Current Retail: $79.95-$93.95
Historic Range: $52.94-$93.95
Reviewers Paid: $61.95-$95.00
The most versatile of the Silky lineup, the Bigboy can do just about any job a backpacker could ask of a saw.
- It's not idiot-proof
After using Silky's Katanaboy on a trail maintenance gig, I knew I needed one of my own. I mean, the hatchet is useful and all, and a solid piece of trail maintenance kit; but those things are heavy, not really backpacking material. So I treated myself to an early birthday present—right before the pandemic hit. D'oh! Fast forward six months, and I finally got to put my saw to use. And it's good. It's very good.
The Katanaboy I was let to use by the trail boss last year was amazing—with that half-meter blade and handle, it made short work of several twelve-inch diameter logs, as detailed in my previous review. But a Katanaboy is a little too big for extended backpacking trips, when weight really counts. The Bigboy comes along in the middle of Silky's range, with a 14-inch blade. I chose the curved-blade extra-large-teeth variety, as I only wanted to power through downed timber, rather than make careful pruning cuts to live trees.
Two weeks ago saw the season's first backpacking trip south of Mt. St. Helens. The only available site had six potential deadfalls ranging from six to fourteen inches standing around the tentpad. So I went to work. A little over an hour later, all six trees—a mix of pine, fir, and cedar—were safely down and moved away from the tent pad, And I realized just how out of shape I'd gotten during quarantine, ha ha. But the key is that even the 14-incher, with a little care and strategy, came down easily with a blade only barely as long as the trunk was wide. It was fantastic.
Ah, you say. So much for standing dead softwoods. What about freshly fallen trees across the trail? I can tell you about that. Today's hike saw a messy tangle of alder, maple, and hemlock across a trail at the bottom of a wide ravine. Nothing larger than about ten inches, with leaves still attached if not particularly green. The work of maybe fifteen minutes to get it all cut.
And here's where my ding against the saw comes along. Due to the way the trees had fallen, I managed to get the saw blade caught in the kerf. And I was clever; I cut from the bottom up for the main cut, after making a small cut in the top to allow the log to split down. But. The upper chunks of log were loose enough on the hillside to slip down. And pinch the blade between the completely cut halves of the downed tree. Yeah, I should have realized.
Okay, so I'm an idiot—how can I complain about the saw? Well, it's a very lightweight saw, which means the blade is not exactly super sturdy. An idiot-proof blade would have let me just wrench and yank and eventually pull the blade free of is gravity-fed prison without any harm. Silky blades are lightweight; they are flexible. And every time you bend that steel, you chance breaking it. So I had to spend almost as much time using logs and branches to prop up and lever aside the fallen, fully-cut trees as I spent cutting said trees. It was a learning experience, and perhaps next time I won't be quite the same idiot. That aside, I reckon the saw cut through the trees twice as fast, and with a quarter the effort, as if I had used my old hatchet.
And I know. I should have taken pictures. But did I really want further documentation of my cringeworthy experience? No, I think this testimonial is plenty for me. Ha ha.
As others have said, the blade cuts on the pull stroke, which is really nice and feels like much less work than the old-style tree-limbing saws I used decades ago. And as others have said, don't force the cut—the blade is plenty sharp enough to cut on its own, especially if you get the version with the curved blade. If you force the cut, you stand a chance of getting a pinch and bending the blade. I don't *think* I damaged my blade. Heh.
All in all, the Bigboy is an excellent saw. Light, sharp, and extremely portable. I can highly recommend it, without reservation, especially if the user is ever so slightly careful. And a little smarter than me.
I've used a variety of tension-mounted tree pruning saws over the years, as well as hatchets and store-brand "arborist" saws. One solid use of the biggest brother of the Silky line-up, the Katanaboy. And now two big uses of the Bigboy.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $95 direct from Silky
Best folding saw on the market!
- Fast, smooth cutting
- Lightweight (14.2 oz)
- Comfortable, rubbery grip, no hot spots
- Multi-positional locking blade
- Slim packing profile
- Cuts on pull stroke
- Difficult to resharpen
Made for pruning trees, it's a 360mm folding hand saw, 14.2-in blade 30.11-in overall length, 6 teeth per inch.
It is listed at 1 lb but my saw only weighs 14.5 oz.
The standard bearer for small folding camp saws is the Bahco Laplander. It is the predominant and most often seen saw among campers and bushcrafters. My buddy bought one and it is an OK saw, but the Silky blows it away.
Silky makes several different saws in various lengths and with various tooth patterns. I chose the "Big Boy" with LARGE teeth.
This saw goes through logs like hot butter.
It has a two position locking stainless steel blade. It is a thin blade which takes a narrow kerf and has a slight reverse taper to help eliminate pinching.
The cut is very smooth, thanks to the Japanese style teeth as used on saws intended for fine woodworking in Japanese woodworking and cabinetmaking.
Here is a video showing the saw in action. I hope it's OK to post this here. If not, I won't be offended if it is removed.
I have used various other saws including bow saws, other folding saws, Sven saws, etc. None have ever performed like the Silky. To beat this bad boy it's going to take a chainsaw!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $61.95 from Sherrill Tree. http://www.sherrilltree.com/tools-hardware/hand-saws
I've found nothing more effective for clearing trail. Every hiker should carry one.
- Relatively light
- Clearing trail can become addictive.
I stumbled onto one of these at REI a couple of years ago. I had been trying to use a Sven Saw off and on with marginal results, and could saw nothing larger than about 8" in diameter. When I discovered the "Big Boy", and learned it utilized the Japanese cutting orientation of the teeth, I went for it.
It seemed expensive at the time but now after two years, it's clearly a bargain. I've likely cut well over 100 trees and branches on the original blade. The largest trees it comfortably cuts are 12 - 14" diameter. I can tell the blade has dulled a little bit, but not enough to swap a new blade yet. It takes me about 20 minutes to saw through a 12 - 14" Doug Fir.
Clearing a dozen trees on day hike is quite an upper-body workout, but compliments the lower-body workout of hiking. I would strongly encourage all hikers/backpackers to get in the habit of devoting a little bit of time to trail clearing. Somebody has to do it, and there sure aren't enough paid crews to do it. Investing time and sweat into trail maintenance predictably creates a sense of ownership to the wilderness in a good way.
100+ trees and branches. Other than my Stihl chainsaw, this thing is the greatest for quickly cutting branches and small trees.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $65
This saw is razor sharp. I use it in the winter while sledding and the rest of the year for building, hiking, and camping. It is light enough that I always have it with me on my day pack or multi-day pack. Basically you won't find me in the mountains/bush without it!
- Razor sharp
- Good size
- Not for beginners, the silky blades are notorious for snapping if not used properly!
Ease of Use: You must let the saw do the work. If forcing this saw you will snap the blade! This goes for all the Silky saws I have used. I am a woodworker and faller/arborist. I have multiple Silky products and they last if cared for.
Features: The blade can lock at two different angles. Other than that simple and reliable.
Construction and Durability: Comfortable and soft handle, folds and stores neatly into my packs. Not for brainless brutes! Let the tool do the work; it's razor sharp and will make it through any wood with the right technique.
Conditions: I have used it surveying in the middle of winter in the Yukon, northern Alberta, and BC to cut my way while sledding or gather firewood. It's on my pack while hunting, camping, climbing trees, or building something at home. My Silky Gomboy is 14 years old and my Big Boy is well over 10. You can buy replacement blades.
My Silky Gomboy is 14 years old and my Big Boy is well over 10. You can buy replacement blades. I own many handsaws, but my Big Boy never leaves the pack that lives in my truck! My Gomboy never leaves my carpentry belt.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $$