If you are into wilderness camping, backpacking or off-the-grid survival or just an avid outdoorsman who loves bushcraft, chances are you would have to frequently process some wood for a fire or shelter. You can surely split and chop some wood by using an axe or hatchet or even a fixed-blade knife.
But what if you want to prune some branches or cross-cut large logs of wood? Or process your game after hunting? For such cases, you need a camping saw. A camping saw is a perfect tool for processing wood and meat (even metal, if the need arises).
But which are the best camping saws for backpacking and bushcraft?
In this article, we will list the best camping saws for backcountry adventures. We will focus on all four types of camping saws – folding saws, folding bow saws, pocket chainsaws and wire saw, and share top picks for each type. We will also list some of the major factors to keep in mind while picking the best camping saws for your needs. Read On!
Best camping saw listSome of the best camping saws for backpacking, bushcraft and survival are listed below:
|Bahco Laplander Folding Saw||Blade Len: 7”|
Handle Len.: 9”
Weight: 6.6 oz.
|Silky Pocketboy 130 Folding Saw||Blade Len: 5”|
Handle Len.: 6”
Weight: 5.6 oz.
|EverSaw Folding Saw||Blade Len: 8”|
Handle Len.: 9.5”
Weight: 10 oz.
|Agawa Canyon-BOREAL21 Folding Bow Saw||Blade Len: 21" |
Closed Size: 23" x 1.8" x 1.8"
Weight: 17 oz.
|Sven Folding Saw||Blade Len: 15" |
Closed Size: 17" x 1.5" x 0.56"
Opened Size: 17" x 15" x 13"
Weight: 14 oz.
|UST SaberCut Pocket Chainsaw||Blade Len: 24”|
Weight: 4.3 oz.
|Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw||Blade Len: 36”|
Weight: 5.0 oz.
|Best Glide ASE Wire Camp Saw||Blade Len: 24”|
Weight: 1.6 oz.
|Zippo AxeSaw||Blade Len: 15" |
Closed Size: 20.3" x 8.6" x 1.6"
Weight: 41 oz.
What are different types of camping saws?
Before we list out the features of best camping saws, let us look at the different types of such saws available in the market. There are basically four most common types of camping and backpacking saws:
Folding Saws are compact, foldable like a knife and light enough at under 10 ounces to carry during backpacking. A folding saw is very much like a knife with a saw blade attached to a handle.
Folding saws come with different blade sizes ranging from 7 inches up to 11 inches and are available in multiple types of cutting angles – straight and curved, and blades – harsh, medium and super-fine. They are better at pruning branches and processing mid-sized logs – 3-5 inches in diameter (even more in some cases). They can also be used for cutting through bones and plastic but are generally not as efficient as folding bow saws for this purpose.
Folding saws are the most popular types of backpacking saws because of their portable design, light weight and performance for most common wood processing tasks.
For more information, check out our detailed article on the best folding saws for camping and backpacking.
Folding Bow Saws
Folding bow saws are a special type of cross-cutting saws – most similar to the everyday carpenter saw. A typical bow saw consists of a durable metal frame with a long, blade attached between the sides of the frame. The blade is tensioned to provide precise, deep cuts in each stroke. Some such saws have an H-shaped design (with or without a tensioning wire) and hence are also referred to as backpacking buck saws.
Bow saws provide more control and are generally faster and more efficient in handling bigger diameter wooden logs – up to 8-10 inches than folding saws or chainsaws. They can also work well with bones, plastic and soft metal sheets. Folding bow saws (or buck saws) are portable and can be disassembled quickly for transportation. Moreover, since the blades are replaceable, you can carry specialized blades to handle different types of woods (green vs dry wood), bones and materials.
Folding bow saws are probably the heaviest types of saws for backcountry activities at around 1+ lbs. and hence should be considered only if you expect to process some large diameter logs and bones during your trip such as cutting thick logs for setting up a base camp, clearing fallen trees and branches from the trail or cutting through bones of a hunted game animal.
For more information, check out our detailed article on the best folding bow saws for camping and outdoors.
Pocket chainsaws are compact wood cutting tools that are very compact and considerably lighter than folding or bow saws.
A typical pocket saw consists of a wood-cutting chain with handles attached on each side. The chain is similar to the one used in a motor-powered chainsaw. The chainsaw is powered by your effort by pushing-and-pulling the chainsaw across a log with a combination of your hands and torso. Pocket chainsaws are available in different lengths and cutting lengths. Standard 24-inch chainsaws can cut logs up to 3-inch in diameter, while bigger chainsaws can handle logs up to 6-8 inches in diameter.
Most pocket chainsaws cut in both directions, so they are reasonably efficient in cutting through the wood. Most pocket chainsaws are also advertised to work with bones and soft metal, though they are generally not very functional in such circumstances because of persistent binding during usage.
Pocket chainsaws are best suited for processing dead wood at ground level and clearing the trail or campsite. They are also a useful tool for a car emergency kit.
For more information, check out our detailed article on the best pocket chainsaws for backpacking and survival.
Wire saws are the lightest types of camping saws and hence a popular item for bug-out bags and emergency survival kits.
A typical commando wire saw consists of a multi-strand, braided wire blade with handles on each end. So, in its structure, a wire saw is very much like a pocket chainsaw. A wire saw is often also referred to as a survival saw, commando saw, or rope saw. Wire saws available in different lengths ranging from 20-inches to 26-inches.
Most wire saws are bi-directional, meaning that they cut in both pull-and-push motion, but they tend to bind to the cutting surface. Wire saws work best for straight cutting using the hands and torso or through a makeshift bow saw.
Wire saws can be used to cut through 2-3-inch wood branches, plastic, rubber, bones or soft metals such as aircraft aluminum. They can also be used as a snare wire by passing one handle through the other.
For more information, check out our detailed article on the best wire saws for camping and survival.
Which are the best camping saws for backpacking and bushcraft?
- Blade Len: 7″
- Handle Len.: 9″
- Weight: 6.6 oz.
- Swedish-made folding saw having a heavy gauge stainless-steel blade with an additional anti-rust coating that also reduces friction. The blade is replaceable.
- The blade has an XT-Toothing with 7 teeth-per-inch (TPI) that are laser-hardened to an HRC-60 rating.
- Cuts in both pull and push motion. Works well for dry and green wood, plastic and bones, up to 4 inches in diameter.
- Features a reliable lock-in and lock-out safety lock that keeps the blade secure even when folded down.
- Comes with a two-component plastic handle and a leather strap for superior grip in the wrist and carrying on the belt or backpack.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty on workmanship.
- Competitively-priced for the quality and cheaper than Silky Saws.
For a detailed review of the Bahco Laplander Folding Saw, you can check here.
- Blade Len: 5″
- Handle Len.: 6″
- Weight: 5.6 oz.
- Made in Japan folding saw with an impulse-hardened, chrome-plated steel blade. Compact and lightweight.
- The blade has a Silky MIRAI-ME (Smooth Cutting) Technology with 8.5 teeth-per-inch(TPI) that cut hard and seamlessly. Cuts only in pull motion but provides a non-binding smooth cut.
- Allows sawing in two different positions. Works for all types of wood and even fine pruning. Works seamlessly for up to 4-5-inch diameter logs.
- Has a non-slip rubberized handle for superior grip, with a two-stage locking mechanism.
- Comes with a plastic flip-lock carrying case with a belt clip.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.
- Available in multiple blade types and sizes, including the popular Silky Gomboy.
For a detailed review of the Silky Pocketboy 130 Folding Saw, you can check here.
- Blade Len: 8″
- Handle Len.: 9.5″
- Weight: 10 oz.
- General-purpose, heavy-duty folding saw with an oversized, uncoated carbon steel blade. Made in China.
- The blade has triple-cut teeth with 9 teeth-per-inch (TPI). Provides Japanese-style pull cut through wood, bone or plastic. Works well for up to 4-inch diameter logs.
- Features a reliable lock-in blade for safe operation and carry.
- Has an ergonomic, slip-resistant handle that is connected to the blade through an adjustable bolt.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty and a dedicated customer service.
- Closed Size: 23″ x 1.8″ x 1.8″
- Blade Len: 21″
- Weight: 17 oz.
- Innovative folding saw bow with an anodized aluminum frame, stainless steel hardware and Glass-filled nylon handle. Made in Canada.
- Unique triple-hinged, trapezium-shape that opens in seconds and does not require blade tensioning. It happens automatically as the end-point lever is tightened.
- Can be used to process wooden logs up to 6 inches in diameter.
- When disassembled, the blade is completely concealed in the handle for safe carrying. There is additional space to carry one more blade in the handle.
- Can work with standard 21″ blades. No specialty blades are required.
- Available in multiple color combinations – black-green; clear-green and black-yellow.
- Saw body is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
- Also available in a combo with the saw, blade and sheath – Tripper Kit with Canvas Sheath and Backwoods Kit with leather sheath.
For a detailed review of the Agawa Canyon Boreal21 Folding Bow Saw, you can check here.
- Closed Size: 17″ x 1.5″ x 0.56″
- Opened Size: 17″ x 15″ x 13″
- Blade Len: 15″
- Weight: 14 oz.
- Popular hybrid folding bow saw with an anodized aluminum alloy frame imported Swedish steel blade. Made in the US.
- Unique triangular design with the frame extending below the blade to provide superior grip. Provides two cutting angles and can be used for logs up to 6 inches in diameter.
- Easy to assemble and extremely portable. The blade folds into the handle, which acts as a protective sheath.
- Requires special Sven Saw blades. Does not work with standard blades.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty on the frame.
- A bigger, 21″ blade versionis also available.
For a detailed review of the Sven Folding Backpacking Saw, you can check here.
- Blade Len: 24″
- Weight: 4.3 oz.
- High-quality pocket chainsaw with a bi-directional, non-binding chain. Made in China under UST quality control standards.
- The flexible chain has a self-cleaning design. Requires minimal maintenance and can be re-sharpened using a 1/8-inch saw blade sharpener. Extendable by adding extra cordage.
- Can cut through limbs and branches at various angles.
- Beefy wrist straps that work well with all types of gloves on.
- Available with or without a carrying case. The carrying case has a hook-and-loop closure and made of Ballistic Nylon.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.
For a detailed review of the UST SaberCut Pocket Chainsaw, you can check here.
- Blade Len: 36″
- Weight: 5.0 oz.
- Best-selling pocket chainsaw featuring a high-carbon 65mn steel chain. Made in China.
- The chain provides bi-directional cutting and can be re-sharpened with a 5/32 round chainsaw file.
- Features oversized cross-stitched handles that are attached to the chain through triangular metal brackets. Available in Camo and Black print.
- Comes with a Nylon front snap storage pouch with a belt loop. A Magnesium Fire-starter is also added as an additional bonus.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
For a detailed review of the Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw, you can check here.
- Blade Len: 24″
- Weight: 1.6 oz.
- Made in the US wire saw featuring a durable stainless-steel spiral cutting wire and metal-ring handles.
- Features a durable, multi-strand stainless steel spiral cutting wire with about 21″ inches of cutting surface. Unique spiral design allows for more efficient cutting with less binding.
- Has bigger .050-inch blades and larger ring than the standard pocket saw version from the same manufacturer.
- Can cut through wood, plastics, bones and soft metals. Safe to use as the spiral design does not cut readily cut through the human flesh.
- Works best when the blade is held as straight as possible to cut. Cross-cutting can cause binding and breakdown.
For a detailed review of the Best Glide ASE Wire Camp Saw, you can check here.
- Closed Size: 20.3″ x 8.6″ x 1.6″
- Blade Len: 15″
- Weight: 41 oz.
- A 4-in-1 woodsman tool that is a 13.5″ hatchet, saw and tent stake puller and hammer. Manufactured in China according to the Zippo quality standards.
- Features a 5-inch full tang 420 stainless steel axe blade. The axe-head with its sheath on also acts as the saw handle. The saw can be used for wooden logs up to 3-4 inches in diameter.
- Requires a special 15″ stainless steel replacement blade. Standard saw blades would not work perfectly.
- Self-adjusting tension compensator keeps saw blade tight while sawing wood.
- The axe handle can securely store the blade when not in use and can store one additional blade.
- Heavier weight means sawing would require some extra effort.
- Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.
How to pick the best camping saw for your needs?
Whether you are looking for a camping saw for rigorous use or as an emergency tool in your bug-out bag, you need to pick a saw which handles all the wood processing tasks thrown at it, while being lightweight, compact and cost-efficient.
With so many different camping and backpacking saws available in the market, picking the best camping saw can be a challenge. You need to consider the following major factors:
- Type and Purpose
- Construction material and design.
- Size and Weight of the saw
- Additional features and considerations
Type and Purpose
Before you look at a specific model, you should consider the primary purpose for which you are seeking a camping or backpacking saw, because it governs the type of camping saw you should go with.
If you are looking for a camping saw that can process large logs with a diameter of 4+ inches, then you should consider getting a folding bow saw. On the other hand, if you are looking for a compact saw for pruning branches and processing wood up to 3-4 inches in diameter, then a folding saw like the Bahco Laplander Folding Saw should be your preferred choice.
If your primary aim is to have a folding saw as a tool in your car or ATV emergency kit, so that you can clear the trails or process dead wood for the campfire, then a pocket chainsaw offers a nice weight to functionality ratio. For ultralight bug-out bags and occasional field-use, the wire saws are the best option as they can be used to make a makeshift bow saw.
Keep your primary purpose in mind, before picking the best type of camping or backpacking saw for your needs.
Construction material and design
The construction material and quality of the frame and handle, chain/blade and auxiliary parts is also an important factor to consider. After all, you need a camping saw that is efficient and reliable and does not leave you out hanging in the field.
All the options that we have listed are made of high-quality materials, depending upon the type of camping or backpacking saw you go with, you can pick them without worrying about their quality. You can also refer to the detailed articles on each type of camping saw (folding saws, folding bow saws, pocket chainsaws and wire saws) for more information on construction quality of the frame, handle, blades and chains/wires.
Size and weight of the saw
The size and weight of the folding saw are also an important criterion, especially if you are going to carry the gear on your back. A camping saw is suitable for hunting, hiking and wilderness survival only if it is light enough to be carried in the backpack, pocket or belt.
Folding bow saws are the heaviest types of camping saws with a weight of more than 1 pound (16 oz.), so you should opt for them only if you expect to handle large wooden logs with a diameter of 5 or more inches. Sven 15″ Folding Saw is the lightest option among folding saws, with a weight of only 14 oz.
Pocket chainsaws and wire saws are a lot lighter and pack very small. But they require more effort while processing wood and can bind while in use, so keep that in mind while looking at these types of saws. Generally, bigger the saw chain/wire, heavier it would be. Wire saws are especially light at under 2 ounces.
Folding saws offer the best combination of efficiency, weight and portability among camping and backpacking saws. Most camping folding saws weigh less than 7 ounces, except for the heavy-duty EverSaw Folding Hand Saw which weighs around 10 ounces. The Silky Pocketboy Hand Saw is a clear winner in terms of performance, size and weight with a 5-inch blade, 6-inch overall size and a weight of under 6 ounces.
Check the overall weight, closed size and blade length before picking the best camping saw for your outdoor excursion.
Additional features and miscellaneous considerations
In addition to the major criteria discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular purchase more suitable for your needs.
The reputation of the manufacturer, customer service and warranty on the camping is probably the most important additional consideration. Most options that we have listed are established names in the market and provide excellent lifetime warranties and after-sales services, so you can pick any of them without any concern about the quality and reliability of the product.
The color of the camping saw can also be something to look for, though it does not affect the overall performance of the saw. A vibrant color makes it easier to spot the folding saw in the dark, thereby minimizing chances of you losing it.
Finally, the availability of replacement blades and other accessories such as sheath is also a factor, especially if you are going to use the saw rigorously. Most of the options that we have listed – such as Bahco, Silky, Sven and Agawa Canyon, are established names in the market and have replacement parts and accessories readily available online, so you can pick them without worries. Some of them do require specialty blades, so you must keep that also in mind before picking the best camping saw for your needs.
You can look at all these additional factors to determine if they make a camping saw a better choice for your needs.
Now that we have looked at some of the best camping saws, let us look at some of the accessories that you might consider with such tools.
While processing wood or pruning, you should ensure that you wear cut-resistant gloves or work gloves that can prevent your hands from injuries. Some of the best budget options to consider are listed below:
For folding saws and folding bows, to keep your saw blade sharp, wipe it with a microfiber cloth and apply some WD-40 machine oil after use. If your saw blade gets blunt, you are better off by getting a new blade. Most saw blades are laser-hardened to an HRC-60 level and coated with rust-resistant coatings, so they cannot be re-sharpened (If your blade is re-fileable, it would be indicated so).
Pocket chainsaw blades can always be re-sharpened by using a chainsaw file or sharpener.
Final thoughts on the best camping saws for backpacking and bushcraft
Be it wilderness camping, backpacking, bushcraft or survival camping, processing wood for food and shelter is an integral activity of outdoor adventures. While there are a bunch of tools that can be used for processing wood, camping saws are the most convenient, efficient and safe to use. And camping saws can also be used to cut through the meat and bones of the hunted game, prune branches or clear the trail.
In this article, we listed some of the best camping saws for backpacking and bushcraft. We listed all the four types of camping saws – folding saws, folding bow saws, pocket chainsaws and wire saws. We also discussed some of the factors to consider while picking the best camping saws for backpacking and bushcraft. For more information and options, you can always check detailed articles on each of the different types of camping saws.
We hope that this article would help you pick the best camping saw for your next outdoor adventure. Do let us know your feedback by providing your valuable comments below. Until next time, happy camping!