A backpacking saw can be a very useful addition to the rest of your gear. Whether you are using it to make a fire, create a shelter or clear your trail, it’s important to know how to use it. Here we’ll go through the different types of saw and how to use them.
How to use a backpacking saw?
The correct way to use a backpacking saw will depend on which type you use. It’s important to take the right steps so that you cut safely and efficiently. You need to apply pressure in the right way while also being mindful of your surroundings.
The different types of backpacking saw
There are three main types of backpacking saw and they are a folding saw, bow saw and a pocket chainsaw. All three need to be used in different ways and here we’ll show you how.
1. Folding saw
A folding saw is one that will fold out from the handle in a similar way to a switchblade. These are great for cutting branches. It’s always important to have a secure grip of them and this can be aided by wearing gloves.
Some folding saws will only cut on either the push or pull which you should check beforehand.
You want to keep your bodyweight close to the blade and not overreach as otherwise you’re not going to be in control. If you’re struggling with the blade, you shouldn’t try and force the pressure, as this could make it snap.
If you’re cutting a branch then you want to hold onto it firmly while cutting as close to the branch collar as you can. This will give you the most stability while also giving the tree the best chance of healing.
It’s best to hold onto the branch until you’ve finished your cut and slow down towards to end to stay in control.
2. Bow saw
Almost all bows saws will work on both the push and pull, making them effective at cutting. For safety purposes, it’s always a good idea to cut from above so you’re never hit by debris. With a bow saw it’s best to start slow and build up speed as you go.
If you are cutting large branches then it’s a good idea to give it an undercut from below. This is a small cut underneath the branch. When you get saw through the top of the branch, the undercut will allow you to have a clean cut rather than the branch splintering off.
Whenever you’re cutting with a bow saw you want to ensure that you remain well balanced and in control. The bow saw can be used with two hands but most people prefer to keep one firm grip on the branch you’re cutting and the other on the handle.
As with the folding saw, it’s best to slow down as you get towards the end of the cut.
3. Pocket chainsaw
A pocket chainsaw is a totally different type of cutting and nothing like using a regular chainsaw. It’s the same type of chain with blades on it but with handles on either end. You pull alternatively with each hand with the chain wrapped around the tree or branch.
This back and forth motion can eventually eat its way through a tree or large branch. Instead of leaning your weight into your cutting as you would do with a regular saw, you will lean back and use your weight as pressure on the chain. Due to this, you need a stable base and balance.
This type of cutting is not going to be suitable on smaller branches as the force you need would bend them. One way they can be used is on large branches that are on the floor, this is because you can press them down with your feet while you use the chainsaw.
All types of saws have the same safety concern in common: what happens when you finish the cut? You have to work out where the branch is going to fall or where the tree is going to land. You should always make sure that you’re never in the path of falling debris.
Wearing gloves isn’t a requirement of sawing but it is advised. It’ll help to protect you from cuts but it will also protect you from blisters and sore hands if you needed to do a lot of cutting.
Another important safety consideration is that you should always have a secure grip and balance. Make sure that your feet or hands aren’t going to slip.
Cleaning and maintenance
It’s a good idea to wipe down your backpacking saw after each use. This is because the sticky resin can build up which can make it much harder to use. Wiping it down is also going to prevent it from rusting if its protective coating has worn away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I carry a backpacking saw?
Backpack saws can be vital tools but they’re not required for everyone. If you need to create a shelter, fire or maintain a trail then they can be vital pieces of equipment. If you’re simply out for a day of backpacking, then it’s unlikely that you’re going to need one.
How heavy is a backpacking saw?
This will depend on the type of saws. Pocket chainsaws can be quite light and compact. Larger backpacking bow saws can be a couple of pounds. A folding saw will usually be between 6-10 pounds but can be a little more, depending on the model.
What type of backpacking saw is best?
The answer to this question will completely depend on your needs and what you need to cut. It’s important to make a note of what you plan on cutting and what you’d be most comfortable with.
It’s always the best idea to get a top rated model with positive reviews.
How big should my backpacking saw be?
You need your saw to be a couple of inches bigger than the thing that you’re trying to cut. This is because you need to have room to push and pull. If your saw is too short then you’ll have to have too many mini strokes which would be inefficient.