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Published Sep 7, 2023 1:00 PM
I’ve lost track of all the times I needed a folding saw and didn’t have one. Whether camping, off-roading, kayaking, hunting, or fishing, it’s amazing how often these tools can come in handy. From trimming that perfect shooting lane for a big buck to keeping your favorite kayaking river free of branches, a folding saw will usually do the trick. It’s gotten to the point where I like having one in my vehicle in case of emergencies. You never know what you’ll encounter on a deep woods back road.
Tool manufacturers have noted the interest in saws, and stores are a bit bloated with blades these days. This begs the question, which of them are worth the money? That’s where I come in to help. I put several top brands through real world tests to determine which perform best. With that in mind, these are our picks for the best folding saws.
How We Tested the Best Folding Saws
I gathered up as many folding saws as I could and set about testing them the obvious way: sawing as much pieces of wood as possible. This entailed some trimming and pruning of smaller green wood branches, as well as some medium-sized ones. To ensure I was giving these saws and their edges the full test, I also attempted to saw some larger and dry wood that had been sitting a while. This really revealed what they could handle. While most of my choices were based on the cutting ability of each saw, I also considered the following factors:
- Mechanisms: How smooth is the folding? Is there any play in the blade once locked in the open position?
- Ergonomics: Does the handle provide adequate grip? Is it comfortable during harder cutting jobs?
- Value: Does the price match the performance and quality of the saw?
Best Folding Saws: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Ka-Bar Folding Saw
- Blade Length: 7.75 inches
- Blade Material: High carbon steel
- Handle: Nylon/fiberglass
- Great locking system
- Excellent grip
- Very clean cuts
- Tough to get going sometimes
While the Ka-Bar name is better associated with high quality knives, this is an excellent folding saw, especially for a reasonable price around $40. The fiberglass and nylon handle has a TPR over mold that has just the right amount of “tack” to it. I never once lost my grip while using this saw. I feel confident I could even maintain a steady grip during a steady downpour if needed. There was no question the Ka-Bar had the best handle of all the folding saws I’ve ever used.
While it can be a bit tough to get started on cuts at times, once the blade gets going, it works quickly and efficiently. This saw produced some of the smoothest and cleanest cuts I’ve seen from a saw of this type. It’s not the type of feature most people look for in a folding saw, but it’s a great bonus. I also noted that the blade was extremely slow to dull and show wear. It’s surprisingly rugged considering the price.
Best Bushcraft: Aclim8 Combar Pro Kit
- Blade Length: 10 inches
- Blade Material: High carbon steel
- Handle: Glass-reinforced nylon
- Great handle
- Easy blade replacement
- Only available in a combo pack
I’ve owned this saw for years now, and it’s my go-to for just about every task. However, it’s a great fit for bushcraft because the 10-inch blade is incredibly versatile. You can use it to down a larger tree and then prune it for a more secure shelter. The other great thing about this saw is that you can replace the blade with any reciprocating saw blade off the shelf. Since those are available practically anywhere, there’s no need to make a specialty order for a new one. It’s also nice peace of mind if you happen to snap a blade.
This saw is rather expensive because it’s only sold as part of the Combar Pro Kit, which includes a quality full tang survival knife. This blade compliments the saw nicely, but some bushcraft enthusiasts may find it unnecessary. But this saw is still one of my favorites. It’s one of those tools that just feels right in the hand thanks to the glass reinforced nylon handle. This is the option for those who demand the best of their equipment.
Best Pruning: Yardworks 10-Inch Folding Saw
- Blade Length: 10 inches
- Blade Material: High carbon steel
- Handle: ABS Plastic
- Easy locking device
- Cuts in both directions
- Sometimes hard to fold into the handle’s notch
The Yardworks has a standout push button locking mechanism that’s incredibly easy to use. This would be a good choice for anyone with arthritic hands because of the smoothness of the button and lever. The saw blade has good tolerances and it swings freely quite easily. My parents used this one extensively to prune some out-of-control lilac bushes in their backyard. It made short work of the thicker branches and retained its sharpness.
If there’s a downside to this saw, it’s that the blade on the handle is a little narrow for my liking. The teeth of the saw will sometimes catch on this notch and not fold up completely. I had to jiggle the blade around just a bit to get it to sit flush. But for under $20, this is a solid saw that’s perfect for light yard work. The handle is also jumbo-sized, which makes it easy to handle for anyone with big hands.
Best Budget: Fiskars 7-Inch Folding Saw
- Blade Length: 7 inches
- Blade Material: Alloy steel
- Handle: N/A
- Compact design
- Lifetime warranty
- Great safety mechanism
- Better as a backup than a main blade
The Fiskars name is well-known for making quality tools and their 7-inch folding saw is no exception. It’s normally only $20, but we’ve seen it on sale for as low as $12. This makes it an excellent emergency or backup saw to throw in a survival kit or a vehicle. The saw is also compact, so it’s great for bags with limited pack space like a hunting backpack.
The safety features stand out on this one. After you start to fold it, you have to press the button again to fully fold the blade back into the handle. This just ensures you can’t accidentally snap the blade down on your fingers.
If there’s a downside to this saw, it’s that the size isn’t suited well for larger jobs. We like it best for minor pruning jobs and as a backup. This is the ideal size to remove unexpected limbs from shooting lanes or to bring kayaking for clearing up fallen branches on your favorite stream. Plus, it’s cheap enough that you can likely afford to pick up multiples for different vehicles or properties. Fiskars backs their gear with a lifetime warranty which adds to the value.
Best for Backpacking: Gerber Freescape Camp Saw
Best for Backpacking
- Blade Length: 12 inches
- Blade Material: High speed steel
- Handle: Rubber over molded
- Folds into streamlined package
- Comfortable grip
- Not sized for larger trees
The big challenge for backpackers has always been hauling along a saw large enough to get the job done without eating up extra packing space. Gerber has a great solution in the triangular frame Freescape saw. The 12-inch blade folds down into the handles and frame for a compact, flat package that easily stows in tight spaces (like a backpacking backpack). Usually when something has portability, it sacrifices comfort to achieve it. Fortunately, Gerber was able to give this saw a nice rubber handle that makes it a true joy to use when you’re deep in the backcountry. While we like it for backpacking, it’s a solid hunting saw, too.
If there’s a downside to this folding saw, it’s that the 12-inch length is smaller than some people might realize. It’s not really built for thicker wood pieces. But it will help prep smaller wood for camping in a pinch. This saw normally sells for $50, but it’s also often on sale for less than that, so it won’t break the bank either.
Best Large: Silky Big Boy Folding Saw
- Blade Length: 14 inches
- Blade Material: Alloy steel, chrome plated
- Handle: Aluminum
- Massive blade
- Exceptional sharpness
- Ergonomic rubber handle
Japanese-made Silky saws have an excellent reputation for being some of the sharpest available. When it comes to tough jobs with larger limbs and trees, the Big Boy is up for the task. Silky offers this saw with four different blade teeth configurations, so you can pick the perfect saw for their intended task. The 14-inch blade is ideal for tougher trail clearing tasks deep in the wilderness, especially in places too far to tote a chainsaw.
This saw isn’t cheap, which isn’t too surprising considering it’s a professional-grade tool that utilizes a high-grade steel. But it’s a worthy investment if you need something for thicker and drier pieces of wood on a regular basis. This is a serious folding saw that’s built for jobs much tougher than basic pruning in the backyard.
What to Consider When Choosing a Folding Saw
It’s probably best to think about the primary use before buying a folding saw. Something for bushcraft and camping should ideally be smaller in profile, and lighter weight, especially if you plan to take the saw into the wilderness on a backpacking trip. I try to keep a shorter saw in my hunting bag because you never know when an unexpected limb will fall into one of your shooting lanes.
The weight and folded length don’t matter as much if you just want something for trimming and pruning your yard. However, the longer the blade, the easier it will be to work with. Additionally, the width of the blade matters as far as the ruggedness and durability. Thicker blades are tougher, but can be more difficult to work depending on the type of wood you’re cutting.
Q: Should I get a curved or straight blade saw?
It depends on how you plan to use the saw. Both will function perfectly fine for most cutting scenarios, but a curved blade is usually easier to use when cutting branches sitting above your shoulders or below your knees. The curve just helps give a bit more leverage on the blade. Straight blades are better for anyone who doesn’t need to stretch and make extreme cuts.
Q: Which saw blade makes the smoothest cut?
The more teeth a saw blade has, the smoother the cut. The additional teeth help rip more of the surface of the wood. The best type of blade is a crosscut because it is specifically designed for a clean cut. These blades are recommended if you want to avoid splintering or tearing.
Q: What is the difference between a bow saw and a folding saw?
Bow saws have a permanent frame made of wood, metal, or plastic depending on the manufacturer. This type of saw is usually easier to use, especially for cutting up larger logs. However, the downside is that they are not very compact. Folding saws are much more compact, and better suited for pruning and trimming of smaller branches and limbs than larger logs.
Best Folding Saws: Final Thoughts
Although I feel any of these best folding saws will be functional for most average users, the Ka-Bar was my favorite in terms of sharpness and comfort. One thing I neglected to mention was the crispness of the push button locking mechanism. It reminds me of a high-grade locking knife. The size is great for keeping in a vehicle or throwing in a hunting pack for when you need it.
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