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  #1  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Weapon or tool?

Hey all.

I'm planning a trip across africa on the atlantic route. Time permitting, I may be returning to europe on the eastern route.

Among the various tools and camping equipment I will be bringing, I plan to take a panga (machette-like cutting/chopping tool. Can also be used for light digging and also as a frying pan). I know that even though a tire iron may be used as a weapon, it will not be regarded as such by a customs officer or policeman. But the question is; will the panga?

Usefull as the panga may be, I don't want to bring it along if it gets me into trouble. I read a post from someone who got into trouble in Egypt for carrying a simillar tool (think he got out of it though). But the post was made back in 2001 and many things may have changed since (for better or for worse).

Any takes on this?
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  #2  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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I figure the worst that could happen is someone will take it off you. For sure don't try to hide it. Put it right in plain sight with your camping stuff.

In the USA you can carry guns in plain sight if unloaded and the ammo is in the boot or glove box. Yes, you even can carry a rifle on a motorbike if in plain sight.

In Latin America a Machette is considered a "Tool" everywhere, but I doubt a Gringo would be allowed with it. Peasant/Farmer OK, Gringo, no.

Did you know Ted Simon carried some kind of full blown Samurai sword around the whole world on his bike? He invented some classic BS stories on a few occassions to avoid having it taken. I think he eventually lost it...can't recall.

A cheap, utilitarian Panga will probably make it though some places, but some
***** Whistle will eventually take it....and don't try flying with it.

I've had pocket knives taken off me on two occassions. Both times (Swiss Army knives) before I handed them over I opened the main blade and BROKE IT. Man, did THAT piss off the Bolludos.
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  #3  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Personally I'd leave it behind.
Unless your french is good enough to convince countless police and customs officials that the fried onions stuck to it proves its for cooking you're going to be wondering every time you stop at a checkpoint whether this is the time it gets picked up. And there are a lot of checkpoints on the atlantic route.
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  #4  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Yes leave it behind and bring a Leatherman (or similar).
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  #5  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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No probs

If that specific machete is worth something to you, you might want to leave it home and buy one along the way. Troughout africa machetes are used as a tool, to work in the plantations, or prepare your fried sweet patatoes. Except maybe for Morocco and South Africa I cannot really imagine a border official even noticing it since it's such a common tool.
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  #6  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbert View Post
If that specific machete is worth something to you, you might want to leave it home and buy one along the way. Troughout africa machetes are used as a tool, to work in the plantations, or prepare your fried sweet patatoes. Except maybe for Morocco and South Africa I cannot really imagine a border official even noticing it since it's such a common tool.
I agree with this, carrying such a tool in Africa should not be a problem. Euro customs may have a different opinion.

Take a cheap one - (the British army surplus type are OK and good value) or buy locally. Expensive ones will be highly desirable to pilferers/officials and you never feel good about dinging a pricey blade!
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  #7  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Just wondering. What were you planning on using it for?
Every item on a bike tour has to be pretty much essential, but I've never felt the need for a machete.

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  #8  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Thumbs down

I tend to agree (an instinct if you like) with those who say "leave it at home".
Machettes were the weapon of choice in the Rwanda massacres around 10 years ago; as another post says, is it really essential?
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  #9  
Old 27 Apr 2007
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Hmm...I guess it's a "no-go" then. I'll propably start taking karate lessons so I can chop my firewood with my bare hands. Oh and Matt, I sense you are fishing for a "weapon argument" more than you were wondering about anything. I believe I allready said what I intended to use it for. Sorry, this one's not biting. But it does make ME wonder what tool you used to chop firewood, trim branches around the bushcamp etc.

Machete, axe, panga; they're all tools that serve the outdoor camper well. Panga would have been my prefered choice since my experience with it is extensive and I feel comfortable using it over an axe or a machete. I used to live in Botswana as a child and the panga would be handed over the counter in a general store before any foodstuffs. To me personally it's a "nice to have" more than a "need to have". So I will propably follow Robert and Richards advice and buy a cheap local one along the way, and shrug if it gets confiscated.

AliBaba, I do plan to bring a leatherman (or simillar), allthough I don't think it will replace the functions of an axe.

Thanks for the input guys. Much appreciated.

Last edited by McThor; 27 Apr 2007 at 19:36.
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  #10  
Old 28 Apr 2007
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Originally Posted by McThor View Post
But it does make ME wonder what tool you used to chop firewood, trim branches around the bushcamp etc.
If you really need to make fire find old dead wood that you don't need to chop that much. It is easy to break this kind of stuff into pieces using your hands and feet. And are you sure you want to sleep in dense bush that needs to be "expanded"?
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  #11  
Old 28 Apr 2007
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I think taking your panga is a good idea I would try to conceal it, just so it isn't obvious, and just enough to make it look like you are not hiding it.
When I go camping I take my WW11 Ewal meat cleaver, great for chopping proper firewood, digging holes etc There's nothing worse than not having the right tool for the job, then struggling to improvise with a Swiss Arm knife


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  #12  
Old 28 Apr 2007
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Blimey, you're a touchy one aren't you?

Don't assume someone is asking something different from what they are actually asking. Especially on the internet where you don't have the benefit of hearing someone's inflection or seeing the expression their face.

I was asking you simply what you were planning to use it for. I don't often make campfires when I'm bike touring (usually only building a fire when canoeing or occasionally hiking and therefore far off the beaten track) so would never consider a parang/axe/machete a useful tool for it's size and bulk on a bike tour. I cook on a stove and on the odd occasion I've built a fire I've got away without anything bigger than my penknife.

If you regularly make fires then fine, maybe it's useful to you. Although I personally find a folding saw more useful.

Matt
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  #13  
Old 28 Apr 2007
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Thumbs up How about.......

........... a folding shovel, an entrenching tool in military speak.
I have used suchlike for the obvious purposes including digging a toilet facility and the edge will cut small timbers when swung vigorously - in fact some people sharpen the edge so that it doubles up as a light axe.
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  #14  
Old 28 Apr 2007
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Just to be clear Matt, you asked what I needed it for, eventhough my original post clearly states the purpose of bringing one (at least I thought so). A tool (cutting/chopping, light digging and even on the odd occasion as a frying pan). As far as I can tell there are only two uses for a panga. Either a tool, or a weapon. Since I allready described it as a tool I could see no other reason for your question than to make it clear if I intended to also use it as a weapon. I don't think I was neither unreasonable nor touchy to assume that. But if I was wrong, I appoligize.

I hope my intention for considering to bring a panga is clearer to you now, since it was apparently unclear in my original post.

Edit: Walkabout; I was actually thinking along the same lines with regards to a folding shovel. I've also seen some pretty nifty chainsaws. Not a motorized one but a lenght of chain with two handles on each end. Not sure if they're any good though. A folding saw, as Matt suggested, might be more usefull.

Last edited by McThor; 28 Apr 2007 at 21:26. Reason: Addendum
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  #15  
Old 28 Apr 2007
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I've used those saws as well: a bit of "barbed" wire of no great length with a couple of metal rings, one at each end (I guess that is what you are describing). They are very effective at cutting but I don't know for how long they remain sharp. They fold up very small and weigh next to nothing.

Never used a folding saw however; more I think about it the more I like the shovel!!

Good luck with whatever you decide to take.

Dave
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