When I go trail-clearing I generally carry two machetes and a felling ax, but I haven't found a practical way to sling them so I can work with one without taking off the other tools. The machetes have cordura sheathes with loops, and the ax has a leather bit sheath with a loop.

I have this feeling that people who do this for a living must have clever carrying rigs or slinging techniques so they don't have to drop everything whenever they need to take a whack at something. Are there any ways to carry or rig tools like this so:

  1. They can be drawn straight out of their sheath, put to work, and returned to their sheath without doffing the sheath (or rig, or harness, or whatever is recommended for slinging them)?
  2. The slung tools don't inhibit the free swing of any others?
  • 1
    Can't help think something along the lines of those B grade ninja movies where the carry them in sheaths on their backs.
    – user5330
    Jun 15, 2017 at 1:44
  • 2
    @mattnz - Yes, that's the only picture that came to my mind too. Slung below the waist or in front seems like they'd really get in the way. Perhaps I should consult my local ninja outfitter ;)
    – feetwet
    Jun 15, 2017 at 3:44
  • Why do you carry two machetes? Do they serve different purposes? Jun 18, 2017 at 9:54
  • 1
    @JamesJenkins: Yes, in addition to a traditional Tramontina I like to carry one with a stiffer blade that's less prone to deflection. If nothing else, switching them up lets me work longer because they wear on my hands in different ways.
    – feetwet
    Jun 18, 2017 at 12:35
  • What sort of trail clearing are you doing? Here locally one of our trail stewards uses a modified golf bag that rolls easily on dirt and isn't overly heavy, tools are easy to access and return to the bag and he just pulls it behind him, i realize this may not work in every scenario though depending on terrain and task.
    – Nate W
    Dec 1, 2017 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


How about using a couple frogs on your belt. The type of frog I suggest is similar to a bayonet frog. It's usually a piece of leather looped around your belt with a holder for a tool. In the case of a bayonet frog that tool is obviously a bayonet. But why can't it be an axe or machete?

The disadvantage to this is that the axe handle will hang down by your legs and may interfere with walking. Though, frogs were used for centuries to effectively carry swords and rapiers.

  • Yes, this was my first thought, and it actually works fine when it's just one 30" machete (perhaps in part because I'm over 6' tall). But chopping with two other tools still dangling from the waist, one of which is a 3' ax handle, seemed unlikely to work. Nevertheless, I will give this a try!
    – feetwet
    Jun 16, 2017 at 14:57
  • Your answer would be better if it included a link to a good description of a frog. Even the text description on Wikipedia (in the bayonet's talk page) is not completely clear, so a picture would be great.
    – Loduwijk
    Dec 4, 2017 at 19:51

In reference to my comment above i made this drawing. enter image description here

The comment:

What if you made a backpack only to be used for this, the ax could either go in the main part if you made a supportive frame or hang off your belt, the two machetes could be stowed in PVC tubes you attach on either side of the backpack. The tricky part would be making the pack have a supportive frame, and old hiking pack may be able to be customized to do so. Alternatively you could place a small bucket in the bag to give it shape and make it more sturdy. Other than that id go two custom slings for the machetes on your back deadpool style lol machetes can be used one handed while you hold ax

Alternatively, you could only do the machete tube portion and keep the axe on a loop off of you belt as it wouldn't interfere with swinging a machete to greatly. A little crazy, a little out there, but it could work with a little trial and error. With a large PVC tube you could easily return them without having to feel for a sheath with a little practice. And you'd look like a bad ass :P

  • +1 This is a pretty good idea! I'm going to try this out!
    – feetwet
    Dec 1, 2017 at 19:10

From my experience fighting wildland fires, the number of clearing tools and the number of people in the group are usually the same. If you need more tools than you have people to operate, you need more people.

Wildland fire fighting is mostly about building fire breaks (trails) faster then the fire is moving. Each tool has a place in the line, the person operating that tool may change but the tool, keeps its position (for the most part).

In your example the machete would be first, the ax second. Some work is more exhausting then other work, so the person operating the tool may change, but the machete is always going to be making room for the ax operator to follow and have room to swing the ax.

  • 5
    More people with one person per tool is not an answer to the stated question.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 15, 2017 at 18:20
  • The question is looking for solutions of "people who do this for a living", my answer is their solution. The "rig" that holds the tool you are not using is another person. Jun 15, 2017 at 22:41
  • Hi James. I agree with @Paparazzi. The question is asking for help carrying multiple tools in a way that would be convenient for the needs of the OP. My interpretation is that "people who do this for a living" refers to single people who have ways of managing multiple tools in an efficient way. Therefore, I don't think "the rig" is another person, so adding more people does not answer the question as written. Jun 18, 2017 at 0:34
  • 1
    Also for fire fighting that totally makes sense, for a local mountain bike trail steward for example it does not apply the same because you don't always have volunteers to help aside from scheduled work days.
    – Nate W
    Dec 1, 2017 at 17:04

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