Spoiler Alert: Conquerwild named the AGAWA 21 Inch Folding Bow Saw as the best backpacking saw for campers!!
Whether you’re preparing firewood, building a shelter or clearing up a trail, most backpackers could benefit from keeping a handy saw with them. However, we don’t always have the space or ability to keep a massive blade in our packs.
The best saws for backpacking are ones that are lightweight, efficient and easy to use. You should never have to sacrifice convenience or safety for a good product. If you’re looking for the best backpacking saw on the market, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top 6 products that I think are worth your money.
What We’ll Be Reviewing:
- Corona Razortooth Folding Saw
- REXBETI Folding Saw
- Silky Professional Folding Saw
- AGAWA 21 Inch Folding Bow Saw
- Bahco Ergo Bow Saw
- Skyocean Pocket Chainsaw
Corona RazorTOOTH Saw – Most Lightweight Folding Saw
If you’re searching for a quality folding backpacking saw that works for beginners, look no further than the Corona RazorTOOTH. Weighing in at only 0.8 pounds, this compact saw is a great blend of convenience and functionality. It’s got a 10 inch blade (though you can also find a 7 or 8 inch variation) and does a great job of slicing through 5-6 inch branches.
This saw is armed with 3 sided teeth, making for a consistent, super clean cut that slices on the pull stroke. It boasts up to 6 TPI (teeth per inch), and it’s impulse hardened. Also, it’s made from Japanese SK5 carbon steel, so this thing is pretty durable. Overall, this saw is a fantastic choice if you’re a beginner or if you’re looking to do some light-to-moderate wood work.
- It’s got a chrome layer that prevents rust and reduces friction while cutting.
- The blade is easily replaceable.
- The blade is also taper-ground and curved.
- This saw has a locking position for both open and close, making it super safe and easy to use.
- When folded closed, this saw is 12 inches long, making it pretty compact.
- When the blade is folded inward, there’s a small gap where the saw’s teeth are exposed. This is unlikely to cause injury unless you purposely insert your finger into the gap.
REXBETI Folding Saw – Most Affordable Backpacking Saw
If you want a folding saw that’s slightly more equipped for heavy-duty cutting, the REXBETI Extra Long Hand Saw may be your best bet. This product’s carbon steel blade is only an inch longer than the Corona’s (11 inches in total), but an inch can make a huge difference. According to REXBETI, this saw is equipped to work on 6 – 7 inch branches.
An anti-slip, rubber-coated polymer handle makes using this saw a super comfortable experience. Also, the aggressive, staggered teeth allow for cuts to be made on the push and the pull stroke. This means cutting through more wood in less time. Some may consider this product to be a bit less beginner friendly than the Corona, but it’s definitely a worthy choice for all backpackers.
- It’s affordable.
- It’s compact.
- It’s got an aggressive triple-cut tooth configuration.
- The blade boasts an impressive 7 TPI.
- The blade is made of carbon steel.
- When folded, this saw is just under a foot long.
- The blade is straight rather than curved, making it slightly harder for beginners to use.
- The blade doesn’t lock in its closed position, which can potentially be dangerous when keeping it in your backpack.
Silky Professional Folding Saw – Best Folding Saw
Sometimes, it’s worth spending a bit more to get an upgrade in quality. If you’re serious about your backpacking woodwork, then the Silky Professional Bigboy is the way to go. For a folding saw, this blade is massive and aggressive at 14.2 inches long and 1.4 millimeters thick. It’s got taper-ground and impulse hardened teeth that cut easily on pull strokes. With a solid 5.5 TPI, this product has no trouble slicing through medium-sized (or even large in some cases) branches like butter.
The yellow, double-fist rubber handle on this saw makes woodwork a dream, even when you’ve been hacking logs for hours. It’s anti-slip and it works to reduce vibrations from the blade. The blade also has 2 open locking positions, depending on the task you’re looking to accomplish. Whether you’re a trail maintenance worker or a backpacker looking to prepare firewood, this saw kicks some serious butt.
- It’s got a much larger blade than the average folding backpack saw.
- The taper-ground, impulse hardened teeth stay sharp for a very long time.
- It’s got a durable carbon blade.
- The blade is slightly curved, making it easy-to-use for beginners.
- Silky also makes a quality sheath for this hiking saw which you can buy separately.
- At 1.25 pounds and 16 inches when folded, this isn’t the most compact folding pack saw.
- It’s a bit more expensive than the other folding saws on this list.
AGAWA 21 Inch Folding Bow Saw – Best Pick Overall
If you’re looking for a saw that’s got the best of both worlds, you might want to go for this product from AGAWA. With the strength and design of a bow saw but the compactness and convenience of a folding saw, AGAWA truly hit a home run with this tool.
It’s got lots of clearance between the blade and the frame, which makes it great for cutting deep into large pieces of wood. The blade is an impressive 21 inches long, and it has quite a bit of power. The vicious-looking raker tooth pattern practically eats wood of all sizes. At the same time, it’s super safe. You can easily fold this saw closed without ever touching the blade… And it’s ultra inconspicuous once it’s folded inward, so it’s never an eye sore. From my perspective, this foldable bow saw is the total package.
- It weighs 18 ounces, which is quite light for a blade of this size.
- It cuts on the push and pull motion.
- The frame is sturdy (made of anodized aluminum) and tensions automatically.
- The blade is impulse hardened and has a rust-resistant coating.
- The blade is also easy to replace.
- The handle is made from fiberglass reinforced nylon, so it’s sturdy and comfortable to hold.
- It’s a bit expensive.
- It’s quite long and not as compact as most standard folding saws.
Bahco Ergo Bow Saw – Best Heavy Duty Bow Saw
The Bahco Ergo Bow Saw is a product for those who are looking for a simple yet heavy-duty tool. It has a relentless, 30 inch, straight blade that can cut through virtually anything. The ergonomic handle and knuckle protector will allow you to cut logs all day without risking your safety. Plus, you can adjust the tension of the blade with the help of a screw- something that not too many bow saws have.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the most portable saw because it doesn’t fold or perform any fancy tricks. However, this saw means business and it’s probably the best on this list when it comes to cutting some serious-sized wood. Plus, if you need a smaller size or a blade for green (wet) wood, Bahco has got you covered! They make this same saw in several variations, depending on your needs.
- It’s affordable!
- It’s the largest blade on this list.
- It cuts on both the push and pull motion.
- The blade is easily replaceable.
- It also comes with a blade guard.
- This saw’s ergonomic handle is finished with orange enamel paint, which helps prevent rust and corrosion.
- It’s not compact at all.
- It’s a bit heavy at nearly 2 pounds.
Skyocean Pocket Chainsaw – Best Pocket Chainsaw
It’s ironic that the most lightweight product on this list is also the one with the most cut length, but that’s the beauty of a pocket chainsaw. This saw from Skyocean is like the evil jump rope from hell with its 36 inch long chain and 11 razor sharp blades. This innovative and quirky creation cuts in a bi-directional motion, making it easy to cleanly cut through wood from far away.
On either side of the chain, there’s a sturdy paracord handle (which is basically just a loop). This helps to ensure a sturdy grip on your chainsaw, even if you’re cutting through a branch that’s 15 feet off the ground. Would I say that this is the best backpacking saw for beginners? No… But if you’re looking for a saw that can easily cut wood in hard-to-reach places, this is the one for you.
- It’s super lightweight at only 5.6 ounces.
- It can be folded down to a size of 6 inches.
- It’s affordable.
- You can untie the paracord handles to make them longer (up to 275 inches) or to use as an emergency tourniquet.
- It comes with a convenient belt loop pouch for safe storage.
- Getting the blades to cut through wood properly might take a bit of practice.
- It’s not good for detailed hedgework or for cutting through small diameter wood.
What Type Of Backpacking Saw Do You Need?
As backpackers, we each have different needs and circumstances that make our experiences unique. These needs are the main indicators of what type of backpacking saw you should look for.
Are you looking to prepare firewood? Do you want to build a shelter? Are you pruning trees? Or do you just want to keep a saw with you in case of an emergency situation?
There are 3 different types of backpacking saws. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses. You should familiarize yourself with all 3 categories so that you have a better understanding of what to look for.
These are probably the most popular choice for backpackers because of their compact nature. Folding saws range in size, but they usually have blades of around 8 to 15 inches. The blade can be folded in and out of its handle. This makes them safe, lightweight and easy to use. While many of these saws have standard straight blades, some of them have curved blades.
Good For… Sawing small to medium sized pieces of wood (1-7 inches in diameter, depending on the length of your blade)… pruning trees… hedgework… preparing firewood… fitting into pockets or small spaces.
Bad For… Sawing through large pieces of wood (8 inches or more).
Known for being a more conventional type of saw, these usually have straight blades and are shaped like an archery bow (hence the name). The blade usually extends from one side of the suspended frame to the other. These are better suited for cutting larger logs than folding saws. Plus, their blades are usually bigger.
Good For… Sawing medium to large sized pieces of wood… handling large amounts of pressure.
Bad For… Fitting into small places like pockets or backpacks- they’re usually heavy and bulky.
This is definitely the most unconventional and innovative type of backpacking saw. The pocket chainsaw is essentially a loose, blade-studded chain with handles on each end. To use one of these, you must wrap the chain around your wood and pull each end back and forth. Pocket chainsaws are super compact, ultra lightweight and very long.
Good For… Cutting through medium and large sized pieces of wood… cutting wood from far away… severing branches from below… fitting into compact spaces.
Bad For… Hedgework… Small pieces of wood… Beginners.
Backpacking Saw Terminology
If you’re new to the world of backpacking saws, you may find yourself a bit confused by all the terms and phrases I’ve used to define them. It’s important that you know what it all means. This way, you’ll know exactly what each product has to offer. Here are the terms to know:
Teeth – These are the jagged, razor sharp points on a saw’s blade that do all the cutting. Teeth come in all different shapes and sizes. They can be staggered, triple sided or impulse hardened to make for a cleaner, more efficient cut.
Impulse Hardened – This means that the blade’s teeth have undergone a high frequency heating treatment to strengthen them. This makes them less flexible and more durable.
TPI – This is an acronym that stands for “teeth per inch.” This is a measurement that most saws use to show how many teeth there are in a given inch of the blade.
Taper Ground – If a blade is taper ground, this means it’s made from a single sheet of metal. In other words, the blade has a smooth transition from the spine (top of the blade) to the cutting edge (bottom/sharp part of the blade).
Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose The Best Backpacking Saw
Now that we’ve gone over most of the basic information, let’s get into the factors that will make a backpacking saw worth your money.
Why Blade Length Matters
The blade is the most important part of your saw. You can’t cut anything without it. Backpacking saw blades come in many different shapes and sizes. It’s sort of common sense that longer saw blades are able to cut through larger pieces of wood.
As a general rule, I like to take the length of the saw’s blade and subtract 4 inches. This will give you the maximum size of wood that your saw should cut through. For example, if you have a 10 inch long blade, you should be able to slice through logs of up to 6 inches in diameter.
Pocket chainsaws and bow saws are usually best equipped for cutting giant pieces of wood. This is because they usually have more cut length or larger blades.
The Shape Of Your Blade
The size of your blade isn’t the only thing that matters. If you’re buying a foldable backpacking saw, you’re also going to need to decide between a straight or curved blade.
If you’re a beginner, or if you’re looking to work with small branches, a curved blade may be the better choice. They can be easier to hold and they feel a bit more natural in the hand.
If you’re doing some heavy-duty log work, you’ll need a straight edge. These are mostly found on bow saws and they do a better job of really diving into thick wood.
What’s Your Blade Made Of?
The material of your blade can make or break your cutting experience. Carbon steel is one of the best materials out there for saw blades. This is because it’s durable and it stays sharp for long periods of time. Most of the saws I’ve listed above have carbon steel blades.
Stainless steel is another popular option. Since it’s rust and corrosion resistant, blades made with this material tend to last a long time. Anodized aluminum is great as well because it’s strong and corrosion resistant.
If your blade isn’t made of stainless steel or anodized aluminum, make sure it has some sort of rust-resistant coating to ensure a longer lifespan.
The Teeth Of Your Saw
The more efficient your saw’s teeth are, the more clean your cuts are going to be. The first thing you should look at is the TPI (teeth per inch) of each saw. The higher the number, the more aggressive your saw will be. Many saw blades have staggered or 3-sided teeth to offer a more precise and efficient cut.
You should also check whether your saw cuts on the push or the pull stroke. This concept is just as straightforward as it sounds. Some blades have teeth that are designed to cut wood only when you’re pulling the saw, and some cut only when pushing. Some saws, like the AGAWA 21 Inch Folding Bow Saw, do both!
Many people (beginners especially) have trouble with saws that do both. This is because the teeth will continue to dig into the wood no matter which way you move the blade. However, if you’re skilled, this will allow you to cut faster.
Convenience & Carry
If you’re buying a backpacking saw, you’re probably planning on bringing it on camping and hiking adventures. If size and weight weren’t a concern, you could just bring a chainsaw with you on your backpacking trips!
Folding saws tend to be pretty lightweight and compact. This is what they’re designed for. Since the blade is able to fold into the handle, you can cut their length in half and fit them into small spaces. Most of the folding saws I’ve recommended weigh around 1 pound or less.
The most convenient type of backpacking saw you can find is a pocket chainsaw. These tools are essentially nothing more than a chain with handles, so you can fold them up and fit them anywhere! There’s usually no fancy parts or features, which makes products like the Skyocean Pocket Chainsaw super lightweight.
Bow saws are usually more bulky and heavy than the other 2 types. However, if you have the extra room in your backpack, you might want to choose something like the Bahco Ergo Bow Saw.
Make Sure You Can Handle It
When it comes to sawing for long periods of time, comfortability is key. If you choose a product that feels unnatural in your hands, you won’t be able to cut as efficiently. This is why you should look for a saw with an ergonomic handle. This means that it’s designed to fit naturally into your hand.
Rubberized handles tend to be the best because they don’t feel harsh in your hand. Some people like to wear gloves while they’re using a backpacking saw as an extra layer of protection. If you prefer to do this, you should test it out first. Make sure your saw works well with gloves on before you take it backpacking.
Don’t Neglect Safety
Never forget the fact that your backpacking saw is a dangerous tool. If you don’t operate with caution, you risk causing serious harm to yourself or to someone else.
Whenever you’re sawing through wood, always be well aware of where your other hand is. Keep the hand you’re not using at least a foot away from the saw at all times.
When your blade is not in use, it’s important that you have some sort of protection over it. Even if you’re using a folding saw, you should invest in a sheath to cover it. Some of these saws still have exposed teeth, even when they’re folded.
When carrying a bow saw, make sure you have a blade guard. This is a strip of material that covers the teeth of your saw. If you throw an unprotected blade into your backpack, who knows what kind of destruction it will cause.
If you’re cutting down a branch from a live tree (which I never recommend doing), make sure that no one is in the nearby area. There’s no telling which direction the branch might fall, so you’ll need to make sure everyone is out of the way.
Better safe than sorry.
Caring For Your Backpack Saw
Just like any other tool you would buy, your backpacking saw is going to require a bit of maintenance to stay in tip top shape. The more you neglect it, the quicker you’ll have to replace it with a new product. Taking good care of your backpacking saw will save you money and ensure that your cuts are always clean.
Sharpening Your Backpacking Saw Blade
In a perfect world, your saw’s blade would remain as sharp as a tack forever. Unfortunately, in this world it doesn’t quite work that way. After repeated uses, your saw’s blade will begin to dull down. This will result in sloppier cuts. It’ll also take much more effort to cut through wood.
In order to manually sharpen your blade, you’ll need a file. Manual sharpening can be a bit of a tedious process, because you’ll need to spend time working on each tooth individually. Many people prefer to use a triangular file, because they usually work well with the angles of your teeth. Remember to always file in one direction rather than going back and forth.
If you want a more specific visual demonstration of how to sharpen the blade of your backpacking saw, watch this video:
If filing seems like too much work for you, make sure you buy a backpacking saw that has an easily removable blade. This way, you can replace it when it becomes too dull to use.
Cleaning Your Backpacking Saw
It’s never a good idea to cut wood with a dirty blade. This will inhibit your ability to get a clean, quality cut. It also increases your chances of injuring yourself.
It’s important that, when you’re cleaning your saw, you do so in an area that’s well lit. You need to make sure all residue is removed before you start using your saw again.
As for cleaning solutions, many saw owners have different preferences. Here’s a quick video to show you how well some of the most popular choices work:
If your blade begins to show signs of rust, you should remove the handle and scrub it with some steel wool and sandpaper. If this doesn’t work, you may need to invest in a new blade entirely.
If your handle is dirty, you might want to coat it with some boiled linseed oil.
Just remember: a clean saw is a happy and efficient saw.
When it comes to backpacking saws, you don’t want to mess around. It’s super important that you take all factors into account before making a purchase. Try to make an informed decision based off of efficiency, safety and convenience.
I stand behind all of the products I’ve listed in my backpacking saw reviews above. However, there is one saw that seems to triumph above the rest.
Our Top Pick Is….
If you’re looking for a product that compiles all the best backpacking saw features into one package, this is the one for you. It’s got a massive amount of cutting length. It’s got a convenient folding design. It’s got power, durability and more. Though some of the other saws come close, the AGAWA 21 Inch Folding Saw easily snags my choice for top pick here.
If you’re a beginner and you think you need something with a curved blade, then go with the Silky Professional Folding Saw.