Axe or Saw? Neither?

You have had TWO people put an axe in their foot? I think you need different friends! I have never seen anyone do that in all these years of everyone having and using an axe. Sounds like a city folk party to me.

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My brother and I had hatchets when we were kids. You can cut a fairly large pine tree down with a sharp blade and determination. The only accident we had he hit himself on the head with a back swing. Good thing it wasn’t double bitted.

I have made plenty of things with an axe. I have not needed to make a paddle yet. It would be no big deal to make something serviceable to get home with .

Saw. Folding. I normally refuse to build fires, and too often they are prohibited by law, by location, wind, or dry season. In permit rivers you are bidden to carry out all ash. Strictly no trace camping. An axe is a useless tool looking for trouble. The possible injuries far from any possibility of medical assistance make it a liability. And I am strictly NOT chopping down trees or chopping sticks or brush, to build shelters, to build fires, I have a fairly low opinion of both of those.

I have been in campsites where half the forest was hacked to pieces, large rock rings for the bonfire that would serve a football game rally. I have seen scorch and withered needles and leaves on trees 30 feet off the ground. Leave the axe at home.


paddler236278, I agree about leaving the axe (or hatchet) at home if you’re not capable of using it wisely or when camping in areas where they aren’t appropriate. Unfortunately, as you point out, a lot of people are clueless when it comes to being a considerate camper. I learned as a young man to leave campsites as “no trace” as practical and often end up cleaning up someone else’s mess.



Tom, You are a man after my own heart. I always travel with large construction garbage bags, and I make a point of bringing them back full. If I am camped at a wilderness spot, I always pick up everything I can, and when I pass the next road, I’ll climb the embankment and stand the tied garbage bag next to the road, assuming the local or county garbage collector will spot it. Or I use a dumpster if I am in a such civilized location that has one.

We have got by without a saw or hatchet on many camping trips, and almost always have a fire even when it rains. The real trick of the trade is dry wood and finding it. If it is a wet environment you look for standing dead wood and dead branches. For kindling and fire standing dead grass and dead twigs of off of trees. you can often break long pieces over a big rock or by laying them over a wide space and standing on them while holding on to a tree or hitting them with something heavy. smaller stuff can be broken up by hand or stepped on and leveraged. really big stuff can just be burned in two. That said a small light weight folding saw is more handy than and ax and I often carry one. We often carry one. when canoeing small rivers with many downfalls a saw can help avoid portages and trying to get out and over vertical 5 to 8’ bank to make a portage…

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If i was going to do a few day paddle/camping trip then I’d take this 10201283705959234

Some people cannot bring enough firepower and blades.
They are obsessed.

I like my 44magnumbolo.

And some worry about what others are up to too much. I carry two pocket knifes all the time. Not obsessed. Simply tools. Need a razor sharp one and need one that I don’t mind giving some abuse to. Camping I throw a hatchet into the mix. Firepower… I tend to bring a pistol when I’m in the woods, because it’s a tool. If it’s appropriate and practical for what I’m doing, I’ll bring a long gun also. If I’m in my truck I may have a saw, axe and another long gun. Not an obsession. The things are tools and being someone who seldom chooses to go anywhere with concrete in my free time, they are tools that are as needed as the mechanical tools I keep in my truck, just incase.


Stopped making fires years ago. I now carry a nice suitcase two burner stove for cooking. Fast and clean. Fires are smelly, dangerous in many ways, deplete local resources, pollute the local air (and far downwind). Much nicer to have a quiet dinner by the water and watch the stars come out.

I was on a camping trip several years ago that included several people that I didn’t know. I opened my camp box up and placed my hatchet and machete on the lid. One of the people I didn’t know saw them and said “I see you brought weapons”. What? You brought a machete and an ax. I told him that they were tools. We would use them to gather firewood. Weapons have gunpowder and I left it in the truck.
Later there was a young boy swinging a hatchet at a piece of firewood. I got him to let me show how to split the wood by using the hatchet as a wedge and striking the head with another log. The boys grandfather thanked me.
I also carry a Seven saw.

I have a Silky Zubat. Even with work around the yard, if I need to cut something 6 inches or less, it’s easier to use the Silky than it is to mess around with the chainsaw. I’ve taken a hatchet in the past, but they scare me a bit, especially if someone else borrows it.

This question always gets a lot of attention/debate whenever asked. Interesting/curious.

It depends. If your inept, neither. If saw or axe isn’t cared for, neither. Sometimes you just don’t need either.

A longer hatchet around 2ft is good for both cutting, and driving stakes if on a longer trip where stakes are part of the deal (canopys, tents, boat tie off stakes). Good for splitting gas station wood. Hard to argue with a nice folding saw, although if I knew I’d be clearing bigger stuff from a channel or trail, a bow saw like a Bahco would be nice.

With a saw, you will only be cross sawing. With a decent axe/hatchet you can cut, split, peel, hammer…
Sharpens easier than a saw in the field.

First aid from a hatchet wound could be rough in the weeds. Very easy to severely damage or remove an appendage. Not a tool for inexperienced hands.

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Right string. I have seen two people put axes in their feet. When people start drinking hide the axe. Now I am taking blood thinners, so a bad cut starts to get really dangerous out there a long way from help.

I carry a Gerber Machete that has a very sharp blade and a saw on the back. That covers just about anything I need. I also keep an old hatchet in my bag , but I almost never use it.

For the folks who carry hatchets, try a tomahawk. I got a cold steel trail hawk and wont carry a hatchet again. It is more of a finesse tool, but you can split by pounding on the back and chop kindling IMHO faster and safer. Longer handle means more leverage. As a bonus, they are lighter. I have that and a pruning blade that I bolted a bracket to for a handle. Not a normal use thing, because I carry a backpacking stove, but you never know, so I carry them. Along with a ferro rod and Vaseline soaked cotton balls.

I love a saw. However I have thought about packing a splitting wedge and maybe a hammer for next year. I figured that cuts the potential for bad cuts. But the hammer does add one more thing to remember to pack. I think a good log could do the trick as a striker, but Murphys law will likely come into play and make the perfect striker rare.