You don’t need a camping saw…. until you really need a camping saw!
Whether it’s for clearing a track, collecting firewood, clearing a dangerous obstacle out of a river (paddlers, you know it) or slicing off your arm that got stuck under a boulder – there’s no doubt that an ultralight saw can be a super valuable piece of backcountry equipment. You can get a good saw that takes up only a tiny amount of space in your pack, and weighs as little as 5 ounces!
Below we take a look at what to look for in a quality saw, and share a few of our favorites.
Quick Comparison: 5 Best camping Saws
|Saw||Weight (Ounces)||Saw Type|
|#1. Silky Professional Series BIGBOY 2000 |
Our Best Pick
|#2 Bahco 10-30-23 30-Inch Ergo Bow Saw|
|#3. Bahco 396-LAP Laplander|
|#4. EverSaw |
|#5. Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw |
Criteria for Choosing the Best camping Saw
Well, there are several things you need to think about when choosing a saw. Here are some factors to think about as well as highly recommended camping handsaw models.
Choosing a good handsaw for camping isn’t just a matter of grabbing the first saw within your budget. In fact, there are many different types of saws that you must choose from.
Not only are there three common types of camping handsaws, but each saw has variants!
Here are the things you should think about when picking a saw for camping or camping.
Criteria #1: Saw type options
A folding saw is a saw that folds into the handle and locks when closed. Folding saws have toothed blades, and they usually lock when closed. It is most useful for cutting smaller branches and for trimming twigs.
Many backpackers and campers prefer folding saws for firewood cutting. They are safe, easy to carry, and extremely useful in the wilderness.
A bow saw is shaped somewhat like a hunting bow. It has a handle on one side, is arched on the top for blade tension, and has a sharp, slender blade for cutting, usually with small to medium teeth. It is a great alternative to an axe, since it is safer and easier to carry.
It can perform some of the same types of cutting that an axe is traditionally used for, although the method is obviously different. These saws can cut very thick longs and branches. For camping, many people like to use folding bucksaws, a variation on bow saws.
A pocket chainsaw is not as awesome as it sounds, unfortunately you have to bring the power yourself! The backpackers version of a chainsaw is essentially just a chain with handles on each end.
Criteria #2: Teeth per inch
In general, handsaws have around five to twelve teeth per inch. The larger the tooth, the fewer teeth per inch. The number of teeth per inch determines the speed of cutting and the type of cut made.
If you’re just hacking up some firewood, opt for something with fewer teeth per inch. This will give you a quick, albeit messy, cut. If you are cutting something that needs to look nice, more teeth per inch will give you a cleaner cut.
Criteria #3: Length
Since you are trying to select a handsaw for camping purposes, the size and weight of the blade matters. Be sure your saw can fit inside your pack when closed. Once you know the maximum dimensions of the saw you need, choose a saw that will also serve its purpose well.
If you’re planning to cut through thick branches, you’ll need to make sure the saw is at least 50% longer than the diameter of the branches you’ll be cutting and has a thick enough blade to go through the wood.
Criteria #4: Ergonomics
The ergonomics of the handsaw you choose will be important not only for comfort, but also for safety. If you are going to be far out into the wilderness using a saw, you need to be sure it’s one that is easy to use with minimal injury risk. First of all, you should be able to comfortably use the saw with one hand.
A good rule of thumb, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety , is to limit your saw’s weight to five pounds. Hand saws should also be comfortable and allow you to have a good view of your cutting line, according to Inside Wood Working.
Criteria #5: Material
Most handsaws feature steel blades. Steel is strong and can cut through a variety of materials, but it does have one drawback: rust.
Steel blades are susceptible to rusting, so be sure to select a handsaw that you can store and maintain easily. Choose a saw with blades that are easily accessible for cleaning and perhaps even coasted to reduce rusting.
Criteria #6: Cut direction
The main difference between push/pull saws and one-way saws is the blade type. One-way saws have teeth that point outward (Western-style saws) or inward (Japanese-style saws). Push-pull saws have straight teeth.
Push-pull saws are better for cutting up trees, since they work faster, while one-way saws make cleaner cuts for aesthetic purposes, such as furniture-making. Either can work for camping, however.
Criteria #7: Performance
You want to choose a saw based on how well it can cut! You can grab a super cheap saw because the price is attractive, but it might not cut well. This is bad on several levels. First, it’s frustrating. Second, it will give you hand fatigue, and third, it is a safety hazard.
Criteria #8: Weight & Size
I’m very slow to add any new piece of gear to my regular backcountry kit, being vary wary of how added weight will make me feel after a long day on the trail. For this reason it’s important to be aware of the weight of the saw, and how well it will pack into your bag.
Choosing the right camping saw really comes down to two things: type and quality. If you can identify the right handsaw to fit your needs, then all you have to do it pick a high-quality saw in your price range!
Overall, the Silky BIGBOY is the best saw, but the Bahco Laplander Folding Saw is a great budget option, as well.
#1. Overall Best camping Saw: BIGBOY 2000
This saw is larger and more heavy-duty. It has a 14.2 inch blade and 5.5 teeth per inch.
It still only weighs a pound, so you can toss it in your pack and forget about it while hiking!
This model is more expensive, but it does have nice features like a sharp, curved blade.
This handsaw is ideal for a variety of uses. You can use it to prune or trim in your yard, for construction projects, or to chop up firewood while camping.
- Effortless cutting
- Large enough handle to use two hands, but cuts well enough that you’ll only need to use one hand.
- Light enough for easy camping
- Need a protective sheath
- Comparatively pricey
- It is difficult to find a replacement blade
- Blade can be uncomfortably flexible
This isn’t your safest folding saw, but it is one of the highest-quality. If you are careful to keep it in a sheath and use it properly, you’ll be able to make it work for almost any light or medium sawing project.
#2. Best Budget camping Saw & Ultralight Folding Saw: Bahco 398-LAP Laplander
This folding saw is an excellent general purpose camping handsaw. It features a 7.5 inch blade and seven teeth per inch.
The stainless steel blade is coated for rust protection, and the plastic handle is ergonomically designed.
The saw has lock-in and lock-out safety features, and it has a push-pull sawing design.
It weighs just seven ounces and it nine inches long, so you can stash it in your backpack with no problem.
The Bahco Laplander Folding Saw is great for small sawing projects and pruning.
It can cut branches and even small trees, and its large teeth can cut through both green and dry wood as well as plastic and bone.
- You can replace the blade
- Great for quick pruning
- Large teeth give it power
- Doesn’t rust
- It’s hard to find the replacement blades
- Not particularly heavy-duty
- Doesn’t cut down large trees
- The lock can break too easily
This is a great folding saw for light use. If you don’t have to do any major sawing while camping, opt for this to cut firewood or get rid of annoying branches! Just be careful not to overuse the lock.
#3. Bahco Ergo Bow Saw for Green Wood
The best bow saw for camping is the Bahco Ergo Bow Saw for Green Wood.
This saw is ideal for sawing green wood, but it is also good for dry wood.
This saw has an advanced tensioning mechanism that helps you cut straight and keeps the blade tension high.
This saw weighs just 2.9 ounces, making it perfect for camping long distances.
It’s 30 inches long, so it will fit into most standard camping packs.It features medium teeth.
This saw cuts best through green wood. It is tough and can slice through branches easily, even thick braches of eight inches. Although it is designed to tackle green wood, you can also use it on dry wood.
- Cuts through thick branches with no problem
- Very sharp
- Better than a chain saw for most uses
- Light enough to cut for a long period of time
- It’s easy to over-tighten the blade
- Doesn’ come with tensioning instructions
- Doesn’t last forever
- No way to repair it
This is a good option if you have the space for a bow saw. You will need to practice using the tension factor so you don’ risk breaking it during your trip, but once you have that down, you should be good to go!
#4. EverSaw Folding Hand Saw All Purpose
This eight-inch, ten-ounce folding hand saw is fairly small and easy to hike with. It’s safe, since it folds with no exposed teeth and features an ergonomic non-slip handle.
It has hard, triple-cut razor teeth for fast and smooth sawing. Unlike some other hand saws, it has Japanese-style pull sawing.
This saw is great for tree pruning, camping, or hunting. It can fit in your toolbox, pocket, or backpack, so you can use it virtually anywhere. It is best for small jobs.
- Strong and well-made
- Gear-style safety lockâ€”no button
- Can be tightened
- No exposed teeth when closed
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Blade can easily rust if not carefully stored
- Plastic parts have been known to break
- Locking mechanism often has trouble
- Slow cutting
- Blade is not very sharp
Of all the folding hand saws on this list, I find this to be the best. It has a great balance of affordable price and usability. It’s safe and easy to use, making it the ideal light-duty folding camping handsaw.
#5. Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw
Forget the heavy powered chainsawsâ€”this pocket chainsaw is manual and folds into tight spaces!
This is just about the only way you’ll get a chainsaw to make it on a camping trip. It can cut almost any size of branch, is bi-directional, and saws at three sides of a limb at once.
This particular model is has an unusually long 36 inch chain, but it only weighs about five ounces. It can slip into your pocket, and it features heavy-duty handles for a reliable grip.
Great for both medium and thick branches, and for use in tight spaces. Perfect for emergency kits, backpacks, pockets, and any situation requiring a saw.
- Lifetime guarantee
- Extremely light
- Fits into small spaces
- Very sharp
- Perfect for survival kits
- Is easiest to use with two people
- Not very good for thin, green trees
- Low tooth count
- Requires a lot of muscle power
- Hard to get at higher branches with this saw
- Not as good for hard wood
While this may not be the best option for every kind of sawing need, it is certainly the best for large branches and sawing through thick trees.
You do need to be prepared for the workout it gives you, but if you can handle it, it’s an excellent tool to use at home and on the trail.