Here’s the truth. When shit hits the fan you need a versatile tool that can help you with many different purposes.
And there’s one multitasking tool that ticks all the right boxes- a survival machete.
What can you use it for?
Actually, a lot! Think about bushwacking, chopping wood, building shelters, digging, and even self-defense. Fact is, that list can go on and on.
In case you are wondering where to start your search for the best machete, no need to worry.
We have tried and tested the top options and chosen five of the best survival machetes for you.
So let’s get to work.
Best Survival Machete: Top 10 Picks
If you want a hardcore machete to cut your way out through some thick undergrowth, the Halfachance is a great pick. With a generous 14-inch blade length, it’s perfect for a variety of survival activities in any form of terrain.
Also, it’s designed by Ken Onion. One of the most successful knife designers known for his innovative ideas.
Still not convinced?
Let’s look into the details.
Firstly, the blade is made from 65Mn carbon steel that offers excellent toughness. On top of that, it’s also powder coated.
Granted, the coating won’t last forever, but long-term users were happy with the performance.
Next, the design ensures the right amount of weight in the head of the blade. The result is, it’s very effective for cutting through thicker branches and wood. The plain blade comes with a super-sharp edge. Perfect for chopping and hacking action.
Being slightly above a pound it’s on the lighter side. But the overall length is sufficient for generating the right amount of power with each swing.
To top it off, the rubberized handle is durable and delivers a solid and comfortable grip. It’s textured to prevent slippage. There are five holes for using a lanyard for added safety. A paracord lanyard is also included with the product.
Lastly, the sheath is made from reinforced nylon and provides a snug fit. There are three safety snaps to lock the blade securely. The backside also comes with a belt loop for easy carrying.
Coming to the downsides, we felt the 0.10-inch blade thickness is on the lesser side. A thicker blade would have made it even more versatile.
Then again, the fastening system in the sheath wasn’t the best. The snaps didn’t feel much durable either.
Last but not the least, a few users reported some chipping from the blade. While we didn’t face such issues during our tests, it’s something to look out for. The good news is, there’s a limited lifetime warranty to cover defects in material and craftsmanship.
The CRKT Halfachance is the best machete for survival and as an aid for bushcraft. It delivers a great combination of performance and ergonomics. Note, it’s not designed for precise chipping. Nor is it ideal for heavy-duty cutting. But it strikes just the right balance in between the extremes. When you want an efficient blade to cut down your own path or dig your way out, you can count on this one.
Anyone looking for a machete that’s a tough workhorse will find this product from Ka Bar the right choice..
It’s a compact tool that comes with a well-crafted 1085 carbon blade that’s great for hacking and chopping. The blade offers excellent durability and will not flex even if you subject it to heavy stresses.
The 11.5-inch blade isn’t the longest, but it’s good enough to work as a hatchet or even a small ax. The blade can be sharpened easily too.
In fact, many long-term users admitted that this machete is built like a tank.
Even though it has a kukri design, the blade has a slightly less curve. That allows you to thrust or slice with the machete more effectively. Basically, this is a great tool for clearing a campsite and also for chopping some wood.
With a weight of 1.7 pounds, the blade is well balanced and allows you to chop at a fast pace. The steel also maintains its edge well and isn’t prone to damage.
Ka Bar has added a thermoplastic elastomer handle that provides a good grip. It offers excellent ergonomics for large as well as small hands. The beefy design of the handle also absorbs shocks effectively.
The black leather and Cordura sheath has a heavy-duty design and looks great. But long-term durability can be an issue.
A word of caution- the 1085 carbon blade is extremely tough but not the best in terms of corrosion resistance. Make sure to pay it the right attention after every use.
If you frequent the wilderness, this Ka-Bar Kukri machete is a superb tool that will not let you down. Quite simply, a great choice for campers as well as survivalists.
First off, ust has kept things simple with the ParaCuda. It’s a well-designed machete that comes with a paracord handle. The blade is flexible but durable enough to handle the tough tasks that any survival situation may demand.
Considering the price tag, we weren’t expecting top-notch material quality. But the full tang steel blade comes with a black oxide coating and feels sturdy. The saw blade design is an added advantage. Besides, the pointed tip makes it a good choice for self-defense.
Basically, it’s not designed for heavy cutting. But the 11-inch long straight edge blade has sufficient weight at the top end for delivering powerful strokes. The edge is very sharp, so bushes and small branches don’t stand a chance.
At 10.4 ounces, it’s one of the lightest survival machetes you can pick. So even continuous striking action for clearing brush won’t leave you fatigued.
The handle has a 9-feet long paracord wrapped around it. That can come in handy during emergencies. Also included is a magnesium fire starter- a practical addition.
The paracord also makes the handle sufficiently grippy. Slippage isn’t an issue here. There is a lanyard hole for additional safety. The magnesium fire starter is functional is sufficient in emergency scenarios.
The nylon sheath is durable enough to offer protection from rough outdoor conditions. The retention mechanism secures the blade effectively.
Finally, this is the cheapest survival machete with a fire starter that you can pick.
Let me say this straight…
The paracord handle isn’t the best in terms of comfort. The paracord gets shifted around with heavy tasks and the bulges in the handle aren’t the most ergonomic.
We suggest that you use a pair of gloves for doing heavy work with this machete.
Note, this isn’t a blade that’s designed for heavy cutting. Not that we were expecting that at this price point. Unfortunately, ust doesn’t mention the exact specification of the blade material either.
Also, the nylon sheath feels too tight. So extracting the machete requires some effort.
For what it’s worth, the ParaCuda is a practical and useful pick for your bug-out bag. Admittedly, it’s not the most powerful slasher in this category. But it’s an inexpensive, entry-level survival machete with a fire starter.
If you’re looking for something basic that will help you out in tight situations, it’s a good choice.
Take the Kershaw Camp 10 in your hand and you’ll notice how well-assembled it is. The use of medium-high carbon steel ensures good hardness and resilience as well. Also, the full tang blade is powder-coated. That improves the corrosion resistance by a lot.
What’s more, the black coating also reduces the metal glare. A good thing if you need to remain hidden in a critical situation.
It’s a full tang blade with a drop point. What does that mean?
Well, the whole machete is made from a single piece of metal. That adds to the overall strength and durability.
Also, the tip is quite broad. That helps you to generate sufficient force for cutting, slashing, or hacking. Although, we would have liked a sturdier blade for thicker branches and brush.
With a 10-inch blade and a weight of 1 pound, the machete feels well balanced. It has just the right amount of heft to tackle a wide variety of tasks.
Note, the blade is plain. That not just makes it more versatile but also makes sharpening much easier in the field.
What about the handle?
The nylon construction with a checkered-texture rubber layer on top feels good to grip. Rest assured, sweat or water won’t make this handle slip out from your hands.
Besides, there are slight bulges on the handle body that ensure a comfortable grip. There are two extended finger guards for safety.
Next, the sheath is made out of glass-filled nylon. Quite simply, it’s an inexpensive material that’s almost indestructible. There are loops with velcro straps for carrying the machete around.
Considering the price and performance, the Kershaw Camp 10 offers great value from all aspects.
While we liked the blade, the sheath wasn’t the best in terms of design. Granted, the thermoplastic material is tough, it does look and feel cheap. The overall fit of the blade doesn’t feel very secure either.
The 10-inch blade length places this tool right between a bowie knife and a machete. But if you want a traditional survival machete, you might find this on the shorter side.
Keep in mind that the powder coating will wear away with time. That’s one issue you can’t avoid.
If you are looking for the best survival machete knife, the Camp 10 is a top contender. It’s a great survival tool that comes with a tough blade and a super-grippy handle for cutting, slicing, and digging in any challenging situation. All in all, it’s the perfect multitasking tool that’s ideal for your bug-out bag.
With this machete, the first thing we liked is the solid quality of the sharp blade. Top-grade stainless steel with a black powder coating makes it durable. As a bonus, it looks sinister.
The fact is, it’s named after a traditional Nepalese knife that has an edge with an inward curve.
There are seven holes on the blade that are termed “speed holes”. It reduces the weight of the machete and also looks cool. Keep in mind, the curved blade is razor-sharp. Just perfect for handling things when the going gets tough.
Next, the 13.3 inches machete blade with a drop point makes it ideal for intensive use. The chopping and cutting performance is excellent. The heavy design also helps to generate sufficient striking force for chopping logs. It’s also perfect for shaping or shaving wooden sticks.
We loved the ergonomic and solidly built handle. With a large palm swell, the grip is comfortable and the overall balance it provides is great. That allows you to deliver a high impact with more ease. Additional feature- a lanyard hole for safety.
The polyester sheath comes with twin leg straps and a belt loop. With the long strap, you get plenty of carrying options. The stitching is single-layered but feels durable. A quillon clasp prevents the blade from slipping away, especially in wet conditions.
In addition, it’s also packed with a Ferro rod and a sharpening stone that makes it a complete machete survival kit. The quality of the Ferro rod is good. A perfect fire starter for any critical situation.
First thing is, even though the blade feels durable, there’s no mention of the thickness. At the same time, stainless steel isn’t the best choice for long-term edge retention. Also, it’s not a lightweight option.
That brings us to the next thing, blade sharpening. The blade is made from stainless steel and comes with an inward curve. So sharpening it with the given tool can be challenging.
The other thing we noted was the lack of any jimping. Users looking for more blade control for finer tasks might find that an issue.
Lastly, we wish that the sheath was more durable. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t feel flimsy. But it’s just mediocre in terms of overall quality.
The Schrade SCHKM1 is a complete survival machete kit that’s perfect for high-impact brutal use. Obviously, it can’t substitute an ax, but it’s great for cutting down small trees and for building a fire. We also felt that it offers the right balance between price and performance. In short, when it comes to survival tasks, this machete won’t let you down.
This machete from Tramontina comes with a simple but effective design. Fact is, it won’t win any awards for its look. But it offers excellent functionality at an affordable price.
The design of this machete is straightforward. It has an 18-inch long 1070 carbon steel blade that works great for cutting through bushes and hacking branches.
At a first glance, the relatively thin blade may not inspire confidence. But the strength and hardness of the metal are impressive. Admittedly, it’s not meant to cut thick branches or chop wood. But it’s good enough to tackle branches up to 1.5-inch thickness.
Besides, the blade is a full tang. So you can expect it to be sufficiently durable. As per the long-term users, the edge retention of the steel is also good.
The edge isn’t super sharp out of the box though. You’ll need to sharpen the blade before using it.
What about the handle?
The wooden handle is well finished. However, it’s not the best in terms of ergonomics and there’s a chance of slippage if your hands are wet. A lanyard hole would have been a good addition.
That said, you can customize the wooden grip if you want to.
With an overall length of 23-inches, this is a long machete. On the plus side, it weighs less than half a pound. So wielding it for long hours won’t fatigue your hand.
To sum up, the Tramontina machete offers more than you pay for. It’s not a heavy-duty tool but hard to beat as a lightweight camp machete.
When it comes to camping machetes, the right balance of weight and durability is crucial. The Cold Steel Kukri is perfect in this regard with a weight of 16 ounces and a durable build.
Quite simply, it’s not too heavy to add a lot of weight to your backpack. But it’s heavy enough to feel hefty and add sufficient power to the chopping action.
The 13-inch blade makes it great for tasks like clearing bushes and trimming trees. And the curved blade of the Kukri design makes the cuts deep and effective. In fact, that makes this a great tool for self-defense too.
Besides, the size is perfect for storing it inside a backpack.
Cold Steel uses a 1055 carbon steel blade with a black anti-rust coating. The blade isn’t super sharp out of the box. So, a little sharpening would do wonders for the overall cutting ability.
The weight of the blade is well-balanced. It offers great stability during heavy cutting tasks. The long-term users have also mentioned that the blade has excellent edge retention.
With solid durability, this machete can be your outdoor companion for years.
The polypropylene handle delivers a comfortable grip. But is it great for prolonged use?
The plastic build isn’t the best for shock absorption. We wish Cold Steel had added some rubber material to improve the grip during heavy use.
The Cor-Ex sheath feels durable but some users might not like the use of multiple buttons.
Considering the price, the Cold Steel Kukri machete offers excellent value and serious cutting ability. If you’re looking for a workhorse to use during camping trips, go for it.
When it comes to making your way through dense undergrowth, you need some serious cutting power. The SOG machete offers 18-inches of steel that works great for clearing trails and cutting through the brush.
Is the blade durable enough for handling tough tasks?
You bet it is!
SOG has used 3CR13 steel with a black powder coating for enhancing its durability. The 0.08-inch thickness of the blade isn’t much. Even so, this is a blade that you can depend on in a survival situation.
Other than that, the 3CR13 steel also has great edge retention and is easy to sharpen.
The blade is ready to handle rough use and the sharp tip is effective as a puncturing tool. Also, The edge is sharp enough right out of the box. So, clearing bushes or cutting small branches with this tool isn’t an issue.
The other advantage is the saw tooth edge for enhancing the cutting action. That said, with a double-sided blade, you can’t use the machete for batoning.
Even with an overall length of 24 inches, the product weighs just under 16 ounces. The nylon sheath is well designed and comes with a hook and loop closure.
Admittedly, SOG has also done a great job with the handle. It’s made from a mix of plastic and synthetic rubber. This not only prevents slippage, but also improves heat and chemical resistance. At the base of the handle, there’s also a lanyard hole.
On the downside, the saw blades aren’t super sharp. Sawing through wood takes some extra effort.
Note, this isn’t a heavy-duty blade for chopping hardwood. So using it on thick branches may not be the best idea.
On the whole, this machete is a great combo of rugged looks and solid performance.
Gerber has developed a solid reputation in the cutting tools market and the Broadcut machete is one of its top products.
There are two main factors that make the machete a good self-defense tool- an intimidating look and a long reach.
The Broadcut performs well in both these departments. The 13.1-inch straight edge blade is made from stainless steel and has sufficient thickness. Out of the box, the blade comes with decent sharpness.
Keep in mind that the blade is curved. This gives the swings a different feel than straight blades. However, the movement is fluid and the hefty blade inspires confidence.
The back end comes with a hook cut notch. Most importantly, you can also use the back end as a blunt weapon.
Besides, with a weight of 18 oz, it’s light enough to make quick swings at the opponent. The overall balance is also great.
To be honest the blade in this machete isn’t built for heavier tasks. But as a general-purpose machete, it delivers a good performance.
Note, the Broadcut doesn’t come with a full tang blade. The bottom section of the blade extends into the handle and is fixed by two Allen wrenches. Now that’s another reason for not using this blade for heavy-duty tasks.
The rubberized handle looks stylish and feels great. The added advantage is, it also comes with a safety lanyard. Rest assured it won’t slip out of your hands even if your palms are sweaty in a critical situation..
The bottom line is this…
This isn’t a machete for slaying dragons. But if you’re defending yourself from humans, wild animals, or snakes, this is the right tool.
The Bolo machete is our second Gerber product on this list and not without good reason. Quite simply it’s one of the best products in the market for heavy-duty cutting.
In reality, the Bolo inspires confidence with its tough, no-nonsense look.
It comes with a full tang blade that has a burly design and is great for chopping wood. At 1.3 pounds, this isn’t a lightweight machete. But the hefty design allows you to develop sufficient force during a chopping action.
The 15.5-inch blade is made from 1050 steel and can be easily sharpened. One great feature of the blade is the bulge near the front that adds to the overall cutting power.
The weight distribution of the blade and its shape is different from standard machetes. So you might need some practice to handle the tool in the right manner. But once you get used to the swing, 3 to 4-inch tree branches are no issues for this beast.
Coming to the handle, it has the Gerber Gator grip that has a textured design. That provides a great grip during heaving cutting action.
In terms of ergonomics, it’s one of the best handles we have used in a machete. Quite simply, this is a machete that feels great in your hands.
That said, some long-term users have reported that the blade doesn’t hold the edge well. Also, the blade is prone to rust formation, especially after use in wet conditions. As per some experts, the 1050 steel isn’t the best choice for constant outdoor use.
Bottom line: you need to keep this machete, clean, dry, and well oiled to prevent rust formation.
Gerber has provided a nylon sheath with a D-rind for the machete. The sheath isn’t great in terms of design, but it’s not too bad either.
The Gerber Bolo isn’t the cheapest product on the market. But when it comes to chopping wood, it works like a champ.
Best Machete for Survival: Buying Guide
Quite simply, no other knife is as versatile as a machete. And if you want a machete that really boosts your chances of survival, there are a few factors that you need to note.
Take a look.
There are various blade shapes that are the distinguishing feature of a machete. You need to pick the right shape depending on your purpose of use. The point is, machete styles are not standardized and one form can blend into the other. So the preference depends on the choice of style and also on individual convenience.
Here’s a quick look at some of the major types.
The bolo machete style originated from southeast Asia where it’s mostly used for agricultural purposes. The blade has a rounded shape with more material towards the tip. This makes the bolo machete very effective for chopping.
This is a leaf-shaped machete that originated from the Philippines. The blades are thick enough to cut through dense vegetation, as well as for hunting. They are also used for combat purposes.
These types of machetes consist of a long and thin blade. It’s used in the countries of Latin America. The thin and evenly weighted blade makes it good as a cutting tool for agricultural work. However, it’s not designed for heavy cutting.
The Kukri is a versatile tool that can be used for self-defense as well as for finer work. The distinct feature is a curve in the middle of the blade. The sharp tip is effective for piercing skin and the wide middle is effective for chopping. A small sharp section near the handle is used for intricate jobs.
This design is popular in Africa and the Caribbean islands for slicing and cutting wood. They have a deeper mid-part and a slight curve near the top. While it’s good for heavy cutting jobs, the sharp tip can also pierce effectively.
This machete from Indonesia has a thick blade that has a distinct curve. The long profile also makes it look like a sword. The slightly thicker blade makes it effective for heavy chopping work. Quite often, they are also called Golok machetes.
The composition of the blade is the next important thing to keep in mind. The most popular choice is carbon steel. The carbon content can vary from 0.05 and 2.1 percent and results in different grades of hardness and resilience.
A carbon steel blade also retains sharpness better. On the downside, they tend to rust more easily. So powder-coated carbon steel is a popular option.
The other option is choosing a stainless steel blade. While these blades don’t retain sharpness so effectively, they can withstand corrosion better. But, they lack the hardness of carbon steel.
Some of the best survival machetes come with a high carbon stainless steel blade that captures the best of both worlds. They have high durability and excellent strength. However, they are more costly.
The point is, blade composition affects the overall durability of survival machetes. A durable machete that can withstand wear and tear will be the best choice for cutting your way out of danger.
Although many of these blades are razor sharp, they don’t contain the teeth necessary for heavy sawing action. You would want a high-quality survival saw for that scenario.
This is another aspect that can make a lot of difference to the overall performance of machetes for survivalists. Survival machetes can range anywhere between 10 to 25 inches in length. In general, the average length is around 15 inches. That makes them more suited for chopping and trail clearing than a hatchet.
Now, the longer the blade, the greater the reach. A long blade can also help you to clear an area much faster. The reason is, with a longer blade you can generate more centrifugal force.
On the other hand, a cutlass-like long blade isn’t the most portable choice. Also, shorter blades are usually thicker which makes them more durable.
If you are someone with medium height, a machete with an average length will be good enough for you.
The Weight Factor
Make no mistake about it. A heavy machete that tires your arms after a few strikes isn’t the best choice. A heavy tool also means you spend more energy while moving around. For survivalists, it’s about life and death, and every bit of energy counts.
That said, heavier machetes can generate more cutting force and are ideal for handling tougher jobs. A heavily built product also inspires confidence when you need to face danger.
The trick is while picking a best survival machete, you need to strike the right balance between weight and durability.
Gripping the machete in the right way is extremely important. That’s why you can’t ignore the handle. The comfort and durability of the handle will affect the overall performance of the machete.
Chances are that a poorly designed handle will lead to hot spots in your hands. Quite simply, getting painful blisters is something that you need to avoid in a survival situation.
Machete handles can be made from various materials. They usually come without a pommel.
Let’s look at the most common ones.
Wooden handles provide a great grip along with good comfort. They are also lightweight. However, they need the right level of maintenance and can’t withstand too much exposure to moisture.
The advantage of polymers, epoxy resins, or polypropylene is that they are durable and cheap. Maintenance requirements are also minimum. But unless properly designed, the handle surface can get slippery in wet conditions. Long-term use can also lead to discoloration of the handle.
Rubber handles provide excellent grip and can also come in a variety of textures. They can also help in shock absorption during high-impact use. However, they are not a durable option when used frequently.
When it comes to the machete handle design, it’s best to pick a handle with a handguard or quillon for safety. There are also crossguard handles that prevent slippage and protect the knuckles from getting cut.
We suggest picking a handle with a lanyard hole. By slipping a paracord in the hole and connecting it with your wrist, you can add an extra layer of safety. That way, the machete won’t slip out of your hands while using it for some fast action.
The Sheath Quality
A sheath is an indispensable part of any survival machete. It not only helps you to carry the tool safely but also protects it from the environment. Most sheaths come with loops or straps for easy carrying.
Keep in mind, using a machete without a sheath is a huge safety risk. With a sheath around the blade, a sudden fall or slip won’t lead to an accident.
A sheath should be durable enough to endure the elements. This makes reinforced nylon sheaths a better choice than leather sheaths. In addition, a sheath should also have durable straps to hold the machete in place.
That brings us to the end of this survival machetes review.
We have rounded up the top products and also listed a comprehensive buying guide to help you pick the best survival machetes.
Our choices are based on the tests conducted by our team along with the feedback received from long-term users. You can pick any of these machetes and store it in your bug out vehicle or keep it on you at all times.
A high-quality survival machete is a great tool for defying the odds and staying alive when all hell breaks loose. We think it’s a must for your survival gear kit.
Now, it’s up to you.