Winter backpacking- wood processing saws/axes?

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Sep 12, 2011
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Had a real interesting experience this weekend on an overnight hunt in 5f/-15c. Got in the woods around 5pm and had an incredibly vigorous 5 hour snowshoe up some very steep mountainous terrain with some very heavy packs(for dudes that arent in USMC shape or anything resembling it). left us pitching camp late and wanting a big ol' blaze of a fire to warm us up and keep burning into the night.

Processing firewood in the wild with our pretty gansfors axes was a chore! And being that exhausted from working hard at high altitude was killer. It freaked me out being that tired and throwing the large head of the full size axe around. The smaller axe was safer when used kneeling but tedious/tiring for sectioning.



I'll never go out in serious winter without a folding saw again- jurys still out on whether I baton the sections with a small axe or use a prybar survival blade.



What do you folks find works as a BACKPACKABLE winter wood-processing solution?
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2011
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I haven't done this, but people like the Sven saw and the trailblazer buck saw.

Sven saw:
svensaw.jpg


Trailblazer saw:
trail-blazer-take-down-buck-saw-parts.jpg


Just curious, was it absolutely necessary to buck the logs? Couldn't you just have fed the logs in as the fire burned?
 
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herisson

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I have very great experiences with the Fiskars sliding pruning saw. It's extremely light, non obtrusive and an awesome cutter. The beautiful thing is : you saw pulling only. There's no risk of ruining the blade and it requires minimal effort. I have one tucked permanently in my backpack. Don't even notice it until needed.
It's under "Yard and Garden / Pruning saws and tools" on Fiskars' canadian website.
 
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I rely on this.


Svea 123 by Pinnah, on Flickr

Seriously.

I suggest getting the best camp stove and practicing making tea on it once a day for month regardless of the weather. Keep it in the trunk of your car and brew up on your lunch break or do it after dinner in the dark.

If you do this, you will learn the ins and outs of your stoves and lighting it and making tea I the worst of conditions will become automatic.

Also suggest investing in a) a good tent (I like the floor less MegaMid for winter camping), b) a good down bag and c) a good system of clothing based on synthetics.

IME, the conditions you were in are in the realm of mountaineering and I've found the literature from mountaineering to be more helpful and the gear and techniques to be lighter and more efficient.

I've been winter camping yearly for 20 years and have never NEEDED to light a fire. Have even dealt with 2 stream dunkings with no fire. Fires are a nice luxury.

If we plan in making a fire and the place can sustain it, I pack an Emberlit stove and we keep it small. Or I carry a Silky saw and a fixed blade and we keep it still small. But honestly, I find fires to be a lot of work. Saws matter most. Fixed blade helps but I'm not going after wood bigger than that. Some of this determined by the nature of your local woods. I hike in New Hampshire and Vermont so we have plenty of small stuff.
 
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Feb 3, 2006
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Well I don't really do big fires but I've found that a Silky Pocketboy and a medium fixed blade is more than enough. Don't buy into the hype about having a super heavy and thick knife. It's just not necessary. A well built knife in 1/8" stock with a 4" blade is plenty. Lightweight and more efficient for getting firewood then a big knife or an axe IME.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2006
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I have very great experiences with the Fiskars sliding pruning saw. It's extremely light, non obtrusive and an awesome cutter. The beautiful thing is : you saw pulling only. There's no risk of ruining the blade and it requires minimal effort. I have one tucked permanently in my backpack. Don't even notice it until needed.
It's under "Yard and Garden / Pruning saws and tools" on Fiskars' canadian website.

I've had experience with these and they tend to bind on larger pieces of wood. Still a great saw for the small stuff though.
 

herisson

Apple slicing rocking chair dweller
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Mar 11, 2013
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Well, you are right, it's a small saw. Don't expect incredible feats and prowesses. But a cozy night doesn't need tons of wood.
 
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Oct 21, 2011
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I don't have much snow camping experience but I have lots of experience backpacking in the rain in the PNW in all 4 seasons. What I take is a 20 inch non-folding pruning saw and a mid size full tang knife. I get the saw from Home Depot and have had several including Corona and Fiskars and they all were great. I'm amazed how quick I can get through even 7-8 inch logs with the saw and if you need kindling or shavings you can get those with the knife........................................That said, I really like my vintage axes. :thumbup:
 
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Nov 15, 2003
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Once I get the fire going I just feed deadfall in to it a little at a time. It it needs splitting, I cut sections (buck) with a folding saw (Bahco) and split it with a hatchet (Swedish). Seems to work well for me and I don't have to carry a ton of crap like a full-size axe or whatever. My knife is generally an average sized fixed blade and a SAK or something as backup.
 

wjswiger

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Feb 27, 2011
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I use a folding saw(Sawvivor, Sven or Silkey Accel) coupled with either an ax or large chopping blade/knife. When tired, the chopper/knife tends to work better for me, but I wouldn't go anywhere without the saw....it is essential.
 
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Apr 4, 2013
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I carry a little 12" T-handle (non folding) saw, I don't know the actual name of that style saw, it was passed down from my dad years ago. Its got a fine and coarse side, the T handle is rubber coated and its got a leather sheath, awesome wood processing tool for backpacking. I remember going with dad as a kid to cut down our own Xmas tree and dragging them home.
 
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Oct 29, 2013
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Seriously.

I suggest getting the best camp stove and practicing making tea on it once a day for month regardless of the weather. Keep it in the trunk of your car and brew up on your lunch break or do it after dinner in the dark.

If you do this, you will learn the ins and outs of your stoves and lighting it and making tea I the worst of conditions will become automatic.

Also suggest investing in a) a good tent (I like the floor less MegaMid for winter camping), b) a good down bag and c) a good system of clothing based on synthetics.

IME, the conditions you were in are in the realm of mountaineering and I've found the literature from mountaineering to be more helpful and the gear and techniques to be lighter and more efficient.

I've been winter camping yearly for 20 years and have never NEEDED to light a fire. Have even dealt with 2 stream dunkings with no fire. Fires are a nice luxury.

If we plan in making a fire and the place can sustain it, I pack an Emberlit stove and we keep it small. Or I carry a Silky saw and a fixed blade and we keep it still small. But honestly, I find fires to be a lot of work. Saws matter most. Fixed blade helps but I'm not going after wood bigger than that. Some of this determined by the nature of your local woods. I hike in New Hampshire and Vermont so we have plenty of small stuff.

This. As much as fires are nice, and unless its a true survival situation, you don't need a fire. Your 'gear' keeps you warm. As well as cooking with your 'gear'.

Most all designated wilderness lands its long since been illegal to build one.

Above treeline its impossible.

When I wake up in my cozy down bag while in my cozy tent..I just roll to one side..click the auto ignition(water is already in the pot from the night before. if it freezes, oh well)..and bam, I've got hot coffee/chocolate/oatmeal in about 2 minutes. Never had to ever get out of the bag, leave alone spend an hour out in the cold, snow, and wind while sourcing wood.. relighting the fire.. getting coals just right for cooking.. etc. Not to mention F'n with getting too close to the fire(with highend syn cloths), smoke, etc.

As I've stated here, I've backpacked hardcore for 20+ yrs with winter/snow hiking/camping to me, being the best of all(no people, no bugs, not hot, real food keeps much longer, etc). Many of those times while solo in deep snow, up high, big winds, etc. As many times as I've built them in the past, I've yet to feel the need to build a fire when winter camping. And..I've yet to be cold, wet, or go without hot food/coffee.
 
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May 5, 2003
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For winter camping, I carry a Snow and Neally Hudson Bay ax and a Trailblazer pack bucksaw. I like to have a fire going all evening, and evening lasts a long time in the winter! Lots of wood necessary.....

Stay sharp,
desmobob
 
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Jan 29, 2011
Messages
147
I've used the trailblazer take down buck saw in post #2 a fair bit, and it works very well. I have gone winter camping with it and a fallkniven a1, but more often I pair it with a busse nmfbmle. It's nice to have something sizeable and comfortable to swing for limbing. I'm very happy with the saw, but I have a couple of dislikes. There are 3 plastic bits, you can see them all in the pic above. Both ends of the blade have plastic parts that fit into the handles, and there is a small plastic piece on the torsion bar that contacts the handle. The one on the torsion bar is just to the left of the wing nut, top right of the pic. These plastic pieces tend to deform over time, the saw still works great, but i get the feeling one of these days its gonna fail on me. Have a look at the Bob Dustrude folding quick saw, when my trailblazer dies I'm planning to pick up one of them.

Tim
 
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Dec 16, 2009
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77
Get a Silky Zubat. I use saws for a living. The smaller saws have moving parts, and thinner blades that break easier. You could log the state of Rhode Island with a Zubat.
 
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Nov 9, 2012
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Another vote for the Trailblazer. For the weight, packability and the ability to process a wider variety of wood sizes, they are pretty hard to beat. Reasonably priced for what you get, too.
 
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Aug 8, 2008
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Silky Big Boy fan here. That saw cuts faster and with less binding then any other backpacking/folding saw I have used.
 
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Apr 1, 2010
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I keep a folding hand saw similar to the Silky's in my vehicle and EDC, but for larger firewood it isn't quite up to heavy use.

The times I go out and plan on making a fire (generally a non-climbing trip), I bring this:

DustrudeQuik-Bucksaw1.jpg
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I've seen a lot of other folding saws, but I've come to prefer this one.

It's light, packs pretty small (though I need to buy/make a carrying case for it), is fast/easy to assemble and 24" replacement blades are easily found in my market. Though I can get by without sectioning firewood, it is very handy to do so and the Bob Dustrude Quick Buck Saw does a great job.
 
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Brommeland

Gold Member
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Jul 28, 2003
Messages
690
+1 on Bob Dustrude's Quick Buck Saw. I've used a lot of saws and this one is far and away my favorite....
 

sodak

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Mar 26, 2004
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For smaller logs, wrist thick, I use a Kershaw branded Bahco folder. Bigger than that, I use a Sven. Both work very well.
 
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