A reliable hand saw is a useful part of your kit if you’re interested in bushcraft.
But there is little point in carrying a cheaply made saw that is likely to buckle or go blunt too quickly.
Read on for a list of the best backpacking saw reviews and some basic pointers for choosing between them.
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- TOP 9 Best Backpacking & Camping Saws 2023
- Why Do You Need a Camping Saw?
- Your Checklist for Choosing the Best Camping Saw
- Tips and Tricks for Camping Saw Use
- Leave No Trace
TOP 9 Best Backpacking & Camping Saws 2023
Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw
Review: The Bahco 696-LAP is a widely regarded saw. It is the best bow saw for bushcraft and ideal for backpackers, hunters, and survivalists. It is durable, efficient, well balanced, and stays sharp for a long time.
It is easy to fold away in your pack and weighs just 2.6 oz. without the sheath which is incredibly lightweight.
- 7.5-inch blade with rust protective coating and 7 TPI.
- Affordable and lightweight.
- Cuts in both directions – on the push and pull.
- Durable teeth hold shape, direction and sharpness over time.
- Straight edge blade may not be as versatile as curved edge.
Agawa Canyon BOREAL21 Folding Bow Saw
Review: This folding saw opens into a bow saw and packs away into a conveniently compact cylindrical package that can easily be slotted inside your backpack.
It isn’t as lightweight as some saws, weighing in at 17 oz. but it is sturdy and durable.
- The 21” stainless steel blade is strong and effective.
- Ideal for large pieces of wood.
- There are multiple different blade available that can be fitted to the frame and carried within the same sheath.
- Opens easily and snaps securely into place.
- More pricey than some, but arguably worth it. “Buy once, cry once.”
Coruna Razor Tooth Folding Pruning Saw
Review: Though not as efficient or effective as the Bahco or Silky saws on the market, this is still a popular saw, and a good value one as well.
If you’re not going to be doing a massive amount of sawing and want a lightweight and affordable option, the Coruna is a great choice.
- Comes in 7, 8 and 10 inch replaceable blade lengths with 6 TPI.
- The curved blade is heat-treated and chrome finished.
- Blade dulls quicker than other saws so will need replacing more often.
- Blade will also be at risk of rusting unless it’s religiously dried and oiled.
Sven Saw Folding Saw
Review: This is an excellent quality saw that is one of the most reliable and long-lasting on the market. It’s more effective on dry wood than wet, but it’s so versatile and easy to use that you can look past this.
The blade angle can be easily adjusted for different jobs, and the blade stays sharp for a long time.
- Tempered Swedish steel 21” blade.
- Durable but lightweight aluminum frame.
- Blade packs away into the handle completely so it doesn’t require a sheath.
- Tube shaped handle is comfortable to hold and easy to use,
- A little tricky to cut straight.
- The Wing nut is easy to lose.
Bob Dustrude Quick Buck Saw
Review: This is a less well-known brand but an extremely reliable choice and worth considering for backpacking and camping. The blade folds away securely into the frame so there’s no need for a sheath, and the instructions for folding are on the handle in case you need to double-check!
You also get a longer stroke than the Sven Saw above because of the rectangular as opposed to the triangular frame shape.
- Comfortable wooden handle and lightweight aluminium frame.
- Blade folds away into the handle.
- Replaceable blades can be bought separately.
- 24” blade can be used across the whole length due the rectangular frame.
- Weighs 1 lbs. which is pretty on point.
- It’s very hard to find a con for this saw.
Felco F-600 Classic Folding Saw
Review: This is another excellent, lightweight folding saw, ideal for the weight-conscious backpacker. It has a 6” blade and weighs 5.5 oz. which is very light!
It won’t cut branches over 4” without a lot of effort, but it’s a reliable choice for small jobs.
- Weighs just 6.4 oz.
- Hard chromed steel blade locks securely into place.
- Ergonomic handle.
- Some issues with blade durability and rusting.
Nordic Pocket Saw
Review: If lightweight and tiny size are your priorities, you can’t go wrong with the Nordic Pocket Saw.
It’s the best pocket chainsaw available and the price reflects this, but if pocket chainsaws work for you, then this is the one you’ll want.
- Extremely lightweight, weighing just 4.7 oz.
- The most compact, portable option on the market.
- Can be used by one or two people.
- Carbon steel 25.6” chain.
- Cuts in both directions.
- A little on the expensive side – but this is what you pay for durability.
Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw
Review: This is a more affordable and highly popular version of the Nordic Pocket Saw above, coming in a tiny, compact package and weighing just 6 oz.
It has an extra-long 36” chain that makes it easy to share the job between 2 people.
- 36” of chain length when extended.
- Very lightweight and compact.
- Cuts in both directions.
- Takes a little more skill than a regular bow or folding saw.
Primos Folding Saw
Review: Last but not least, this is another excellent choice for a pocket-size folding saw.
It has a comfortable nylon handle with a rubber grip, and the 6” blade locks securely into place after opening via a simple push-release.
- Lightweight (just over 7 oz.) and compact.
- Cuts on both the push and pull.
- Likely to be less durable than some of the higher end saws above.
Why Do You Need a Camping Saw?
I’m not going to lie. You don’t need a camping saw. It’s not an essential piece of your kit, in spite of what a lot of articles will tell you.
You don’t have to spend much time online to observe the amusing rivalry between ultralight backpackers and survivalists or bush crafters.
The reality is, that in this day and age, you’re never going to be so far from civilization that you will be literally relying on bushcraft skills to survive unless you were badly prepared or made some stupid mistakes. Carrying a saw is a choice, not a rule for backpacking.
But, some people are passionate about bushcraft, and others appreciate being able to saw larger pieces of fallen wood into more manageable camp-fire size pieces. You may also prefer to saw a fallen tree out of your path and clear the trail for others rather than walk around it. That’s completely fine.
Also, your camping saw doesn’t have to be restricted to camping trips, it can double as a handy gardening tool which is always a bonus.
So, assuming you’ve decided that a saw is something you’d like to add to your gear list. What should you consider before buying one?
Your Checklist for Choosing the Best Camping Saw
Bow saws are the strongest, most stable, and efficient to use. You’ll need to choose one that folds away, for obvious reasons, but once unfolded, they make for a lightweight, efficient option.
Their only limitation is the space between the blade and the bow. You won’t be able to saw wood that is wider than this distance.
Folding saws aren’t quite as stable or strong as bow sores of the same weight, but they are very convenient to carry, can be ridiculously lightweight, and definitely good enough for most jobs on the trail or in the bush.
Also, if you have a shorter, straight blade with a thicker width, it could be used for splitting wood.
Pocket chainsaws require some skills and persistence to use. They are ideal for cutting down small trees or through narrow fallen pieces, but that’s about it. On the plus side, they are the lightest and easiest to pack and carry.
This depends on the kind of jobs you’ll be using your saw for, and how much you think you’ll actually be using it versus carrying it unused in your pack.
TPI stands for ‘teeth per inch’. A higher TPI saw is slower to use but results in a smoother cut as the teeth are finer and closer together. A lower TPI is usually more appropriate for camping when looks aren’t important.
But if you’re interested in detailed bushcraft and will be using your saw in conjunction with a good bushcraft knife, then a higher TPI will be the way to go.
Curved vs. Straight Blade
Curved blades are well suited for cutting small branches quickly, while straight saws are better suited to larger, more solid pieces of wood.
Curved saws can reduce the effort required to cut and be easier on your hands, but this only applies to longer blade lengths.
As above, you need to know what your plans are and how much you’re going to be using the saw. If it’s just for emergencies, then the lighter weight the better.
But if you’re going bush specifically to spend a decent amount of time on bushcraft or survival skills, you can afford to carry a heavier saw because it will likely get a lot of use.
Ease of Use
The easier the better is ALWAYS the case. If a saw is tricky to use, it’s going to take more time, energy and patience which is not ideal.
As with ease of use, the more durable the better, ALWAYS. Why waste your money on something that’s going to break or wear out too quickly and waste your time and money?
Tips and Tricks for Camping Saw Use
Like anything, a little TLC won’t go amiss with your camping saw. Make sure to clean and dry it after use, and use a little WD40 or gun oil to prevent it from getting rusty.
At some point, after a certain amount of use, just like your backpacking knife, your saw will need sharpening too.
Some saws can’t be sharpened, but if this is the case you should be able to buy a replacement blade without having to buy a whole new saw.
There are certain techniques that are essential for efficiently cutting wood.
For example, sawing an undercut before doing the main cut from above is an important way of relieving pressure and stopping the saw from getting stuck partway through.
Also, pay attention to whether your saw is designed for cutting in one or both directions as that will affect how you use it and how much effort you expend sawing.
Check out some videos for tips and techniques before using your new saw to make sure you don’t waste energy or end up hurting yourself.
Make sure that you’re prepared with any other tools you might need for your project, like a shovel or multi-tool so that you don’t get stuck.
Leave No Trace
Last but definitely not least, it’s important to remember that just because the forest is there, doesn’t mean it’s yours for the taking.
The world’s forests are declining and suffering hugely from human impact.
Avoid cutting live trees at all costs (assuming your life isn’t on the line) and focus on using deadwood instead. But remember that even deadwood has its place in the ecosystem, providing homes to insects, mosses, likens, saplings, and eventually returning carbon to the ground, where it should be.
Only use what you really need, don’t be greedy, and leave no trace.
If a saw isn’t versatile enough for you, take a look at the best camping axes and hatchets and you might find the right tool for you.
So, the best backpacking saw for you depends on your needs – the types of wood you’ll be sawing and how often you’ll be using it.
But durability always needs to be high on the list of priorities!
Before you leave, if you are big on backpacking, take a look at the backpacking knives for survival we have reviewed.
Be sure to comment if you have any ideas to share.