Backpacking has been a popular activity for over one hundred years now, with many people choosing to grab their camping gear and traverse the great outdoors, climbing over mountain, river and desert.
But when you are in the great outdoors, you’re exposed to the elements. Miles away from the nearest gas station, if you find yourself tackling one of the many hazards that the wild terrain has to offer, you might find yourself up the creek without a paddle… perhaps literally in some cases.
One of the many difficulties you’ll face when out backpacking will be finding shelter and fuel. When it comes to building a campfire, you’ll need to use thicker logs that will burn slowly for the duration of a long, cold night.
The same goes for making an impromptu shelter, you’ll need the thickest and sturdiest branches to last you through gale-force winds and rain.
That’s where a backpack saw comes in.
These compact saws are invaluable when it comes to hacking down small trees for fuel or shelter. They can also help you get out of a tricky spot if you find yourself trapped or need to cut loose a section of thick rope. The serrated steel blades will make short work of even the most tenacious trees.
Ideally, you’ll want a knife that will easily store in your back pocket or tuck away in your backpack, not contributing too much to the overall weight of your pack or take up too much space.
But what are the best backpack saws currently available on the market? What features and attributes does a good backpack saw need to have to help you out of a tricky woodland fix? How much can you be expected to pay for a decent backpack saw?
Well, don’t worry backpackers, we’ll make sure that you don’t get stranded out there on the scruff!
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best backpack saws currently available on the market, along with a buyer’s guide that will help give you a better insight when it comes to picking out the right saw for your needs, as well as some frequently asked questions.
Top 4 Best Backpacking Saws
OUR TOP PICK
Our first saw is one that comes highly recommended by most Amazon users, made by a reputable company that has been known for making high-quality cutting tools.
With this collapsible folding blade, you’ll be able to easily cut through green wood, dry wood and even bone if necessary - introducing the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw.
With sturdy steel teeth, this blade will have no problems shearing through most materials that you’ll find out on the trail or in the wood.
It has 7 teeth per inch, which is fairly average for a blade, but it will certainly get you out of a tricky situation, cutting quickly and efficiently.
The steel itself is perfectly adapted for heavy-duty slicing, it will not bend, bow or stick when cutting. You can open and close this saw, as it has a smooth action that clicks neatly into place.
In terms of size, this blade is very short, so perfect for you to store in your backpack or pocket.
When it comes to size and durability, you cannot beat the Bahco saw. Made from quality steel material, this will saw through even the woods of medium toughness, as well as bone.
The compact size of the retracted blade and handle is very easy to whip out and wield. When locked in the handle, this can be stored in the smallest of your backpack pockets.
The tooth length has enough serrated blades so that it won’t stick or break when you are really putting your back into sawing multiple thick logs over an extended period.
The smallness of the teeth and size of the blade itself means that it is not great for slicing up larger pieces of wood.
Our next model is perfect for sawing wood that is around 5- to 6-inches thick, coming as it does with an impressive 10-inch blade.
It is nice and curved, allowing you to get that hook into the tougher chunks of wood. It also comes with an ergonomically-shaped handle that will give you a steady grip, which is very important when slicing through this wood - introducing Corona Razortooth Folding Pruning Saw.
The Razortooth has a very aggressive angle to the teeth, with 3 cutting edges meaning that you won’t have to waste time positioning yourself or your blade, which is especially useful if you’re operating it in rainy conditions where visibility is low.
This blade will only saw on the pull stroke, although when the blades do sink in they will remove 3 times as much wood or rope from the cut, owing to the narrowness and multitude of the teeth.
The material of the blade factors greatly in its durability, and this saw really comes up trumps - it is made from high carbon steel, giving you a very rigid blade that is not prone to bending or sticking, even when sawing through tough and wet green wood.
It is also chrome plated, which means that the friction generated is greatly reduced.
The price - This is one of the more reasonably priced models of blade on this list. However, it doesn’t skimp on the quality, with solid construction materials and design that makes it incredibly easy to wield.
The safety lock will mean that you won’t have to worry about it slicing you open if you fall on it while it’s in your back pocket.
The unique design of the teeth means that you’ll be able to saw through even the thickest chunks of green or dry wood quicker and more efficiently, which is important if the night is drawing in and you need to amass fuel as fast as possible.
The fact that it only cuts on the pull stroke might be frustrating for users expecting to slice on both sides.
The next in our list is very different in shape, a compact band saw that gives you a little more control over your sawing power and direction of the cut.
The design of this is very uncomplicated, but it gets the job done in next to no time at all - introducing the Sven-Saw 15-inch Folding Saw.
When cutting through thick woods, the grip is probably the most important thing to maintain consistent power and direction of the cutting angle.
With a dual-handed control, you’ll be able to have the most control over your saw, removing excess wood and cutting at super-speed.
The blade itself can be folded into the body of the saw very quickly and is completely retracted, leaving no sharp edges sticking out.
However, once the blade is unsheathed, you’ll need to secure it in place with a supplied wing nut and washer. This might make it more unappealing for people who want to saw quickly and easily.
The simple construction of this saw makes it very easy to use, the two-handed design will be ideal for chopping down and sectioning smaller trees with power and precision.
The sturdy steel frame is durable and will last you a very long time on many backpacking adventures. It is also water-resistant and won’t rust even after multiple uses.
It is fully retractable and perfectly easy to store in your backpack, you won’t have to worry about this blade cutting through any of your personal items.
The main drawback of this blade is the fact that you have to secure it in place with a washer and wing nut. This will put off anyone who expects poor weather conditions and low visibility.
The next saw is another dual-handed lightweight saw that won’t take up too much room in your backpack, with a sturdy 12-inch blade that will remove as much material as possible when cutting logs up to a 6-inch thickness - introducing the Outdoor Edge Packsaw.
The steel blade makes for shorter strokes and therefore less exertion, although you’ll be probably making slightly less efficient strokes and have to concentrate a bit more on maintaining a consistent angle between pulling and pushing.
The blade of this saw retracts and unfolds with relative ease, requiring no extra washers to secure it in place after use.
The feel of the frame is very sturdy, giving you the added confidence that you need when hacking out in the worst conditions and wanting to get a shelter established quickly.
With a 12-inch blade, you will still find it tricky to chop down logs of around 10-inch thickness, but you’ll make quick work of the smaller trunks of around 5- or 6-inches.
The folding aspect of this blade makes it the ideal option for better storage. You’ll be able to stow this one in your backpack and it won’t contribute in any significant way to your overall pack weight.
The shorter blade will mean that you’ll have to take smaller strokes, but the blade will cut on both the push and pull, meaning that you’ll be able to gather fuel as quickly as possible.
The 12-inch blade will not be the perfect choice for anyone looking to saw down thicker trunks to build a shelter.
Best Backpacking Saw Buying Guide
There’ll be plenty of features that a decent backpack hand saw should have, amongst which should be how sharp and versatile it is, as well how easy it can be stored and whether it will damage any of the other items in your pack.
Here are a few things you should look for in your next adventurer’s saw:
How Sharp Is It?
You’ll need something with a decent blade that will be able to cut through varying materials, especially wood.
If you don’t have a sharp blade, you’ll have a difficult time when sawing, which will be problematic if you need wood fuel fast.
You’ll not only need a blade that starts sharp but one that stays sharp. A lot of blades come coated and tempered so they stay sharp after multiple uses.
How Efficiently Does It Cut?
You’ll want a blade that removes a lot of wood material with a single stroke.
You’ll also want a blade that cuts green wood as well as thick dry wood. For this, you’ll be looking for saws that are longer and have more teeth per inch.
How Ergonomic Is The Handle?
You want something that fits comfortably in the hand and doesn’t cause blisters after sawing with a firm grip over a longer period, even when wearing gloves.
What Is The Blade Made From?
Try and find a blade that is made from carbon or stainless steel, balancing the overall weight of the blade with its tensile strength.
How Lightweight Is The Entire Saw?
You’ll want something that can be carried around but won’t weigh you down.
The added weight will be a real pain if you’re already carrying half your bodyweight in other essential camping equipment.
Look into shorter blades and polymer materials for your handles to save a few ounces off your shoulders.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Bother With A Backpack Saw?
It depends on how heavy-duty a camper you are. If you’re camping for one night and simply want to make a small fire to heat your cup of tea, then you probably won’t need a cutting aide.
However, if you want a roaring campfire that will keep you warm for a few hours, requiring heavy logs to keep it fed, you’ll want a decent cutting implement.
How Big Should Your Backpack Saw Be?
The longer the blade, the higher the level of the cut. It’s that simple. So a blade of 10-inches or over will be ideal for slicing through those thicker pieces of wood a lot quicker.
Generally speaking, the ratio of the wood to the blade length is that if your blade is 10-inches, you’ll be able to cut around 6-inches of wood. If you’re cutting 10-inches of wood, you’ll probably be looking for a blade around 21-inches.
A longer blade will take up more room in your pack, so you’ll have to make a trade-off between added weight and blade efficiency.