The 5 Best Machetes for Chopping Wood

While nothing beats an axe at chopping wood, it’s tough to pack a full-size axe when you’re camping, backpacking, or surviving in the wild.

Hatchets are a great compact alternative, but they’re pretty much limited to chopping wood and hammering in tent stakes around the campsite.

Machetes are much more versatile, with the ability to chop wood, clear brush, and bushwhack your way through whatever the wild throws at you.

Best Machetes for Chopping Wood
survival gear

That said, not all machetes are designed to chop wood. To cut through anything larger than twigs, you’ll need a heavier machete with greater swing power. You’ll also need a solid steel blade that can withstand the wear and sharpens easily for a cleaner cut.

Following is a list of the top 5 machetes for chopping wood based on field tests, reviews, and a bit of personal experience. These machetes deliver the heft you need to cut through thick wood, along with a comfortable grip that’ll keep the tool from slipping while you’re chopping away.

Quick Navigation

Best Overall: Gerber Gear Gator Bolo Machete
Ontario Knife Company 6144 Military Machete
CRKT Chanceinhell
Kershaw Camp 18
Condor Tool & Knife Golok Machete
 

Best Overall: Gerber Gear Gator Bolo Machete

Gerber Gear Gator Bolo Machete
Gerber Knives

The bolo knife has been the blade of choice in the Philippines for generations. Its stout, burly blade features a distinctive bulge near the tip for extra swing power that’s helpful when chopping wood and clearing brush.

Gerber takes this classic design and delivers a modern upgrade with the Gator Bolo Machete, with smart upgrades like an ergonomic handle, a slip-proof grip, and a hefty full tang construction. As Gerber puts it, this blade is “part axe, part trimmer, all business.”

Upon testing it, I was amazed to find that Gerber Gator Bolo Machete is capable of delivering heft and reach with a 15.5-inch corrosion-resistant steel blade. The ergonomic handle is comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver with a secure, tactile grip.

There’s a wrist lanyard as a backup measure, though the grip is solid enough you shouldn’t have to worry about this machete flying through the air.

The Gator Bolo Machete comes with a rugged nylon sheath for safety and portability. You can strap it to your belt with the belt loop, or lash it to your pack with the D-ring attachments.

Specs

  • Blade Length – 15.5 inches
  • Blade Material – 1050 steel
  • Overall Length – 22.5 inches
  • Weight – 20.8 ounces
  • Handle – Gator® grip
  • Sheath – nylon

Pros

  • Perfectly balanced
  • Textured and ergonomically designed
  • Has a wrist lanyard
  • Features a full tang construction that prevents it from breaking easily
  • Great handle that is comfortable to hold

Cons

  • Slightly heavier weight
  • May arrive dented due to ordinary packaging
  • The blade is thin and lightweight and requires sharpening after purchase
  • The sheath is only okay
  • Build quality not quite up there to some of the other machetes

Ontario Knife Company 6144 Military Machete

Ontario Knife Company 6144 Military Machete
Ontario Knife

The Ontario Knife Company has been manufacturing quality American-made blades for over 125 years. They’ve designed countless blades over the years, but none are as storied as the 1-18 Military Machete.

Originally produced for American soldiers during WWII, today’s iteration of the historic 1-18 Military Machete reflects the same quality and rugged reliability that the company has been supplying to the US government for over 70 years.

The 1-18 Military Machete is a massive, two-foot weapon with an 18-inch carbon steel blade. The rugged blade features a zinc-phosphate finish and a classic molded-plastic handle.

The 1-18 Military Machete doesn’t come with a standard sheath which I found to be quite disappointing. Fortunately, you can purchase a matching nylon sheath separately for better protection and portability.

Specs

  • Blade Length – 18 inches
  • Blade Steel – 1095 carbon steel (50-55 HRC)
  • Overall Length – 24 inches
  • Weight – 16 ounces
  • Handle – molded plastic
  • Sheath – sold separately

Pros

  • Professional grade quality
  • One of the top Japanese gardening tool machetes for limbs and branches
  • Includes an easy to carry sheath to make transport and travel simple
  • Made of carbon steel for a simple option to cut bamboo and other items
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Can be a bit heavy compared to other coated machetes
  • Have to purchase the sheath separately
  • The bad grip (can be fixed)
  • Needs to be sharpened
  • Snapped after continuous use (according to some complaints)

CRKT Chanceinhell

CRKT Chanceinhell
Columbia River Knife & Tool – CRKT

Designed by award-winning custom knife-maker Ken Onion, the Chanceinhell from Columbia River Knife and Tool is built to perform in the harshest environments.

Whether you’re chopping firewood, clearing underbrush, or constructing a survival shelter, you can count on this reliable workhorse to pull its weight.

The Chanceinhell features a 0.1” thick carbon steel blade with a black powder coat. It’s durable enough to thrive in extreme conditions, corrosion-resistant, and easy to sharpen.

The double injection-molded handle is ergonomically designed to reduce hand fatigue. I personally like that it features a football-texture grip with multiple lanyard holes for varied grip options.

As an optional upgrade, you can purchase a package that includes the knife and a nylon sheath. The sheath’s unique velcro belt loop system allows it to be worn dangling or snug against your belt, or you can use the extra paracord fob to lash it to your pack.

Specs

  • Blade Length – 12 inches
  • Blade Steel – 65Mn carbon steel (52 – 56 HRC)
  • Overall Length – 17.88 inches
  • Weight – 20 ounces
  • Handle – PP core & TPR overmold with textured grip
  • Sheath Material – nylon (sold in an alternate package)

Pros

  • Carbon steel blade with black powder coat for durability
  • Easy to sharpen when necessary
  • Handle design prevents slipping and hand fatigue
  • Corrosion-resistant blade finish
  • Ergonomically designed handle

Cons

  • Thick blade can affect the quality of a chop
  • Not appropriate for hardwood chopping
  • A little too thin and too light for heavy-duty use
  • Pins in the handle are not anchored and may be off-center
  • Grinds are way off from either side

Kershaw Camp 18

Kershaw Camp 18
Kershaw

The Camp 18 is the biggest, baddest blade in the Kershaw arsenal. The 18-inch blade makes campsite chores a piece of cake, chopping kindling and stripping bark with ease.

Should an unlikely turn of events lead any zombies to your camp, the gargantuan Camp 18 should be able to handle those pretty well, too.

The Camp 18 features a full-tang construction with a 65Mn carbon steel blade. Kershaw applies a basic black powder coat for protection against corrosion and wear, keeping maintenance nice and simple.

The handle offers a secure, contoured grip that’s comfortable in your hand, and a built-in hand guard to stop your hand from slipping in wet weather.

The machete comes with a glass-filled nylon sheath, with gear straps and a belt loop to keep the blade close at hand when you need it. The handle also has dual lanyard holes you can use to attach a lanyard for even more carrying versatility.

Specs

  • Blade Length – 18 inches
  • Blade Steel – 65Mn carbon steel
  • Overall Length – 24 inches
  • Weight – 23 ounces
  • Handle – rubber overmold
  • Sheath – glass-filled nylon

Pros

  • A multi-purpose machete
  • Non-slippage grip
  • Long design for speed and accuracy
  • Engineered using a top-quality blade
  • Rubber and nylon added

Cons

  • Its blade is less shiny
  • Users report that the black finish on the blade is thin
  • Steel beneath can become exposed after use
  • Not ideal for backpacking
  • Slightly subpar sheath

Condor Tool & Knife Golok Machete

Condor Tool & Knife Golok Machete
Condor Tool & Knife

Condor Tool & Knife traces its history back to 1787, when the Gebr Weyersberg Company began crafting blades in Solingen, Germany.

Gebr Weyersberg grew to become the largest manufacturer of swords and knives in the world, making Solingen the cutlery capital of the world.

The company expanded production to the Americas in the 1960s with a plant in El Salvador, then sold the Central American operations to local investors in the 1980s.

In 2004, the new owners of the Central American plant leveraged their expertise to launch Condor Knives and Tools for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Golok Machete features a full tang design with a 1075 high carbon steel blade. The 14-inch blade has an epoxy black powder coating to enhance its durability and resilience. The hardwood handle is constructed with walnut.

It highlighted the manufacturer’s rich heritage. It comes with a handcrafted welted leather sheath, a major upgrade from the standard nylon sheaths that typically accompany commercial machetes.

Specs

  • Blade Length – 14 inches
  • Blade Steel – 1075 high carbon steel
  • Overall Length – 19 inches
  • Weight – 16 ounces
  • Handle – walnut
  • Sheath – handcrafted welted leather

Pros

  • Blade made with 1075 carbon steel that is coated with a black epoxy powder Rust and corrosion resistant
  • Perfect for cutting, slashing, and chopping
  • Has an ergonomic walnut handle that is sturdy
  • Ultra-sharp thick blade for the toughest cutting tasks

Cons

  • This machete does not have a sheath
  • Taste is subjective, but it isn’t the coolest looking machete on the market
  • Mid-price – not the cheapest machete around
  • Awkward handle construction
  • Inconsistent build quality

Leave a Comment