This has met with conspiracy, scrutiny, and ridicule lately. I like to focus on whom we learn from, those that came before us, and those that still do this today. From much research, I find that we as outdoors men and women are going in a direction that seems to lock us into the need for gear. More specifically what gear we should carry. It has almost become a nanny state in the sense of those demanding that we have this tool or that tool. There is even a lot of scrutiny on the thickness of blades we use.
For this article, I will focus on the use of machetes, parangs, and kukris. There are several parts of the world where these tools are the most used and in some cases the only tool that is carried. Many tribes of Central and South America will rely solely on their machetes. This is the same for many in Africa. They rely on these tools in every facet of daily life. They prepare food, build homes, and make tools and other items needed to continue life. In many other places, the parang is preferred over the Machete. These are thin cutting tools that are relied upon day in and day out. However not all tools are thin. Take the Kukri, There are parts of Nepal and even India where a 3/8th inch thick kukri is used in the same ways as the machete and parang. While these are used as tools to make daily life easier, they are also used as defense weapons as well.
What I find is that our neck of the woods it is not really all that different. While in the field, I have carried a single tool on many occasions. I find that with the right choice I can do everything I need to do with this single tool. I will also take the thickness of the steel into consideration; there are times when I need to pry the bark off a downed tree. I do this to gain access to dry tinder or even bugs and larva that may be underneath. I see this as being very vital when it comes to learning how to live with the environment. Another reason I do this is that I do not want the extra weight of carrying an axe and a saw. While are great tools I choose not to carry them due to the added weight they will add to me load-out. The desert is a very hot place at times Oz can lead to pounds. I do not care how great of shape you are in, carrying a pack loaded down with tools and equipment is asking for trouble.
Personally, I like to take a lesson from the nomadic hunter. The items they carried were very few in the Southwest. In most cases, they would improvise the tools they needed on the spot. There is evidence from Archeological digs that proves tools were made on the spot when needed. By living this way, weight was kept down and made them much more mobile. In winter they were also prepared, they would wear hides and skins as their first line of shelter. They also carried cordage, fire making tools, water container, and other small items that would be needed. By taking this type of example, I can then turn to today and look at the people that still rely on a single tool to live. This is no different the concept is still the same. I can use my blade to chop, slice, and pry. When needed I can even carve fine trap triggers and make other tools that would make life easier while in the field. At times, I will preserve the edge on my blade and use another tool. I really enjoy making stone blades to do this. I can also make specific tools for a specific job. This to me is part of learning to live with nature. To me it is the best way for me to enjoy being in the field.
For me I will always continue to carry a thick blade. I will also carry a thinner Mora from time to time. This does not mean I have bad knife skills and it certainly does not mean that my wilderness skills are lacking. I find that this combination of thin vs. thick cannot be beat. However, I find myself doing the bulk of my heavy tasks with my heavy thick blade.
Do not let this article steer you in any direction. Please do not take my simplified short examples as a cultural lesson either. These were just examples to get you to think about the possibility of a one-tool option. People really have done it for centuries. In short, pick what you like. Pick what you want to carry and use. Don’t let someone else decide for you. Me, I love my fattened hog of a blade!