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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Gorham NH

    Trail Maintenance Saw Review - New Contender

    I carry a folding hand saw pretty well on every hike for cutting blowdowns that I encounter on the trail. If they are an easy step over or step under I usually leave them but if they are at mid level and if I am not on tight schedule I usually stop and cut them out. Long ago I settled on the bucksaw type format versus the folding blade type or the popular Sven saw which I found had less effective blade travel on a large diameter blowdown. My go to saw is the Sawvivor that is long out of production but I found it had a fast cut and fit in my packs (they do pop up on ebay on rare occasions . It was offered with both a bone saw and wood saw blade and I managed to pick up a few spare wood blades at the Beans factory outlet to cover me. The original blades had a reasonable amount of set to them which is sometimes an issue with hand saws. The Sawvivor is in the center of the three in the photo. The blade tension wingnut snapped off but it was modified allen head screw so a hex key works fine. About 2 years ago I misplaced the Sawvivor and went on a quest to replace it (It eventually reappeared in a pack). There were not a lot of options but I did find the Gerber saw on the right. It looked real slick but the slightly shorter blade and the narrower gap on one end limited the diameter of the tree more than I would have thought. I could have lived with it but far worse is the blades have minimal if any set to them. Sure I might be able to bend the tree under tension to keep the kerf open but as delivered, it would get stuck in most green wood unless I pretensioned it. Might be okay for dry firewood or rotten fir/spruce but definitely not a replacement. Recently I came across the larger Spring Creek Saw. I am impressed, US built, looks fairly rugged and the blade has reasonable set. The only down side is the handle end is 1-1/4" by 1-3/4"., Its square and not cushioned. Someone with small hands might not like it. The black plastic part of the handle is part of the tensioning so the handle could not just be wrapped unless the saw is left open. Its taller and sticks out of my pack. The big plus is boy can it cut wood, the blade has a good set and the extra blade length really speeds up a cut. I was helping the Franconia Brook Trail adopter and was cutting some pretty large blowdowns, i did few that were quite large just out of general principle. Between the two of us we cut out quite few blowdowns from the start of the trail to Twin Brook just short of the falls.

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    Weights were 16.7 ounces for the Spring Creek (left) 10.3 for the Sawvivor (center) and 14.8 for the Gerber.

    IMHO, the Berber may look slick but not a great option. The Sawvivor will still be my go to for normal hikes but the Spring Creek will be for planned trail maintenance. Spring Creek makes longer versions but they would not fit well in a pack but might be a nice canoe camping option. The blade does rattle a bit when stowed but by stuffing the end down in the pack it was not annoying.

    BTW, no saw will cut wood that is under compression, the blades will bind up and get caught, the wood has be neutral or under tension so that the cut stays open. Over the years I have seen small plastic wedges used in various places and need to find a set to see if driving a thing wedge into the cut would speed things up.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 06-07-2021 at 11:27 AM.

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