Survival-Pax Blog: Mini Review - A Closer Look at Tramontina Machetes

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mini Review - A Closer Look at Tramontina Machetes

This summer, I spent 10 days camping in the Northern Midwest. While there, I had to clear brush, chop through logs, build fires; basically performs tasks that involved involved chopping. Usually, I carry a saw, a large fixed blade knife and sometimes an axe. These three tools are good enough for most jobs that I come across.

This year, however, I wanted to try something different. I had been researching machetes and their uses and was intrigued. Many people were using them for various chopping tasks and were touting how amazing they were. I wanted to try one out for myself. Now I didn't want to spend too much money on one, but I didn't want to get one of those cheap Wal-Mart machetes that end up bending after only 5 minutes of use. They seem to be made out of a piece of soft sheet metal. Outsourcing to the lowest bidder, as Wal-Mart usually does, their quality is very poor.

The Tramontina 18" Machete is like a power-tool for the woods.
I ended up purchasing a Tramontina 18" Wood Handled Machete along with a Cold Steel 18" Latin Machete Sheath. The price was right, spending around $15 for both. I wanted to see how far my money could take me.

The machete and sheath ended up complementing each other very well, with the sheath holding the machete securely to my belt. Upon receiving the machete, I realized that it was quite dull. The blade, however, seemed strong, with little flex. I had high hopes for this machete. I ended up spending about half an hour and, with a file, I gave the it a very sharp edge.

I got to the campsite and it was now time to test the machete. I had to clear out some brush to set up a tent. I wasn't used to using a machete, so it took a little bit of time to develop the proper technique. I wasn't as efficient as I later would be with the machete, but boy was it fun to chop with. It was like having a short sword. After several days of use, I learned some things and I'll share them with you.

Here are some tips:
When using a machete, especially one with a heavier blade, it helps to let the machete do the chopping. Use what is called a "pinch grip" which means to hold the machete using mainly your thumb and pointer finger. The remaining three finger on your hand just stabilize the handle. When swinging, let the machete rotate slightly in your hand, gathering momentum to slice right through whatever you want to cut. This makes it easier on your muscles and on your hand, since gripping the handle tightly and chopping might work for a while, but it will tire you out and give you blisters. Once you get the timing right, chopping is really simple.

Another tip when chopping through standing plants and saplings is to chop at a 45 degree downward angle. If you chop horizontally, you will have a difficulty getting through even thin brush. If you use a 45 degree angle when you cut, you will be able to get through saplings around 1 inch thick and even greater with one swing. I was very impressed at what a machete can do.

This next one is the most important so I'll type it in caps.  

ALWAYS CUT AWAY FROM YOURSELF AND OTHERS! 

Safety is #1, especially when using something with the potential to seriously injure you. I was able to use this machete for 10 days without injury because I made doubly sure that nobody was around me whenever I would swing.

Overall, the Tramontina Machete performed admirably, the wooden handle was comfortable, the blade held an edge well, and when combined with the Cold Steel Sheath, made an excellent package. Every couple of days, the edge started to dull from use, so, for touch-ups in the field, I brought a file. After 5 minutes of quick filing, the blade was as good as the first day that I started using it.

This machete was the most useful tool that I had with me during those 10 days and when I go again in the future, I will definitely be bringing it with me. For me, it chopped better than an axe, was lighter than an axe, and fulfilled some of the roles that a fixed blade would be used for, roles that an axe would have trouble with. I was able to whittle sticks with the machete, use it as a draw knife, I even chopped through a fallen pine tree about 15 inches in diameter in about 15 minutes.

So what are you waiting for? Make a machete part of your outdoor gear when you're going out in the woods. If my mini review hasn't convinced you, they're cheap enough to buy and try out for yourself. For the money, I do not think that you can find a better chopping tool.

Take care, guys!
Simon - Survival-Pax Team Member

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