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No Gas Needed: Pocket Chainsaws & Elbow Grease Will Chew Through Tree Limbs

A pocket chainsaw might sound a little Inspector Gadget, but it’s actually a surprisingly handy tool for camping and other outdoor pursuits. It’s also a useful tool to keep in an emergency bug out or survival bag. Unlike the power tool that inspired it, a pocket chainsaw is a lightweight, manual tool that doesn’t rely on gas or electricity.

Pocket chainsaws have handles and chains that essentially look like bike chains with spiky teeth. To use them, you simply wrap the chain around a piece of wood and work back and forth to cut it. Yes, a hand saw can also do this job. But a pocket chainsaw is an incredibly compact and lightweight tool, making it easier to take in your hiking bag. Like pocket knives, Many pocket chainsaws also have handy carrying pouches for safe storage.

A pocket chainsaw can be used to cut pieces of wood to create a campfire or to clear larger branches that are obstructing a path. And in a true emergency situation, a pocket chainsaw can be used to create a makeshift shelter.

Pocket chainsaws can also be useful in the great outdoors close to home, AKA, your yard. A rope chainsaw can be used to cut high branches that might be otherwise difficult to reach. A pocket chainsaw can also be a less noisy alternative to power tools for yard maintenance.

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Eat your Wheaties, get your elbow grease ready, and check out our picks for the best manual chain saws.


Best overall

Nordic Pocket Saw is an award-winning design, and it includes a handy, secure carrying pouch for safe transportation. It’s available in two different sizes and three handle colors. The sturdy nylon handles have large loops for comfortable holding while wearing work gloves.

runner up

$18.99

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This economical option from Stansport features a textured paracord handle, and the chainsaw features 11 bi-directional teeth. The paracord handle can also be unraveled and used, and a carrying pouch is included.

dual use

This economical option comes with a looped paracord handle for a secure and comfortable grip, and the paracord can be unraveled to use in an emergency situation. The chain has 16 teeth.

best alternative

$45.00

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Though this isn’t the same as a pocket chainsaw, this option has some of the same packability and portability. It has a folding design for safe and secure storage, while the triangular design offers good leverage when in use.

best for yards

$56.99

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If you need to cut a high branch, this is the tool to use. Tie the bag weight to one end of the rope, heave that sucker up over that branch, replace the weight with the other handle, and start sawing.

replaceable blade

$38.00

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This folding hand saw from Silky is a good alternative to pocket chainsaws. Though it’s not as compact, it still folds up for safe storage. The hand saw can be used in two positions depending on your angle.