Contrary to what Hollywood would like you to believe, the machete isn’t exclusively used for killing by the Mexicans. In fact, the machete is a part of everyday life in most parts of the world. It makes for one extremely versatile tool, as it can act as both an ax and a knife. You can use it for cutting, chopping, and a variety of other applications, which is why it can be commonly found in the backpacks or survival bags of thousands of outdoor adventurers. However, before you add a machete to your own outdoor equipment collection, there are a couple of important things to consider in order to ensure you get the right model that fits your needs, because machetes come in a wide range of blade styles, lengths, blade compositions, handle styles and materials.
First and foremost, when shopping for machetes, you need to consider the blade style. Although it is the blade style what mostly distinguishes the machete from other cutting tools, there are even more variables to consider in machetes themselves. As it’s a tool that’s widely used, the names and styles can overlap or vary. Preferences of one blade style over another are mostly subjective and largely based on experience and tradition. However, there are some popular blade styles that can be found in most parts of the world like the latin-style machete, bolo machete, kukri, billhooks, cane machete, parang machete, etc.
When it comes to blade length, a machete blade can be anywhere from a few inches up to, and above 30 inches. A machete with a smaller blade is more portable, but has less reach, while longer blades are less portable but can cut and clear large areas in far less time. But regardless of blade size, you should only opt for a machete that has a full tang, which basically means that the blade extends the full length of the handle and is fixed in place. While half-tang blades can also do the job, they’re generally less safe to use than full tang blades.
Then, you have to consider the materials the machete is made of, both the blade and the handle. The blade can be made of a wide range of materials, but the most commonly used ones are stainless and carbon steel. There are some high carbon stainless steel blades which basically combine the benefits of both types of steel. However, the better quality the blade is, the more you’ll need to pay for it. Handles, on the other hand, can be made of plastic or tough rubber. Regardless of the handle material, you should get a machete that’s comfortable to grip.