Opinion on no axe or saw?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by Dr Rez, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. Dr Rez

    Dr Rez

    Jun 7, 2012
    This article touches on the fact that axes and saws should be left at home as to not ruin the outdoors in certain busy locations.


    Just curious what your opinion of this article is? Also just to note I have no affiliation to the author or site, just thought it made an interesting point and anted to know what you guys think.
  2. bore


    May 20, 2015
    Makes sense. I don't use high traffic camping hiking trails.
  3. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I only skimmed the article as I've seen a few similar before and I agree with them. Folks tend to just knock down the little trees which means that there are no replacements when the big ones go. In a high traffic area the trees need to be managed, and I certainly don't know what the plan is, and I hate seeing smashed up trees where someone discovered that their little fiskars hatchet wasn't enough to fell a 10 inch trunk. Trail clearing and such is different, and if I was say taking a bunch of kids into an area I would have tools in case a backup plan had to be made, or an area made safe, but otherwise its bagged firewood if needed. Besides, fresh firewood is terrible, its worth the few bucks to get seasoned stuff.

    The only time I'll be taking anything down is if I know no one will ever see it, so land I own/ have clearance to be on, or its likely that those who see it is the body recovery team, because I didn't make it.
  4. Grubbster

    Grubbster Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    I can't recall ever needing to cut firewood while I was in the woods. I have always been able to find dead wood, either on the ground or hung in other branches. Might take a little looking around, but in my part of the country it is usually discoverable. As mentioned green wood does not burn well anyway.
    JJ_Colt45 and knoefz like this.
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I have read similar articles and I think the author is pretty much correct for high use trails and in particular the PCT. But in general the whole article is a bit too "Sierra Club" for me. I rebel! Generally speaking I have never had to cut live trees down at a camp site unless I'm camping "just out in the woods". But a saw is quite useful for breaking down dead trees. Plus you don't have those sharp cuts that come from axe or hatchet cutting to walk over. I don't particularly like to use an axe or hatchet on dead wood. Oh... but a big knife.... that's just for fun mostly. ;) Dead material (any size) is fair game as far as I'm concerned for building and maintaining a fire (if of course fires are allowed).

    You say.... let the dead material degrade naturally.... has anyone here ever tried to move around in the woods along the south side of the Cades Cove Loop road (Smoky Mt NP). It is a mess with all the dead trees and I think they should be fair game for fire making to clean things up a bit.
    Cryptyc likes this.
  6. Inazone


    Aug 27, 2012
    I rarely do any serious winter camping or even hiking, but I do one or two trips a year when there is either snow on the ground or the potential for cold weather. That being the case, I do at least bring a folding saw and a couple methods of starting a fire. However, I almost never bother with food that requires fire, bring ample water (plus a filter) and have an emergency blanket if I absolutely have to shelter in place overnight unexpectedly.

    In other words, the need for a saw would be highly unlikely, but there's a saying about having something and not needing it versus the alternative.
  7. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    I think they have a point for high traffic areas. I have been in places where a significant portion of the trees have been cut. I grew up in the northeast where forests are thicker and faster growing and can sustain more use. But I now spend my time in the sierra where there are fewer trees for any given area (albeit much larger trees). Since the high country had all of the soil scoured off by glaciers during the pleistocene, there are many areas in the higher elevations of the Sierra that have very little soil and thin tree cover (not to mention that there may be periods of several months in the summer with no significant rainfall, and without deep soil the water retention does not exist to support a lot of trees). The last thing I want to see in the Sierra high country is a bunch of stumps and hacked up trees. With the wide open forest with significant spacing between trees and many open meadows, a few cut trees can be seen from a distance and are an eyesore. In the east, a cut tree can often only be seen when you are very close to it. The Sierra middle elevation forests are denser and can take more use, but I spend most of my time in the high country and base my opinion on my experience there.
  8. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I don't frequent well used high traffic trails ... but whether on used trails or going off trail in the middle of nowhere ... I 99% of the time find and use dead fall trees ... most are drier and burn better and it helps cleanup rather than take down young growth trees.

    I do carry axe and saw but mostly for limbing and splitting dead fall wood.
  9. neeman


    Apr 5, 2007
    You are preaching to the choir
    Most people here have the bushcraft ethics
    And know what to do and what not to do

    It is the folk that don't know that cause the damage
    fishiker likes this.
  10. Brommeland


    Jul 28, 2003
    The article is a bit too fern fairy, bunny humper friendly for me. Anyone with any sense at all would not chop/saw standing trees in a public area. Those without any common sense should simply be charged with vandalism for doing stupid stuff like hacking away at a healthy standing tree. It's the same mentality that is seen with gun control advocates: blame the tool instead of the person holding it.

    Granted, I've managed to harvest all the firewood I've ever needed in national parks and other public areas by finding it laying on the ground. However, on some occasions that wood was wet from lying on the ground and could be made much more fire friendly by splitting it. And, being able to saw it to useable/transportable lengths is easily done with a compact saw. Responsibly used axes and saws have their place.

    People need to be responsible for their actions. Inanimate objects do not.
    mewolf1 likes this.
  11. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Yes, but people do still need to be taught. The fact is that its not common sense. You know how long a tree takes to grow, or what a campsite looks like with scarred trees, but many people don't think that far ahead. Its an I/Me attitude that leads them to do damage because they are not able to think about others. And if axes are a part of camping, then they must be for chopping trees. Its what they see on the internet. Yes I know that most of the numptys in the woods won't read that article and won't do the right thing. But a few people will, and they will understand that this is not a socially acceptable behavior. The numptys on the other hand don't know any different, because that's what was already there. Broken window theory and all that.

    Lowest common denominator man, you give the average nugget way too much credit :D
  12. Brommeland


    Jul 28, 2003
    You might be right about this. I went to a Walmart the other day for the first time in about a year. I am appalled at just how fat, lazy and stupid the average American is becoming....
    jmh33 likes this.
  13. mec003


    Jan 1, 2015
    I've encountered many instances of people practicing "survival". Which amounts to chopping down trees like they've seen certain tv personalities do. Then they erect half a lean to and get bored and leave to go get pizza. And unfortunately, it probably won't be long until all sharp instruments are made illegal. Because that's easier than educating. Still, I carry a small fixed blade when hiking and folding saw in case of emergency.
  14. Finan47


    Apr 18, 2017
    In my opinion the article should be about camping/backpacking ethics not what tools you should or should not pack with you. I agree people shouldn't be cutting down live vegetation unnecessarily. That said I have often processed dead wood, or wood I've brought with me, with a camp hatchet, and didn't disrespect the trail/river I was traveling on.
  15. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    The small trees can grow back in a relatively short time if there is sufficient light. I suspect the "scarred trees" can often be attributed to kids doing what kids do in the woods.... chopping trees. I did as a kid. We were pretty selective on the type of tree that we cut, but we still did it for fun. This was not however in a National Park, just Penn's Woods. You ever cut a weinie stick in a park? I sure have. I tend to rebel when people mention "socially acceptable behavior". But I do take other people's reactions and apply my common sense when it comes to using or carrying knives.
  16. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    In the right context it is all good. However I've seen scarred trees in back country campsites, with fire rings in parks that never allow fires, and in areas that take a lot longer to re-grow. There is a huge difference between cutting a willow for a weinie stick and knocking down a 25 year old pine, or letting kids just bash trees for fun, leaving damage that might limit, or kill the tree. See, I was taught at a young age not to scar up trees, unless there was purpose to it, so Kids being Kids falls flat to me, as that's parents not teaching, though I also suspect that those parents often don't know or care. Keep in mind that with what I do I have to crank the LNT mindset to 11 otherwise I don't stand a chance of getting the kids I work with to do anything other than destroy everything within sight. I'm not better than anyone because of how I do things, I just face different realities.
  17. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I try to show the less informed a better way and why things are done a certain way. Occasionally they teach me something I hadn't thought of myself. I don't walk the Sierra Club walk in the woods, but I don't mess things up for the next guy either especially in public lands/parks. I consider myself a conservationist.
    mewolf1 likes this.
  18. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I was trying to remember where you were at, I'm guessing that most of the public forest use area in Tennessee is a little different from what I see here on the coast of queensland! :D. All good man. Here its pretty rare to go off trail as you have to slash a track (although is generally though lantana which is an invasive shrub, and for that no one cares) but we do get some massive gum trees and other species where you can still see aboriginal trail blazes from over a hundred years ago. So it is that mix, of knowing what you can take out and what you can't. I'd rather people think they shouldn't cut a thing, and then teach from there. I think we are closer in mindset than a few posts would allow for.
  19. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I think we are too. I'm in East Tennessee. I don't camp over night as much as I used to, and the older I get the more respectful I am for the public lands; especially the State and National Parks where many people visit and you want to minimize your footprint when you visit. But I am not adverse to building a fire. As a kid I would never have considered burying my camp fire ashes and so forth. But, in high use areas, it's best to leave as small a foot print as possible. Wacking at trees for the fun of it is pretty much out in those areas and I would mention that to just about anyone camping in those kinds of places if I saw them playing.
  20. Phixt


    May 28, 2016
    As a kid who went into the woods and chopped trees with military surplus machetes, i must say It's...frustrating and disheartening to go to places like Dolly Sods and see the raped camp sites (especially at the falls), where green trees are literally chainsawed down all over the place. This shouldn't be. Not to mention the All-Stars that pile green pine branches ontop of eachother, let everyone in the valley choke on their smolder pit, and then they quickly retreat to their tent cause they have no fire.

    I use my silky saws on hikes for downed, dry wood only.

    There were always be those people that just don't care.

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