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Axes, Saws & Knives

Hey guys just joined the forum, looking to talk all things back country camping and outdoor gear, particularly from a canoe tripping stand point. Looking to hear some of your opinions on wood processing tools and let me know what gear you guys use. Along with your preferences on saws, axes and knives.

I primarily use my silky zubat 330mm hand saw for the brunt of the work, along with my Tops Steel Eagle knife for the finer stuff, often bringing a cold steel rifleman's hawk both to split logs and ... for fun (although i'd say this tomahawk requires some modifications to bring it up to par in my opinion).

Check out my setup here:

Let me know what you guys think, also I don't really use a machete as it's not useful enough up in the Canadian boreal forest, but that would definently vary regionally.

Cheer, Eric B     

there is usually a lot of dead wood around that can be collected without tools.  I like to push the end in Indian style because it saves a lot of work.  I usually bring an axe on canoe trips in case I have to make a paddle.  When people start drinking I hide it. 

Yep.  Most of the places I camp and/or backpack have strict regulations about collecting only downed wood--and in many cases campfires are prohibited.  I also avoid using wood that's too large to break over my knee or a rock...because putting out a fire with larger pieces of wood is a lot more work.  So I haven't taken an axe, hatchet or saw on a trip in more than 20 years, 

A 2 inch Gerber LST is all I take...mostly LNT campsites in wilderness areas so no fires. I'm considering slimming that down to a small razor blade knife...

Well you asked for feedback, and these are my sincere opinions.

I viewed the video.  Perhaps you are pitching your hobby to the wrong crowd.  You bandy about terms like survival and harvesting when processing wood with metal tools that others on this forum would simply break with their hands, or over a rock, or by leverage.  There are ways to gather those exact pieces of wood shown more efficiently, using just your bare hands.  Thus the tools seems more a preoccupation with blades, a means to their own ends.  You also collect wood by cutting it away from sources too large to break free, and in the process leave behind saw scars and hatchet hacks for others in your footsteps to observe.  Most of us do not appreciate taking considerable effort to access the wilderness, only to find it hacked up by Paul Bunyan wannabes.  Given the abundance of wood that can be collect using just your hands, there is no justification for scaring up the landscape other than you get pleasure from doing it. 

I've backpacked and trekked the mountains and forest wilderness for fifty years, and never once saw the need to hack at a tree or saw large branches from downed wood.  Don't get me wrong; I have collected plenty of wood and enjoy a small (emphasis on small) camp fire.  You can justify your practice all you want, but it seems to boil down to taking pleasure in playing with sharp blades and admiring the skill you possess in dispatching lumber into camp furniture and piles of ash.  Perhaps this is the culture where you camp, but on my trips into the border forests east of the Great Lakes neither the outfitters nor my companions expounded the practices you warmly share herein.



I agree with, and heartily second, the comments above.  Sixty years of camping, climbing, and backpacking, and I have always found firewood and processed with my bare hands.

There is one exception.  Doing SAR work, I have occasionally carried a small hatchet - useful for clearing a helispot or brushing out a trail for stretcher bearers.  Otherwise, just extra weight.

For fire fighting, you can't beat a Pulaski.  Ever try one of those?

Pulaski, McCloud, Rake, Shovel, Chainsaw.

There are a couple of common ways people get hurt when camping. Cuts from cutting tools, injuries from breaking wood and burns around campfires.  I hve seen two people put axes in their feet and it is not good especially a long way from help. 

On programs like Alone and Naked and Afraid, people commonly get cut and have to leave. 

I do stoves, not campfires, when I'm backpacking, so no saw or hatchet. small knife, sure. even car camping, I stopped bringing a folding saw. didn't use it.  

A good fire extends the season to include every month. 

Fire is good!


"There is nothing I like better than a good fire."

Ten Bears of the Lakota. 

AXES->This December I got a Council Tool "Wood Crafter axe".

It has a 19" handle so is a canoe and car camping axe that can do limited felling but mainly limbing, and splitting. Got it from Priagis Northwoods outfitters in Ely, Minnesota.

Also I have an old ESTWING 26" handled all steel axe but the blade is too thin for splitting.

SAW-> a folding Sven Saw for cross cutting small logs.

KNIVES-> Well, I have two that I take canoeing, hunting or car camping.

1. Gerber Parabellum folding lockblade (convertable Cordura sheath)

2. Russell sheath knife (ergonomic elliptical blade and handle)

As a forester I have a collection of full sized axes, adzes, broad axes, peavies, spoke shaves and other tools for working wood.   In the backcountry, I would probably never bring any of them, unless I was planning to build a cabin for a long term stay. 

August 7, 2020
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