The Great Debate: Machetes vs. Axes in Your Bushcraft Arsenal

Are you new to bushcraft and wondering which tool is the most useful? Machete or axe may be on your mind.

In this blog post, we'll cover the fundamentals of bushcraft, the pros and cons of each tool, and which works better overall.

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Bushcraft 101: What Is It and What Tools Are Needed

Bushcraft is an umbrella term for various outdoor skills that allow one to live comfortably in the bush. It could include building shelter, making fires, finding food and water sources - you name it!

Bushcraft can take many forms, depending on the context. For instance, if you were lost in the wilderness, your priority would be finding food and shelter.

On the other hand, if you're enjoying a camping trip with friends, the focus may be more on savoring the experience and learning new skills.

Recently, bushcraft courses and books have seen an uptick in popularity. It could be attributed to people wanting to reconnect with nature and learn survival skills.

However, as technology becomes more integrated, some feel the urge to escape and return to a simpler lifestyle.

No way of bushcraft is optimal; what matters most is what works for you and your situation.

That being said, there are some fundamental principles all bushcraft people should adhere to:

  • Respect nature: Take what you need from the environment and leave no trace behind except footprints.
  • Be Prepared: Always have the necessary supplies and know how to utilize them correctly.
  • Be Patient: Mastering new skills takes time; don't expect to become an expert overnight.

Let us look at some of the essential tools used in bushcraft.

Essential Bushcraft Tools

No single approach works well enough for bushcraft; the tools you'll need depend on the activity you plan on undertaking.

For instance, if you're building a shelter, different tools are required than starting a fire.

Nonetheless, there are some essential items every bushcraft enthusiast should possess:

  • Knife: A knife is an indispensable tool for any bushcraft person. It can be used for various tasks like cutting wood, preparing food, and skinning animals. When selecting a knife, ensure it's durable and meets your needs; many types are available, so research before purchasing.
  • Fire Starter: A fire starter is an indispensable tool for any bushcraft admirer. It can start fires, signal them, or make charcoal. Make sure you purchase a model that's both user-friendly and dependable.
  • Axe: An axe is a versatile tool that can be used for many tasks, such as cutting wood, building shelter, or self-defense. When selecting your axe, ensure it has the appropriate size and weight; otherwise, it may be challenging to use effectively.
  •  Multi-Purpose Tool: Also referred to as the Swiss army knife, this versatile device packs many functions into a small package. Standard features include knives, saws, scissors, and file sizers that can all be used simultaneously for maximum convenience.

These are just some essential tools every bushcraft lover should have. In addition, of course, there are many optional items you can bring with you, depending on your individual needs.

Now that we've covered some fundamentals let's examine the advantages and drawbacks of using a machete and an axe.

Machete Pros and Cons

A machete is a large, broad blade typically used for cutting vegetation. Machetes are also great at clearing brush, breaking roots, and cutting small branches.

In addition, machetes are relatively lightweight and easy to carry around when going bushcraft, making them an ideal tool of choice.

Machetes offer numerous advantages when going bushcraft:

  • They are relatively affordable and easy to locate.
  • Machetes are lightweight and portable, perfect for backpacking or hiking.
  • These tools can be used for various tasks, such as cutting vegetation, clearing brush, and pruning small branches.
  • Machetes are efficient tools for quickly removing large areas of brush or vegetation.

Disadvantages of Utilizing a Machete

Machetes offer many advantages, but there are also some potential drawbacks when using one for bushcraft tasks:

  • Machetes require more skill and practice to use effectively than axes.
  • If you are unfamiliar with using a machete, be careful, as mishandling the blade could injure yourself or others.
  • Machetes can be challenging to control when cutting through thorny vegetation or branches.
  • Machete blades can become dull if used frequently or on rigid materials.

Axe Pros and Cons

An axe is an indispensable tool for bushcraft, as it can be used for many tasks around the campfire.

From cutting wood for firewood to building shelters or clearing paths, an axe has plenty of uses that make it a perfect companion on backpacking trips or hikes.

In addition, these lightweight tools make axe-carrying much more manageable - perfect for backpacking trips or day hikes!

However, using an axe has its drawbacks: 

  • They can be dangerous if not appropriately used.
  • They require more maintenance than other tools, such as sharpening the blade regularly.
  • Machetes offer greater versatility for delicate tasks like carving or slicing vegetables.


After examining the pros and cons of both machetes and axes, it's clear that both have their advantages.

But ultimately, what works better for bushcraft depends on individual preference and situation.

For example, in dense forest settings, an axe might be necessary to clear a path; conversely, if your workspace is more open, then machetes would work better when cutting down trees or gathering firewood.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide which tool is most beneficial in any given circumstance.

Survival in Nature
Survival in Nature
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