Saws are an amazingly versatile tool for a backpacker or camper to carry in woodland terrain, both for trail maintenance and for cutting firewood, provided it’s done in accordance with Leave No Trace Principles and local fire regulations.
Note: Leave No Trace is not against fires in the backcountry, Leave No Trace recommends the responsible use of campfires, so people can enjoy them and to minimize campfire impacts, such as scorched ground, partially burned wood, the construction of new campfire rings, and branches cut or broken off of live trees instead of wood that is dead and on the ground.
After experimenting this winter with the smaller Silk GOMBOY, which is quite lightweight and suitable for backpacking, I recently acquired the larger Silky BIGBOY folding saw, for cutting up larger blow downs on trail maintenance patrols. A full 14 an 1/15th inches in length, but weighing less than a pound, the BIGBOY is the largest saw manufactured by Silky and well suited for larger blow-down removal, particularly in Wilderness Areas where the use of motorized tools such as chain saws are prohibited.
While the Silky BIGBOY is lightweight enough to bring on backpacking trips, the smaller Silky GOMBOY is a better choice for cutting up dead firewood (up to the diameter of your wrist), which you can split further using a knife and will burn completely to ash. Cutting larger logs for firewood would require an axe and be too heavy to carry for recreational use.
Moreover, the Silky BIGBOY is downright dangerous in the hands of an amateur who doesn’t have experience cutting larger diameter wood, especially trees knocked over by heavy snow or wind (blow-downs). Cutting blow downs is dangerous because they can fall on you if you cut them in the wrong place, and you can easily trap a saw blade in a cut, which is preventable with basic sawyer training.
Care must also be taken in handling the BIGBOY, even when folded because the teeth in the blade remain partially exposed. This isn’t an issue with the Silky GOMBOY folding saw where the saw blade folds completely into the handle.
Despite these safety issues, the flexibility of the Silky BIGBOY, with its 14″ blade is quite impressive, making it possible to reach places that would be impossible to cut with a non-folding saw, including cuts above your head.
While the Silky BIGBOY, with extra-large teeth is a ferocious cutting tool, it is still much safer than using a chain saw and provides fine control over the placement of cuts. Available for around $50, it’s an excellent and economic option for volunteer trail maintainers, requiring very little extra training to use safely.
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