Best Backpacking Saw – Tested and Reviewed (2022)
When you’re backpacking the only things you can rely on are the tools on your back. That means if you’re clearing away wood for a big old-fashioned bonfire, then you’re going to need a saw.
You can’t get big dry pieces to burn with just a machete and a hatchet, sometimes you need to break out the big guns. A good backpacking saw opens up a world of options when you’re backpacking, your surroundings suddenly become much more welcoming, obstacles are easily cleared, when you’re cold and wet and begging for a warm place to bed down you’re much more able to get large, slowly burning hunks of woods to throw on your fires.
After 15 hours of testing and research, we can confidently say the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw is the best option.
The best saw can mean many things to a lot of people, but it’s hard to argue against this bad boy from Bahco. It’s a compact folding saw that’s made from quality stainless steel, coated to protect it from the elements, and specially designed to give you the best cut with every push and pull. The stainless steel of this blade is exactly the kind of material you’d want with you in the middle of the woods when you’re trying to disassemble a tree for fuel.
It’s simple and sturdy. Stainless steel is easy to maintain, so no matter how dirty your saw gets out on the trail, you’re not going to have much of a problem keeping it in clean working order. Stainless steel is also perfect for creating a saw with hardened saw blade teeth. The teeth on this saw don’t lend themselves well to being sharpened. This is primarily because the necessity has been designed out.
This saw comes with XT hardpoint toothing. If you’re unfamiliar it means that the teeth on this saw have been specially treated to harden them against routine use. This is going to give you a saw that’s ready to take a beating for a long time. In fact, if you felt inclined to attempt sharpening the teeth on this saw despite not needing to, you’d be lowering the durability of the tool.
If you take a diamond file to these teeth, you’re going to strip away the reinforced surfaces and lay bare the softer steel. Sharpening hardpoint teeth is going to ironically make your saw less useful if you’re working with a hardpoint tooth saw. The solution to a dulling saw blade with this Bahco folding saw is replacement blades.
They’re easy to swap out when the time comes, and it’s a much safer and achievable solution than individually sharpening the teeth on your saw blade. This saw is perfect for backpacking. It folds into a compact shape that’s about 7-inches long. It fits well into pretty much any bag you’re going to bring along with yourself when you’re backpacking.
If you don’t want to slide it into your bag, there’s an easy attachment on the butt of the handle that will allow you to strap it to the side of your bag, freeing up space and making it available at the drop of a hat. Speaking of the handle. It’s very comfortable to wield without straying into the world of fancy materials that are bound to break down after a few months.
The handle is made from a simple type of plastic. It’s ergonomically designed to give you a firm comfortable grip while you’re sawing away on the trails. It’s subtly textured to keep the saw from leaping from your fingers while you’re working, which is a lifesaver. It holds up well even if you’ve recently had a run-in with some rain while hiking.
This saw has it all. It’s easy to deploy, a handful of smart features secure your blade in place once you’ve opened it up to get to work, and stowing it away again is simple, and it never takes up any more room than it has to. These blades are perfectly suited to biting through wood, both green and dry, plastic, and even bone if you’re the hunting type. The stainless steel protects your saw blade from the elements.
Water, heat, and the oils from your skin won’t be tarnishing or destroying the stainless steel body of this saw. The blade itself is coated for rust protection and imparting a low-friction nature to the saw. The coating makes cutting through wood a breeze. It’s a small touch, but it goes a really long way.
When you’re able to get a full pull and push through the wood without getting caught in the wood when you’re trying to make a pass. The blade has what we think is the perfect number of teeth per inch, sitting at a pretty 7 teeth per inch. On a saw, the number of teeth per inch is almost like the resolution of the blade.
More teeth per inch are going to get you a more fine-looking cut with a more smooth surface once you’re done, but it’s going to take you much longer to use a fine-tooth saw because of all the friction you’re overcoming along with the relatively minute amount of material you’re cutting per tooth on the saw.
Similarly, a saw with fewer teeth per inch is going to remove more material per tooth and give you a quicker cut while sacrificing a neat and tidy cut. This saw blade sits right in the middle, giving you an even cut without forcing you to spend all day drawing the blade across the material you’re cutting, which is perfect for backpacking because you’re just trying to grab some wood and get your fire started, you’re not building a desk out here.
These saws are always ready to go. You can think of it as more of a massive pocket knife than anything. The blade locks into place with a simple mechanism that’s easy to engage and disengage. This gives you a pretty sizable piece of equipment when it’s fully deployed, there isn’t much you can’t slice through with this saw.
You’re going to be able to get it into a working position quite easily, just open it up, make sure it’s locked into place, and you’re ready to go. The biggest difference between this and a pocket knife (besides the size, obviously) is that the blade locks into place while the saw is closed as well, so you can rest easy when the saw is in storage or while transporting it on your trek.
It’s hard to point to one single product and claim it’s going to fit everybody’s needs, but this saw here is pretty darn close. From the build quality of the handle to the replaceable hardpoint tooth saw blades, this saw has it all without bogging itself down in ridiculous features. It’s the kind of saw you’ll be able to rely on when the chips are down or when you’re just leisurely gathering wood to cap off a successful day of hiking.
It’s versatile without becoming cumbersome. It cuts through a number of materials just by being itself, which makes it the perfect saw for all sorts of wood or any kind of hunting you end up undertaking while you’re backpacking. It’s just a simple solid piece of equipment that ticks all of the boxes. If you’re looking for a saw, you need something that’s going to be reliable, affordable, and a whole host of other things.
If you’re not quite convinced that this is the saw for you, then maybe you’re just not sure what it means for a saw to be the perfect backpacking saw. A good saw is more than just a tool to hack away with. A good saw might be different for you, and if you need help picking out a good one, here are some good guidelines.
Note: We scoured online markets and tested 11 different backpacking saws, and the best is the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw.
See a Good Saw?
A good saw isn’t hard to nail down once you know what you’re looking for. The trick is knowing what you’re looking for in the first place. No two saws are the same, and if you’re going to be looking for the perfect saw, then you need to start thinking about what it is you’re looking for and finding a saw that matches your needs.
Finding the perfect saw can be an extremely personal thing. The only person that can accurately shop for your own needs is yourself. When we say that this saw from Bahco is the best, we’re saying that it masterfully executes on the aspects below.
It’s a saw that’s not just durable and easy to use, it’s a piece of equipment that will stay by your side all the way through your backpacking journeys. It’s a saw that’s head and shoulders above the cheap options out there with blades that snap in half during regular use or handles that crack after applying a reasonable amount of force.
This is the most obvious thing you should be looking for when you’re seeking out a saw. If your saw is dull, you’re about to be in for the single most frustrating backpacking trip in your entire life. If you’re using a dull saw, you might as well just go at it your tree branches with a pocket knife or a spoon. Dull saws are worse than useless because you’re taking up space in your pack with a piece of equipment you can’t use.
They’re also wildly dangerous to use when they’re dull. A safe saw is a sharp saw. You might be having trouble working your way through the wood you’re cutting with a dull saw, but your human body is much easier to cut, even with a dull saw. Dull tools are more likely to jump out of place when you’re trying to apply force to them, and when they start slipping out of place they end up slipping into unwary arms and hands.
When you first buy your saw, you should immediately make sure it’s in working condition. If the seller promised you a sharp saw, you should be getting a sharp saw, if you’re getting a saw and it’s not quite sharp enough to get the job done, you should make sure you’re taking the time to sharpen it up before you take it out on the trail with you.
You can have a razor-sharp saw, but if it’s too short for your needs or you can’t generate the force you need to find purchase in the wood you’re trying to sunder then you’re going to be spending way more time than you need to just wiggling your tool around, praying it will eventually start working and allowing you to build your fire.
Efficient saws have teeth, lengths, and sharpnesses that are well-suited to biting through the kind of wood you’re likely to come across on your backpacking trips. Think about how much variety you’re likely to come across when you’re backpacking.
You might be around lots of old dry wood, ready to be cut down and used for a bonfire, and by the end of an extended hike, you’ll probably be surrounded by greed-wood. Both situations require a saw that’s quick and easy to deploy. You’re going to need a saw that’s willing to play nice and keep the games short.
Once you learn more about saws, you’ll learn that some only cut while you’re pulling towards yourself, others will cut while pushing or pulling. Some saws are made with blades that are designed to be deployed at different angles to increase efficiency and versatility without forcing you to invest in a shed full of slightly different saws.
There are saws for a surprising amount of situations, and they’re all slightly different in subtle ways. It’s important to consider how each saw is best deployed so you’re not whiling away your time with a saw unsuited to the task at hand.
Obviously, you’re going to be holding these saws for a long time while you’re using them. The handle of your saw is going to have to be comfortable enough to use for extended periods of time. The handle on a saw is just like the handle of a good knife. It’s just as key to using it effectively as having a sharpened blade. The handle is the most integral part of a good saw.
You want to make sure your saw is made from a comfortable and sturdy material. The last thing you want is a broken handle turning your saw into a useless piece of metal while you’re out on the trail trying to gather enough wood to get a respectable fire going. If you’re investing in a saw you’re absolutely going to have to carefully consider the make and material of your saw before you take it out onto the trail.
A saw can technically be made out of anything as long as it’s reasonably sturdy. The trick is to find something made from a material that’s going to hold up under the scrutiny of the real world. Good sturdy steel is going to keep you in the game for longer with less maintenance. When you’re looking for a good saw, you’re looking for materials that aren’t going to snap after one single mistake. You want something that will stay sharp after a few good uses.
Again, it’s useful to think of a good kitchen knife. If you’re using a cheap knife from the dollar store, it’s pretty much always going to be dull, the material is just too brittle to hold a good edge after a few uses. Good, strong steel or something similar is going to be much more sturdy and ready to keep a fine point on the teeth, keeping you safe, reducing your frustration, and lasting all the way through your trip.
Backpacking is, at its heart all about maximizing the versatility of your tools, every tool that’s versatile enough to do more than one job is going to save you precious space in your pack and give you a much easier time on the trails. Your backpacking saw isn’t going to deviate from this rule. A good saw is going to be just versatile enough to cover a few extra bases.
You don’t want to drift too far from the intended purpose, once you start ending up in multi-tool territory you’re more likely to run into less reliable saw blades. When you’re looking for tools that do more than one job is when your guard should be up the most. Find a backpacking saw that will fill your unique backpacking needs, but don’t go too crazy and try to replace your entire loadout with a single saw.
Note: We put in the research so you don’t have to. The best backpacking saw is the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw.
Bonus tip: If you’re going to be branching out and selecting a saw that needs sharpening while you’re backpacking then you’re going to want to master sharpening the teeth on your own. The video below is an incredible tutorial that will get you ready to tackle sharpening on your own.