn’t all that expensive, and handles can be made of low-cost materials that can still take heavy use. And, most cheap machetes lack the specialized blade designs of more use-specific models. You’ll likely have to settle for thinner blade stock, so the machete might flex a bit more, and it might not function well as a wood chopper. But a cheap machete is still a great buy.
Best Cheap Machete: Jungle Master JM-031B
Some of the cost savings have been shaved off this blade through the use of the parachute-cord wrapped handle, but it’s still a grippy, comfortable approach to keeping your hand on the tool. To be honest, the large teeth on the serrated blade aren’t very useful for sawing, but otherwise, this is a great inexpensive machete. It comes with a very useful sheath for carry, and the full-length Scandinavian edge grind means it will resharpen quickly and easily.
What is the best style of machete?
The best machete types depend on how you’re going to use the tool. Most are designed to be great grass and brush clearers, with long sharp blades that are evenly weighted from the handle to the tip. If you plan on chopping wood with a machete, or need to cut down dense shrubs and saplings, look for a kukri or parang machete. They have wider, heavier ends on the blade to help you swing with power.
What is better, a hatchet or machete?
Hatchets and machetes can look similar, but they have very different uses. The thicker, wedge-shaped cutting head of a hatchet is superior for chopping wood, as it splits the wood fibers apart more easily than the comparatively thin blade of a machete. And you’re not going to clear dense grass and brush with a short-bladed hatchet. But for whacking through dense brush, and chopping small branches into kindling, it’s hard to beat a machete.
A Final Word on Shopping for the Best Machete
The best machete can work wonders in all kinds of work environments, from the backyard to the backcountry. Look for an evenly weighted machete to slash through brush and briars, but if you want a companion on camping trips, look for something with a weighted blade that will help when chopping wood. And a short lightweight machete is an indispensable item in an emergency kit or survival bag.