Lightweight Wood Saws for Backpacking
Aug 1, 2020 at 5:15 pm #3667951Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
You made a chess set????
Amazing : )Aug 1, 2020 at 5:42 pm #3667954David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Just a knight for a chess set that was missing one.Aug 1, 2020 at 5:47 pm #3667958Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I would have thought you made an entire set : )Aug 1, 2020 at 10:02 pm #3668081Josh BBPL Member
@jbalisteriLocale: Western New York
Thanks for this review. Its hard to beat a Bahco laplander, especially for the price. They are highly regarded in the bushcraft community as well. Ive had mine for over 5 years now. It has seen hard use and still cuts great. Haven’t even considered sharpening it yet. Would love to see a similar article on survival/Belt knives. I just got a Mora Companion HD. Its a lot of knife for the price and 4.8 oz. Nice to have knife that can baton and hold its one in a survival situation for the weight and price.Aug 3, 2020 at 5:26 pm #3668679
I owned a Laplander and both sizes of the Sven saws, all three are long gone.
In there places are a large Silky saw that resides in the truck (blowdown across the road) and the one that goes in my pack- the Silky F180.
Silky saws will cut circles (or through stuff faster :)) around just about any equivalent weight/length saw. You typically get a few choices in blade design (I’ll carry a fine blade for bone along with a wood blade during hunting season.
The F180 (5 oz)weighs less than the smaller Pocketboy, but has more blade length.
Sorry but the “pocket saws” are garbage imo.
Why would anyone carry a saw backpacking? If you were married you wouldn’t have to ask, because it’s the same reason you pack in chairs too- happy wife = happy life :)Aug 9, 2020 at 5:58 pm #3670166JayCBPL Member
I carry a saw for long winter bike packing trips where I am staying at cabins that might not have saws. The silky F180 is the lightest I have found and it cuts fast.Aug 22, 2020 at 4:33 pm #3672409Albert NBPL Member
I volunteer for trail maintenance work. We mainly use Corona saws but they are heavier. I see a lot of experienced volunteers carrying their own Silky saws for the work. Bigboy and Gomboy are very popular. If we are going on a logout, Katanaboys are a must, along with crosscut saws.Sep 24, 2020 at 2:56 am #3677255Jan RezacBPL Member
@zkoumalLocale: Prague, CZSep 24, 2020 at 6:26 am #3677264
^ nice!Sep 24, 2020 at 8:54 am #3677280Tipi WalterBPL Member
Nick Gatel says “In over 50+ years of backpacking I have never needed a saw. What am I missing?”
I find this amazing but then obviously you never backpacked in the mountains of TN, Georgia or NC—where terrible blowdowns occasionally block our trails—and it’s much easier to stop and dump my pack and clear my way than it is to fight thru the mess.
On every backpacking trip I carry these tools as part of my Standard Load—
The 10 inch Corona cuts like butter when new and folds quickly so I can drop it down my t-shirt when I’m hiking for quick access. It needs to be replaced once a year as the saw’s teeth kerf angles get slowly bent straight up and down and therefore don’t cut as well. At $20 a pop it’s not a big deal.
Every backpacker in my opinion should carry a good hand pruner—in my case it’s a Felco model. Does wonders when hitting walls of sawbriars and brambles—and low hanging rhodo branches.
When you hit something like this (especially when wearing a 90 lb pack)—it’s safer and much easier to dump the pack, take a break, and cut your way thru.
Voila! My trip can continue without bloodloss or ripping off pack gear or losing important swinging appendages. Plus, any backpackers behind me will gratefully appreciate the work.
It amazes and confounds me how hikers—both dayhikers and backpackers—can walk a cluttered trail and not even take the time to simply move fallen branches off the trail. One flick of the hiking pole and in 2 seconds the deadfall is gone. But nope—too much of a burden I guess.Oct 1, 2020 at 4:41 pm #3678084Ross BleakneyBPL Member
Yeah, that’s why I carry a saw — to clear the trail. I find it especially helpful in the winter. I have a folding saw (Silky) that is pretty good, but a bit of hassle on skis. I may explore some of these options — I like the idea of a solid saw with a sheath. It is bulkier (especially in the pocket) but easier to manage with mitts on.Oct 1, 2020 at 6:26 pm #3678093David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
@bertman4: I start with a Corona 13″ replacement pruning blade and carve it into a 3.4 oz (including sheath) UL saw:
I’ve also made a longer 4.6 oz saw from a 21 Corona saw:
Both are great for wood, and can also be used as snow saws.Oct 1, 2020 at 6:36 pm #3678095
^ slick work- well done :)Oct 3, 2020 at 9:46 am #3678257Jason BrooksBPL Member
I’ll do a plug for Knifepoint Gear. They just came out with a saw that works with any standard reciprocating saw blade. At 3.5 oz total, it comes with a carbide tipped 12inch diablo wood blade. In one of their videos, Alex cuts down a 10 inch diameter tree in minutes, really impressive. in another video he pits it against, I think, a Silky saw , and saws through two 10 inch diameter logs in less time than it takes to saw through one with the Silky.Oct 3, 2020 at 11:30 am #3678274
I’d be interested to see that video; I’ve yet to see anything that would cut with a Silky (in the same length blade)Oct 3, 2020 at 12:41 pm #3678297David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
Here is the only video I could find on the Knifepoint Gear website:
Impressive. I especially like that you can get carbide-tipped blades, choose what kind of blade you want, and that the blades can be easily and cheaply be replaced. The only minor quibble would be that some field assembly is required.
Here are some videos from other sites:Oct 3, 2020 at 1:48 pm #3678307
not sure what the other saw is, definitely not a Silky- maybe a Gerber
I’ve owned at least a half dozen smaller saws and now only own a couple of Silky saws (and one very BIG Silky saw)Oct 9, 2020 at 6:59 pm #3679029Josh JBPL Member
Ever try coronas? I have a 10″ curved corona and a 210 gomboy, to me they are pretty comparable.
I do find on an occasion where a straight blade is better than a curved but if you’re just processing wood for fire doesn’t matter really from what I’ve experiencedOct 9, 2020 at 7:24 pm #3679034
I haven’t, but have heard a lot of positive things about them; if they keep up with a Silky- I’d agree :)Aug 27, 2021 at 10:40 am #3725958Josh BBPL Member
@jbalisteriLocale: Western New York
This is about my 5th time referencing this article. Really appreciate the info on this, Ryan. I was revisiting it today as I was ordering lightweight saws to help with trailblazing and maintenance for the Nature Preserves I manage. Being in the northeast the Bahco is still king. I’ve never had one fail on me and they are invaluable when a saw is needed or very nice to have especially on canoe trips and in the winter. Our wood is usually wet, especially in the Adirondacks or semi-boreal areas.Jan 26, 2022 at 8:42 am #3738154RatatoskSpectator
I came to backpacking from a bushcrafting background and Bahcos are still the go-to. I like messing around with bag axes and tomahawks a lot more than saws, but a saw is much safer, much less work to use, generally lighter, and generally more efficient for hobby trail-clearing.
My personal favorite is an Agawa Boreal 21, but I think its 1lb2oz. (I take it on canoe trips as a matter of course, but I’d need a reason to take it backpacking.) Agawa also makes a shorter saw in the same vein (15″ instead of 21″) which certainly under a pound, but I don’t have own one. I’ve used Svens and really didn’t like them, and I’ve made a lot of bow- and buck-saws in the shop and in the woods. Silkies are great tools, but tension in a limb can wreck a blade fast.
A Bahco and a Mora will get an enormous amount of wood-chewing done, if you need to do it.Jan 26, 2022 at 5:45 pm #3738215obx hikerBPL Member
@obxerJan 26, 2022 at 6:00 pm #3738222obx hikerBPL Member
Nice saws David! Say reading back to TiPi Walter’s comment got me thinking about that issue: Ultralight trail clearing. That would be an interesting topic for an article and a follow-up thread. Anyone got any ideas about how to assemble an ultralight come-along?
Yes Virginia there are heavily wooded trails with somewhat amazingly varied terrain out here on the Outer Banks but we sure get a lot of blow-down!Jan 27, 2022 at 4:27 am #3738255James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I like my old SVEN Saw. However, a 16″ model is too small/too heavy. I usually have my 21″ SVEN. It cuts better than anything I have found. And, I have tried many over the years. Not exactly ultralight, but unless it is the two month summer, a fire is nice to have here in the NE. (Even in June it is not unusual to get <32F/0C nights.) I have lightened it up some to 14oz, but this is not for the fainthearted. But, it will chop up a downed tree limb in short order. Roughly, 1/2hour of cutting will give you 4-6 hours of burning. For example, I usually locate wood in the forest and drag it back to camp. It gets cut while I wait for supper to cook under my hat (about 20min.) I lay the fire, and light it, just before I eat.
The SVEN has a couple mods that can be done to make it more useful.
1) Sharpen and set the saw every month of use. (A combination blade blade is best.) There are lots of manuals about sharpening on the web. It takes about 15minutes to a half hour with 2″ disk diamond Dremel and a hand saw set. Set to about a 4point set…or a little wide, generally. The hardened teeth REQUIRE grinding, not filing.
2, Drill an extra hole in the blade about 1/8″ shorter than the old hole. The extra tension will hold the blade in the cut with little to no blade flutter. Less flutter means less friction, hence less work. Replace the upper pin with an appropriate screw and grind it clean. Depending on the blade, you might have to grind the corner off to get it to open easily where it can bind near the front of the saw.
3) Always cut with the fire wood piece hanging free. This lets the weight open the saw-cut slightly.
4) Use two hands on the saw. One on top, one on the extended handle.. Use your foot to hold the piece. The SVEN is designed to cut on the push stroke AND the pull stroke. The two handed grip facilitates both.
5) The “red” body can be drilled out with a series of 3/4″ holes with no loss of strength. This will let you take a couple, three ounces off the saw.
6) In most frameless packs, the 21″ SVEN will slide in diagonally, next to your back. It doubles as a pack frame. I find my frameless packs easier to carry with the saw than without it.
7) A nice touch is to grind all the corners and aluminum edges off and sandpaper them smooth, even the wing nut, though that is steel.
Really, only 1 out of 3 blades is good, ie sharp enough right out of the package. I’ve gone through quite a few blades and when a new one doesn’t cut as well as an old one, well it was made in China, of course.Jan 27, 2022 at 6:30 am #3738257Kevin BabioneBPL Member
I’ve started carrying a lightweight saw (I have one of David Gardner’s saws as well as a printed one from Jan) for ad hoc trail maintenance. A lot of the trails in PA are paths cut into the side of a slope and one 3″ diameter tree with a lot of branches blocking a trail can be very difficult to navigate around. I have the Sven saw in both lengths, but stopped carrying them because of the weight. I don’t always need a saw, but when I do the 2-3 ounces of the UL ones is well worth it.
If we have a fire in camp we don’t need a saw – we simply break up the dead wood (rarely more than 2″ in diameter) either using the “2-Tree Leverage” or the “Put one end on a rock and stomp” method to break it into usable-sized pieces.
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