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In a brilliant marketing move, Gerber Gear has repurposed a series of its bushwhacking and survival tools as necessities for the improbable (inevitable?) zombie apocalypse. If you have an ancient stone Mayan calendar in your living room, you know what I’m talking about.
The original limited edition Apocalypse Kit, promoted in conjunction with the AMC series The Walking Dead, quickly sold out. But now it’s back in production to coincide with the show’s second season. The next limited run of Apocalypse Kits will ship in March for $350. Each kit has has seven blades, ranging from small to massive, all squeezed into a highly portable roll-up carrying case.
The individual blades are also available. We took a few of our favorites from the kit — the jungle machete, the camp axe, and the smaller machete — out to the woods and gave them each a few whacks.
Survival Series Parang
With its 13.5-inch curved stainless steel blade, the 19.4-ounce Survival Series Parang jungle machete ($43) was the most effective blade against brush, branches, small trees, and those pesky coconuts. The Parang’s rubber grip keeps slippage to a minimum, whether you’re hacking your way through a thicket or a crowd of undead. The handle is constructed around the bottom of the handle, giving it an extremely sturdy feel and a smooth swing.
Gator Machete Jr.
At just over 14 ounces, the Gator Machete Jr. ($20) is a lightweight and wallet-friendly choice for clearing trails. The 10.75-inch stainless steel blade sports a saw on the backside for clearing away thicker brush, and the rubberized Gator grip keeps it steady when you’re working in rainy, wet or sweaty conditions. The partial tang (meaning the handle is bolted to the blade) keeps the weight down and ups the swing momentum, but it gives the Gator Machete Jr. a flimsy, wobbly feel. The blade is also fairly dull out of the package — you’ll need to get it sharpened before using it.
get-gadget Light weight means faster swing. Gator grip handle prevents slippage.
TIRED Partial tang construction is flimsy. Needs sharpening right out of the box.
Camp Axe II
Made for heavy-duty backcountry clearing and shelter-building, this big hatchet ($52) front-loads its 34 ounces into a forged-steel head. Combined with a lightweight nylon handle, each swing feels like a blockbuster. A hammer on the back end adds some versatility to the piece, and the 17-inch handle gives you plenty of room for two-handed swings. The Camp Axe II made short work of thick branches, firewood, and just plain annihilated coconuts in our zombie field tests.
get-gadget Keeps an edge well. Top-heaviness adds oomph to every swing.
TIRED The handle is so smooth, it could accidentally turn into a tomahawk.