Have you ever wondered if those little pocket saws actually work? They do, if you don’t expect too much from them!
The little chain pocket saws are great for backpacking. It weighs less than an ounce, even with a zipper sandwich bag to store it in. They are safe to handle and won’t make holes in things inside your pack. They consist of a fine wire wrapped around a thin cable, instead of teeth, to make a cutting edge. There is a thumb ring on each end. You just pull the cable tight and saw away.
That said, you can only cut things up to maybe two inches in diameter or a little more, but sometimes that is all you need. Although I’m a firm believer in “leave no trace” camping, every once in a while you have no choice but to cut some small sapling or branch that intrudes into the only space where you might be able to put a tent. This little saw has come in handy on several occasions!
The directions suggest that two people can use it, one person holding each ring. However, a friend and I managed to break one doing this. We were putting too much pressure on it and it heated up and broke.
They also show an option of making a bow saw by cutting a green branch, notching the ends and bending it slightly, then hooking the rings in the notches. I suspect this could be done, but I don’t think the cable itself would stand up to the pressure you could exert with the extra leverage you create with a handle. If you need to do enough sawing to need a bow saw, take a bow saw!
However, for extended backpacking trips, this is on my list of essential equipment. It takes forever to cut down a sapling with a jackknife.