Although we don't come into contact with the thick vegetation of tropical rainforests, having a survival machete at your disposal proves extremely beneficial when it comes to blazing your own trail. This resource is particularly useful when venturing off the beaten track, exploring new horizons and pushing back your own limits.
Compared to a hatchet, the versatility of a machete will save you from overloading on trekking trips or bushcraft sessions. For wilderness survivalists, many machetes feature a black anti-reflective coating, in addition to their potential usefulness for personal defense.
The machete is ideal for preparing a fire and building a shelter. However, it's important to note that the use of a machete is not the most discreet. To maintain a discreet presence and avoid attracting attention, many adventurers opt for a folding saw as a complement.
The different types of machete
As already mentioned, there is a wide range of machetes, each with specific features adapted to different tasks. Finding the right tool is essential, as a large machete designed for cutting tall, thick grass will not be suitable for cutting wood to build a shelter. Let's take a look at the main categories of machetes available:
Kukri machete: Dating back over 2000 years, the Kukri machete is distinguished by its inwardly curved blade. This shape gives this Nepalese machete remarkable versatility in terms of survival and combat. It enables powerful strikes for chopping wood and can easily replace a hatchet or a large survival knife.
Bolo machete: Widespread in the Philippines, the Bolo machete features a wider, rounded blade, making it ideal for cutting wood. With a blade length of typically 40 cm, it offers excellent inertia and power for effortless cutting.
Latin machete: This lightweight, straight-bladed machete is widely used. It is particularly effective for light work, clearing undergrowth and forestry activities. Sometimes referred to as a "jungle machete", its long blade makes it easy to clear a path or defend oneself in a pinch.
Bowie machete: Equipped with a clip-point blade, the Bowie machete is easy to handle and enables effective perforation. It's the ideal tool for overcoming obstacles. The Cold Steel model is particularly popular and affordable.
Gator machete: The Gator machete offers unique versatility thanks to its ability to saw with the back of the blade. It's ideal for forest excursions, whether you're preparing a fire or building a shelter.
Golok machete: Originating in Indonesia, the Golok machete was originally a military weapon. With its thick blade and curved handle, it is robust and powerful. This machete is ideal for bushcraft, enabling efficient clearing, cutting and pruning.
Each type of machete has its specific advantages, and the choice will depend on the tasks you plan to accomplish on your outdoor adventures.
Which length to choose?
Once you've selected the type of machete that's right for you, it's essential to consider the length of the blade. This is where you need to strike a judicious balance between cutting capacity and maneuverability. As a general rule, the blade length of a machete varies between 25 and 70 cm. Most models offer a blade length of around 40 cm, for efficient and comfortable use.
You can also opt for a shorter blade, measuring between 25 and 35 cm. These more compact machetes will have less reach, but will be easier to carry. What's more, because of their superior maneuverability, they will generate less muscle fatigue as they are used.
On the other hand, you might consider a machete with a long blade, longer than 55 cm. This will enable ample movement and satisfactory cutting results. These machetes are ideal for cutting tall grass and clearing land quickly. However, one drawback to bear in mind is that their bulk will make them difficult to use on multi-day expeditions.
An important aspect to consider is the composition of the steel in your new machete. Generally speaking, you'll be offered solid stainless steels. This means your machete will withstand shocks and humidity. However, we recommend that you opt for carbon steels, as they offer excellent durability, remarkable strength and easy sharpening.
Choose models with full tang construction. This way, you'll avoid any risk of the blade accidentally coming off or, worse still, injuring you.
It's also essential to consider the thickness of the blade. This will depend on how heavy or light a task you intend to perform. Usually around 3 mm thick, a thinner blade will offer you great speed of movement, but presents a greater risk of breakage. On the other hand, a thicker blade, from 5 to 9 mm, will give your machete greater strength and cutting power. However, this may reduce maneuverability and result in faster energy loss.
The handle is also important
You'll also have a wide choice when it comes to handle types. In fact, there are a number of different options available to you, from walnut handles to polypropylene handles, among others. To make the right choice, it's essential to consider maintenance and conditions of use. Usually, machetes are designed for one-handed use, but you might consider a longer handle to allow two-handed use if necessary.
In general, many handles are ergonomically designed, and some brands even offer anti-vibration handles. Finally, for optimum safety, we recommend machetes with a hole for a cord. This will reduce the strain on your hands when cutting on the fly.
What is a survival axe?
A survival axe is specially designed to meet survival needs, as its name suggests. That's why they're so popular with bushcraft, camping and backpacking enthusiasts, as well as survivalists and preppers.
Survival axes are distinguished by their robustness. Despite their light weight, they retain considerable power. Although there are models with wooden handles, it's more common to find axes with composite or metal handles. In the latter case, they are often called "full tang" or full tang. These axes are formed from a single piece of metal, making them extremely strong.
The strength and durability of survival axes is also ensured by their carbon-reinforced steel blade. Most are equipped with a lanyard, which improves grip and reduces the risk of losing the tool.
In addition, survival axes are generally sold with a protective sheath that covers the blade.
How to choose the blade and head?
When it comes to chopping wood, a survival axe with a thick, heavy head is ideal, as it offers increased striking power.
A flat blade edge is preferable. When it comes to material, carbon steel is a wise choice in terms of strength. What's more, it's easy to sharpen and long-lasting.
For precision work, a sharp blade is essential.
In addition, an axe with a fine, pointed head is recommended for specific tasks.
You can choose between an axe with a short handle, also known as a hatchet, or an axe with a longer handle.
Generally speaking, a long handle allows you to achieve greater striking speed thanks to the momentum it generates. A short handle, on the other hand, is more suited to pruning and carving wood. What's more, hatchets are lightweight and therefore easy to carry, which is very practical on long expeditions. They are also easier to handle.
When it comes to handle material, we recommend plastic, stainless steel or fiberglass. These materials have the advantage of being less slippery than wood.
Metal axes are effective, but it should be noted that handle vibrations could potentially cause some discomfort with each stroke.
Balance and ergonomics
Normally, an axe's head is heavier than its handle. However, a proper balance between the two ensures a better grip.
Safety is also an important consideration. It's essential that your hand doesn't slip off the handle while cutting, ensuring safe handling.
In addition, it's crucial that the axe is comfortable to use and doesn't require a great deal of energy on your part.