Monday, October 31, 2011

GoLite Shangri-La 5-Snow Test

For the past few weeks I have been working on a series of post about creating a reasonably priced beginner three season camping/bushcraft kit. This past weekend I had scheduled a trip into the woods where I was going to show how you can use that three season gear for a standard overnight trip. Unfortunately, the weather had different plans. Here in the Northeast we got hit with a snow storm. So, I had to change plans, and instead decided to put my new shelter, the GoLite Shangri-La 5 (Flysheet) to a more serious test.

I managed to get to the mountain, but once I entered the park, the car couldn’t go far and got stuck quickly. At that point (not because of my car), NY and NJ declared a state of emergency because the snowfall was heavier than expected. In particular, there were a lot of trees down, some of which I encountered on the highway on the way there. The upside was that there was no one in the mountains. I left the car and proceeded on foot.


The axe you see on the side of my pack is an early prototype of the 2012 Condor small axe which I have been testing. I was able to get it thanks to Joe from Woods Monkey.

The snow was coming down hard, and it had taken me so long to get there on the unplowed roads, that the sun was going to go down in about two hours. So, I picked a camp site, and set up the shelter. If you look closely, you’ll see my dog making himself comfortable on my sleeping bag.


Using the GoLite Shangri-La 5 was a big improvement over the tarp. I had gotten it specifically because the tarp was giving me problem during winter camping. While it was fine while I was sleeping, for the rest of the time, there was no protection from the wind, which made things difficult. The GoLite Shangri-La 5 performed very well in that respect. Also, since it is a floorless design, it allowed me to do much of the thing I would do when camping with a tarp. Here you can see me cooking inside the shelter on my MSR Whisperlite International.


During the night there was a lot of condensation inside the shelter. The snow quickly burred the openings on the bottom of the shelter, so ventilation was out of the picture. Fortunately, though, since this is a floorless shelter, it wasn’t much of an issue. The condensation either froze on the walls of the shelter or dripped down to the ground.

Another feature of the shelter for which I was thankful was that the door can be opened from the top as well as the bottom. By the time the sun came up, there was no way for me to reach the bottom zipper. What you see in the picture here is the shelter buried half way up by the snow that came over the night.


Despite the heavy snow fall, the GoLite Shangri-La 5 held up well. During the night I could feel it shrinking due to the weight of the snow, but it did not fail in any way. Overall, I was very happy with the design, and with my switch to this type of shelter. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

DIY Alcohol Stove-The Super Cat Stove

From time to time you have seen me mention certain DIY alcohol stoves. They are a good cheap way to have a stove in the bush without having to look at commercially available options. The one in this post, is one of the simplest stoves to both make and operate. It came out about 2007-2008 and since then has gained great popularity because of those characteristics.

All you will need for the project is one 3oz aluminum cat food can. It seems that all of the cat food cans that come in that size are about the same in shape and size. You will know it is aluminum as oppose to steel because it usually says it on the label for recycling purposes. It is preferable to get the aluminum cans because they heat up faster and weigh slightly less.


As far as tools, you will need some way to make holes. A drill with a quarter inch bit will work just fine, but since this is a thin aluminum can, a regular hole punch that you buy at Staples will work great as well.

The begin, open the can and empty it out. 


Then, along the side of the can, measure out and make marks about every half an inch. Using these marks to align the center of each hole, punch out a row of holes right under the rim on the can (in the area where the walls of the can straighten out).


Then, proceed to punch out a second row of holes under the first row, so that the new holes are about 1/8 of an inch under the first row, and align in between the original holes, forming a checkered pattern.


When complete, put some alcohol in the stove and light it up. Allow the alcohol to burn for about 30 seconds, to preheat the stove. At that point you can place the pot directly on the stove without any pot supports. The flames should now start to come out from the holes, creating a self contained stove/pot holder unit.


The project requires about 10 minutes and the only needed materials are the 3oz can and a hole punch.


The stove boils two cups of water at the seven (7) minute mark after it is ignited. What that means is that considering that it took 30 seconds to prime the stove, the two cups of water were brought to a boil in 6.5 minutes after the pot was placed on the stove. One ounce of alcohol lasted for a little over nine (9) minutes. There are many great websites out there which can show you in more detail how adjusting the holes can alter the performance of the stove. 

The biggest downside of this stove for me is that it can hold only one (1) ounce of alcohol at a time. I usually like my stoves to be able to hold at least two, so that I can cook more complex things without having to refill. However, considering that the stove only weighs 0.2oz, it is a price I a willing to pay. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Am Confused About Bushcraft!

I have been reading a few posts about bushcraft, and what we should do or not do so that we do not lose our way. Common themes of course include reliance on skill rather than gear, preserving the traditional ways, and rejecting consumerism and gear accumulation. Many of those articles are expertly written and make excellent points.

Something about all of this bothers me however. Our identity as bushcrafters and the bushcraft community in general seem to be centered around a phenomenon, which I must admit, I don’t entirely understand.


We seem to look back to a particular point in western history; that which spans the time between the mountain man of colonial times and people like Nessmuk and Kephart of the early 1900s. We then try to duplicate their equipment and skills. It appears to, at least from many of the forums and blogs I follow, that the closer we come to emulating those people, the more “true” we become to bushcraft. 

The reason why I find it perplexing is that we do not try to emulate the mentality and approach to the woods that those people had, but rather we try to literally duplicate their experience. We don’t seem to worry about how a mountain man of the 1800s would approach a situation in the bush today, but rather, we try to almost role play the life of that person. Furthermore, we seem to reject much of the thinking that those men had about the wilderness. Few of us would even think about killing an animal only to throw most of it away after one meal, or chopping down two trees a foot in diameter just to make an overnight shelter. (See Nessmuk) Even so however, we still strive to duplicate their kit.

For example, let us say that the mountain man of your choosing used to carry a wool blanket as his sleeping implement. Seemingly we ignore the reasons for why the person did that, and rather, just blindly duplicate the kit. Whether or not the mountain man would have chosen the same sleeping gear if he was alive today, does not seem to be a question we ask.

I find it even more peculiar because these were very practical men. In fact, as bushcrafters we tend to value that rugged simplicity and practicality. At the same time however, we are anything but practical. We forget that the men we try to emulate carried gear that was constrained by availability and the technology of their time. Just because it was carried by that person does not mean that it is a good piece of kit in the spectrum of history. It is true, if Nessmuk was living today, he may retain some items from his kit, but many would certainly change. We tend to forget that these men often tried to get their hands on the latest available technology, so that their time in the woods could be made easier.

Of course, if your stated goal was to duplicate a particular period in history, it makes perfect sense that you would try to duplicate the gear of that time period as precisely as possible. If you intended to be a Civil War reenactor, then closely following the techniques, tools and equipment of the time is exactly what you should do. However, I am not sure why bushcraft has turned into this type of activity. I am not sure why the technology of a particular, apparently randomly chosen period in time is favored over all others, and even more, is taken to define “true” bushcraft.

I wish I could tell you that this was leading somewhere or that I had an answer. Unfortunately, these are just my ramblings, based on what I perceive happening with the bushcraft community. I could be completely misreading the situation, so please do not take this as the last word on the bushcraft community.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making a Buck Saw in the Field-Video

In this video I go over how to make a buck saw out in the woods using just a saw blade and some rope. The frame of the saw is constructed from wood you collect in the bush. The only tool you need for the job is your knife, although an axe will help when collecting the wood.

Here are some pictures of the finished product.




It is not pretty, but worked very well. The whole video of me making the saw was 35 minutes in length, including all the set up time for the camera. I would estimate that it took me about 30 minutes of actual work time to complete the saw. Of course that does not take into account the 15 minutes or so it took me to find the type of wood I needed. In this case I was using oak, but any strong wood will do the job.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Barco Boy’s Axe Review

After reviewing the Barco double bit cruiser axe, I was very excited about their product line, and was eager to test their boy’s axe. My expectation was that it would be a single bit version of the cruiser axe. I had very high hopes for it. Unfortunately, the boy’s axe did not live up to the expectations.


Barco Industries
Axe Head Weight: 2.25 lb (feels like it is closer to 2 lb)
Axe Length: 27 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown carbon steel
Handle Material: Hickory
Cost: $40.00


The Barco Boy’s axe is very reasonably priced. It is in the same price range as the Council Tool Boy’s axe.

For purposes of this review, I have compared it to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. You can see them here side by side.



The Barco Boy’s axe is heavier and longer than the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. The handle has fairly good grain orientation and fells comfortable. Unfortunately, the handle seems to be a little too large for the eye of the axe. If order to make it fit, the handle narrows significantly when it nears the eye. In my opinion the handle is just the right size for a boy’s axe, but he eye needs to be larger.


The head of the Barco Boy’s axe has a fairly good design. It does not have the convexed cheeks that we saw on the Barco cruiser axe, but there is nothing wrong with the design. The head is attached to the handle with a wooden wedge.


As with the other Barco axes, the bit of the boy’s axe comes unfinished. Again, I do not just mean that it is dull, I mean that it has not been ground down at all. As the shape of the head is good overall, and the cheeks are not overly thick, the edge can be finished with some file work, but it will require time.


The Barco Boy’s axe is well balanced. As with most axes, it is slightly bit heavy, but nothing that you will be able to detect during use.

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The axe does not come with a sheath.

Overall, the axe is not bad value for the money. If this was the only $40 boy’s axe on the market, I would not hesitate to buy it and start working on grinding down the bit. However, we do have to consider that there is another $40 competitor-the Council Tool Boy’s axe. In my opinion, it is a much better value for the money. The head is slightly better designed. The handle is a little more comfortable and it certainly fits the head a lot better. Most importantly, while it is likely to come dull, it requires only minimal work to bring it to shaving sharp and properly ground condition. A task that will take hours with the Barco Boy’s axe can be completed within minutes with the Council Tool Boy’s axe.

Perhaps my disappointment with the Barco Boy’s axe comes from the fact that I had such high expectations. The axe certainly fell short of those. You can buy the Barco Boy’s axe here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prosch Indian Encampment, c. 1898

This is an image of a Prosch Indian encampment in Washington State. It depicts two tepees, one covered with reed mats and the other with canvas.


The photograph was taken by Anders B. Wilse in 1898.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bushcraft-the Life and Death Struggle to Make our Lives More Exciting

Recently it was brought to my attention that I’ve been using a knife that is not “good” for the bush. In particular, the individual was worried that it was too weak because it was a commercially made hidden tang design.

That got me thinking. Have I been using the wrong knife? Perhaps this person has a point. Most knives that I use now are of a design that can theoretically fail in the bush. So what if you loose your axe and all your gear, and are left alone with just your knife in your hand, fighting for survival? It makes sense that you would want to have the strongest most durable knife, right? Of course!

Then however, I remembered why I actually carry the knife that I do. It is good at what I do on daily bases when I go into the woods. It is extremely unlikely that I will loose all of my gear and have to rely on my knife for those tasks, and ultimately, even if my knife broke, and I lost all of my tools, I can be out of that forest within two days. I am immeasurably more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the woods then I am to find myself in the above scenario. I imagine that most people find themselves in a similar position.

So why are we so preoccupied with this one particular tool? Why do we spend hundreds of dollars on this one item? Why do we link out manhood to our choice of a knife? For that matter, why do we do it with the rest of our tools?

To be honest, I’ve done the exact same thing. For a long time I was very reluctant to carry a knife that I thought could possible fail in the woods. The reason, at least for me was that I had created this whole picture of the bush and my role within it. It was very much along the lines of the early mountain men-me alone in the untamed wilderness, entangled in a life and death struggle for survival, relying only on my wits and my trusty tools. It certainly made the weekend trips into the woods exciting. Shows like Survivorman fed the excitement. What if I found myself stranded in the Amazon jungle with just what I had on my belt? Would my knife be up to the task? Excitement ensued! My kit followed accordingly-a quarter of an inch think knife (the strongest one according to the guy who does the destruction tests), a steel pot (two actually just in case), a second knife just in case I loose the first one, my trusty AK-47 in case I encounter enemy campers (I joke of course), etc. I was ready to face the wilderness!

For most people, bushcraft has turned into a hobby. As a hobby we want it to be interesting and exciting. We end up doing that by looking at the woodsmen of the past, taking what for them were basic and mundane experiences, and turning them into thrilling stories on which we can base out hobbies. This is nothing new. Stories about the mountain men have been around since the time of the maintain men themselves. Reading some of those old novels, you would think that they killed a bear a day with just their specially designed knife (now available for sale).

The reality is that most woodsmen of the past, who we now try to emulate, used what was cheap and available, in order to perform what for them were every day tasks. On some level we seem to understand that. We certainly talk the talk. If we listen to ourselves, none of us care about brands or expensive items. Skills, and basic tool is what we are all about! The reality of course is that the brand names start to enter our kit, and the cost of our gear goes up accordingly. And of course, it is all due to “necessity” in this life and death struggle, also known as a weekend in the bush.

So, we carry a $300 knives rather than the $15 Mora we started out with. It is not that the Mora failed us at any point, but of course, without the specially tempered blade, designed in a wind tunnel for most efficiently cutting through the wood, when we go in the bush, we will DIE!

Along with the knife comes a $400 wool coat from Cabellas (pure wool of course, because we would not want it mixed with any inferior synthetic materials), instead of a $30 fleece coat, because as everyone “knows”, if it is not wool clothing it might catch a spark from the fire, and we will DIE! Well, probably you will just walk around with a tiny hole in your coat, but still, very serious business!

The pot is made out of quarter inch stainless steel designed by the survival guru of your choosing (unless that guru likes another metal, in which case it is okay to use it). Naturally, it has all the bells and whistles. It has three different kinds of handles, a spout, a tiny little container inside (because otherwise you have no way of making bannock, and then what kind of woodsman would you be?!?). The simple $10 aluminum pot is no good because it can fail when you are in the woods, and then you will DIE!

Our axes are imported from Sweden. The grain is perfect, and the blade is shaving sharp-we buy no other. Anything short of that, and you will certainly DIE! True, it costs $130, but that $40 axe has a painted head. We all “know” that axes with painted heads can’t keep you alive in the bush. Besides, then we may have to worry about sharpening it.

Now we are properly equipped for the life and death struggle that will be our weekend fishing trip. We look at our kit approvingly-it’s just like that of a 19th century mountainman-a true woodsman’s kit. Well, almost. Of course we “had” to take those items that were so essential to our survival over the weekend. Now you stand a good chance of making it out alive!

In all seriousness though, there is nothing wrong with trying to create excitement, and there is certainly nothing wrong with carrying bomb proof gear if you particular trip will actually require it. However, let’s be realistic. Most of us do things that will make those woodsmen of the past who we try to emulate roll on the ground with laughter.

I think the recent popularity of survival shows has had a great impact on how we think of the outdoors, whether or not we like the shows themselves. More and more people approach the bush as if thought they are entering a life and death survival situation. Accordingly, our gear and our priorities shift to accommodate those expectations. It is true that one day, one of us may find himself in just such a situation, but developing our camping/bushcraft experience around that possibility is like driving a tank to work every day because you never know when the Chinese are going to invade. By obsessing over the least likely event, we lose focus of what we actually do. At the end of the day we end up with 100lb of gear that will survive the apocalypse and we camp 10 feet from the truck because it is too heavy to carry into the forest and is too valuable to risk losing in the actual bush.

Preparedness, survival skills (urban or wilderness), and the knowledge that goes along with them are wonderful things, worth pursuing on their own. Our time spent in the bush however has its own value separate from that, and a different set of skills and priorities that go along with it. Mixing the two might make the weekend trip more exciting, but I don’t think we should confuse entertainment with necessity.

Well, there you have it. I have not had one of my rants in a while, so here you have it. As always, don’t take what I say too seriously. ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Svord Peasant Review

The Svord Peasant knife is a very simple folding knife. I have had some requests for a review, and since I’ve had one for quite some time now, I figured I would pull it out and do the review.

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Knife Length: 8 1/4 inches (210 mm) open; 6 3/4 inches (170 mm) closed
Blade Length: 3 inches (78 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/16 inch (1.5 mm)
Blade Width: 1 1/16 inches (27 mm)
Blade Material: Carbon steel. There is some speculation that it is L6 steel, but I have not been able to find a concrete source that can confirm that.
Blade Hardness: Unknown
Type of Tang: Folding knife without a locking mechanism
Blade Grind: Full flat grind with a secondary bevel.
Handle Material: Wood, also comes in plastic
Sheath material: No sheath
Cost: $15.00


The Svord Peasant is intended to be a simple, low cost knife. There is nothing fancy or sophisticated about it, and that is in part reflected in the price, coming to the US at $15, even though being shipped from New Zealand.

Just for side by side comparison, you can see the Svord Peasant here next to the Mora #1. As you can see, the blade is about 3/4 of an inch shorter than that of the Mora, but it is almost twice as wide. The blades are very similar in thickness. I found the blade to be too short for me, but if you like the ESEE 3 knives, you will probably like this blade design. The handle is significantly longer than that of the Mora, and it is fairly comfortable, although not nearly as comfortable as that of the Mora #1.

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An interesting feature of the Svord Peasant, when compared to other folding knives is that it in a way has a partial tang. I am not sure we can call it that, as it is a folding knife, but the blade actually extends about half way into the handle when the knife is open. When closed, that part of the blade (non sharp) protrudes from the handle.

Folding knives typically have a hard time with more difficult tasks in the woods, such as batoning, but I figured I would see how far I can push it, as this is a fairly typical use for a knife in the bush. It was an interesting experience. I found that if you start batoning the knife as you would a fixed blade knife, the “tang” of the knife actually gets embedded deeper into the handle. The joint that holds the blade to the handle is not designed for this type of stress, and the blade will move all over the place. However, if you leave the handle loose to dangle from the blade, you can baton the blade and the “tang” fairly well into the wood.


The exact same thing applies to truncating. The blade itself is fine with the task, but you should not rely on the handle for assistance.


Even though the knife was far from shaving sharp when I got it, after a few minutes with a stone, there was no problem making feather sticks.


While the knife managed to perform all of the tasks, after I finished, I noticed that the knife no longer stayed closed when folded. Apparently everything had loosened up, and now the blade was flailing around. There is probably a way to fix it, but clearly this knife is not intended for any heavy use. It will do well as a basic pocket knife, and will make a fun substitute for a Swiss Army knife, but it is far less robust than a Mora when it comes to common bush tasks.

The knife comes at a reasonable price, and it a lot of fun to use. You can spend hours opening and closing it. It also does fine with cutting tasks. Even though it seems that the “tang” would make the grip uncomfortable when the knife is open, I did not have any issues with it. For heavier tasks however, the Svord Peasant is not the ideal knife. I am sure it was never intended to be. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Selecting a Bushcraft Saw

In this video I try to go over some basic features of some of the available types of backpacking or bushcraft saws.

For more information on the saws featured in the video, you can take a look at my review of the 24 inch Trail Blazer Take Down Buck Saw along with its modifications; my review of the Bahco Laplander/Kershaw 2550X saw; and the  Trail Blazer and Bahco Laplander comparison.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Theodore Roosevelt With an Axe on his Shoulder, 1901

This photograph was taken by James Burton on September 23, 1901. It depicts Theodore Roosevelt with a single bit axe over his shoulder.


Judging by the handle, the axe looks to be a Collins, but that is just a wild guess.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Council Tool Classic Jersey Full Size Axe Review

This is an axe that I have been trying to review for a while. I’ve received a lot of questions about it, but something always got in the way of me reviewing it. Finally I managed to do it. To be specific, this is the Council Tool 3.5 lb Jersey pattern Classic axe with a 36 inch handle. Council Tool sells several variations of the Jersey pattern axe.


Council Tool
Axe Head Weights: 3.5 lb
Axe Length: 35 inches
Axe Head Material: Carbon steel, HRC 48-55 on the Rockwell scale
Handle Material: Hickory
Cost: $65.00


The price of this axe is more than reasonable. $65.00 for a full size axe is a bargain if the axe is able to show any level of quality. These days it is hard to find even a quality small camp axe for this kind of money, let alone a full size axe. Of course it is all money wasted if the axe can not perform.

For purposes of this review, I will be comparing the Council Tool Jersey axe to the Gransfors Bruks American Felling axe.



In terms of size an weight the who axes are virtually identical. The Council Tool Jersey axe has more pronounced curvature of the handle. This is an issue of personal preference, but I find the Council Tool handles to be very comfortable, more so than the corresponding Gransfors Bruks handles. The grain orientation of the one I got was not perfect, but was not bad either. The handle did contain a small amount of heart wood near the eye and the foot, but again, I have not had any issues with that.


The axe head design of the Council Tool axe is very similar to that of the Gransfors Bruks. In terms of profile and bit geometry, they are a close match. The Council Tool axe does have the phantom bevels, or cutouts on each side of the head, unlike the Granfors Bruks. It is my opinion that these phantom bevels (generally, not just on this axe) are more decorative than functional. I don’t believe they have been a functional part of axe design for many decades. The bit on the Council Tool axe was nowhere near sharp enough, although it was not at all thick. In fact it was close to the thickness of the Gransfors Bruks. Twenty minutes with the file and a sharpening stone gave me a shaving sharp axe with bit geometry identical to that of the Gransfors Bruks American Felling axe. All tests here were conducted with the sharpened axe.


The Council Tool has a slightly shorter bit and a longer cutting edge than the Gransfors Bruks. This is a feature that I like a lot because it should offer an advantage when cutting soft wood, as it would allow for a larger cutting area. The axe head is attached to the handle using an aluminum wedge.


The Council Tool Jersey axe has very good balance. The bit is just slightly heavier than the poll, but the axe is very well balanced overall.


When it came to performance, the sharpened Council Tool Jersey axe performed identically to the Gransfors Bruks American Felling axe. In terms of feel and ease of use they were the same. Here you can see the result after 60 swings with each axe. The wood used here is an oak tree, about two feet in diameter. In theory, if the wood was softer, the Council Tool axe should have performed better because of the longer cutting edge, but this is just theory.



The axe comes with no sheath.

So what is the conclusion? In all honesty, I find it very hard to review the Council Tool axes. The reason for that is that whether you think they are great axes or poorly made axes depends on what you expect from an axe. When you first look at a Council Tool axe, it looks like your average hardware store axe. When you then take a closer look at the axe, it still looks like an average hardware store axe. They all have imperfections. The grinding is not smooth, they don’t come sharp out of the box, the grain is rarely perfect, etc. From that point of view, if you are looking for a showpiece axe, which will serve as an example of craftsmanship, the standard Council Tool axes fall way short.

On the other hand however, if you are looking for affordable performance, it is hard to do any better. In my opinion, Council Tool understands axe design very well. This can be seen not only from their standard axes, but also from their premium (Velvicut) line of axes. When designing their premium axes, they didn’t simply copy the Gransfors Bruks axes, which every other aspiring axe manufacturer seems to do, but rather brought about respected and well tested designs from the golden axe of American axe manufacturing.

If you have the ability to sharpen an axe, then the Council Tool axes in my opinion are the best performance you can get for the money. For a third of the price, you get an axe that will perform as well as the Gransfors Bruks axes. Of course all the money goes into pure performance, leaving little for the fit and finish of the product. There is nothing wrong with wanting any of those things from your axe, you just have to decide what you want.

I personally don’t care much about how my axes look, and know that I will put them through some serious use, which will ultimately get rid of any aesthetic appeal that an axe may have. As a result I care more about the performance, and more specifically, performance from an axe about which I do not have to worry when in the woods. To that end, I am a big fan of the Council Tool axes, and the full size Jersey is no exception.

It is not a pretty axe; it is by no means a perfect axe; but if you need to chop some wood, it is a great axe. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Council Tool Velvicut 4 Pound Dayton Axe Review

We finally have a review and a closer look at the finished Council Tool Velvicut 4 pound Dayton axe. It is done by Steven Dick, and you can find it at Tactical Life.


As you may remember, I did a post on the prototype version of this model. The finished product looks great judging by the pictures in the review.

Monday, October 3, 2011

SOG Folding Saw Review

This product was provided to me for purposes of the review by Appalachian Outdoors. Appalachian Outdoors is not the manufacturer of this product, they are simply retailers, and supply a large number of outdoor equipment and gear.

While the Bahco Laplander has established itself as the favorite in the small folding saw category, there are a number of similar saws currently on the market. The SOG folding saw is one of them, and I decided to see how it compares.

Overall Length:
9 3/8 inches
Blade Length: 8 1/8 inches
Weight: 8.9 oz
Cost: $18.00-$26.00


You can see the saw next to the Bahco Laplander. They are similar in design and size.



There are some differences however. One is that the SOG saw has a button for the locking mechanism for the blade located on the top front section of the handle, unlike the Bahco Laplander where the button is located on the side of the handle. As I have noted before, I am not a big fan of this positioning for the button, because it can be pressed when you hold the handle close to the blade.

Another difference is that the SOG saw can actually have its blade opened beyond the 180 degree mark. It will not lock in that position, but it can be useful for getting into some hard to reach places.


The SOG saw also comes with a sheath, unlike the Bahco Laplander.


Overall, the SOG saw feels like a much more serious tool. It is heavier, and seems to have a lot more metal components as opposed to the plastic of the Bahco Laplander. The teeth are also of a more aggressive design, with a slightly longer blade. Of course that translates into greater weight of 8.9 oz as opposed to the 6.4 oz of the Bahco Laplander. In return however, I expected increased performance.

Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case. When I did a comparison test, the SOG saw managed to saw through a 3.5 inch piece of oak in 29 seconds, while the Bahco Laplander managed to do the same in 26 seconds. The results might improve for the SOG in soft wood due to the larger teeth, but I expected it to clearly dominate the comparison, not fall behind.

Similarly, even though the SOG saw feels like a more solid tool when you are holding it, once I started sawing, it felt a lot more unstable. There was a lot more movement in the blade than there was with the Bahco Laplander.

Generally, it is not a bad choice for a saw. It is robust, and will get the job done. It also comes with some extras like a sheath. In terms of pure performance however, it falls behind the Bahco Laplander. Depending on what price you manage to find for it, it may be a decent cheaper alternative to the Bahco Laplander.