What is the Best Machete?

We reviewed the top 3 machetes and found one surprising secret. Unlike most people, I’m sure you’re looking for the best machete because you want to survive the Zombie apocalypse (or just cut down some stuff when hiking.  Either reason is good in my book). The problem here is that while the world is filled with lousy machetes, it also has some REALLY good ones from about half a dozen excellent companies, and it is tough to narrow it down!  Our idea of the best machete will surely change through the years (and maybe months), but for now, here’s what we have!  Let me know your thoughts and til then, enjoy what we’ve put together!​

 
Name Kukri Vipera Bear Grylls
Brand Kabar Condor Gerber
Sharpness Extreme Good Very
Weight 1.9lbs 24.7 oz 1.8lbs
Length 17″ 19.75″ 25″
Material Carbon 1075 Carbon Carbon
Sheath Good Handmade Leather Good
       
  Sale Sale Sale
Rating
  buy now buy now

What makes “The Best” Machete?

These are features that you want in a good machete.

  • Weight.

Depending on your task, you might need a heavy machete (for cutting thick branches) or a lighter machete (for carrying on your hip during a long hike). If you don’t know what you are gonna use a machete for, pick a middle of the road weight.

  • Length

The longer the machete, the more it weights. Also, the longer the machete, the more you can cut with just one swing. In addition to that, the longer the machete, the harder it is to carry it around on your hip (not good for hiking).

  • Sharpness.

This is self-explanatory. You want a nice sharp blade that will remain sharp for years. Pro-Tip: If you’re cheap and won’t be using the machete a lot, just get a cheap machete and buy a cheap sharpener ;). This leads right into…

  • Material.

Different types of metals hold their sharpness differently. Some metals are quite soft and will get dull easily. Other metals are harder to dull but these types usually rust easy.

  • Sheath.

The machete will come with a sheath (it isn’t safe otherwise) and the sheath should be of high quality. It is as important as the machete itself. You would want something sturdy. If you are going to a humid place, choose a synthetic sheath because it’ll resist moisture better.

 

Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete

Kabar machete with box

Beautiful!

Ka-Bar (pronounced K (like the letter ‘K’)-bar(like the place you buy drinks at)) is a classic name in survival knives. The company originally produced combat knives for the military but now has branched out into other cutting tools. This knife has a 11.5-inch blade and weighs 1.7 pounds. We found that this is just the right amount of weight and length to cut items in the woods behind our house with ease. Small branches were sliced in half with just one cut. It also did not become uncomfortable to carry around after an hour.

The handle is the classic Ka-bar grip. It is made of some type of plastic (I don’t know what) but, don’t worry, it won’t slip out of your hands easily. The handle also has a little hole at the end where you can attach some 550 cord to give you a loop to place around your wrist–for those of us who are afraid we’ll accidentally fling the machete across the room. You can also attach a whistle, fire starter, or mirror to the 550 cord.

The knife is very popular on the internet since it is the ninth best selling hunting knife on Amazon. Other Reviewers stated how the blade came razor sharp right out of the box. One even mentioned how he has abused his for years and it is still in great condition. Get the Ka-bar Kukri machete here.

Condor Vipera 19.75″ Machete

The Condor Vipera is a visually dynamic tool with excellent functionality

The Condor Vipera is a Joe Flowers design which incorporates visual excellence with functionality.  Joe’s knowledge of the outdoors and extensive experience has allowed him to design outdoor tools that are not only functional, but tools that have been finessed and tweaked to bring them to a higher level than most in their class.  The Vipera is a typical example.

The Vipera Machete gets its name from the genus Vipera, which includes most old world pit vipers like the Horned Viper. The name may serve it well from a marketing standpoint, but much like its namesake, it really is lethal, effective and visually captivating.  With a special texture on the blade, this 19.75″ machete can clear a campsite as easily as it can ward off unwanted predators. The recurve on the 12.81″ blade makes this an excellent slicing knife.  The Vipera comes with a full grain welted leather dangler style sheath and is made out of the perfectly chosen (and tried and true) 1075 high carbon steel.

The blade is 12.81″ long with a 6.8″ handle.  The blade is almost exactly 3 mm thick and the grind of the blade is convex.  The design on the blade continues the viper themed tool’s look by incorporating scales as does the handle.  The walnut wood handle and handmade leather sheath round out this high-end package.  You can see more details and even buy the Vipera HERE

 

Gerber Bear Grylls Machete

Bear Grylls with his Machete

Gerber is a name that any outdoorsmen knows. Bear Grylls is a former Special Forces member and, now, a TV host. The Bear Grylls machete was designed for survival and weighs almost 2lbs. This is the heaviest knife we tested. It has a 13.5″ blade. The weight and shortness of the knife made the knife a great tool for cutting down chunks of wood. In fact, we were bored and started chopping up some 2×4’s in the backyard with it. The machete can be used as a hatchet if you find the need.

This knife was designed more for camping and survival than hiking. It is great for heavy duty work but I wouldn’t carry it around all day on a long hike–too heavy. If you need a machete for the occasion vegetation clearing and utility work, this knife does both just fine.

The machete also has a really cool handle that grips like Spiderman. It comes with some cord at the end and you can get a fire starter for it if you like. The sheath is so-so in my opinion–nothing special but it gets the job done.

The reviews online stated that this knife is all right. There is also a recall for older models of this knife as of Fall 2012. Guess Gerber screwed something up at the factory because they recalled the Bear Grylls Survival Knife the other year as well.  Read more about this machete.

The best Machete is…

Out of our test, what is the best machete? Well, first off, Bear Grylls has been accused of being a fake and, after testing out his machete (as well as knife) I believe them. This dude is just someone riding a wave of hype. Yes, the secret’s out Bear Grylls. You think spending the night in a hotel during your “3-day survival” series won’t spread around?

As for the Condor Vipera, we actually like this one!  It looks cool and it’s made from really hard, durable carbon steel.  The only glitch with this knife is its price.  It’s over $100 and if that fits your budget, I’d go for it!  There is nothing we found to be lacking in this beast other than a low price!

And, with all of that being said, I think the KA-BAR kukri machete is the best DEAL. It is heavy enough to chop thick branches as well as light enough to carry around on a trip. The blade lasts forever and it has a really good handle. The brand is also much more trustworthy than Bear Grylls.  Remember, I’m not saying this is necessarily the BEST machete in the world for everyone everywhere.  I’m saying it’s my idea of the best DEAL out there – that is, what you get for what you pay.  If you want the Rolls Royce of the bunch, I’d go for the Vipera.

Check Price: BladeHQ Amazon

Don’t believe Bear Grylls is a fake? Have on of these machetes at home? Just bored and want to tell me what you’re listening to? Post it in the comment box below. I personally read all comments =).

Peter Stec

Hey Knife Up gang!  I'm Pete and I'm just a small man in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like Knifeup.com every day.  The difference is that I like to share what I know, and research what I don't totally know, so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice eh?
Peter Stec

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Comments

  1. The fixed blade knife is one of those things that many people take for granted. In fact, despite using them occasionally many never give much thought about it. The knife helps you shape items such as wooden poles for instance when making stakes
    This is a great inspiring article. I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information.

  2. In my opinion the Ontario 22 Inch Heavy Duty Orange D Handle Machete is the best for day to day bushwacking. I work in mosquito control in Western Washington and it is a jungle here in the summer time. I swear I will wear this thing out if I keep working for 10 more years. It is heavy enough to really cut thru heavy brush and berries and long enough so that you are not so likely to drag your arm and hand thru the thorns. The D handle provides some protection and really helps you hang on to the tool when your hands are wet and fatigued. Also the orange color makes the machete a lot harder to lose in bush, remember, black is excellent camouflage in the jungle even on a bright sunny day. I learned that the hard.

  3. Thank You for your insight! I bought a “Cold Steel” kukri machete, and I am not happy with it. I feel it is: too thick, too heavy, and even though it is almost razor sharp, it is not very good at cutting limbs off trees. My cheap old Army surplus machete works much better hacking my way through the forest. I was once a Surveyor’s assistant, and I hacked pickers, mountain laurel, musclewood, and multi-floral rose in the state of Pennsylvania. I always wanted a better machete than my Army surplus model but I have yet to find one that cuts better.

    1. Marble’s has some orange painted machetes that are made in El Salvadore. The blade rings like a bell when I thump it with my finger. It is said to have been made from spring steel. I bought the small Bolo one to use as a cleaver to chop off fish heads. It also works well on tree limbs when there is not a lot of swinging room. I sprayed my wooden handle with some Auto-undercoating. The rubber coating feels so good in my hand when I hold it. It does take a few days for it to dry enough for the smell to go away.

  4. I have a 1945 M.S. Ltd AF0100, that my father [Master Tech Sargent (a.k.a. “Sparky”)] brought from WWII (Battle of the Bulge was his last encounter). I continually Thanked Him for keeping us free.
    I carried and used it on long hikes since I was 10 years old (1960) in the Catskill Mountains of NY.
    Don’t know what kind of metal it is. I just use it and bring it to razor sharpeness as needed.

  5. Also, all three of the machetes listed above are impractical for general use. Check out the Damascus Tracker Blades online. There a little pricey but they are beautiful and you can choose between mycarta handles to rosewood and my favorite camel bone. There made to use or collect.

  6. Saying Bear is a fake really pisses me off. The TV show is just that.. TV! He is a special forces veteran and goes on expeditions all over the world. and the survival demonstrations he executes on television are awsome and REAL. One night in a hotel is not what he does on every shows filming. It happened once! Give the guy some credit. Your just jealous and wish you were as cool as Bear!
    -LG

    1. I know people in the industry and many things he appears to be presenting as real are faked. I’ve even been told that he was ‘chased by a bear’ that was actually a colleague in a bear costume

    1. Wow, $500 for a machete is a lot more than I could ever afford. The machete looks like it has been designed to work great.

  7. Cold steel makes a decent and cheap machete in quite a few different styles. They hold up well and you don’t need to worry about messing them up when you accidentally hit a rock clearing some brush.

  8. I have a Kbar Kukri and a BG compact Parang, I have still to use my kukri but I have used the parang a few times.People have been slagging off the BG products, so the colours make them look like toys but orange is one of the best for survival situations and the parang cuts really well mine does anyway still have a scar to prove it.I have cut through large logs 6″ with mine and weighs next to nothing.kbar and condor may be better but for the price im happy with my parang.

  9. The Condor Bushcraft parang is a far superior blade with a wider range of functional uses. Get serious and try this out. You’ll immediately trash your boy toys and move into the realm of adults.

  10. I understand that this site is to help out knife newbs , I get that, but don’t give people information like stainless steel will never rust. Guess what it can.

    Just cause things are listed as carbon steel doesn’t tell much about the characteristics of the steel. Same deal with stainless.

    Next, the factory edge shouldn’t play in the decision making. If you cant sharpen a blade then you need to get practicing if you intend on gettin a machete. The type of use machetes are used for they get dull no matter how good the steel.

    I don’t know who told you that these are the top sellers but they are not.

    Lastly these are some recommendations for different machetes that I garuntee these will last a lifetime.

    Choppers= :as stated above kabar kukri
    : BK9
    Bush machetes= : any tramontina or imacasa machete

    1. I just wanted to add a bit of information to stainless steel.
      There is magnetic stainless and non-magnetic.
      Knives are made out of magnetic, and sinks are made out of non-magnetic.

      I really don’t like blades made from stainless unless they are high carbon stainless.
      The reason is, when I sharpen a stainless blade and let it sit on a shelf for three days it gets dull all by itself.

      I really like D2 steel but I cannot afford it. There are a lot of fake D2 blades out there for sale.
      D2 blades are always grey, and never shiny. I have been duped a few times.

  11. I have tried the Ka-Bar Khukri on nothing more than a whim. I am not a Ka-Bar fan at all, but for some reason, the Ka-Bar Khukri seems to be the anomoly. I took down several small trees with mine. The blade does not warp. Also, you can treat the blade with a rasp to put a chopping edge back on it in no time. If you are in a spot, and find a hard stone, that will serve well. You might, with some care, give it a sharp enough edge to dress game, but that will take alot of time. Bottom line: for clearing, building expedient shelters and defense, this knife is by far the best I have ever had.

  12. While I appreciate that all of the ‘machetes’ presented in this comparison fall into the category generally. I feel like to really compare you comparable items. These are three different types of ‘machetes’ that are made for entirely different cutting, chopping, and hacking functions.

    I think a better side-by-side might be to compare three latin machetes, or three kukri designs, etc. The way in which you swing and use them are so different that ultimately the experience will vary severely when comparing different designs.

    That being said, the Trademark design is like a sword because it has a sword design, not a machete design, and unfortunately Ka-Bar is hands down going to outperform a mass produced, in every outdoor store design like the Bear Gryll’s Parang. If it didn’t well that would make as much sense as the earth rotating backwards for a day.

  13. I own several kukri’s and have given several as gifts>
    I am trying to find or make a quick release sheath to put on the outsode of my BOB, any suggestions?

  14. If any of you folks want to see a REALLY good machete, for a fraction of the cost, come here to the Philippines and look up Dr. Arvin Sese. He sells some of the best machetes anywhere, and for a fraction of the big name brands.

  15. I own the Bear Grylls Parang and I’m here to tell you, this thing is “Bad To The Bone!!” I highly recommend this beast!!

  16. If you want to blow money on a khukuri, I happen to really, really like http://www.himalayan-imports.com/. These are genuine Nepalese khukuris (their spelling. It’s a kukri), made out of Mercedes car springs by Nepalese smiths. They make a number of models, and every blade they make is hand-crafted and different. I’ve had good luck with the ones I’ve gotten, although admittedly I carry them in a pack or shoulder bag than on my belt. They are heavy enough to pull your pants down, but even the lighter ones cut beautifully. One important point is that khukuris aren’t designed to cut like machetes. They work best if you keep your wrist straight and use your elbow and shoulder to pull the blade through the target, almost like a katana (a draw chop akin than a draw cut, if you know what a draw cut is). The midrib on a traditional kukri handle is to give you added traction for the draw chop, and it can raise a nice blister if you use your wrist too much and let it rotate on your palm.

    As for machete-like objects, I also like the woodman’s pal (http://www.woodmanspal.com/). The metal is soft (take along a file), but it’s light, and great for brush clearing. That hook on the back makes for a lovely backswing that’s just perfect for brambles, or for pulling in a branch you’ve just lopped. It’s also light and short enough that it’s easier to carry than a khukuri or even a machete.

  17. I have the Cold Steel Kukri (14″ blade)and Heavy machete(15″). Both are hard steel and cut up to 4″ in a swing or two. Either are good for the hiking day pack. But my go-to is the Tramontina 18″ latin for real brush work or heavy chopping.

  18. Thanks for the research. I would like to buy a machete how long should it be?

  19. I don’t get why Ka-Bar has named that blade a machete. It’s thicker than machetes are meant to be. It’s a good chopper, from what I’ve read, and people claim to have cleared brush with it, though I doubt they’d have much luck on the grape vines in my yard with it, but it’s hardly a machete. Their grass machete puzzles me as well. Even people who own and like it say it’s not designed for cutting grass. As for REAL machetes, there’s Tramontina, Imacasa, Condor (an Imacasa brand), Martindale, Ontario, Marbles (also from Imacasa), etc. There’s no reason to buy those off brands sold by Amazon or BudK, made of mystery steel that doesn’t hold an edge. Even Cold Steel is an improvement over those no-name machetes, whose machetes are made for them by Lasher, a South African manufacturer.

  20. So, Bear Gryll’s Parang Machete got recalled for being a threat to your limbs. Good thing it isn’t recommended here! I also heard really bad things about his survival knife as well.

  21. Thanks guys. I followed your advice and purchased a Ka-bar the other week. I got it in the mail and, what did you know, it was just like you said: PERFECT! It felt so good in my hands and I did a lot of wood chopping for fun with it. It has to be one of the best knives I’ve ever felt. It feels as good as my professional knife set in the kitchen. It cuts like butter.

    I also love how it has that classic Kabar grip. Really great.

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