The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete is part of his signature line of survival knives and equipment. It’s available for $27 on Amazon, although I highly recommend reading the full review before breaking open your piggy bank.
As the name implies, this machete features a curved parang-style blade. It’s a Malaysian design that’s ideal for heavy chopping and is best suited to more woody environments.
The blade is very sharp and ready to use right out of the box. So far the only machete I’ve reviewed that has been sharper is the Condor Eco-Survivor. The hair-splitters out there may want to give the edge a quick touch up, but most users will find the factory edge satisfactory.
The grind is beautiful and easily one of the best I’ve seen on any of the machetes I’ve purchased for review. Of course, I’m having a hard time getting excited about this machete considering that it was recalled in 2012 because a “weakness in the area where the handle meets the blade can cause the handle or the blade to break during use, posing a laceration hazard.”
While it’s safe to assume Gerber has rectified this issue since the machete is still for sale, their recent history of quality control is spotty and includes eight product recalls since 2007. This is much higher than other well known knife makers.
Every company has its missteps, but Gerber’s quality seems to have taken a nosedive since they were acquired by Fiskars in the late eighties. This was also around the time time that much of Gerber’s production was moved to China.
I’m certainly not saying that all products made in China are inherently terrible, but a manufacturing shift from the USA to Asia generally does not bode well for quality. This isn’t just my opinion. Many popular blade forums are brimming over with complaints about the rapid decline of Gerber products over the last 20 years.
The handle is made of orange plastic with a rubber molded-on grip. The letters “BG” are emblazoned on the side, and if you look closely Mr. Grylls’ full name is also inside of the initials. This means that his name and/or initials appear five times on this machete–seven if you count the sheath. If there’s one thing this machete does right it’s branding.
A common criticism of Grylls’s signature products is that they have a toy-like aesthetic targeted towards teenagers and mall ninjas rather than real survival enthusiasts, and the Bear Grylls parang is no exception. Could you imagine Rambo running through the woods slicing throats with this machete? I can’t, and that makes me sad.
The rubber has a decent amount of grippiness and overall the handle feels pretty good, if a little chintzy. It’s a bit thin for my hands but still comfortable, and I don’t have any major complaints about it from a performance perspective. The attached lanyard seems sufficiently tough.
There are two Torx (star-shaped) bolts on the handle which I’m assuming hold the blade in place. The hole in the blade for the upper bolt caused the structural weakness responsible for the “breaking blade” recall in 2012, and while Gerber has apparently fixed this issue I’m still skeptical the machete will hold up well to regular use.
The nylon sheath included with the Bear Grylls parang is respectable but not great. It’s reasonably well made, but I don’t think it would hold up to heavy or long term use.
When I pulled hard at the flaps at the opening, the stitching came loose and the top few rivets popped apart. Upon closer inspection I could see that the rivets were thin, cheap aluminum. These rivets look sort of cool but clearly don’t do much for the structural integrity of the sheath. I was also able to pull the belt loop stitching loose without a lot of effort.
It’s worth noting that the sheath was also the subject of a recall in 2013 because the blade would sometimes cut through the stitching and into the user’s fingers. The new design has resolved the issue, but the fact that such a problematic product was ever put on the market in the first place says a lot about Gerber’s attitude towards quality.
The sheath has a small rubbery pocket sewn on to the side. The pocket is printed with an illustrated guide to alpine rescue signals, and also serves as a place to stash the included “Bear Grylls Priorities of Survival” pocket guide. I didn’t look at the survival guide very closely, but I’m assuming it instructs readers to slather themselves in mud and drink their pee until the rescue crew arrives.
By now you can probably guess that the Bear Grylls parang would not be my first choice if I was heading into the forest for a weekend of hardcore survivalizing.
Bear Grylls seems like a decent guy, even if he did name his kids Marmaduke and Huckleberry. It’s just that there’s something inauthentic about these products that makes them very hard for me to like. I think it’s best summed up by the picture of Bear featured on the packaging, his face is artfully smeared with mud, his hair immaculately tousled. It evokes the same feeling I get when I see the eerily perfect hamburgers in McDonald’s ads.
In fairness, I will say this machete is by no means a complete piece of junk. It’s very sharp and feels pretty good in the hand. I’ve come across numerous reviews from very satisfied customers, many of whom claim they have used the machete for months without any major problems.
But I think my concerns are best summed up by this actual review from the official Gerber website:
IT feels and swings great nicely weighted but the blade broke out of the Handle while chopping almost killed my dog.
If you really want to buy this thing, it’s on Amazon for around $27, although I’d recommend checking out some of my other reviews before you spend money.
Whatever you do, please consider buying through my Amazon link as it supports the site and costs you exactly zero dollars.
|Total Length||19.5" /49.5cm|
|Blade Length||13.5" / 34.3cm|
|Blade Thickness||.113" (about 1/8") / 2.9mm|
|Weight||1.15lbs / 521g|
|Weight w/ Sheath||1.4lbs / 640g|
|Country of Origin||China|