Are you looking for the best survival saw? Behold the epic guide that will show you how to master your wood.
In a survival situation, you need the right tools. You probably won't have access to a gas or electric powered chainsaw, so you need a hand-powered tool that can saw like a boss.
When selecting a bushcraft saw, there are three great options to choose from:
- Bow saws
- Folding saws
- Pocket chainsaws
My name is Paul, and I'm a machinist that loves the outdoors. I have all three types of saws in my gear, as I love having multiple options and backup tools. However, if you can have only one, make sure it’s the best one for your situation.
In my opinion, a bow saw is the best hand saw for the woods. It excels at cutting logs, especially larger ones, and getting them ready to split for firewood.
However, a bow saw is larger and heavier than the other two options, which is its main disadvantage. In contrast, one huge advantage of a bow saw is that the blade can be replaced easily, assuming that you have additional blades with you.
Bow Saw Pro Tip: Bring specialized blades for a bow saw that can handle both green and dry wood. Then switch to the blade that you need on demand.
A folding saw is the best at cutting smaller logs, cutting branches, etc. It's fairly light and compact, so it’s great if you’re on the move. It’s also a great backup option.
A pocket chainsaw is the most compact and also makes a great backup saw.
If you’re hiking or backpacking, a folding saw and a pocket chainsaw are the best two options. as they're much easier to carry on you.
But for survival, using a bow saw as your primary saw is a must, particularly if you'll need to saw medium to large logs.
Also, for a survival situation, you have to realize:
Having backup tools in your gear is critical. Tools fail. Expect it to happen.
Being left with no working tools is the last thing you want. It would suck and you know it, so make sure you have redundancy in your gear.
More tools = More options
In this guide, I recommend the top 8 saws on the market for survival. I also discuss the most important factors to consider when making your selection. These saws are also great choices for camping, hiking, and backpacking.
If you’re looking for an axe or hatchet for survival as well, I wrote a separate guide on how to find the best ones out there.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Best Survival Saws Comparison Table
Folding Bow Saw
Small Folding Saw
Small Folding Saw
Small Folding Saw
Large Folding Saw
3" x 4"
4.7" x 3.4"
When it comes to selecting a saw for the woods, there are several important factors to consider. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most important ones.
First, Define Your Needs
The biggest factor to consider is how you intend to use the tool. What situation, what environment, and for what tasks?
Will it be a critical part of your gear in a survival situation? If so, you want to get the most reliable tools you can afford.
Is it going to be an emergency tool in your vehicle? In this case, you will probably rarely use the tool, but you should select one with confidence that it will work when you need it.
Is the tool going to be used in the yard for casual activities? For casual use, like around the house or while hiking and camping, you want to pick a tool that you know will work and last. However, if it fails during casual use, it’s not the end of the world.
One big consideration is whether the tool can survive a failure. The biggest advantage of a bow saw is that the blade is removable. In addition, replacement blades are fairly cheap and compact, allowing you to have several backups.
With a folding saw or pocket chainsaw, the cutting part is not replaceable. This is why I think the bow saw is the best choice as a primary tool for sawing.
Folding saws and pocket chainsaws make great backup tools though in a survival situation. They also are great options if you’re going to be mobile and away from your base camp.
Teeth: Number and Type
On a saw, the design and use of the teeth (the small individual blades on the saw) dictate its performance and the type of wood it does well on.
The number of teeth per inch (referred to as TPI) is a common indicator used. Typically, saws with more teeth produce a smoother cut.
In addition, the size of the teeth is also a factor. Larger teeth typically provide faster cutting and are better for softer wood.
Medium teeth are typically better for hardwoods and provide a smooth cut, especially for bushcraft tasks.
There are also tooth designs (TPI and size) that are great for general tasking.
Most of these tools are very cheap. However, if your intent is to use this tool in a survival situation, make sure you get the most durable and reliable one out there, even if you have to pay a couple of bucks more.
Material and Quality
Another factor is what material (type of metal) the tool is made from and the quality of manufacturing. Obviously, some materials are cheaper and don’t last as long.
In addition, some products on the market have varying quality control checks, with reviews showing that the tool failed quickly for some customers. Keep an eye out for these. With this tool, you want a material that will last.
You also want to select a product from a company that does a great job at ensuring the highest quality by weeding out the defects before they ship. Reviews are a great way to see if defective tools are escaping the manufacturing process.
Is size an issue for you? For a survival situation, it definitely is. You want something compact and as light as possible.
In a survival situation, a pocket chainsaw might be better for you than a folding saw. Or perhaps you want one of each as a backup to a primary tool like a hatchet or axe.
Pocket chainsaws come in different lengths. With a longer chainsaw, you can reach higher branches or buddy up with someone. However, a smaller length pocket chainsaw makes handling smaller branches easier. It’s a trade-off.
If you’ll be using the tool around the yard, then size and weight isn’t as much of a concern. Alternatively, if you’ll be using it while hiking or backpacking, then you want something that fits in your pack or pocket and won’t weigh you down.
Which One Should I Get?
That depends on your situation and what your primary concerns and tasking needs are.
If weight and size are a concern because you'll be very mobile, then go with a folding saw or pocket chainsaw. If it's a survival situation and you'll be setting up a base camp, then get a bow saw for your primary tool.
Or get one of each. It’s not an either-or situation. I have all three types to give me more options. In addition, you can use all of these tools around the house for different tasks.
For a survival situation, I recommend getting a bow saw with a folding saw and pocket chainsaw as backups. All three tools are reasonably cheap and it’s better to have a tool vs. not when you need it.
Top Recommendations for a Bushcraft Saw
Best Bow Saws
A bow saw is the best crosscut saw you can get for survival. The two bow saws below are incredible options to add to your gear.
The Bahco Bow Saw is, in my opinion, the best bow saw on the market, which is why it’s my #1 recommendation.
Bahco makes this saw in 3 sizes: 21”, 24”, and 30”.
The blades are easily replaceable, as they are standard sizes. The saw is steel and built to take a beating. The Bahco is the best hand saw for cutting wood.
I recommend the 30” as it can also handle larger logs. I also recommend having a folding saw as a backup and to use on smaller branches.
Pros: This bow saw is the best saw option for survival. Good price. You can diversify capabilities with additional blades. Spare blades are cheap. The saw uses standard blade sizes, so there’s multiple blade brand options.
Cons: Larger and heavier than the other options. Not the best choice if you will constantly be on the move.
Get replacement blades for this saw. You can get specially designed raker blades (type 23) for green wood and also peg style blades (type 51) for dry wood. Using the right type of blade for the wood you're sawing allows you to saw fast and easy.
Note: Make sure that any spare blades that you get are the same length as your saw! It's an obvious but easy mistake to make. The length is usually in the blade name. For example, a spare blade for cutting green wood, which is type 23, would look like 23-30 for a 30" bow saw.
I recommend having blades for both green and dry wood for survival situations. In addition, I recommend getting backup blades to last you awhile if you ever find yourself cut off from civilization. They’re reasonably cheap and don’t take up much space.
The Sven Folding Saw is a popular hybrid between a bow saw and a folding saw.
With this design, you get the flexibility of a bow saw but the compact profile of a folding saw.
This saw comes with a 21” blade the folds into the frame. It weighs 1 lb.
Pros: A clever hybrid design. It can fold up so it takes less space than a regular bow saw.
Cons: Requires Sven specific blades as replacements. Bad news if Sven disappears and you don't have a lifetime's worth of blades. Also, due to the design, this saw is limited in the size of tree and log it can cut. Best for smaller logs.
Best Folding Saws
Below are some of the best folding saws available.
The Bahco Folding Saw is my top recommendation for a folding saw for survival.
The Bahco Folder is also the best backpacking saw as it’s compact and light weight.
It’s great for cutting both dry and green wood, bone, and plastic.
The blade is coated for rust protection and low friction. This saw is 9” closed, has a 7” blade, and it weighs under half a pound.
It has 7 teeth per inch on the blade and can cut both forward and back, which makes sawing much faster.
The Bahco Folding Saw also has a safety lock to keep the blade shut when not in use. It’s made in Sweden. It also makes one of the best pruning saws for the yard.
Pros: Best on the market for folding saws. Great price. Also, it makes a great folding camp saw, and it's the best camping saw for the money, in my opinion.
The Corona Folding Saw is 10” long closed. There's also a 7" and 8" version.
It weighs 9.7 ounces, so it’s a little heavier than my #1 recommendation.
The blade is made with stainless steel and has 6 teeth per inch.
Pro: Great saw at a great price. Very popular.
Cons: The teeth are designed to cut on the pull stroke.
The Silky Folding Saw comes in two great models.
The first is the Silky GOMBOY, which has a 9.5” long blade, is 10.6” long when closed, and weighs 0.6 lbs.
The second is the Silky BIGBOY, which has a 14.2” long blade, is 26” long when closed, and weighs 1 lb.
Both are made in Japan.
The GOMBOY’s blade has 8.5 teeth per inch (medium sized teeth providing a nice clean cut) while the BIGBOY’s blade has 5.5 teeth per inch (extra large teeth designed for efficiently cutting thicker logs).
The BIGBOY is designed for cutting bigger logs as its name would imply.
Pros: Quality saws. Two great options depending on your needs.
Cons: A little bit longer with a bigger profile than the top 2 recommendations.
Best Pocket Chainsaws
The Chainmate Pocket Chain Saw is my top recommendation for a pocket chainsaw for several reasons.
It’s lightweight, compact (fits in a small pouch) and very effective at sawing logs.
It comes in 3 lengths: 24” long, 36” long, and 48” long. The teeth are made with carbon steel, and it’s made in the USA.
For survival, it’s smart to have one in your gear as a backup to your folding saw, hatchet, and/or axe.
Pros: Lightweight. Compact. Effective tool at sawing logs. Incredible backup tool in case a primary tool fails. Made in the USA. I like the 36” length version.
The Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw is my 2nd recommendation.
It comes with a lifetime warranty, making it great tool to take camping and hiking and to use often.
It’s 36” long and weighs less than half a pound.
Pros: Lifetime warranty. A medium length to give you a nice balance between small branches/logs and also ones that are higher up.
Cons: Made in China.
Adding a bow saw, folding saw, and/or a pocket chainsaw to your outdoor gear is an excellent choice.
These tools are very effective at processing branches and logs. We discussed the critical factors to think about when you’re making your selection.
These included defining your needs, looking at the number of teeth and teeth size, considering cost, paying attention to the material and quality, and lastly, considering the size of the tool.
I also gave my top recommendations for each type. Now it's your turn! Please leave comments below and share your stories and opinions. If you liked this article, please share it!
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