5 Best Bushcraft Saws
For years we have been using silky saws in the field and they have performed exceptionally well. So this list will heavy on the silkies, but we will cover some other saws as well. There is a ton of different saws out there on the market to choose from, the options can be overwhelming to a newbie. So we have tried everything out there and narrowed it down to a handful of saws for you that will work best for bushcrafters and outdoorsman. All of this equipment has been in use by SIGMA 3 Survival Instructors for years, since it is one of the single most important survival tools we bring to work. Our day job consists of showing up in the woods with a knife, saw, axe, and nothing else. That is what we teach with for most classes, so we use them a LOT!
What to look for?
Folding saws are the best option. Pack-ability is always a concern when carrying woodworking tools. You can only carry so much and you want it to be lightweight, durable, and very efficient at cutting small to medium-sized logs. As well as being able to take something larger down if need be. You’d be surprised how large of a tree you can take down in a short amount of time with a mid sized saw. Well over 12″ trees are possible and as a survivalist, you really shouldn’t have a need to take anything larger down. But if you do, then plan on carrying an axe. Our favorite axe at the moment is the Hults Bruk Akka Forest Axe. You can take down anything you need with an axe this big, and the head is light enough you can choke up on the handle and do light cutting work.
Why a folding saw over a buck saw?
The problem with bucksaws is that the depth of your saw will determine how large of trees you can cut. Which can be a problem if you’re carrying a big clunky buck saw, and it won’t even cut large logs if needed. They tend to be heavier and much bulkier, which makes them an issue to carry in backpacks. Whereas a folding saw can cut larger logs and will slide right into one of your pockets. The Silky Ultra Accel actually fits perfectly into the upper left cargo pocket of the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pants (My favorite outdoor pants of all time).
Some things only a saw can do:
- straight cuts for notching, survival traps, shelter building, and much more
- Faster cutting and less work than axes. It takes about 1/3 the effort to use a saw versus an axe.
- Fit into small pockets.
- Cut quickly in confined areas.
- Strap it to a pole and cut limbs way out of your normal reach.
Why does a survivalist need a saw more than an axe?
People who travel in the woods often, tend to try and do it lightweight. Tool heavy yes, but as light as they can go to get the job done. Why carry a big 3 lb axe if you don’t need it? I primarily carry an axe for winter trips in colder climates and in places you need to chop lots of standing dead wood to burn. Unless I have to process and split a lot of wood, I don’t really need an axe for most 3 season trips. The saw can do anything I need and then some. Plus it fits in your pocket and the only survival tools that matter are the ones you’ll actually carry regularly.
There issues with almost every folding saw on the market. It isn’t designed to necessarily replace an ax, it should be paired with one. Because of the two items, the axe is far more durable, even though it’s not as efficient. I typically carry both and end up using my saw 80% of the time. Remember that your wood working tools are your survival tools, because they can help you construct items for your longer-term survival. Not to mention a fire is pivotal to survive in any environment and you want a few tools at hand to process wood.
Silky Issues- This saw has the hardest steel by far, meaning it holds an edge much much longer. But the harder a steel, the more brittle it is. The only issue people have with silky’s ever is that if you abuse the blade it will break. You have to use it properly and never force it through wood or allow the blade to bind. If done right it will fly through the wood with very little effort on your arms. The silky also has a very wide kerf (thickness at cutting edge), meaning it binds the least of all the saws. This is a professional tree trimming saw and is by far and away the fastest cutter. Just be careful when using the blade so as not to break it. I’ve never personally broken one after years of use, but I have seen it happen.
Corona Issues- This saw has a thinner kerf and will bind a little more than the silky’s. It also has an issue with the bolt loosening and once you lose the bolt, the saw is almost worthless. The blade is also softer so the edge won’t last as long. And it’s more likely to bend than the silky saws. That being said, it’s durable enough that you can straighten bends in the blade. All in all, this a fantastic saw for the money. It was my go to saw before finding the silky ultra accel.
Bahco Issues- This saw is the slowest cutter of all the saws by far. But it is probably the most popular bushcraft saw in the world. Not sure why they are so popular other than the durability of the blade, which is why it made the top 5 list. You can literally bend the bushcraft saw blade at a 90-degree angle, and then bang it out straight with a log. Its an amazingly tough blade, but it has some drawbacks. The kerf on the saw is very thin, meaning the blade binds a lot. It is also a small saw, and can only process small limbs. You can’t cut even half as large of trees with this bushcraft saw, as you can the silky or corona. You also have to be careful the bolt doesn’t fall out on this saw. It has to have loctite added to the threading or it will come loose in the woods and be rendered useless.
Top 5 Bushcraft Saws:
- Silky Ultra Accel (All time favorite saw)
- Silky Pocket Boy (Best Pocket Sized Saw)
- Corona Clipper 10-inch Curved Blade Folding Razor Tooth Saw RS 7265
- Silky Big Boy (Largest bushcraft saw in class)
- Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw, 7-1/2 -Inch Blade, 7 TPI
Just a couple of good buck saws:
One of the most overlooked Principles of Survival is having the ability to Meet your First Aid and Security Needs. The outdoors are called the wild for a reason. It can be dangerous out there, and accidents are just waiting to happen. Something as simple as a sprained ankle or as serious as an animal attack, it is important that you are always prepared. Inspect your first-aid kit, and establish security protocols while in the field. In an actual survival situation attend to any injuries, and remove yourself from any danger. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
First Aid & Security Could Save Your Life
Four common first aid mistake we see in our classes are:
- Gimmicky First Aid Kits
- Poor Selection of Medical Supplies (Lacks Trauma Care)
- Inadequate First Aid Training
- Folk Medicine (Example: Suck poison from a snake bite)
Having a properly stocked IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit), and professional training is vital to your self aid. If you are uncertain of items in your kit then learn what they are or remove them. Be sure your first aid kit treats the most common incidents: sprains, burns, and wounds. After those needs are met then you can add items that will treat blisters, stings/bites, rashes, and so on. Also, be sure to attend a wilderness first aid course, and then begin to regularly practice your skills.
Get your IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) on our store. SurvivalGear.us or build your own.
Security is more than carrying a gun, it is a mindset. It is about having a fine tuned awareness of nature. Make sure you fully understand your surroundings and establish a perimeter around your camp. Be sure you have not set up on a game trail or under a dead fall. If you are in an area that has a high predator population be sure to have a fire and create a barrier between you and the wildlife. This could be as simple as backing up against a rock ledge with a fire out front, surrounding yourself with briers (thorny plants), fully enclosing your shelter, or creating an improvised alarm system. You should always have some form of weapon to defend yourself even if it is nothing more than a sharpened spear.
We recently had a bear come into camp that created a stir. He busted some beer bottles and drank all the beer. Needless to say he was probably a bit tipsy. We were able to run him off by making ourselves look bigger and raising our voices. This could have been avoided by keeping food and drink hung in a bear bag. If the bear continued to be persistent an air horn, bear spray, or offset gun shot would have been enough to scare him off.
A simple improvised alarm system could consist of a trip wire attached to some aluminum cans or other noise maker. Use your imagination. As silly as that may seem, security is no joke.
Check out our latest First Aid Video, share, subscribe, and stay tuned for the 3rd Survival Principle.
One of the most important survival skills may not be what you think. The most important skill is the ability to recognize the need to make personal safety a priority. I have spent years training in the bush, and have developed the 6 Principles of Survival.
Shelter, fire, and water become irrelevant when you do not have the cognitive skills to meet those needs.
The first principle of survival is to Mitigate Risk and Fear. This consist of having an ISOPREP Report and P.A.C.E. Plan in place before you even step into the woods. This will ensure your odds of staying found and avoiding a survival situation in the first place.
Understanding the Principles of Survival will improve your odds.
ISOPREP REPORT (Isolated Personnel Report)
No one goes out into the wilderness planning to get lost or injured, it just happens. Murphy’s Law kicks in, and you better hope you have made proper plans for rescue. The #1 cause for a survival situation is a careless attitude toward personal safety. Ego comes into play, and we step out into the bush with our own wits and skill, only to find out that we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we would have only left behind an Isoprep report and estimated return time with a responsible adult. The Isoprep report is a single sheet of paper that includes your personal info, destination of travel, and emergency contacts. You should always carry a copy on yourself, and leave a copy with someone you trust to reach out to authorities in the event you don’t return. We have created this free print friendly ISOPREP REPORT for you to download. (Click image)
The P.A.C.E. PLAN is a simple action response plan that provides you with a back-up plan in the event things go wrong. Always have a Primary plan, Alternate plan, Contingent plan, and Emergency plan. By thinking ahead this will mitigate the fear of uncertainty and will ensure that you take practical steps to avoid unnecessary risk and increase your survival odds.
When all else fails, and survival becomes your only choice it is important that you S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan). This simple act will help you with your natural fight or flight response, and will allow you to rationally think through your circumstances. The simple act of slowing down your breathing will help lower your heart rate, and reduce that overwhelming feeling of fear. Confidence in your skill set and a proper action plan will help you effectively evaluate risk vs reward.
Safety has to be a priority. Always cut away from yourself when using a knife, reduce your speed and stride when traversing, stay on the trail, avoid any unnecessary risk, and remember to always stay calm. I also encourage you to get proper land navigation training and a good compass. We offer courses throughout the year.
Be sure to check out Part 1 of our 6 Principles of Survival video, Share, Download Isoprep report, and stay tuned for Principle 2.
Jungle Survival, Living Off the Jungle, Wild Foods, and Jungle Bushcraft
Numerous SIGMA 3 cadre have just returned from a jungle survival trip deep in the Nicaraguan jungles and have gained an awesome sense of empowerment knowing how well they can live in the jungle with a few tools. This October 2015 we set out on a jungle survival trip to practice bushcraft with the Rama Indians in the Southeastern section of Nicaragua, near the little town of San Juan Del Norte. This is the last stop when traveling into the jungle where there is nothing but indian settlements along the river.
We took an epic multi-day trip up the Indian river to get us into the deepest jungles we could find. We wanted to see what the jungle really had to offer in the way of food and we weren’t let down. These jungles are literally a treasure trove of food, resources, fish, wild meat, and the best diversity of wild plants anywhere! You can literally eat like a king in these jungles and have want for nothing. Jungle survival can be so easy with the right skills and few tools.
The jungle trees provide such great leaves for providing thatched roofs that with the right knowledge you can thatch a roof that will withstand hurricane level rains. The royal palm is so amazing to work with and a roof can be thatched quickly that is totally waterproof. There is no doubt that this is one of the easiest places on the planet to survive. It’s really refreshing to enjoy a place with so many resources for bushcrafting that it makes life simple. The vines of the jungle are a wonder to behold because they are like free rope everywhere you look. Vines of all sizes and strengths can be found in overwhelming abundance. These vines are strong enough to lash any shelter and build almost anything you can imagine. The abundance of them is so staggering that you almost don’t even need to bring much cordage with you.
We built several types of jungle survival shelters during our time in the jungle and by far my best learning experience was helping construct this traditional hut. The uses of Royal palm are almost to many to mention and it makes the most wonderful thatched roofs. It is what all the homes are thatched with to include the Rio Indio lodge and you would be surprised at how well a thin layer of palms can repel water.
We also thatched with other palm types like the Sweeta palm which is abundant all over the jungle. This type of palm leaves proved to be extremely easy to use as well because of the way we thatched them. These leaves easily made a waterproof shelter in very little time at all. You can complete shelters in literally a 1/3 of the time you can most typical survival shelters in the United States. It really made life easy to have these plants everywhere you look so you could just whip up a jungle survival shelter at will.
There was no lack of water in the jungle that is for sure but it can be difficult to find in certain places. It’s always best to stay close to the rivers but sometimes overland travel doesn’t allow that. Best plan of attack for water procurement is to just have a good sawyer filter or two. We used a camp sized gravity filter for most of our water needs for the group and it worked well for what we needed. If primitive skills is all you have then you’ll have to find a patch of bamboo to make a container and boil some water up. Always stay close to the rivers because they are the highways of the river and where most of the resources are located.
Most people think the jungle is a very difficult place to get fire in the jungle and it can be if you don’t have some basic skills. The jungle has so many so woods that if dry are fantastic fire starting materials. These soft river woods are perfect for friction fire kits but it can be difficult to find a dry piece to use immediately for bow drill. The great thing about the jungle survival is there is palm everywhere and dry palm can almost always be had for quick cooking fires. Long burning fires are not needed down there and it is to difficult to burn them indefinitely anyway. Usually the only thing you need fire for is cooking and boiling water. A lot of people think that smoke will keep away bugs but it will only knock down the number of them minimally at best. Using fire is not a great method for dealing with bugs and you shouldn’t depend on the ability to repel mosquitoes naturally as your only method for dealing with them. Rubbing mud on your body also doesn’t help much in reducing bug bites.
Food was by far the easiest thing to get in the jungle and with some good survival skills you can actually get fat in the jungle. This is one of the few places on the planet where you could go totally vegetarian for months if needed. Very few places on the planet can boast this kind of food diversity. The easiest thing to get besides wild edibles is definitely fish because they are in great abundance in any riparian area you find.
While down there we ate all types of fish to include: Snook, Rainbow Bass, Brim, and much more! The preferred method for cooking it was to de-scale it then make small cuts in the flesh all up and down the fish. Then we would season it and either grill it or wrap it in palm leaves and steam it. The snook was by far the best fish I have ever eaten in my life and I’ve been fishing since I was 3 years old.
There is also a bounty of red meat to be had and we had not problem getting large rodents like the Agouti. The Agouti is like a mix between a giant rabbit and a large rat; the meat tastes similar to steak with a chicken like texture. These rodents and many others are in great abundance all over the jungle.
Really the only modern equipment you need in the jungle is a good machete, tarp, mosquito netting, water container, and fire tool. But you can survive easily with nothing more than a machete if you have good bushcraft skills. What surprised me in the jungle was just how soft the wood was and how even a dull machete will quickly fly through large trees. This is an environment where you truly can walk into with just a blade and survive like a king.
The single most important luxury jungle survival tool I took with me was definitely my Warbonnet Blackbird XLC. We had numerous people with Clark hammocks while there and they are the most expensive hammock system you can get. They were all jealous of my Warbonnet hammock because it is much larger, more comfortable, and has way better bug protection. I stayed in the Clark hammock just to try it out for awhile and it was so small it felt like a coffin. I personally do not like them at all and all the guys that tried our Warbonnets now own them lol. A lot of the guys using Clark hammocks got bite up on there back by mosquitos because it is only one layer, while the Warbonnet is a double layered bottom that prevents bug bites. I spent a lot of time in my hammock at night because it gets dark there about 5:30 pm and everyone goes to bed early during the rainy season. So being comfortable in miserable conditions was a life saver! Never got wet or bug bite once over a 2 week periods in some tough jungle inside my Warbonnet Hammock system. We have more reviews of using it doing jungle survival coming soon!
Jungle Tarp Making
Probably the most amazing piece of equipment I saw while in the jungle was a homemade tarp. It was simply a bed sheet that had been coated with the latex of the rubber tree and this substance turned the sheet into a totally waterproof tarp. It was amazing how they had a process to make waterproof tarps as good as our modern equivalent and they did it almost completely primitively.
The jungle may be a haven for bushcraft resources but it is definitely a very dangerous place to survive. The biggest jungle survival danger is by far and away the wild hogs and the monster herds they roam in. These herds of hogs will roam in numbers of excess of a thousand animals and they are very aggressive. These aren’t the large hogs like we have in the United States, they are a smaller Peccary sized hog that usually won’t get over 100 lbs. Don’t let the size fool you though because what they lack in size they make up for in numbers.
One of the Rama indians told us a story about how he was hog hunting and witness a full sized jaguar get attacked and completely eaten by hogs. The jaguar killed 14 hogs right before his eyes but they eventually overwhelmed the jaguar. The same Rama guide also told us a story of how he was attacked and his leg mauled by a large hog. These animals are not to be trifled with and when you see them it is time to start climbing a tree. Don’t wait for them to get aggressive, you start climbing as soon as you see them. They also have this crazy technique to get you out of the tree once your in it that you need to be aware of. The hogs will gather in mass under the tree and begin to urinate everywhere. This causes massive amounts of ammonia to filter up into the tree tops and will cause you to pass out. They use this technique when hunting other animals that run into the trees and it is very effective. When hundreds of hogs pee in the same spot, you need to be tied to the tree in case you pass out.
Other animals to worry about are the man eating crocodiles, bullet ants, army ants, numerous poisonous snakes, mosquitoes, and poison frogs. Even though there is a lot of animals that can kill you in the jungle, its a great place to survive!
This was the absolute best trip of all the participants lives and the adventure factor can’t really be rivaled anywhere else. You can catch epic sized fish, explore remote jungles, live off the land like kings, and bask in the beauty that is the jungle. Jungle survival isn’t hard with the right guide and some basic training. If you want some real adventure in your life for a reasonable price. We can book custom trips for you anytime of the year. If your interested then just click below!