Best Backpacking Saws of 2020 – Ultimate Review

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Whether you’re backpacking overnight, or just for the day, having a saw with you is always a safe bet. You never know what you’ll come across.

In this article, we are going to be taking a look at some of the best backpacking saws and breakdown a concise summary of each model. By the end of this review, you’ll know about the main features, pros, and cons of the best backpacking saws.

But before we jump straight to the review, we’re going to discuss a few different types of saws and go what makes a great option.  

Comparison of the Best Backpacking Saws

Product

Our Rating

Price

Bahco 396-LAP

Laplander Folding Saw

Sven 21" Saw

Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw

Gerber Gator

Combo Axe II

Gerber Freescape

Camp Saw

Types of Backpacking Saws

In general, there are three types of backpacking saw:

Pocket Chainsaw

Pocket chainsaws are great for a number of reasons. First off, they are extremely lightweight and easy to travel with. One of their best qualities is that they can tuck away into medium-large pockets and out of sight while on the trail.

This type of saw is ideal for people who are always on the go and love being prepared. However, these saws may be challenging for some to use due to their unique design.

Bow Saw

Bows saws have been around for hundreds of years and have evolved into great backpacking saws. While they’re often larger than other models, some feature a collapsible design which is great for transporting and carrying.

These are step up from a pocket chainsaw if you’re looking to cut through thicker, harder material. They are reliable, sturdy, and highly effective.

Folding Saw

Folding saws are perfect for hikers, hunters, and those who enjoying working in the yard. These saws are great for cutting down small tree branches and sawing through material 6” - 8” in diameter.

Many love folding saws because they are lightweight, compact, and get the job done with ease. Be sure to check our top pick!

Sven 21" Saw

What Makes a Great Backpacking Saw?

Shopping for a new saw can be confusing. There are so many options and each come with their own unique features; it’s easy for one to be overwhelmed.

While reading, be sure to keep an eye out for a few key traits. These qualities all contribute toward a top of the line backpacking saw and combine to make a reliable choice.

Transportability

One of the main features to keep in mind is how easy the saw is to carry. How heavy is it? Can it easily breakdown and be tucked away?

Gerber Freescape Camp Saw

Keeping questions like this in mind are essential. On the other hand, it’s important to think about the size of your backpack and where the saw will be stored. How compact does the model need to be to fit? Thinking about your setup ahead of time will alleviate future headaches and buyer’s remorse.

Blade Size

No one seeks out a dull saw, and you shouldn’t either. Choosing a saw that’s sharp and rugged will allow you to put it to the test and have it pass with flying colors. One way to measure this is by identifying the teeth per inch (TPI).

With this, take into consideration where you’ll be backpacking and pick a saw who’s blade is suited for green or dry wood. The only thing worse than a dull blade is one that gums up while in use.    

Safety

Safety first -- well, in this case, it’s third. But that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Many backpacking saws, either bow, foldinging, or chain, all come with specific safety features.

When taking this aspect into consideration, choose a saw that’s designed with safety lock, for both lock-in and lock-out mechanics.

Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw

This will reduce the risk of injury during use, while also protecting the saw from accidentally opening during transport.

Additionally, some saws also sport a protective case to secure the blade (if it doesn’t collapse). In this case, be sure to keep the sleeve clean and within sight. They are often transparent and can easily blend with their environment if left on the ground or under brush.

Review of the Best Backpacking Saws

Since we’ve covered a few types of backpacking saws and identified aspects of a great model, we’re going to switch gears and move onto the review portion.

We have five top-of-the-line backpacking saws to go over today and we plan to cover their main features.

These pros and cons we’re selecting are qualities reported by recent customers, so you definitely won’t want to skip over these.

1. Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw

PROS

  • Limited lifetime warranty.
  • Rust resistant coating on blade.
  • Very lightweight (only weight 7 ounces).
  • Compact, yet large enough to cut limbs up to 3”-4” in diameter.
  • Blade is slightly wider than teeth to help fight pinches during use.

CONS

  • Takes longer to cut through green wood.
  • Color blends in with forest (if dropped or misplaced).

Our Review

The Bahco 396 LAP Laplander folding saw is an extremely versatile model designed to be used year-round. It’s a great option for those in search of a high quality, affordable saw for every trip.

This saw features a 7 ½” blade and 7 teeth per inch (TPI). Perfect for cutting through a variety of materials such as bone, green wood, and dry wood, its uses are nearly limitless.

Those who’ve used this saw first hand say it glides through tree limbs and small branches with ease - just be sure to grab a bow saw for those larger tasks.

When it comes to safety, the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander is well designed to ensure you and those around are protected. It features a lock-out and lock-in setup, meaning a safety release must be used to open and close the saw blade.

In addition to its compact design, this saw is also more comfortable than competitors. Its ergonomic handle sits comfortably in your hand, making for a more enjoyable experience while in use. Moreover, its handle is accompanied by a leather strap to wear during use or hoist from in between.   

Bottom Line

Taking everything into consideration, there should be no surprise the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander is our top pick for the best backpacking saw. This compact, well designed model is backed by a rust resistant 7 ½” blade and limited lifetime warranty.

Recent buyers note that it’s not ideal for green wood though, as it can get gummed up. Aside from this, it’s a definite top pick for safety and general use.  

2. Sven 21" Saw

PROS

  • Effective and user friendly.
  • Handle is reasonably comfortable.
  • Lightweight, easy to travel with, and quickly deploys.
  • Designed to fold into the backbar and handle, concealing the blade for ease of transport and safety.
  • Built to last - Known for lasting upwards of 20 years with no issues.

CONS

  • Comes with wing nut for securing while folded and can be easily misplaced or lost if not cared for.

Our Review

With over 50 years of experience under its belt, the Sven folding saw is a well-known by the outdoor community as a top of the line backpacking saw. Don’t be fooled by its placement on our list though, this saw packs quite the punch.

Sven boasts a 21” blade and is perfect for taking on brush, small limbs, or even branches up to a few inches in diameter. In between uses, it collapses down into a compact size that can easily be stored in any side pocket, backpack, or sac.

Made in the USA, this saw measures 23” x 1 ½”  x 9/16” (closed) and weighs just 14 ounces. Constructed with Tempered Swedish Steel, its blade is durable and very reliable.

Perfect for minimalist backpackers and hikers, the Sven Saw is about as straightforward as it gets. It performs on demand as expected and won’t let you down. 

Bottom Line

Designed as a minimalist backpacking and outdoors saw, Sven offers buyers a reliable, strong, and highly effective model. Its 21” blade is ideal for cutting through a variety of material and with minimal work from your end.

The only notable drawback we came across is that the saw comes with an unattached wing nut to secure it when folded. Keep this in mind as the wing nut can easily be dropped or misplaced if not properly managed. That aside, this a great option for those search for simplicity and effectiveness.

3. Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw

PROS

  • Lifetime limited warranty.
  • Extremely lightweight (only weight 4.8 ounces).
  • Can be re-sharpened for extended, like-new use.
  • Comes with protective carrying case and Magnesium fire starter rod.

CONS

  • Handles may be small for those with larger hands.
  • Learning curves vary when aligning the blade for use (may take some getting used to).

Our Review

Due to their size and transportability, pocket chainsaws have become increasingly popular among outdoor enthusiasts and backpackers. Perfect for on-the-go situations, this style of saw is essentially a chainsaw blade with two plush handles.

The saws blade is constructed from 65 mm high carbon, heat treated steel and is 36” long (excluding handles).

Unlike other pocket chainsaws, the Sportsman model can easily be re-sharpened and put to use for years down the road. On top of everything, this model comes with a lifetime warranty to safeguard any mishaps.

As an added bonus, buyers also receive a nylon front snap storage pouch which can easily attach to any belt loop, as well as a 8mm Magnesium fire starter rod.  

Bottom Line

Overall, the bottom line with the Sportsman pocket chainsaw is that this is a great option for hunters, bushcrafters, and those who participate in extended backpacking trips. This complete package comes with all the bells and whistles -- and without causing stress to your bank account.

Due to its design, it’s perfect for cutting through larger material, but may not be ideal for smaller limbs. However, when compared to its size, its amazing what this saw can do.

Constructed from high grade steel and backed by a lifetime warranty, this model is the perfect addition to any bug-out or weekend survival backpack.

4. Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

PROS

  • Lifetime limited warranty.
  • Saw is perfect for light-duty tasks.
  • Magnet secures blade while the axe is in use.
  • Saw comes with aggressive, razor sharp teeth.

CONS

  • Some users report the saw magnet can come loose during vigorous hatchet use.  

Our Review

The next model on our list is a unique product and the perfect 2-in-1 for outdoor enthusiasts. The Gerber Gator Combo Axe II is an extremely versatile model designed to tackle a number of situations.

Constructed with a forged steel head and glass-filled nylon handle, this setup is perfect for those are searching for the best value in a backpacking saw. Envision yourself against a fallen log? No problem. Looking to take on some medium sized branches? Easy.

Both the axe and saw arrive sharp and ready to use. With this, the saw is held inside the handle by a magnet.

The overall length of the saw blade is 6.10” and can quickly cut through branches up to 2”-3”. The saw itself weighs 2.4 ounces, and combines to make a total weight of 28.4 ounces when locked-in with the axe.

On top of it all, this model comes with a durable ballistic nylon sheath and lifetime warranty to protect the unit from wear and tear. Loved by many, this is an exceptional backpacking addition for day trips, hunters, and campers.  

Bottom Line

The bottom line with Gerber Gator Combo Axe II is this is a versatile model, perfect for cutting though limbs, branches, small trees, and logs.

Due to its innovative design, no job it out of reach. Now you can cut through fallen logs on the trail then quickly gather firewood before dusk.

5. Gerber Freescape Camp Saw

PROS

  • Lightweight (1.1 pounds).
  • Grip is well designed and made for comfort.
  • Collapses with ease and is very user friendly.
  • Cuts above average sized branches and limbs.

CONS

  • Shorter blade compared to competing models on our list.

Our Review

Last but not least is the Gerber Freescape. This foldable saw boasts a 12” blade and can easily collapse into a compact, sleek unit while traveling through the woods.

This folding saw features a comfortable, rubber overmold grip and is constructed to quickly change the blade if need be. Backed by the trusted Gerber name, this is a versatile saw designed to glide through brush and wood with ease.

Bottom Line

The bottom line with the Gerber Freescape is that this is a lightweight, affordable saw, perfect for any experience level.

Due to it’s straightforward design, it can quickly be deployed or stored away in a matter of seconds. Then when you’re home, the fun doesn’t have to stop. This saw is ideal for working in the garden or backyard too!

Quick Take - Best Backpacking Saws

Conclusion 

From the models we’ve highlighted today, you should have no problem finding a saw to suit your needs. We’ve handpicked these models to be lightweight, durable, and extremely reliable while backpacking.

If you end up choosing a backpacking saw from our list, be sure to visit us again after you’ve had your fun with it outside. We’d love to hear about your experience and how it held up. Best of luck to you!