Preferred Wood Processing Tool?


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Ok, so technically not "climbing gear," per se, but given that, as climbers, we often end up camping on climbing trips and have unique demands/availability in terms of access, I thought I'd give the forums a try on this.  So...

What is your preferred tool for wood processing on climbing trips?  If you're not down on backpacking lingo (I certainly wasn't), wood processing includes cutting firewood into smaller pieces to use as kindling, cutting branches off of trees, etc for camp fires and stoves.  A lot of the guides I've found are for ultra-light backpacking and recommend some sort of folding saw, but given that most climbing trips involve car camping and weight isn't an issue (or, conversely, involve technical climbing where one probably wouldn't want to bring a single purpose tool), I wasn't too psyched on that option and was leaning more toward conventional camping/hunting options like survival knives, hatchets, or even machetes (as a friendly group at Red Rock once used to help me and the other newbs in my group).  So...what do you use and why?  Do you have a particular brand/model, or would any ole axe do?

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 953

A chainsaw.  I like my Husky but Stihls are solid as well.  Keep it under a 20" bar to keep from getting in over your head.

For splitting kindling and general smallish stuff, this axe has been a great all-a-rounder:

http://www.gerbergear.com/Cutting-Tools/Axes/23.5-Axe_31-002651

s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,348

If we are talking car camping a battery powered sawzall. Stove fuel works great for kindling :)

Climbing tape makes great fire starter as well.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681

I use the smaller Gerber hatchet and a Fiskar bow saw(they are like $10 and last a long time with significant abuse)


My buddy has a 24V Chainsaw.....I was extremely skeptical at first but I tried it out and was blown away!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

You guys throw a full-sized chainsaw in your car for climbing trips? :o

Also - any idea if it's possible to fly with a hatchet (checked, obviously)?

edit: nm, recognized the Googalable nature of my question:

http://blog.tsa.gov/2009/06/camping-hunting-fishing-gear-on-plane.html?m=1

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 953
Ted Pinson wrote:

You guys throw a full-sized chainsaw in your car for climbing trips? :o

If I'm car camping, yes.  Bug shelter, lawn chairs, cornhole boards.... It's ridiculous, but comfy!

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 250

Fiskars makes a great splitting axe. The head acts like a standard axe for chopping, but flares wider at the back to give it better wedge action when splitting. I've had one for several years, and it's held up well. It comes in various sizes, as well.

Dustin Stotser · · Springfield, MO · Joined May 2014 · Points: 363

While I'm camping, the sound of chainsaws is right up there with the sound of generators and obnoxious drunks.  

When I'm in a backwoods type situation I never require a fire large enough to justify a chainsaw or maul/large axe.  Usually finding a couple large downed branches or small trees at most 3-4 inches thick to break down with a hatchet, or leverage "saw", is all I require.  I use dead trees or rocks if possible when using the leverage saw.  If I am car camping where a large fire is desired and perhaps more justifiable, usually wood is available for sale close by in addition to the surrounding area being picked fairly clean.  I've seen many instances in the latter situation where someone inexperienced with a chainsaw decided to fell a tree only to realize the fresh wood wouldn't burn.  

Yes I understand it's possible to be responsible with a chainsaw, but advocating it in general as a good wood processing tool for camping purposes is bad stewardship, IMO.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
Dustin Stotser wrote:

While I'm camping, the sound of chainsaws is right up there with the sound of generators and obnoxious drunks.  

When I'm in a backwoods type situation I never require a fire large enough to justify a chainsaw or maul/large axe.  Usually finding a couple large downed branches or small trees at most 3-4 inches thick to break down with a hatchet, or leverage "saw", is all I require.  I use dead trees or rocks if possible when using the leverage saw.  If I am car camping where a large fire is desired and perhaps more justifiable, usually wood is available for sale close by in addition to the surrounding area being picked fairly clean.  I've seen many instances in the latter situation where someone inexperienced with a chainsaw decided to fell a tree only to realize the fresh wood wouldn't burn.  

Yes I understand it's possible to be responsible with a chainsaw, but advocating it in general as a good wood processing tool for camping purposes is bad stewardship, IMO.

MANY of the places around the PNW (and even NorCal) have large areas with the left over from clear cuts - I would venture to say that very few people are going to feel bad about it. Felling trees is a whole other story.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Yeah...I'm mainly just looking to cut up firewood into smaller pieces, not quite full-on lumberjack. ;)

t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 60

Bosch 18V Recip Saw

Dustin Stotser · · Springfield, MO · Joined May 2014 · Points: 363

Like taking a crap outdoors, I accept the practicality and attitude surrounding this are regionalized.  At least make sure it's legal/allowed where you are.  

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
Dustin Stotser wrote:

Like taking a crap outdoors, I accept the practicality and attitude surrounding this are regionalized.  At least make sure it's legal/allowed where you are.  

I like that....I may need to start using this in other contexts as well. :) 

Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10

For the backcountry and survival, consider a knife. Check out some of Nutnfancy knife reviews:

Here's a video that shows you how to bushcraft a stove with a knife

Nutnfancy thoughts on axe as a survival tool (ie. non car camping):

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

You are car camping so just bring some fire starter, no kindling required. Unless you have to be a boy scout about it. Works great if you are lazy. 

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 953
Dustin Stotser wrote:

While I'm camping, the sound of chainsaws is right up there with the sound of generators and obnoxious drunks.  

Certainly one of the drawbacks to car camping. Chainsaws are at least an intermittent sound, at least they usually die down after dark, unlike generators.

When I'm in a backwoods type situation I never require a fire large enough to justify a chainsaw or maul/large axe.  Usually finding a couple large downed branches or small trees at most 3-4 inches thick to break down with a hatchet, or leverage "saw", is all I require.  I use dead trees or rocks if possible when using the leverage saw.  If I am car camping where a large fire is desired and perhaps more justifiable, usually wood is available for sale close by in addition to the surrounding area being picked fairly clean.  I've seen many instances in the latter situation where someone inexperienced with a chainsaw decided to fell a tree only to realize the fresh wood wouldn't burn.  

A big ass fire feels great after a day of swinging ice tools. I've had more than one party saunter over and make conversation after their no-see-um fire proved to be a bit underwhelming. 

I just can't bring myself to buy wood though. Seems like pulling on gear, it's just not the same. 

I don't know what the solution to yahoos cutting green wood is, plenty of dumbasses out there. Same goes for people who trim live trees for their pyro needs.

Yes I understand it's possible to be responsible with a chainsaw, but advocating it in general as a good wood processing tool for camping purposes is bad stewardship, IMO.

I'm not really advocating anything, simply replying to the query as to the preferred tool.  I prefer to get the firewood gathering over as efficiently/quickly as possible. As far as bad stewardship goes, I disagree that chainsaws are any more impactful than buying wood.  Especially if it isn't local wood.  One should endeavor to minimize transport of firewood to help limit the spread of many diseases.  

Like taking a crap outdoors, I accept the practicality and attitude surrounding this are regionalized.  At least make sure it's legal/allowed where you are. 

I dig that and agree.   Most of my car camping is away from people, in areas with plenty of dead wood, and a larger (often continuous) fire is a valid item.  I probably spend an equal amount of time camping (backpacking) where I don't even bother with a fire and enjoy the natural quiet of wilderness.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Ted Pinson wrote:

wood processing includes  cutting branches off of trees, etc for camp fires and stoves.  

I hope you only cut branches off of trees on your property?

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 123

I have a nice Gransfors Bruks hatchet that I use for splitting rounds and quarters and then a stout 8" fixed blade (Morakniv - solid steel, but only a whopping $12) that I use for splitting the quarters even further down into kindling.  

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 45

I've got this pack saw which Gerber unfortunately does not manufacture any more. It's no good for splitting the kind of firewood you buy (big kilned chunks, no bark or branches), but it's amazing for cutting the kind of fallen wood you're likely to encounter in nature (longer and thinner, lots of bark and branches). I can't speak to the manufacture of other brands, but I do recommend the pack saw idea if you're going to be using found wood. It's also good for trimming live branches if you wanted to build a lashed structure.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
Parker Wrozek wrote:

You are car camping so just bring some fire starter, no kindling required. Unless you have to be a boy scout about it. Works great if you are lazy. 

I've done that a lot, but also run into situations where we didn't have any; e.g: roadside firewood but nothing fancy.  I figured it would be simpler if I had something that was part of my standard camping rig rather than having to constantly go out and buy firestarter.  Plus, sometimes firewood is too freaking big to start a reasonable fire and/or you need to cut it down for a camp stove/grill.

Plus, hitting things with axes sounds fun.  Also: bears.

hikingdrew · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 25

A saw for big stuff, bigger than your wrist: Bahco laplander or any 6" pruning saw. Svensaw or trailblazer take down saw for really big stuff. To make kindling, batonning the small stuff, 4" knife, Mora or equivalent

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply