A tool that is found within every camping pack, well, it should be in every pack, a bushcraft saw is an important tool for fire building and construction out in the woods.
There are innumerable amount of saws on the market with so many features that are handy in certain situations.
Having the right one for the job does make a difference as there are varying lengths, materials, and styles that impact the type of work that can be done with them.
In choosing your new saw you really want to look for something dependable. A dependable saw could mean something different to different people as not everyone will be in the same situation.
For example, some people might exclusively use their saw in the backcountry whereas someone else might use it a few times a year for light cutting.
Since saws are generally considered a necessity in my kit, I will tend to gravitate towards the saws with the most versatility.
This could include something like a longer blade so I can have the capability to saw through thick logs, or teeth that cut in multiple directions so that I can cut through dense wood easier and use less energy.
With these considerations at the front of your mind, we should look at what aspects of a saw to look for and how it can be of help to you in the backcountry.
What Makes A Good Bushcraft Saw?
There is a litany of tasks that you can complete with a good bushcraft saw that is not limited to wood or bone sawing.
It can make the difference between having a sturdy shelter to stay in or a hot fire to cook food on. The first thing you should research about a new saw is what its capabilities are.
A more versatile saw means that it can cut more. Versatility in this case lies in the length of the blade. The longer your saw blade the larger material you can cut through.
A saw blade that can do more means that it has more than one purpose, which is something you always want in gear for your kit.
Start thinking outside the box and beyond the wood cutting capabilities when you’re researching a new saw. Here are some questions you can ask yourself while thinking of your next saw.
- Would this saw fit as a backup tool if you lose your knife or machete?
- Will it cut through metal, bone, and plastic?
- Can it be used throughout all seasons without any issues?
These questions are a little outside the box for people looking for a simple saw to cut some firewood down with. However, a bushcrafters mindset is always tuned to look for tools that have multiple uses.
Durability can apply to all of your gear as you want it to withstand wear and tear as well as the elements when you’re outside using your saw. As with most things the materials and construction of your saw directly impact the versatility of your tools.
You want to ensure that your saw is not made of flimsy material such as cheap plastic or thin rubber.
The screws that hold your saw together should not be prone to rusting out in a wet climate, potentially compromising the integrity of your tool.
Everything right down to the metal that is used to make the saw blade takes important consideration when making a correct decision for you.
Do you want a thinner band-style blade that can easily cut through large logs with long, sweeping motions, or do you perhaps want a saw with a shorter and thicker blade as you are most going to be working with small to medium-sized branches.
Compact And Lightweight
If you’re able to find a compact and lightweight bushcraft saw without it sacrificing durability or versatility, then I’d say you found the perfect saw.
It is much more common to find saws that either do something really well or have that all-around quality that is good for many jobs.
The size of your saw is an important factor in your kit if you are a person who travels into the backcountry and covers far distances.
The larger your saw the more bulk and weight you will be adding to your loadout. Manufacturers understand this and have some pretty interesting saws that are both portable and pack a nice punch.
Packability is also part of this category as you have to make sure you can fit the saw into your pack.
Does your saw fold into itself? Can you take the blade out when moving around? Will it break in my bag if you’re rough with it?
The 10 Best Bushcraft Saws
These saws offer an abundance of versatility in construction material and build design. They all have individual tradeoffs that give an advantage to one over the other in different situations, but as long as you know what you’re going to be doing (and not doing) with the saw you will find the right one for you.
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1. Bahco 396 – LAP Laplander Folding Saw – 9 Inch Blade
The Bahco 396 is one of those general-purpose saws that I recommend to people just starting out in the world of bushcraft. This small 9-inch blade is incredibly light at 184 grams and can be folded for more portability.
The saw blade also comes with a friction reduction coating that is designed to reduce friction as you saw back and forth. If you dull your blade or want a backup, you can get additional blades to switch out.
The downside with such a short blade length is that you will be limited to light cutting. This means small to medium branches with ease. Anything larger and you will have to work a little bit to cut through.
|Lightweight and compact||Short blade length limits cutting power with longer branches|
|Heavy gauge steel makes for a durable saw||The tip of the blade is prone to bending if you’re sawing wood and it gets caught|
|Frictionless coating and extra blade capabilities are handy to have|
2. Coghlan’s Folding Saw – 21 Inch Blade
The Coghlans Folding Saw deserves a mention because of its simplicity and cost. Coghlan’s gear is usually found online or in military surplus stores.
After several experiences with the Coghlans folding saw you can tell that it is worth every penny.
If you’re the type of bushcrafter that enjoys a bow saw for its length, packability, and price, then look no further.
It has an anodized aluminum frame which makes for a lightweight saw, the blade is thin and measures 20 inches, which is perfect for those larger logs.
The omission of a carry case and no discernable hand grips for comfort might make this saw unappealing to some but if you’re looking for something to get the job done don’t pass this up.
|A long saw blade makes cutting easier||The saw blade is thin which would lead to it getting caught while cutting|
|Lightweight aluminum frame for easy carrying and packability||Single action saw blade makes for a little extra sawing work|
|The bow saw shape is great for getting power behind your cuts||Using the saw can be uncomfortable after periods of prolonged use|
3. Silky Katanaboy 650 – 25.6 Inch Blade
This sword, I mean saw, is one of the top-tier choices if you want something that’ll handle almost everything that comes your way.
The Silky Katanaboy 650 is expensive, coming in at upwards of $300 for one. However, the incredible length of this saw coupled with expert craftsmanship makes this a saw you’ll have for a long time.
With one of the longest blades on the market, the Katanaboy is well-balanced and has a rubber grip that allows for two-handed use of the saw.
This makes large trunks accessible to you and reduces the amount of wood scouting you’ll have to do if you’re camping.
|The incredibly long blade makes for quick work on large logs||Expensive|
|Rubberized grip increases force and reduces fatigue||Quite heavy at 2lbs|
|Limited lifetime warranty through the company is a plus|
4. Silky Ultra Accel Professional Curved Folding Saw
Silky is one of those brands that are instantly recognizable in the bushcraft world as reliable and understands the needs of those that want to live outside.
The Ultra Accel Professional saw has a blade under 10 inches which handles the smaller jobs just fine.
The curved blade provides an exceptional cutting radius as it hugs the log while cutting. Straight-bladed saws can only horizontally where curved blades cut more efficiently as you are cutting more of the branch.
|Long curved blade for extra cutting ability||Blades can wear easily under heavy use|
|One of the lighter saws on the market||Price Point is expensive compared to other saws with the same length|
5. Silky Professional PocketBoy Curved Blade Folding Saw
If you are more of an ultralight bushcrafter who doesn’t want a lot of gear with them as you make most of your stuff out in the woods, then the Silky Professional Series PocketBoy Curved Saw is a good consideration.
It is incredibly compact with a blade of only 6 inches long, and when closed, is only 8 inches long.
Keep in mind that this size of a saw will make what you can cut very limited. However, with teeth as sharp as the ones on this saw, you’ll make quick work of any branches you find.
|A compact saw with easy packability||Short blade limits capabilities|
|Sharp and durable blade|
|Multiple blade availability|
|Carrying case included|
6. Chainmate CM-24SSP 24-Inch Survival Pocket Chain Saw With Pouch
The Chainmate Survival Chainsaw is a unique survival saw that uses the simple concept of a chain to saw through a tree, much like a chainsaw.
The carbon steel teeth will make short work of any log and if you’re after a large tree and have a second person with you, well, you could more than likely get through it.
It weighs about 8 ounces and packs up very small which makes it a contender for any survival kit or ultralight packer.
|Lightweight and tiny||Requires more effort as you are using both arms|
|Sharp carbon steel teeth cut through wood easily|
|Comfortable non-slip grips|
7. Agawa Canyon Boreal21 Folding Bow Saw
The Agawa Canyon Boreal21 Folding Saw is a great example of a company with expert craftsmanship skills.
This saw deploys in less than 10 seconds without you ever needing to touch the blade. It’s a long 21-inch blade that is supported by a reinforced nylon handle.
The nice thing about this saw is the slim profile it has when packed up. This makes it easier to slip in the side pockets of your pack for easy access on the trail or at camp.
|Has an aggressive tooth pattern that rips through the wood||Frame size dictates maximum blade length|
|Durable enough to be used daily|
|The tensioner design keeps the blade very snug|
8. Corona Razortooth 10 Inch Folding Saw
The Corona Razortooth Folding Saw is similar to the Bahco above but has a longer blade and a tooth pattern that shreds through many types of wood with ease.
It features a curved blade to help with the forward and backward motions of the saw and cut more wood with each stroke.
The saw blade also features a triple tooth pattern to further increase the efficiency of the cutting ability.
|Saw blade has incredible power thanks to a multi- teeth pattern||Replacement blades are costly|
|The curved blade cuts more wood with each stroke||Be careful as the curved blade does have a gap when closed|
|Tempered steel blade gives this saw a long life|
|Limited lifetime warranty included|
9. REXBETI Folding Survival Saw
If you want a folding saw with lots of teeth then the Rexbeti Folding Survival Saw might hit home for you.
This saw has about 7 teeth per inch and is 11 inches long so you can imagine the cutting power it must have.
It’s a straight-bladed saw but should still cut like a curved saw with the number of cutting points this saw has.
|Cuts forearm-sized branches with ease||The blade can be prone to rust if not treated and left out in the rain|
|Less than a foot long when folded|
|Carbon steel blade for durability|
10. Opinel No. 18 Folding Saw
Opinel is a French knife manufacturer that loves creating simple and functional tools, which is what they did with the Opinel No. 18 Folding Saw.
It uses a simple folding and locking mechanism to hold the saw blade. It has a thin 8-inch blade attached to a Beechwood handle.
|The compact form factor makes for easy transport||The quality of the blade can be inconsistent|
|The materials used make it light, especially the Beechwood|
As you can see there are a lot of considerations to be made when choosing a bushcraft saw that fits your particular needs.
There are many different styles to choose from and they all act and perform differently. Using the guidelines outlined above and seeing some of the best products the market has to offer should clear up some confusion or indecision that you may have.
Perrin is a nomad surviving and thriving in in the Canadian forests. His areas of expertise include wilderness survival, primitive living, tracking wildlife, and teaching others about this way of life. He has has a “first-responder” certification and is a “leave no trace” expert.