Monday, September 5, 2011

Tools for Survival - The Machete

A machete is the probably the best and most versatile tool you can have in the outdoors or when camping or traveling in a wilderness area. Over a long period of time, the machete has proven itself useful time and time again as one of the main tools for survival in countries around the world. When you need to cut something, a machete will most definitely meet any need that arises. A machete can be used to harvest crops, cut a trail, build a shelter, cut firewood or as a very formidable weapon for use as protection against predators.

Machetes usually come in different lengths that range anywhere from 16 inches (i.e., kukri, etc.) to as much as 28 or 30 inches (i.e, cane knives, etc.). The shape and design of the actual blade varies greatly depending upon the type and style of machete. Larger and heavier varieties will allow you to cut heavier vines and bigger trees with less work and effort on your part than smaller versions. Most come with a rough edge but with a little file work can be made razor sharp. Heavier machetes with longer blades are also available in two-handed versions for easier use in chopping and cutting.

In Brazil, the machete is also called "facão" or "facón” and literally means “big knife”. In a survival situation, having a “big knife” is definitely a plus for your survival.

Got “big knife”?

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

Definitely a good tool to have in or on your rucksack. Do be careful if you hike in public parks or reserves though - many have prohibitions on weapons and the machete can certainly be construed as one.

Josh said...

I've heard several times that, unless you're chopping your way through a jungle, a kukri is a better choice for a survival situation. The blades are thicker than a machete, and have a different balance that, I guess, makes them better for chopping down small trees and cutting branches, etc.

I haven't tried using either; I have a Gerber hatchet for use around camp.

Anonymous said...

Josh, the kukri IS better for chopping thicker wood and branches, but if your property has long grass or THORNY vegetation, its no contest - the machete wins, hands down. In more open country, the kukri does have some good value.

The neat thing is you can get a pretty serviceable machete (Tramontina or similar) for very little money, I've seen them for sale for $15 or even less for 18" bladed models. They are very affordable, and buying multiples or spares to me makes a bunch of sense.

millenniumfly said...

While I understand the machete has a place in certain survival situations, I would assume that a good wood saw would be more useful for most people, especially with such chores as cutting tree branches for firewood.

Josh said...

Josh, the kukri IS better for chopping thicker wood and branches, but if your property has long grass or THORNY vegetation, its no contest - the machete wins, hands down.

That's what I was trying to get at. Here in North America, I figure that the terrain is such that a Kukri might be a better choice - there's not as much vegetation to chop your way through in most places. I haven't traveled the wilderness areas of the entire country, but certainly here in my home area in the midwest, a machete is probably not necessary. If I had to choose between the two (for this area), I'd go with the Kukri.

Double Tapper said...

If I had to bring one tool into the back country or urban morass, a machete it would be. I have done plenty of both. A machete is the ultimate edged survival tool. Cuts soft stuff better than any axe and cuts hard stuff reasonably well. Given a bit of time, you can fell up to an 8" tree with one. I have used one many times to build shelters, cut coconuts, build blinds, trim undergrowth, and all sorts of other things. It is also fairly light weight, which is a prime consideration when backpacking. As to its use as a weapon, it is the main peasant arm in Africa, much of Latin America and the Carribean and much of Asia and the Pacific.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 5:43

I've carried a machete on many camping trips and didn't have any problems except in parks where gathering firewood was prohibited. Probably thought I was going to chop down every tree in sight.

You make a good point to check for any restrictions that could affect your use of a machete. Most are pretty obvious unless care is taken to keep them packed away until needed.

Thanks anon.


riverwalker said...

To: Josh

While I don't have a kukri, plans are to get one soon. I really need to see how well they would work in comparison. My brother-in-law has a Tramontina machete, as do I, and it works really well on the brush and vines in our area. The cost was also reasonable at less than $10 each.

Depending upon the activity planned, I also carry a small axe as backup also.

Thanks Josh.


riverwalker said...

To: milleniumfly

Sometimes a good wood saw is a better option if there is going to be a need for cutting a large amount of wood.



riverwalker said...

To: Double Tapper

I too have found over the years and in a variety of different situations my machete has been the "all purpose" cutting instrument.

You can even open a tin can with one if necessary...

Thanks Double Tapper.


Ken said...

...well,i've got a few of the chinamart cheapies lying around,just incase you understand(actually,they're not that bad)...and to date,i aint "needed" more than my k-bar anyway(don't let that make ya think i aint got sumthin'bigger close at

riverwalker said...

To: Ken

Same here. Got lots of different options...always have a backup handy.

Thanks Ken.


Julie Smith said...

I am used to combat knives, but I think it’s time I shift to machetes. My desired style is the Falcata. Thanks for reviewing this specific style of machetes. Generally, this is a great article. I found more kinds of machetes here:

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