Choosing the Right Size Machete
A machete is a long blade similar to that of a small sword. It is a one-handed knife usually with the blade sharp on one side only. It runs about a foot long or longer depending on the size of the blade. The handles can be made from different materials, many times with a rubber grip or leather one. You can find them in many sporting goods stores, farming stores, camping stores, and sometimes in gardening stores. Most of them have a rounded edge instead of a sharp edge like a sword. Some might have a serrated side or a top, and there are some that have a spike at the bottom, below the handle.
Not all machetes come with a sheath to put them in, most come with a plastic cover for the blade part only, and a sheath is separate. (I suggest getting a sheath with a machete as it is safer to take it with you. Preferably with a belt loop or shoulder strap to make it easier to carry.)
For those that like to camp deep in the wilderness a machete is great for protection as well as clearing an area to place your tent. Creating a clearing is essential for creating a space to create a fire as well. It keeps the fire from spreading and allows you more control over it. Sometimes you might need to cut down vines or grass in your way, just to make any progress when you are hiking in this fashion. Be sure you swing it with broad strokes so that you can get the right cut and clear as much as possible in one stroke. It’s faster to use a machete than to try and push through the brush yourself, or to try and cut it with a knife.
A machete is sharp and can be used to chop through small branches and vines too. This can help if you plan on sleeping or storing items in the trees, or need the wood to create a lean to.
Blazing a Trail
When camping in the wilderness it could also mean hiking. This means blazing your own trail at times and where there is no trail, there is plenty of tall grass, vines, and plants that can hinder your progress. A large machete that is kept sharp is the ideal tool for this situation. With large broad strokes, you can speed up your progress on the trip and get to where you want to go. If you are now creating the trail for future use you will want to stamp down on the ground, and get as much as the brush as flat as possible. (Where some boots with thick soles if you need to do this.)
Typical trails run along animal trails making them easier to blaze through. The animals usually run through the same path, so there is not as much brush to have to clear in order to make a good trail for others to follow.
While a machete is not the typical tool that most people have in their garden shed, you would be surprised at how useful they can be when you are in the country with few people around. They also come in handy when you are working with plants that have tough stalks and need to be trimmed. Corn is a perfect example where a machete could come in handy, but the best experience I have seen is with cactus and aloe plants.
My grandma is a tough lady, but trimming cactus means you must deal with the thorns. Trying to do this with pruning shears is tough on the hands. A quick stroke with a sharp machete however, and the cactus can be trimmed in seconds. The same can be said of an aloe plant when you just need to harvest a few leaves, or milk some of the aloe. Decorative vines are another plant, as is the Willow tree, but be careful where you cut so you don’t damage the plant, or anything the plant happens to be front of.
As mentioned briefly above, there is corn in some fields, and if you are only growing a little and not farming the land with industrial machines, a machete is something you will have on hand. It quickly allows you to make the trimming cuts that you need, and in the right places. Plants that grow tall, can get too big if you let them, and they can also grow at angles where you need to trim them up.
Tall grass, or wheat fields are best served with a scythe, but a machete will do in a pinch. Snakes are a threat in large fields and a machete will make quick work of them, as well as rodents and other critters that can damage your crops. Of course, you should be fast with the blade if you are going to get them that way.
The price is the first thing that people look to when they are getting a machete. A machete is more practical than a sword, because they are easier to find and easier to maintain. They also cost a significant amount less than a sword does. A fully functional sword can run $400 minimum, while you can get a fully functional machete for around $30. If you are paying $50 or more, you are getting a larger machete, and usually one that comes with a sheath. You do need to be aware that you can’t walk around in the city carrying one of these, and it should be in the trunk of your car if you happen to be traveling with one. It is considered to be a weapon, and if pulled over you would have to disclose that if it is not in the trunk.