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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST | THE OUTFITTER

Bushwhackers

September 21, 2004|Scott Doggett

True brush machetes mow down vegetation off the beaten trail.*

* These reviews reflect the consensus of six Panamanian farmhands who used the machetes for two weeks. Prices shown are real world, not necessarily manufacturers' suggested.

UNION TOOLS 22"

Good weight (16.4 ounces) for hour-after-hour use. Long and flexible blade (22 inches) permits low-to-ground clearing. Wooden handle perceived as delicate but did not break or crack. No sheath. $10. (800) 888-4196, www.uniontools.com.

*

SEYMOUR 2P-MA22

This machete proved most popular. Its weight (16.2 ounces) allows all-day use. Flexible blade permits vegetation trims to within an inch of the ground. Plastic handle is super durable. 22-inch blade. $10. (800) 457-1909, www.seymourmfg.com.

*

CABELA'S BRUSH CUTTER

Nylon-rope handle proved dangerously slippery. Too heavy at 28 1/2 ounces (39 with sheath, included) except for short-duration tasks. Very pricey. 20-inch blade. $90. (800) 237-4444, www.cabelas.com.

*

BARTEAUX & SONS 22"

Heavy blade was superb for clearing small trees, severing stout vines. Excellent grip, questionable "safety handle." Blade too rigid for ground clearing. No sheath. 22-inch blade. 23.3 ounces. $23. (800) 647-5368, www.forestrysuppliers.com.

*

GERBER BRUSH THINNER

Rust-fighting Teflon-coated blade (ingenious) cut through banana leaves, stems and trunks easily. Tough, nylon-composite handle. Too short for ground-skimming work. 8 3/4 -inch blade. 15 ounces. $27. (800) 950-6161, www.gerberblades.com.

*

-- Scott Doggett

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