Rarely a day goes by where I don't use a machete of one kind or another. The best? It really depends upon the application and duration of use.
Where I live, there is heavy bush, small trees, but not jungle-like undergrowth.
For most bush-cutting, I like the Gerber Gator
-- it's well-balanced, and 24" overall.
Unlike this link, the one I have doesn't have the serrated back edge. I don't see much use for that when a fold-up saw is available.
I acquired a Woodsman's Pal
, and what I really like about it is that it holds an edge well. If
you're cutting small trees, especially hardwood, it does a good job. The downside, for me, is that it is fairly heavy, although for hiking it
doesn't hang down so low that you risk tangling up with it.
Much of what I chop is at ground level, and with so much rock here, I keep a couple of basic, thin-steel machettes. Sometimes I will file the first
three inches of the back side of the blade, for when I know I'm going to be cutting around rock. The problem with these machetes is that while they
sharpen easily with a file, they also dull quickly.
One thing to remember is that in most cases, you don't really want a "razor edge". Too sharp of a machete blade sinks in too deep, whereas it's
often quicker to "chunk" out wood in the same way you would with an axe -- with 45 degree V cuts.
If your application is to hold a coconut in one hand and neatly zip off the top with the other hand and impress tourists, then you want a very sharp
machette, and, quite possibly, extra appendanges.
If I were planning on being on foot with backpack for several days or an extended trip, I'd probably take the Gerber and the Woodsman, with the
Gerber fastened to the backpack and the Woodsman at my belt, handy.
I once combined a thick machete blade with a 40" piece of sea grape for a handle. It was a fearsome looking thing, being 54" long overall, and I
thought it'd be the kitten's whiskers for clearing land. It was a dismal failure, as the angle was all wrong for using as a machette. It remains
a scarepiece that sits in the corner by the kitchen, unused now for more than 10 years.