A number of people have written in asking where they can buy Malaysian parangs if they’re not in Malaysia – as they want to try them out in their native countries – and why not?  I don’t see any reason why parangs should be limited to use in the jungle as they’re such versatile tools.

I suggested trying the Condor Golok (www.condortk.com), however, although I’ve heard good things about them,  I’ve never used one myself so I felt a bit uneasy suggesting them.

Anyway, last week a very nice chap called Ahmad Nadir contacted me and he does export genuine Malaysian parangs so, if you are interested in buying one contact him by emailing him at info@outdoordynamics.com.my or nadir@outdoordynamics.com.my (please note I am not involved with this company in any way so don’t contact me!)

You can also visit his website at www.outdoordynamics.com.my to see the range he carries.

While I was looking as his website I saw that he also carries the duku candong (pronounced ‘chandong’) which is the parang style favoured by Ray Mears and one I’ve wanted to try out for some time.

The video below is a review of this parang.

…so this parang is very nice to use and seems to have a well made blade.  The cost is just under 30 UK pounds.  Of course, with anything hand-made like this, the quality can vary and there is no guarantee that every blade will be the same standard or made from the same metal.

I haven’t put in retaining pins for the moment as I want to wait and see how long it takes before the tang works loose in the handle.

Would I buy one of these instead of the (much) cheaper standard parangs?  Well, I did so the answer is clearly ‘yes’! – however I’m glad it wasn’t the first parang I ever bought as you don’t want to go through the learning curve (i.e. getting your sharpening technique right, learning to avoid ‘dinging’ the blade etc) with an expensive parang.

Does it make cutting easier?  Again, ‘yes’, it does – but having a good technique makes far more difference than having a ‘better’ parang.

Comparing this handmade duku-candong to the mass produced plastic handled parangs is a bit like comparing a Mora knife to a much more expensive, thicker bladed, wooden handled bushcraft knife – in the hands of an expert, the plastic handled Mora can do everything that the more expensive bushcraft knife can do (but having the ‘perfect’ bushcraft knife won’t transform you into that expert!)

Over the last month I’ve been going into the jungle with an Orang Asli.  They are the true masters of junglecraft and I was curious on first meeting him to see what sort of parang he carried.  It was a standard plastic handled parang held in a sheath made from plastic piping (see photo on the right) with some bent scrap metal to form the belt attachment.  The blade was nearly blunt (I had to lend him mine at one point to cut through some bamboo) and the tang was working loose in the handle so the parang was developing the ‘shakes’  …

For him, I suspect, the parang is simply a tool and, as long as it does the job, he isn’t going to spend any more than he has to on a better one.

Anyway, to sum up, I do like this duku candong parang style and it seems that Ray Mears has the same good taste in parangs that he has shown in other types of kit he uses.  I am sure he is someone who chooses his gear with great care and, as a general rule, if you are unsure of what kit to buy, his choices are always a good steer.

However, buying genuine Ray Mears kit can be an expensive business (think Woodlore knife, need I say more?) and it is a little ironic that Ray Mears started out using bushcraft because he couldn’t afford expensive camping equipment when he was younger…

Any knife or parang is, at its most basic, simply a piece of sharpened metal with a handle.  If you want a bushcraft knife you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on a Woodlore knife – go and buy a blank blade and fit a handle on yourself.  It’s a much, much cheaper option, fun to do and you’ll have something that you made yourself and stamped your own character on.

If I was forced to choose between this new parang and the one I made (with the wooden handle and sheath), I’d choose the latter.  Not because it is better, but because they both do the same thing and the one I made is…well, just that, one I made.