Who do you think would survive in the woods longer, a monkey or a bear? What about what happens when they team up? Well, that’s exactly what happened when Woods Monkey and Gerber get together to check out some new offerings from the proven Bear Grylls’ line of survival tools the Bear Grylls’ Hatchet and Compact Parang!
Bear Grylls. You either love him, or love to hate him. Whatever your thoughts on the man, when he and Gerber teamed up to produce the BG Ultimate Knife, it spawned an extremely popular series of products, that now includes packs, tents, clothing, and optics. Innovative designs, bold colors, and surprisingly awesome performance have earned them a lasting place on the belts or in the pockets of many people who venture outdoors. The BG Hatchet and the Compact Parang are two of the newest offerings from Gerber and they definately earn their place in my pack and maybe yours.
Let’s look at the Bear Grylls Hatchet first. I saw the BG Hatchet in a local sporting goods store, and was immediately attracted to it. Its small size seemed to be a perfect complement to an idea I had for a lightweight kit. Needless to say I was excited when Woods Monkey received the BG Hatchet for review, and immediately volunteered.
The BG Hatchet has an overall length of 9.46 inches, and a cutting edge of 3.5 inches. It has an overall weight of 20.8 ounces, and comes with a ballistic nylon sheath. The handle is full tang, and covered with a molded grey and orange polypropylene handle. The poll of the head is knurled for hammering and other camp chores. The first thing I noticed when picking up the BG Hatchet what how thin the head is, but how all the weight seemed to be concentrated in the head.
I took the BG Hatchet with me on an overnight trip with my father to a wonder place called Hunt Fish Falls in western NC. I used the BG Hatchet to process firewood, pound in tent stakes, and harvest some birch bark for starting the fire. As we were hiking down the trail, I noticed a downed birch tree twenty or thirty feet off the trail. I dropped my pack and grabbed the BG Hatchet and a bag to hold the birch bark. The hatchet has a nice section on the handle that you can choke up on and use the blade for some fine work. I scored a couple of lines in the bark, flipped the blade on its side and shaved off a nice section of bark. The thin head combined with sharp edge just made short work of the job.
After arrival at camp, I put the BG Hatchet to work pounding in the tent stakes for my pop’s one man tent, while I threw out my bivy sack. Here the thin head of the BG Hatchet wasn’t the most ideal tool for driving the stakes. In fact, a jagged chunk of razor sharp obsidian might have caused less damage to my fingers than the BG Hatchet. Okay, okay, so it isn’t that bad, but my fingers did suffer somewhat. The poll is just too thin for efficient hammering. On to the next challenge! (Editor’s note: the flat of the blade on a thinner axe like that usually works okay for hammering tent stakes)
I used the Bear Grylls’ Hatchet to cut up some downed dead wood for a fire. The thin head proved my expectations of being an efficient cutter were correct and I was cutting through wrist sized chunks of wood with ease. I didn’t harvest anything that really needed splitting, but I split some anyway. Here the thin head wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, and actually split some decent chunks fairly well. I really can see where the BG Hatchet would be useful in processing large game, splitting rib cages and what not. The sheath did a decent job of holding the BG Hatchet, but it could be a little bit better designed.
Also included in the Package was the Bear Grylls’ Compact Parang. The Compact Parang is a miniature version of the popular BG Parang. My first impressions when pulling it out, was a light in hand but heavy working tool. It felt just plain good in hand. The BG Compact Parang is 15.08 inches long with a blade length of 9.34 inches. It weighs 13.6 ounces and comes with a plastic lined mildew resistant ballistic nylon sheath with a wrap around snap. The steel is 1055, a proven tough performer.
I took the Compact Parang on the same trip to Hunt Fish Falls. It quickly became my father’s favorite of the two. He used it to help process firewood, and trim back some laurel that was eye jabbing height in our camp. I used it as well to process some firewood; including batoning it through some of the same sized logs as the BG Hatchet. The Parang was actually the better performer of the two, and actually became my favorite as well. The lightness was extremely appealing, especially since we had to carry it in. It performs far above it what could be expected of it.
Just to try it out, I used the Parang to hammer in a stake or two for my Pop’s tent. While not the ideal tool for the job, I didn’t feel out of place using it. I also used the Parang to trim a sapling that I used to suspend my pot over the fire. I feel that that if you were to combine the Compact Parang and a Swiss army knife or multi tool of some sort that it would make a great combo for backpacking or survival. It just screams jungle or swamp to me, but seems equally at home in the eastern woodlands. The only problem I could possibly see with the Parang is the grip was somewhat thin for even my fat chubby hands. I know that in keeping with the light and fast idea it’s thin to keep the weight down, but I found it turning slightly in my hand as I chopped.
Over all, I see both the Bear Grylls’ Hatchet and Compact Parang finding homes in my gear. I like them both and have actually bought more of them as gifts for friends and family. The Hatchet has a retail value of $48 and the Compact Parang a retail value of $37 per the Gerber website but with a bit of shopping you can find lower prices. All I ask is you give the Bear a chance. You might be surprised.