5 Best Ultralight Backpacking Handsaws
It’s camping season! And with camping season comes the many opportunities to go backpacking. No matter where in the world you want to go, you need to be sure to have the basic supplies, such as a good backpacking handsaw.
What makes a good backpacking 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 backpacking handsaw models.
|Silky Professional Series BIGBOY 2000 |
Our Best Pick
|Bahco 396-LAP Laplander|
Great Budget Option
|Bahco Ergo Bow Saw||2.9|
|Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw||4.8|
Criteria for choosing
Choosing a good handsaw for backpacking 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 backpacking handsaws, but each saw has variants!
Here are the things you should think about when picking a saw for camping or backpacking.
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 chainsaw is a portable, powered saw that takes the hard work out of cutting. Chainsaws have rotating chains with sharp teeth that can fell a tree in minutes. There are many different types of chain saws. For example, there are a variety of sizes.
If you are backpacking, you will likely need to opt for a small pocket chainsaw. These are basically just the chain, plus a handle on each side. To use it, you wrap the chain around the tree and then alternate pulling on the handles.
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.
Since you are trying to select a handsaw for backpacking 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.
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.
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 backpacking, however.
Finally, 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.
Opt for a saw that cuts cleanly with minimal effort. You can find out how well a saw cuts by reading reviews, such as this one!
1. Bahco Ergo Bow Saw for Green Wood
The best bow saw for backpacking 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 backpacking long distances.
It’s 30 inches long, so it will fit into most standard backpacking 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.
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’t risk breaking it during your trip, but once you have that down, you should be good to go!
2. Bahco 398-LAP Laplander
This folding saw is an excellent general purpose backpacking 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.
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. Silky Professional Series BIGBOY 2000
Another folding saw option is the Silky BIGBOY. 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.
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.
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.
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 backpacking handsaw.
5. Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw
Forget the heavy powered chainsaws—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 backpacking 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.
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.
Choosing the right backpacking 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!