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Is it ever worth it to carry a saw?
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Scott H.
(handyman439) - F
Is it ever worth it to carry a saw? on 04/24/2011 23:27:23 MDT Print View

This only weighs a half an ounce. Kind of tempting, but im not sure how useful it would be.

TOPS Pocket Size Survival Saw

People I camp with often bring larger folding saws. They were quite useful when building fires, but certainly not necessary. Anyone think this saw would come in handy? or should I just keep going without?

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Not any more... on 04/24/2011 23:35:50 MDT Print View

I used to carry a saw, until I realized there was never a time I couldn't break the branches I needed by hand. If I couldn't break it, it was usually because it wasn't dry enough, and it was best to move on to better wood anyway.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Is it ever worth it to carry a saw? on 04/24/2011 23:36:21 MDT Print View

This link shows a saw with a hacksaw blade. There is also a wire saw, which is smaller and lighter. You really have to ask yourself if you need a saw. If you are simply collecting firewood to build a fire, you don't need to saw a branch. You certainly do not need to saw a live branch off a tree. If you pick up a dead branch off the ground, then it can be burned without sawing.

A completely different purpose would be if you were marooned on a desert island, and you were trying to fashion local tree branches into structural elements. A saw would be handy, but a small one like this would not last long.

I quit carrying saws a while back.


Scott H.
(handyman439) - F
not needed on 04/24/2011 23:39:28 MDT Print View


This was my gut feeling too. I think I just had in itch to buy a new gadget.

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Is it ever worth it to carry a saw? on 04/25/2011 09:11:05 MDT Print View

It can be really handy for splitting wood if you find yourself in need of a longer burn time than just boiling water. Check this out:
Works great.

You can create a swedish style hand saw with a branch and a wire saw like this:

When group camping hanging out, I bring a fiskars pruning saw with, it's nice to have and light.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Is it ever worth it to carry a saw? on 04/25/2011 09:44:27 MDT Print View

Saws aren't exactly a Leave No Trace tool and should be used with much discretion. Turn the uninitiated loose with one and you may have some ugly campsites.

The TOPS saw is just a Saws-All type blade in a Kydex handle. You won't want to cut much with it. The pivot point will fail with extended use.

I think saw have great value as a survival tool and are handy for sea-kayaking where you can hack on driftwood. I could see using one if you have a wood stove, but most stoves use small diameter fuel that can be broken up by hand. They are probably best for car emergency or earthquake/storm kits.

The Gerber Sportsman's Saw is a little over 3oz and is the lightest *effective* saw that I have found. The Kershaw folding saw (same as the Bahco Laplander) is stronger, but double the weight. The Gerber will cut well enough that you could get enough wood for a shelter and a survival campfire. They are a good buy at $10-$12.

If you just want to cut branches to hold up your tarp or a hiking stick, the saws found on the Victorinox and Wenger Swiss Army knives will work fine. You wouldn't want to do a lot of cutting with any of them, but the larger ones can do some real work--- the handle is the thing. You do get the handy-dandy knife and other tools along with the saw. Most are in the 3-4oz range.

Models to consider:

One hand opening Trekker (largest/heaviest)
Farmer (coolest, with Alox scales/handles)
Hiker (like the Farmer, with a thinner knife blade and plastic scales)
Fieldmaster (adds scissors and more)
Huntsman (like Fieldmaster, but has a corkscrew rather than a Phillips screwdriver)

Several in the Ranger series, with long blades-- bigger than the Victorinox 111mm models (spendy and harder to find)
Handyman (like the Vic Fieldmaster)
Several of the Evo series (techy look and fairly expensive for an SAK)

Leatherman makes a few tools that include saws, but the weight is out of bounds for most UL hikers. The Wave is a wonderful tool, but an anchor at 8oz. IMHO, the saw isn't any more effective than the one on a 3oz Swiss Army knife.

Edited by dwambaugh on 04/25/2011 09:48:08 MDT.

Evan Cabodi
(BlackRock) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Folding Tree Saw on 04/25/2011 09:52:07 MDT Print View

I take a heavy duty folding tree saw with me when we plan on trail maintenance or are doing a new route even if we are backpacking for a couple days. We once put up this new line that ended on a ledge with a big fir tree but all we had was a pocket knife to trim up the branches so you didn't have to climb/crawl through the tree... We ended up using it to painfully cut off a bunch of the low branches. We also once put up a trail through some slide alder and after those experiences decided a small tree saw was invaluable. If I were purely backpacking I'd most definitely leave the saw at home.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: on 04/25/2011 10:16:52 MDT Print View


Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Carrying a Saw on 04/25/2011 10:31:37 MDT Print View

I'll admit to owning a 15" folding Sven Saw at a whopping 10.58 ounces. Several of the guys with whom I hike feel that the campfire is the sole reason to be in the woods. They like scrounging wood and cutting it so that it's ready for the fire and this saw works for wood up to around 3" in diameter. It has also come in handy for doing a little impromptu trail maintenance when we come across trees that have fallen across the trail.

You may have noticed that I said that I own the saw in my first sentence...I've never actually carried it on the trail (I leave that to one of my partners).

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Is it ever worth it to carry a saw? on 04/25/2011 12:16:12 MDT Print View

I carry a little saw for trail maintenance when day hiking. It is still quite a bit bigger than that saw. I find it handy for blow downs. I used to bring it only when I assumed I would need it (early season hikes on less frequented trails) but I've found that it is hard to predict when I'll need it. Even if I can't get through a big limb, it is nice to quickly and cleanly cut all of the branches off. I don't bring it backpacking, just because I tend to count ounces when backpacking, and it weighs a few. That little one is awfully tempting, just to bring all of the time.

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
"Is it ever worth it to carry a saw?" on 04/25/2011 13:18:22 MDT Print View

+1: No.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: "Is it ever worth it to carry a saw?" on 04/25/2011 14:22:52 MDT Print View

I want to be clear, because my earlier post might have been misleading. When I say "trail maintenance" I mean clearing the occasional blow down, not real "trail maintenance" (as part of a crew). I run across blow downs all the time, and it is nice if they are dealt with, even if they are dealt with by an amateur like me. I especially like it when folks clear out the trees and branches on the roads that are skied.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Yes, for "other three season" day hiking on 04/26/2011 08:49:54 MDT Print View

I carry such a (very light) saw on day hikes in winter and shoulder seasons. It's part of my lightweight emergency shelter plan. On backpacking trips, I have what I need to survive already, but on a "day hike gone wrong", I would be disinclined to dig a snow cave (very time consuming, leaves you wet and tired). With a very light saw I have the option to cut live branches (LNT goes out the window if my life is truly at risk) to line and roof a snow pit, or to build a debris hut. Possibly also good to help in making/maintaining a fire in an emergency situation as well.

What I have is a Coghlans Pocket Sierra Saw, 1.4 oz, 3.5" blade.

Outside of this particular use, no way would I carry such a thing, a minimal knife/scissors combo works great for backpacking.

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: "Is it ever worth it to carry a saw?" on 04/26/2011 09:22:00 MDT Print View

I am with Ross on this one, when hiking on trails that receive little maintenance it is nice to have something to make blowdowns easier to navigate. Another option is the sawback machete. These are under a pound, but offer sawing, hacking, and splitting functionality.