My Pick of the Five Best Survival Machetes

by Knife Expert on June 8, 2013

Before I go on to list my choice of the five best survival machetes, there are a few things that you need to be aware of if you want to own the best multi-purpose survival machete on the market. Not only do I highly suggest a machete, other survival and outdoor enthusiasts also agree that a machete is one of the most essential items that you should carry with yourself on an outdoor adventure.

A machete can greatly improve your efficiency and work rate while doing important tasks like building shelters, chopping wood or clearing brush. And it’s also highly efficient at reducing overall body fatigue compared to other methods of work!

Another reason why machetes are so popular and in demand is because they serve the basic purpose of protection extremely well. Haven’t you ever wondered why indigenous tribal people are always carrying a machete with them? It’s because it’s an extremely reliable defense tool against animal attacks and one will always feel safe in the wild with a good machete by his side.

Types of Machete Materials

There are mainly 2 types of machete materials that are used by manufacturers.

1. Carbon Steel: 

Carbon steel is one of the oldest materials that are still used by machete manufacturers even after 4 hundred years! The primary reason for this is that apart from being much stronger, carbon steel also retains it sharpness over a long period of time when compared to stainless steel. The only drawback of using carbon steel is that it tends to rust more quickly due to oxidation and hence it should be kept clear of moist environments and is definitely not recommended while hiking through a rain forest!


2. Stainless Steel:

One of the reasons why machete manufacturers tend to use stainless steel over carbon steel is that it is more resistant to water and rust. The additives present in stainless steel tend to create an oxidized layer on the blade surface which is resistant to corrosion and rust. Nowadays more and more machete manufacturers are switching over to high carbon stainless steel which adds even more strength to the blade and brings it closer to the strength provided by carbon steel.


The Best Survival Machete Models

Below is my pick of the five best survival machetes that can be used in a variety of tasks and environments.


1. Gerber Bear Brylls Parang Machete:


The Gerber Bear Brylls Parang Machete is often used by the British Army in situations ranging from clearing jungles and in bush fights. It has a strong grip and is not very heavy either which makes it one of the best multi-purpose survival machetes in the market.

The angled blade of this machete is great for clearing brush and tree limbs.  It has a high carbon steel blade making it easier to sharpen.

Of all the machetes I have seen, this one has the most comfortable and ergonomic handle.  Also, there is a lanyard attached to the handle that gives yo more security when swinging.  The included sheath protects you and the blade.

Weighing in at 1.8lbs, this is no light-duty tool.

Condor Tool and Knife Parang Machete

Click here for Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on the Bear Grylls Parang Machete



2. The Cold Steel Heavy Machete:


One of my personal favorites is the Cold Steel Heavy Machete that is just the right amount of heavy and built solidly. This one’s ideal for the big, tough jobs thanks to its super tough blade which widens towards the tip to provide maximum cutting power. It also holds a very nice edge!

This is probably the best deal out there for value.

Having an overall length of 20.25″ and a 14.6″ black carbon steel blade, this machete lets you get a really strong swing behind it.

Cold Steel Heavy Machete

Click here for Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on the Cold Steel Heavy Machete



3. The Cold Steel Bolo Machete:


Originally found in South America, the Cold Steel Bolo is now widely used all over America although it’s predominantly favored in the tropical regions where it’s mainly used for clearing bush and field vegetation.

Having an overall length of 22″, this 1055 high carbon steel blade measures in at 16.4″.


Cold Steel Bolo Machete

Click here for Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on the Cold Steel Bolo Machete



4. The KA-Bar Kukri:

Another personal favorite of mine is the mean looking Khukuri machete that was originally designed by Gurkha mountaineers having its origin in the amazing hilly region of Nepal. It’s also used by a lot of armies in the Indian sub-continent and overall, the Khukuri is a great machete to own especially for all chopping tasks including clearing weeds and campsites.

This black carbon steel blade measures 11.5″ and weighs in at 1.7 lbs.  A black sheath is also included.



Click here for Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on the KA-Bar Kukri



5. The Condor Tool and Knife Panga Machete:

The Condor Tool and Knife Panga Machete is an African weapon and brush clearing tool and is mainly used to prepare big game on the Savannah. A very impressive tool, this one!

This is a 16′ Machete, with a 20′ option being available.

Coming with a beautiful hardwood handle, a 420 stainless blade, and a Ultrablack blade coating to protect the blade in the harsh conditions of machete use, this is a great looking tool.

Condor Tool and Knife Swampmaster Machete,

Click here for Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on the Condor Panga Machete


Get Ready to Bushwack!

So now that you know which machete to use and the machete material as well, it’s time to plan your next trip to that rain-forest that you’ve always wanted to go. I’m pretty sure this post would have been useful to all those hunters out there who love to carry a machete while dealing with dealing with dense underbrush, hacking wood, and

For all those who’re still uncertain about how to use a machete properly, don’t worry. I was once in the same position as you so I turned to various camping and expedition communities online that helped me get all the right information and provided some amazing insights that I would never have learned on my own. So go frequent these online communities and you’ll soon learn the where, what, why, and how of machete use.  Of course YouTube has become a very useful tool as well.

One piece of advice though. Survival machetes, although an effective tool, are also quite a dangerous one so make sure you check with your regional authority for the right legal rules.


Jose June 18, 2014 at 9:04 am

Interesting site.

The author has certainly made an interesting choice in breaking up the “2 types” along carbon vs. stainless. I believe this is not the main distinction if one is to group machete types, nor is stainless even a consideration when most knowledgeable users select a machete.

On carbon steel machetes the author writes “…definitely not recommended while hiking through a rain forest!. I would say “hiking through a rain forest” is a fairly apt description for most of the every day uses and conditions of the machete in real life applications throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

The machete is a work tool, the working edge is kept free of rust through actual use and frequent touch ups (most users carry a file, stone or similar tool while in the field). The rest of the blade is protected with a factory coating and maintained by the user.

In 30+ years of living in the Caribbean and working and seeing work done with machetes -clearing paths through rain forest-like vegetation, farming tasks and even common yard maintenance- all in very high humidity conditions, I’ve never seen a stainless machete put to use. Never did I hear (nor did I tell myself as a user) “if only I had a stainless version of this tool”.

Still, interesting article.

Knife Expert June 19, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Thank you for the detailed comment Jose!
It is great to hear that carbon steel is not an issue with machetes being used down in the wet, rainy, humid Caribbean.
This is the location and the intended use of machetes that we all picture in our minds when we think about it.
So this certainly makes me reconsider if a stainless blade is ever really of importance with these tools. Especially north of where you are, where humidity is even less of a concern.

Could you share your favorite / most durable machete?
My guess is it doesn’t even have to be a name brand, but rather a locally sourced tool with years of use and proper care & maintenance.
Thanks again.

John Nelson August 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Wouldn’t touch stainless myself , as I cut a lot of woody stuff here in Europe , I favour the short heavy Martindale Golok , 14″ of carbon steel , sharpened a little more acutely than the manufacturers edge , its a good friend in the woods , if I need anything heavier I choose a Yorkshire billhook by “Lasher” from South Africa , for grasses I prefer a sickle . You have written an interesting article here friend !

Apache Wolf Scout August 18, 2014 at 7:34 am

My friend. Good day, I trust you are well? Basically take the tools used ‘by the locals/natives’…I mean you can’t buy the local made ( unless you go there usually…except MAYBE Sepuh Crafts) but a great many use a mass produced model in their area. Tramontina is most popular in Brasil and widely available at least near her borders in the Amazon and Imacassa is a near immaculate tool. I resent the fact that money and consumerism reigns in the UK as much of the world, so no one I have found sells Imacassa here, only the posh knobs version, Condor; freaks! This pisses me off!
Seriously don’t bother with Cold Steel ( oh yes, I’m sure their ‘hard’ and their tools are tough! Great!) , boycott them…their videos are just violent bollocks; sticks, ropes, doors and dead pigs can’t fight back…despite their grunts, groans and violent faces, most of what they do has little or nothing to do with what people want machetes for ( In all my life from Nigeria, to North South, Central America, Indonesia, Australia, Europe, I never saw any one who seriously uses a machete throw one!) …I don’t mind a bit of this macho stuff, I’m a ‘bloke’ too ( but where is ANY balance to it? NON!) , but when a manufacturer just fills his page with this shit with no real stuff, to me it is mindless violent crap, don’t support this! Forgive my language, but compared to the violent intent evident on Cold Steel videos it is harmless! Just a few words, not too rude at that…
Buy a real tool, made for real use, by people working, not practising to kill people or other creatures ( with nothing in their but violence) , which is, evidently all cold steel seem intent upon! Or perhaps destroying good work such as lovely natural fibre ropes…why cut them up exactly? Duhhh! What a freakin’ waste! Please stop promoting Cold Steel. Have a great day now and buy an Imacassa or Tramontino or go to a blacksmith and have them help you make your own tool better still! Lastly rather than buy loads, give £50 or more to The World Land Trust to preserve an area of Land-Rainforest etc in perpetuity to help pay for the costs of all our human desirers and destructiveness! ( Or to Survival International to help protect Tribal Peoples or Amnesty International to help protect all under threat of mindless violence!)

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