There’s no denying that a machete is your best friend when you are traveling through an outdoor environment where the trail may be overgrown, or perhaps there is no trail at all and you’re making one as you go. Most machetes will make quick work of the overgrowth in front of you, but not all are made the same and that is where you really need to do your research. There really is a big difference between that $8.00 local hardware store machete and one you can find at a higher end location, or of course, on the internet.
Another big factor you consider, along with quality, is what style of machete you should pick up. There’s a difference between cleaning out some blackberries around your fence line, and trekking across the Congo while clearing your own path. For this particular review, I had the pleasure of working with a machete that I think fits the bill of both light household outdoor chores and heavy backwoods clearing (to an extent), the Condor Village Parang.
By now it’s no secret that I have been a fan of Condor Knife and Tool products for a while, but it’s for a good reason. For starters, I believe Condor’s quality control department is second to none. It’s no secret and a few years back, some of their knives and tools may have lacked a little in the quality side of things, but that has changed dramatically over the last 2-3 years. You now get a lifetime warranty on all Condor products and having used the warranty in the recent past, customer service was also amazing. There are some amazing YouTube videos on the web showing Condor’s strict machining process and how quality control takes the time to test their products before they go out the door. One particular video shows Condors own Joe Flowers literally jumping up and down on a Condor Bushlore (which is the same steel used on the Village Parang) while it was stuck in the side of a log and it survived to be used another day. Needless to say, the quality is outstanding, as is the price. The Village Parang is no exception.
Coming in right at about 2.09 pounds, The Village Parang is as easy on your belt as it is one your eyes. In your hand, the hardwood handle fits great and feels nice. I do have big hands and had my concerns before the Village Parang arrived, but it fits my hand like a glove. There are three brass rivets that hold the two hardwood handle scales together, along with a nice eyelet for a lanyard, if you’re interested in that. The main thing about the handle that makes me grin from ear to ear is the full steel tang. You’re not going to get a flimsy chopper when you pick up this parang from Condor. Word has it that Condor is working skeletonizing the handle to mimic the Malaysian style parangs, this is something that I am really looking forward to checking out! As with other standard parang styles, the hardwood handle curves and tapers at the end, creating a choke point for your hand. This gives you a lot more control over your chop and "flickyness".
The parang blade itself is made from durable 1075 high carbon steel and comes in right at 12 inches in length. I really like the Condor Classic Finish they did with this parang as it closely matches my recently reviewed Condor Engineer Bolo (seen here - http://tinyurl.com/aw6rsjh). I like the rough texture of the Condor Classic finish as it basically shouts to the user, "abuse me, I can take it!" The Village Parang arrived sharp, but a few licks on the whetstone and it was sharp enough to shave the hair off a fly's back. Something not as common on Malaysian parangs, but used on the Village Parang, is the fact that the blade is sharpened all the way to the hilt. This is a big plus in my book as it allows you to use the parang as a knife and actually do some fine carving and wood shaving in the field. Granted, at slightly over two pounds, you probably won't want to swap out your favorite field knife for the Village Parang, but it's nice that you do have the option to process wood in this way. The way the weight is distributed throughout the Village Parang allows it to be an amazing chopper. I was able to slice clean through 3 inch thick saplings while clearing a trail with one swing. With a 3/16 inch thickness, this parang also makes an excellent batoning blade for processing larger pieces of wood while in the field.
Like all Condor products you also get a full grain, welted leather sheath with the Village Parang. The leather is thick and, much like the Village Parang, it can take a beating as well. Two snap closures are provided to keep the parang in place while not in use. On the back of the sheath, Condor has provided swiveling belt loop that will accommodate larger belts. One of the big things that sets Condor apart from other mid-priced knife and tool providers in my head is the top quality leather sheaths that you get with all of their knives, machetes and axes.
Now, before you go thinking that this review is 100% glowing and I couldn't find anything wrong with the Village Parang, I did find a few items that I found a little less-than desirable. Nothing at all with the parang itself but two things with the leather sheath that made the list are the snap closures and the swiveling belt loop. The few times that I used the belt loop while hiking, I felt that I had to be careful not to snag the parang on anything sturdier than a thick branch. The belt swivel is held in place by a single rivet and just by the feel, I think it can be jerked off if you were to get the sheath stuck on anything and give it a decent pull. I can't say this for sure, but it's a strong feeling I have. The second item is the draw time of the parang itself. Extracting the parang from the sheath takes a little time, but with some practice, it does get easier. Just unsnapping the two snaps and giving the parang a yank doesn't cut it. I found it easier to use both hands, one to grasp the bottom of the sheath, the other to unsnap and pull the parang straight up and out. These things certainly aren’t a deal breaker in any way, just things to be aware of.
Those minor things aside, this is a great tool that can easily replace your small axe in the field, and your larger knife as well. Would I trust my life to the Village Parang? I can yes that I would in a second. It now remains attached to the side of my day pack and gets a regular workout when I'm plowing through trails, processing some firewood at camp, and practicing bushcraft. The beautiful part of the Village Parang,? You can pick one up on the web for around $40-$50…a steal for what you're getting.
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