Almost every outdoor and survival enthusiast probably agrees that a machete can be an essential survival tool for any time you spend outdoors.
From building shelters, clearing brush, chopping wood, gather firewood, or filed dressing wild game, a machete can increase work efficiency and serve as a great all purpose cutting tool for just about any occasion. Protection is another important element that shouldn’t be overlooked when selecting a survival machete.
It’s not surprising that survival machetes are the main security provision for indigenous tribal people the world over. A reliable defense weapon against animals in the wilderness, a machete takes the guess work out of a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors.
When it comes to finding the best multi-purpose survival machete out there, there are several things you should consider before jumping in to make a purchase. We are going to outline the basics.
But before we jump into details, below you will find a comparison chart where we’ve put our top 7 favorite machetes along with some basic details including price and average user rating.
For a more in depth look at each model, take a look at the types of steels machetes are typically made of and the reviews of each machete below that.
Our Comparison Table:
|View on Amazon:
|Ka-Bar 1249 Kukri
|Brush & Military
|Ka-Bar Black Cutlass
|Cold Steel Kukri
|Gerber Gator Machete
|Woodman’s Pal 2.0
|Luna Tech LTK9500
|Gerber Bear Grylls Parang
What Are Typical Machete Materials?
Carbon Steel: One of the oldest materials in machete manufacturing, carbon steel has been employed for decades. Stronger than stainless steel, carbon steel retains its sharpness over time.
There really are no serious drawbacks to carbon steel. Two of its primary benefits include:
- Carbon steel is harder than stainless steel. It’s also easier to sharpen and holds an edge longer than stainless does.
- Carbon steel may rust, but if you properly care for the blade from time to time, it will be better protected from the elements.
If you are in a pinch, some WD-40 can be an effective blade lubricant for Carbon Steel. Steel wool will also do a great job cleaning off any unwanted oxidation on the blade. Carbon steel blades tend to be easier to field sharpen.
Stainless steel: An overlay of chromium nickel makes stainless steel manageable in wet climates. Stainless blades are a good budget option, but we prefer Carbon steel for machetes.
The softer metal means that Stainless Steel requires more sharpening than Carbon Steel. An even better choice is high carbon stainless steel; tougher on the edge with the rust resistant properties of stainless (See the Ka-Bar recommendations below).
Best 7 Survival Machetes in 2020:
Below we break down our top 7 survival machetes with a little bit more detail to help you decide if any of these are right for you and your next outdoor excursion.
1. Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri:
This machete is a one of the best-selling Machetes on the market today and is often used by many servicemen and women in all branches of the United States military.
It’s a full tang blade and the construction is outstanding which is true of almost all Ka-Bar manufactured items. In 1942, Ka-Bar was the knife of choice for men fighting in WWII. This is a heritage that Ka-Bar is proud of, and you can be too if you pick one up. The Ka-Bar is our top choice.
2. Ka-Bar Cutlass Machete:
This machete is great for someone that isn’t really interested in the curved blade of the Kukuri. It may be more of an aesthetic choice since Kurkuri models are extremely popular, but the Ka-Bar impresses us with the Cutlass.
Made with a cutlass style blade (hence the name) out of 1085 carbon steel, this Machete is a solid choice that you won’t regret if a curved blade isn’t your style.
3. The Cold Steel Kukuri:
The Kukuri is a model of a machete designed by the traveling Gurkha mountaineers of Nepal and Cold Steel does this particular model justice. Cold Steel is one of our favorite manufacturers because their quality is top notch for a reasonable cost.
The Cold Steel 97KMS has an 18 inch length with a 13 inch blade and 2.75mm thickness. It’s made of carbon steel and is a great pick for anyone that wants quality along with affordability.
4. Gerber Gator Machete:
This machete is a great pick for someone on a budget. The ergonomics are solid and the Machete is relatively light weight. It’s equipped with a tactile rubber grip and has both a saw blade edge as well as a fine edge for clearing brush.
It’s made of high-carbon stainless steel and is a great pick in a budget friendly price range.
5. The Woodman Pal 2.0:
The Woodman Pal 2.0 carries on a design used by the U.S. army since the Second World War with some minor revamps to make it a survival machete that can do just about anything while out in the wild. You can use the Woodman Pal 2.0 for bushcraft, survival, land clearing, batoning, surveying, camping, hunting, and more.
It is a beautiful machete whose sheath and ash wood handle are handcrafted by Amish craftsmen in Lancaster County, PA. The machete is 100% USA-made and has been treated to temperatures of up to 1500 °F to ensure maximum strength and durability. This rare gem’s high-carbon steel blade was individually sharpened and comes with a blunted point for the user’s safety. We were very impressed with the stunning quality and versatility of this machete.
6. The Luna Tech LTK9500:
The Luna Tech LTK9500 full-tang machete with MOLLE system was designed by self-defense and survival expert, Dave Young, so expect it to have everything a survival machete needs. Besides being full tang, the razor-sharp 440 stainless steel blade is serrated on both the edge and ridge and comes with a rope cutter.
The machete’s length is just right (23”) for most emergency situations, and the non-slip rubberized handle comes with a 70 HRC carbide tip which can be used as an emergency glass breaker. The elegant black sheath is compatible with MOLLE systems for maximum versatility in the field.
7. Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete:
This machete is one of the newer models out there that’s part of the Bear Grylls line which like the Gator is also manufactured by Gerber. It has a strong hand grip and is relatively light weight making it a great multipurpose machete for any expedition.
It’s slightly shorter in length than the Gator, and the grip is just as comfortable as the Gator (possibly more). We like the lanyard cord that it comes equipped with as well.
Time to Clear Some Brush!
Whether you are planning a trip to the rainforest or the outback, or simply going hunting for the weekend, a good machete is a must. Hunters should be especially careful about the handle rigging and blade efficiency to avoid any risk while dealing with game.
Uncertain how to use a machete properly? Check out the brief video below that will help you understand not only how to use one, but how to properly hold one so you don’t end up with painful blisters that can be hard to treat in the wild.
It’s important to remember that while most machetes are in the same wheelhouse price-wise, most price points vary according to material, model and brand. Picking one of the machetes that we have outlined in our article should help keep you on the right path when selecting this all-important survival tool.
It should always be paired with a smaller knife to make sure you have every situation covered should a survival situation arise that you need to be prepared for.
Survival machete owners trained in self-defense will acknowledge that a machete is an effective tool for any SHTF situation. Be sure to check with regional law enforcement for license rules.
My articles appear in Marketing Edge Magazine, on Gizmogrind, and with various Medium publications. But one thing hasn’t changed in all of my life: no matter where I was or what I was doing. I’ve always loved to be outdoors.
A man needs nothing more than a good flannel shirt, a well-worn pair of jeans, and comfortable hiking boots. I don’t go for all the fancy luxury stuff. Suits are uncomfortable and shaving sucks.