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Thread: Saw For Spruce Traps

  1. #16
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    FWIW I've never fallen into a spruce trap while on the trail so I do believe it helps to keep your eye and concentration on trail to avoid them though it can happen as others have attested. Bushwhacking is another matter as there seem to be more ... and spruce traps aren't the only holes you can fall in to. There can be snow cover over brush that can get you into the same pickle. There can also be snow covered holes over stream crossings as well as the edge of benign appearing ponds, especially over springs and near inlets and outlets.

    Only once did I get into a serious trap, it was actually under a balsam fir, while solo and following the tracks of a bobcat which was following the tracks of a snowshoe hare. I had visions of both creatures sitting by laughing with their knives and forks in hand. Instead, after considering the situation I thought through the best movement to free my snowshoe (without taking it off preferably) and getting maximum leverage. Preparation is important but equally important is to think through the way out before acting; the wrong impulsive move can get one in worse.

    BTW, my way out of that trap was sort of a backstroke which directed me up and away at an angel.
    Last edited by Stan; 01-06-2016 at 10:15 AM.

  2. #17
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    I have the sliding version of Alex's Gerber saw and it gets a lot of use. The knurled thumbscrew is a bit weird...occasionally I go in with an allen wrench to get the tension balanced out...but it does the job. Easy to jam if you try to cut by pressing down hard, but so is any saw. I carried it, a Sven saw, and a light pair of pruners last time I went brushing out...the Sven saw didn't get touched. Kinda wish I'd brought a pair of proper loppers, though.

  3. #18
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    I carry a Silky Pocketboy 130 in the winter. General agreement it that they outcut the Gerbers and the Opinel. Fiskars also has a good reputation. The Silky is available with different teeth. Mine is either a Medium or Course.

    Like many such saws, it's a pull saw and cuts only on the pull stroke. If you bear down on the blade during the forward stroke, you can bend the blade. Need to use a circular stroke.

    I carry this and a fixed blade on ski trips now, along with a folding Emberlit wood stove. Very light emergency kit.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

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  4. #19
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    I carry a Silky Pocketboy 130 in the winter. General agreement it that they outcut the Gerbers and the Opinel. Fiskars also has a good reputation. The Silky is available with different teeth. Mine is either a Medium or Course.

    Like many such saws, it's a pull saw and cuts only on the pull stroke. If you bear down on the blade during the forward stroke, you can bend the blade. Need to use a circular stroke.

    I carry this and a fixed blade on ski trips now, along with a folding Emberlit wood stove. Very light emergency kit.
    When you say "fixed blade" do you mean a saw or a knife? I'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be so horrible to have a fixed blade saw with a bit longer blade carried in a sheath like a knife. In addition to spruce traps it might be nice for pruning gnarly blowdowns too when the gaps through the branches are too tight. From what I read of blades ideal for cutting larger or sappy branches they seem to be larger than most of the flip open models mentioned.
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  5. #20
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, I meant fixed blade knife.

    In terms of the saws, the Silky saws come in a variety of lengths. Failure is typically bending a blade, not a failure of the pivot or lock. Bending can lead to breaking so I've heard though I've never managed that yet.

    The folding saws are great for limbs, where might not be able to fit a buck saw in. A buck saw is better for sectioning logs.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

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  6. #21
    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    I carry a Silky Pocketboy 130 in the winter. General agreement it that they outcut the Gerbers and the Opinel. Fiskars also has a good reputation. The Silky is available with different teeth. Mine is either a Medium or Course.
    Silky and Fiskars are household landscaping brands. A great choice for folks who are happy to carry a little more weight in exchange for less vulnerability to human error. Gerber's target market is tactical/survival gear. They go for max performance with minimum weight. For example, the Silky 170 (same blade length as the Gerber) weighs 50% more.

    Also, the Gerber coarse blade works *really* well on spruce branches. I would challenge any "general agreement" to the contrary (a "saw-off", anyone?).

    Lastly, while I'd certainly be glad to have a 130mm blade vs. just a knife in an emergency, that really is cutting things close for length.

    Alex

  7. #22
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexmtn View Post
    Also, the Gerber coarse blade works *really* well on spruce branches. I would challenge any "general agreement" to the contrary (a "saw-off", anyone?).
    Alex, I had a generic (Coleman, perhaps?) saw for many years, and just accepted it's performance as what could be reasonably expected for such a tool. About 10 years, my long time interest in knives and knife collecting grew and I've become more involved on a few knife related forums. One in particular has a fairly active Outdoor and Wilderness Skills sub-forum and the topic of folding saws comes up on a regular basis. Based on recommendations, I got the Silky Pocket Boy 170 (you were right, 130 is too short and I double checked) and I honestly can't believe the jump in efficiency.

    Anyway, yes, lot's of people conduct "saw-offs" as you suggest and my reading of the consensus in following those discussions is that the Silky saws regularly end up on top. That's certainly consistent with my experience.

    Here's one of a bunch of saw-offs on You Tube. This one comparing a Silky to a Bahco. As the guy concludes, the Bahco is really good but the Silky is excellent.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjQJA87xGJY

    As you mention, the Silkys carry a weigh penalty.

    Lastly, while I'd certainly be glad to have a 130mm blade vs. just a knife in an emergency, that really is cutting things close for length.
    Agreed 100%. I no longer consider carrying anything shorter than the 170 to be reasonable.

    Something to add... For the purpose being discussed, I wouldn't want to be using a knife down below the surface with my or my friend's leg down there. I find saws much easier to manage in a tangle of brush. Chopping tools certainly have their place but that would not be a good one!!
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  8. #23
    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    It ain't short, but this video says it all: https://youtu.be/iXlBFJW4aK8

    The only thing to keep in mind is that for whatever reason, these 'saw off' videos seem to feature much thicker logs than the spruce boughs we're talking about being prepared for here.

    My bottom line: If I'm packing for some trail work or campsite construction in which I'm anticipating repeated use, the arborist/landscaping saws such as the Silky would be a great thing to take, likely in a longer length than 170. If I'm packing for a trip in which I'm not expecting to use the saw at all but want an effective one on me for emergencies, it would be the Gerber or a similarly light-yet-effective 170.

    Alex

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    I'm sorry, I meant fixed blade knife.

    In terms of the saws, the Silky saws come in a variety of lengths. Failure is typically bending a blade, not a failure of the pivot or lock. Bending can lead to breaking so I've heard though I've never managed that yet.

    The folding saws are great for limbs, where might not be able to fit a buck saw in. A buck saw is better for sectioning logs.
    I have been using two Silky saws for the last six years: The Big Boy 2000 (yes that's the real name ) for day long trail patrol and taking out both large and small blowdowns and branch trimming and the Pocket Boy 170 more for winter when taking out just the branches on a large blowdown that's come across a trail.

    I have snapped two blade tips on my Big Boy 2000 when working on large blowdowns, none on the Pocket Boy. I highly recommend Silky saws although they are a bit pricey but well worth the price.

    John
    J&J

  10. #25
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Heya Alex,

    Just want to confirm we're talking about the same things.

    The Silky PocketBoy 170 weighs 7oz without the plastic holster.

    The Gerber you pointed to weighs 6.5 oz which may include the second blade and is a tick shorter than 170mm.

    We comparing the same saws?
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  11. #26
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    I don't know how they compare in saw offs, but I have had good results with the Corona brand saws from Lowes. Only watch out with them is that the nut that holds the blade in the handle can work loose; I put threadlock on them when I buy them. But the sharpness of the teeth and the cutting efficiency are impressive for a "bargain" saw.

  12. #27
    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    Heya Alex,
    Just want to confirm we're talking about the same things.
    The Silky PocketBoy 170 weighs 7oz without the plastic holster.
    The Gerber you pointed to weighs 6.5 oz which may include the second blade and is a tick shorter than 170mm.
    We comparing the same saws?
    Yes Dave, same saws -- but note that the Gerber stat *includes* the holster.

    Silky PocketBoy 170 saw: 170mm, 9.6oz w/holster, 7.2oz without.

    Gerber Exchange-a-blade saw: 6.75" (171mm), 6.5oz w/holster, 4.6oz without. 1.0oz per extra blade carried.

    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    I don't know how they compare in saw offs, but I have had good results with the Corona brand saws from Lowes ... the sharpness of the teeth and the cutting efficiency are impressive for a "bargain" saw.
    I had exactly the same reaction when freeing my hiker - she was out in seconds. it's amazing how efficiently these saws can cut, esp when sicking them on an in-place spruce/fir bough rather than the 3" logs featured in the aforementioned 'saw-off' videos. And with little ol' light/fast hiker me doing the cutting, rather than a bulked-up woodsman.

    Alex
    Last edited by alexmtn; 01-14-2016 at 01:28 PM.

  13. #28
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexmtn View Post
    Yes Dave, same saws -- but note that the Gerber stat *includes* the holster.

    Silky PocketBoy 170 saw: 170mm, 9.6oz w/holster, 7.2oz without.

    Gerber Exchange-a-blade saw: 6.75" (171mm), 6.5oz w/holster, 4.6oz without. 1.0oz per extra blade carried.



    I had exactly the same reaction when freeing my hiker - she was out in seconds. it's amazing how efficiently these saws can cut, esp when sicking them on an in-place spruce/fir bough rather than the 3" logs featured in the aforementioned 'saw-off' videos. And with little ol' light/fast hiker me doing the cutting, rather than a bulked-up woodsman.

    Alex
    I went the Gerber route based on lighter weight and sheath. I am disappointed. I was under the impression these saws worked like a lock blade knife - you depress a lever, open the blade and it locks in place. Reverse to close. The model I got has a screw you basically have to undo, remove, flip blade and retighten. That seems like a prescription for disaster hovering in a snow filled spruce trap. I can see undoing the nut in gloved hands and POOF! down she drops into oblivion rendering the saw useless. Is the Silky Boy series the same way?? The Gerber does feel very cheap too unlike many other Gerber items I own. And it was a lot larger than I imagined. Thinking I may return. Not confident in the design or the quality.
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  14. #29
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    I'll let Alex scold you for this
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  15. #30
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I went the Gerber route based on lighter weight and sheath. I am disappointed. I was under the impression these saws worked like a lock blade knife - you depress a lever, open the blade and it locks in place. Reverse to close. The model I got has a screw you basically have to undo, remove, flip blade and retighten. That seems like a prescription for disaster hovering in a snow filled spruce trap. I can see undoing the nut in gloved hands and POOF! down she drops into oblivion rendering the saw useless. Is the Silky Boy series the same way?? The Gerber does feel very cheap too unlike many other Gerber items I own. And it was a lot larger than I imagined. Thinking I may return. Not confident in the design or the quality.
    DayTrip, the Silky PocketBoy is very similar to a lock back. You can see the thumb lock just before the orange handle. Also, the blade sits high in the frame, making it very easy to pinch open, even with gloves on.


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