I am new to the forum and have finally joined after lurking for a while.
I will be in making a couple of trips next year that will have be in opposite ends of the globe but perversely enough, both in rainforest.
I will not be pretending to be Ray Mears but will be in both cases living out of fly camps or basic cabins with a fair amount of jungle trekking.
I would very much appreciate tips on which would be the right sort of machete to carry in such an enviroment and also any tips on the best way to use them for travelling.
short Iban chandong type parang is best if you are new to the game
The best one to carry is likely to be the one you see the locals carrying when you get there. Most places I've been you can get them fairly cheaply locally as well.
Thank you for the welcome gentlemen.
I will be going to South America and then Northern Australia if that helps.
I understand that in South America they tend to prefer longer and thinner types of machete than say in South east Asia.
I am a fairly experienced hunter and outdoors-man but have never used a machete type tool in any serious way before.
I have a 24" Chinese job I use to clear rides and shooting lanes in the wood but it too cheaply handled to be a contender.
Would welcome advice from those anyone who's spent some time in that environment.
Hi & welcome to the forum.
I'm not sure that machetes are that welcome in Queensland National Parks.
I hear that most of the time one is walking on trails. Rather tame for blade work though undoubtedly attractive place to visit.
Ask JonathanD , he's got some experiences!
Sorry JD, could not help myself.
It's a beautiful bit of earth, I was hunting near North of Mt. Isa in August and rather fell in love with the place. I can't wait to see more of your wonderful country.
www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=tramontina+machete I know you cain't get knives on ebay in the UK but you can pick one up as cheap (or cheaper) once you arrive.
Look for Pict on this forum; he lives in Brazil and is pretty experienced on the subject. He can also be found on youtube under the name Colhane.
Last edited by santaman2000; 05-11-2012 at 20:51.
Pict is also on BCUSA, and there is also an introductory video on there somewhere for new machete users...
I prefer the 14 inch Tramontina Bolo. If you are the main trail clearing person, then a longer machete is in order. I got to like the Tramontina while doing mulitary duty in Panama. I found it much more useful than the 18 inch military machete. Most jungle walkers pick up a machete locally, cheaper and you get the one that works well on the local vegatation.
I would not see the need for anything larger than 14 inches or so and not real heavy either. The bolo type cut well, weight forward and are popular throughout most American rainforests.
The Martindale Golok is a fine tool. The handle is sometimes a bit crappy but the blade & weight are lovely. Plenty around & pretty reasonable in the price dept.
Thank you for your advice gentlemen.
I would first like to say that I would obviously only using it where safe, legal and practical to do so.
I was particularly interested in the comments as to length and heft of a tool to be used all day, it seems that those who prefer a longer machete favour the thinner steel blades and those advocating the short blades mention golocks, parangs and other fairly weighty tools.
It is then mainly a balance of weight and personal preference then?
The otehr question is about the handle. I imagine that a comfortable handle is important if it's to be used for any length of time, what handle material is the best in this regard?
My cheap Chinese jobbie has decently tough steel but the handle is a joke, down to fake plastic screws, I was thinking of re-handling it as a bit of a project.
Oak covered with leather thongs was my first impulse, does anyone have any relevant experience?
The most common handles are wood or plastic. Usually thet are cheap. That's all a machete really is------a cheap, long knife. anything else is just overkill.
These are the sort of thing they make in Malaysia and they can be very comfortable to use for extended periods. I say 'can be' because they're obviously made in a place which doesn't usually see a lot of cold weather, and when I use them in the winter in England I find that the copper or brass ferrule soaks a lot of heat from my index finger which can make the old joints ache a bit. If you don't have large hands (or don't choke up) then that might never be a problem for you.
Apart from the generally chunky and smooth feel, the one thing I really like about these handles is that they form a kind of hook in the hand so you don't have to grip so tightly to prevent the thing slipping away from you when you give it a good swing.
The other thing that I don't like is that they're stick tang with no pin. JonathanD would probably say that with more feeling, the blade on the right in that photo is still somewhere in Venzuela, with his blood on it.
If you're out in the sticks you need to be able to do running repairs, usually with just a big rock and (if you're lucky and planned ahead) some duct tape. Injection moulded parts aren't always easy to fix with minimal equipment.
Thank you for all of your replies gents, thank you especially to to the reports from users in the field for helping me gather my thoughts.
It seems that a machete is not a very glamorous tool and that the whole concept seems to be geared towards cheap, almost disposable tools that are made from soft steel to resist impacts with hard objects like stones and be readily re-sharpened with a file for immediate re-use.
Much as I like Shiny-shiny therefore, it seems that I may be barking up the wrong tree looking for a "nice one" for hard use.
There seems to be an endless amount of information on the net about sharpening, modifying and re-handling machetes but precious little on actually using them to travel through the jungle.
A few comments on this thread have made me think about a little DIY project, I will therefore take my 22" Chinese 1.8mm thick machete and :
Re grind the edge according to this: http://www.machetespecialists.com/moyoma.html
Convex chopping edge at the tip.
Scandi fine section 4" long just up from the handle.
Square spine towards handle for planing, round spine by tip for handling.
Re-handle with a piece of wood and maybe leather or cord wrapping for grip.
As part of above drill lanyard hole.
Shorten to 20", will use for a while and think about going shorter.
I will use this cheapy for a while to clear some Rhododendrons, saplings, etc in a wood that I've been meaning to do for a while now and see how it goes.
I have some oak floorboard offcuts left over from the living the room, they are solid wood about an inch thick, will these do for the handles?
Last edited by Camel; 10-11-2012 at 13:26.
That guy in the video is great, he really knows his machetes.
I remember the hold grip with the thumb and forefinger and loosely with the rest of the fingers and watch your arc/ through swing making sure you can't chop your leg, body or anyone else and swing with a flick. His series of instructional videos are definitely worth watching.
Keep your blade sharp, carry a first aid kit, a wear safety glasses or shaterproof sunshades. Cut bush often springs back for revenge, and a thorn in the eye is no joke. Avoid goggles, they steam up and look a bit naff. Buy in the farmers cooperative as the locals know what works in their bush.
Don't mean to raise the dead, but in my opinion the "holy grail" of machetes/parangs is the duku chandong. (Top of pic)
There is a retaining pin in the tang, and mine is really well made.
On the left, the rubber loop is for blade retention during hill descents or periods of non-use. Unnecessary really, sheath fits well.
I have decided that after about 4-5 parangs, this is the best so far. It is more a trail clearer than a chopper, good for slashing away vines, rattans, brush, zombies ect..
Sadly they are not really commercially available but are certainly worth looking out for if you are in Borneo.
OK, so it's an old thread, but here's my two pence: buy your parang in country. You'll be able to choose from thousands, they are cheap (£4-£10 in Indonesia, £10-£20 in Malaysia) and they do the job.
One other point: some people (my mum included) seem to think that parang are for hacking trails through the bush. This is typically not the case - the jungle is a strange place, or rather a mosaic of strange places, but even in completely virgin forest you can usually move about without blazing a trail. Parang are mostly for chopping/splitting firewood, shaping wood, building shelters, digging for roots, cutting drainage channels around your shelter etc.
My favourite style of parang, parang Karo, comes from northern Sumatra in Indonesia.