Whether you backpack up mountains, bike a trail, canoe down river or drive to your next campsite chances are sooner or later you will wish you had a good bow saw.
Having a reliable bow saw can be the difference between eating a hot well-planned meal and keeping warm or freezing through the night while noshing on cold provisions.
Why? Because, in order to have a campfire for cooking and cozying-up; you are going to need firewood.
This page contains some affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
Sometimes campsites have stores that sell pre-cut wood. Most often, though, they don’t, especially if you are off the beaten path.
In addition, many campsites prohibit bringing in your own wood – especially if you are coming from out of state – due to restrictions put in place to save forests from invasive pests.
And, if you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer way out in the sticks, you can quickly cut those sticks for a lean-to type shelter with a bow saw or take a more mellow approach and use those sticks to make s’mores.
Just make sure that you understand all of the rules regarding wood collection and campfires before you venture in to the forest. Simply put, bow saws make for happy campers.
Three Of The Best Bow Saws For The Money To Consider
1. Sven 21” Folding Saw
You can fling the Sven Folding Saw into your backpack and forget about it until you need it. Loosen a wing nut to release the blade and, voila, it’s folded and ready to roam.
The Sven 21” Folding Saw is lightweight, durable and reliable. Sporting a 21 inch blade it is an ideal size for camping tasks like splitting small logs and cutting small trunks.
The peg toothed blade stays clean while cutting. This is a good choice for the camper who is on the move.
- Foldable for easy portability.
- Durable steel blade.
- Made of corrosion and rust resistant materials.
- Great for camping and small backyard tasks. Not the best for heavy duty jobs.
- Simple triangular design is durable, but might not be as comfortable to use for camper who have hand pain.
This is a solid foldable bow saw. The size and durability make it ideal to toss into a backpack for your next camping adventure. It is built to last.
2. Bahco10-24-23 Bow Saw
Let’s consider the 21 inch blade model here. The Bahco Bow Saw is built to stand up to tough jobs and is suitable on and off construction sites as well as camping sites.
You can easily manipulate the tension on the blade to customize it for whatever job you have. In addition, it has an ergonomic handle that not only feels good on working hands, it is safer.
The handle is designed to protect your knuckles. In addition, it comes in a bright orange-red color.
That might be a plus when it comes to finding it among fallen leaves at a campsite.
- Ergonomic handle makes it more comfortable to use than many bow saws.
- Handle promotes hand safety by protecting knuckles.
- Durable. The Bahco Bow Saw is built to withstand regular work at construction sites.
- Blade tension adjustment makes it versatile and efficient for many tasks.
- Not foldable.
- While the handle is a boon for safety and utility, it adds bulk to the product making.
If you are looking for a camping tool that can double as a heavy duty construction site bow saw, this could be the one for you. The tension adjuster is a nice feature. However, it is not as easily transported as foldable bow saws.
3. Fiskars 21” Bow Saw
Are you a righty or a lefty? Who cares? The Fiskars Bow Saw is supposed to be easy to use for all!
This bow saw has a handle with a finger guard. Additional attention has been given to safety in the form of a blade guard.
The makers have long term use in mind and assure users that the blade is replaceable, but is made of durable steel.
- Safety. Both the finger guard on the handle and the included blade guard are solid safety features.
- Ergonomic handle for both left-handed and right-handed campers.
- Made of durable steel.
- Good for logs and branches.
- Replaceable blade.
- It is not foldable, making it more difficult to transport.
- While the handle is great for safety and comfort, it makes the tool bulky for backpacks.
Types of Bow Saws
Bow saws consist of two basic parts, the frame and the blade. Blades are often steel and are either peg toothed (triangular teeth arranged in groups of three with a gap in between the trios) or raker toothed (triangular teeth and raker teeth line the blade).
Both the peg and raker tooth designs aim to space the teeth in a way that allows debris to fall out as you saw so the blade does not get gummed up. Bow saws come in different lengths ranging from approximately 17 to 30 inches.
In general, a mid-size blade should be adequate for what you find and need around campsites. You can also find bow saws targeted to either dry wood or green wood, depending on your needs.
For camping, an ideal bow saw should be sharp and durable, but also easy to transport and safe to use. Remember, you are going camping, not heading off to a construction site.
Nor are you Paul Bunyan. You are not being tasked with felling a forest at record speed.
You simply need to eat and stay warm without needing emergency evacuation by ‘copter because you sliced off your fingers or slashed your shins.
That being said, foldable bow saws are particularly convenient for campers who backpack, bike or paddle to sites. They are generally very lightweight and safe to carry.
Many non-foldable ones, though, pay special attention to ergonomics which render efficient, comfortable and safe use. All the ones suitable for most camping adventures have blades that are 21-24 inches long.
That is long enough to split most firewood and cut useable sticks, but not too long to carry.
Do You Really Need a Bow Saw to Camp?
The answer to this is tricky.
If you are 100% certain that firewood awaits you at your campsite and will be the appropriate size and amount to get your through your stay and you don’t see any need at all to have sticks for spearing food for cooking, building shelter or other creative uses then you might not need one…because it sounds like you’re going glamping instead.
But, if you are going into a more remote situation without a 24/7 camp supervisor and store, the trick to surviving AND having a good time is preparation. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Assume that the weather can turn on you at any point and you might need extra wood for warmth. Assume that you might need a lean-to for extra shelter.
Assume that you might want to toast those yummy marshmallows you brought.
Plus, it’s kind of fun to saw through wood, especially with the right tool!
How to Choose?
How to pick-out the bow saw that’s right for you requires digging into your camping soul. What sort of adventurer are you?
Will you be mostly splitting firewood you brought or that is on-site? Will you be venturing off the path to find your own stash?
Do you have any joint issues that might benefit from an ergonomic handle? Will you be driving to a campsite with ample room in your vehicle or are you going in on foot?
You will want to consider all of these factors along with durability, safety, portability and versatility.
Things to consider:
- Portability. If you are a backpacker, a foldable saw is a good option.
- Safety. Any good bow saw should have a sheath or blade cover to put in place when not using.
- Versatility. Some bow saws can be carried from the forest to construction sites. You might or might not need that level of function. But, if you do, it is available.
- Size. Blade lengths vary. For camping, 24 inches is generally long enough. And, shorter is often more useful in camping situations.
- Durability. Look for corrosion and rust resistant materials.
- Efficiency. Some bow saws, especially the non-foldable ones, feature ergonomic handles that can ease use and protect knuckles and fingers helping you buzz through tasks.
- Value. Frankly, bow saws are a relatively inexpensive tool for the bang you get out of them. If it is under $50 bucks or so, it is a good value considering buying pre-cut firewood can get expensive quickly and creating your own comfort at a campsite is priceless.
If you’re a camper, you’re willing to rough it. But, roughing it shouldn’t mean going without proper food, fire and shelter.
Choosing the right bow saw to bring along can make the difference between a telling a cool story around a comforting campfire before sleeping under the stars or shouting-out survival tips through a shivery sleepless night.
Maybe that’s dramatic. But, rest assured, a bow saw that fits into your gear and suits your sawing skill level can enhance your outdoor adventures.