Going to Peru/Amazon... what knife/knives?

Oct 4, 1998
Here is my dilemma. My girlfriend and I are going on a 1 month trip in South America next summer. We are going to hike Machu Pichu and then tour down the Amazon. I need to know what blades to have.
I know, I know... the guides will have blades, blah, blah, blah. I'm the type person who visualizes the guides being eaten by crocodiles and then spending the rest of the trip running from headhunters and surviving in the jungle so I HAVE to have some blades on me.
One part of me says "take someting cheap in case it is siezed or lost or stolen" and the other half of me says "take a high quality knife in case you really do have to depend on it for your life". I really don't have any idea about this trip (my girlfriend is arranging it all) so I have no idea about customs, civility, etc...
I feel I will need a large implement to build shelter if needed. The ones I have considered-

Ontario 18" machete
Cold Steel ATC or LTC
Becker Bush Hog
Martindale machetes (good review of these in TK)
Maybe a large bowie (Trailmaster or Busse BM)

I will need a smaller knife for small chores/food prep.

BM Nimravus
Camillus Talon
CS SRK or Bush Ranger or Master Hunter

I have also thought about the Becker Brute, a good all-round knife. The Becker Magnum Camp is also reputed to be a great all-round knife though I don't have one of these.

The Becker Bush Hog would be a good machete and a chopper all in one and could also be used as a weapon if needed (though I would like to have something which was more inclined to penetrate better, like a spear, in case I needed it to hunt with, etc...).
No leather sheaths and retention security is a MUST!!!!

I always entertain thoughts about the ultimate blades to have in certain circumstances but now I am actually faced with this decision and find I have no idea. I would really like some help especially from people like Jeff Randall and the likes of you that have been there and done that...

Thanks in advance!!!!
A Spyderco Military and a Cold Steel SRK would be my top choices. For something larger, you will also need some type of machete.
Becker Magnam Camp and Bush Hog.Do it all they will.My.02


have a"knife"day
If you're going to take a local jungle guide then they will have machetes. If you feel more comfortable having your own then you can pick one up in-country before you head out into the jungle. I would concentrate on a couple of good folders for you and your girlfriend. The Military and SERE 2000 are two that we think a lot of, but this is all dependant on what you're actually going to be doing in the jungle. If it's a typical eco type tour then you can get by with something smaller. The reason I feel you should avoid hauling in a big blade is hiking to Machu Pichu is tough enough without the added weight of large blades.

One other note: you stated, "I'm the type person who visualizes the guides being eaten by crocodiles and then spending the rest of the trip running from headhunters and surviving in the jungle so I HAVE to have some blades on me." It aint gonna happen, sure your guide could kill himself and you may have a survival stuation until rescue, but the crocs are not interested in you, and the jungle locals are friendly for the most part....even if you did run into some wilder folks, I would suggest M60s and mabe some gunship support if they get after your ass. Knives are not going to help you especially when you're trying to win on their turf.


Randall's Adventure & Training

[This message has been edited by JeffRandall (edited 12-15-2000).]
I notice that you haven't listed any United Cutlery items to take with you. If memory serves you were always very fond of those wall hangers. Change your mind when it comes down to serious steel?
Hello Onion,
Follow Jeff Randalls suggestions, he's been there and done that, many times over. You might consider the knife I built for him that he took on a trip down to Peru last spring. He wrote an article about the Field Test he gave the knife, it's in the Nov. issue of Tatical Knives. Or you can read it on my Web-site at, www.sunrisecustomknives.com
If you like what Jeff has to say about my knives, then give me an E-mail shout. We can have you fixed up in 6-8 weeks.
Best Regards,
Jay Maines
Sunrise River Custom Knives

I would take a Cold Steel LTC, a Cold Steel SAK, and a Victornox Deluxe Tinker if I were you.
. None of these will "break your bank" if lost or stolden.

Dann Fassnacht
Aberdeen, WA
ICQ# 53675663
When I was a kid, my family went on a very similar trip (Quito, Machu Pichu, Amazon, etc.) I have a strong suspicion that you'll feel a bit foolish lugging a machete or bowie down there. I'd recommend a multi-tool and a good folder. That'll cover all your bases.
I was going to suggest e-mailing Jeff Randall, but he beat me to it! If you are kinda looking for an excuse to buy some new knives, go check out the reviews on www.jungletraining.com That is Jeff's site. Check out the RTAK and Newt Livesay Air Assault page there. You can get to Newt's web site through the RTAK page.

If you are in the holiday spirit, pick ME up a LaserStrike or and RTAK for me to play with!

"Come What May..."
I'm not sure why you're prohibiting leather sheath's, but I'll suggest something small enough to fit out of sight in a small pack, tuff enuff, can carry stuff in the handle, cheap, and can be used as a spear -

CS Bushman or Mini-Bushman

I'd also take at least a strong folder from CS or Spyderco, and maybe a SAK.

A flexible garrotte-type saw and a cheap rain poncho, boonie hat, bandana might be handy too.
One guy in Blade Magazine commented that a lot of local police like to confiscate fancy knives, but no one ever gave his boy scout style 4-blader and opinel a second look.

I go along with the people here who suggest a multitool, a small SAK, a good folder or a small fixed blade.

Travel light, enjoy the sight, don't flash those custom blades so bright, you'll give the guides a terrible fright.
for the bigger blade, I'd wait and buy one there. you can make the machete-shopping (not machete-chopping, haha) an interesting part of your trip.

maybe take a couple U.S. made small stainless folders/pocketknives to give as gifts?
On a somewhat related note, my sister in law just returned from a missions trip to a remote part of Guatemala and reported that all the kids carry around machetes because they walk through the bush to get to school. Never a problem with "mass school choppings" either. hmmmmmm......

Unbelievably, she did not bring me home an indigenous machete for my collection ! the nerve !
I'd really suggest some sort of a swiss army knife in addition to your hackerchopper. My instructor at a camp at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History just got back from Peru as a guide on a Museum sponsored trip. he's not a knife guy, but he told us all about the little mishaps that could have been disastrous, and it seems that a SAK, used creatively, could make all the difference in the world. that's my two cents!
Thanks guys.
I am leaning toward either the LTC or the 12" Ontario machete. Of course the possibility of shopping for a machete once there is looking pretty good, also.
The reason I'm thinking of the LTC instead of the ATC is that it is thin enough in profile to do light machete work but also has enough a$$ to chop heavier stuff, too. Same with the Ontario. The ATC knows only heavy duty chopping.
Either way, my daily carry (axis 710) and my Leatherman Wave will be with me, also.
My girl is telling me that knives are the least of my worries. She's talking about water resistant clothes, shoes and sleeping bags. I've never really done anything like this before but she's backpacked all over the world (especially over in Europe). She keeps talking about "travelling light" and discussing sleeping bags and marmot jackets. I would still rather have a good handful of knives!!!!!

I still love those Hibben United knives, but for exactly the purpose they serve... wallhangers. I have never stated that I liked them for using purposes. I do have a United knife that I have put to use, though, and it has served me well. It is a United Shark Hunter. I have had no problems with it. Works well as a river knife.

No experience with the jungles but on other trips have found a tendency to pack more blades than I ever use. Reckon that if your guides keel over you’ve had it whatever you carry.

I own an SRK and if I were in your shoes it is one knife I would not take, jack of all trades and master of none. Too thick for slicing food well or carving wood, might field dress in a pinch but I would rather use something else (including a SAK!), very strong blade but not quite long enough for comfortable chopping. Oh yeah, kraton handles are something to be avoided when you are bathing in DEET :)
Multitool/SAK and large folder (military?) and small, stainless stockman (uncle henry or buck). Don't know doodly squat about jungle travel but I'm guessing you will spend a lot of time peeling fruit.


I get some pleasure from finding a relentlessly peaceful use for a combative looking knife.
Orion: You have a smart girlfriend. Might be a good idea to take her advice. Pack as light as possible. Bring good shoes and lots of Pepto. Oh yeah, and a knife or two.
Take a HI khukuri, they come with the small knife or karda for utility chores and the khukuri is plenty good for chopping.
For a trip to Patagonia I'm taking 3: because I won't be in the jungle, a Busse NO. Of the knives you listed I'd take the BM, but would use the machete your guide suggests. My all purpose/neck knife is a smaller Blackwood Talonite and of the ones you listed the Talon sounds good. My third knife is a big Swiss Army for camp.
Everyone has his preferences. I like to get a new knife to commemorate each major trip, if I can. You probably don't need more than one, but I won't tell if you won't