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Thread: Pocket chainsaw and other items put to the test

  1. #1
    Thoreauvian endurance's Avatar
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    Default Pocket chainsaw and other items put to the test

    So last weekend me and a friend loaded up the bikes (his is motorized, mine's not) and went to a remote location at about 9,900' to put our backcountry ride kits to the test. This is the stuff we carry every time we go out, whether it's for an hour ride on a local trail, or bushwhacking for six hours in the back country, but not a planned overnight trip. We took the precaution of bringing in a tent, sleeping bags, ground pads, and a couple MREs, but after setting up the tent, we set to building our shelters and subsisting off the food, water, and gear we normally carry when we ride.

    My kit is certainly on the minimalist side, but I try to account for the foreseeable events. I've learned through past experience that a sling (triangular bandage), Sam splint, a couple percocet, tweezers and water purification tablets are all useful items in my kit, but I'd never had a need for the Mora 780, steri-pen, platypus canteen, or pocket chainsaw that I added over the last year or two. Frankly, when I paid $45 for three Mora's on e-bay, including shipping, I wasn't expecting much. I had high expectations for the steri-pen, but reserved judgement on the pocket chainsaw until I got into the field with it.

    So as shelter building commenced, I put back on my riding gloves and pulled out the pocket chainsaw. I took to gathering both deadwood for firewood and live spruce bows for bedding and shelter material. Within minutes I was amazed at the efficiency and ease of use. Any branch under 3" in diameter could be cut through in under a minute, green or dead. While above 4" diameter stuff was nearly impossible because of the short pulls it allowed, it was impressive on the smaller stuff. Pretty much anything too big to snap off cleanly was fair game. In a matter of an hour I had a stack of firewood that had my friend laughing whether I was building a cabin or a lean-to. Despite all the cutting I did with it, it seemed to retain an edge and cut cleanly and efficiently. My only criticism was the color. While I'm not going to gripe about the oxide-black blade itself, the olive drab handles have got to go. Given that they're just 550 cord, I'll be making a trip to the local army surplus store and picking up some florescent orange cord so the saw can be set down without taking 10 minutes to find it again (as happened a few times throughout the day). Also, as a safety note, I'd recommend not using this tool without gloves. I pulled a little close to my thumb one time and if it weren't for the glove, I'm certain it would have resulted in a very nasty wound (beyond surgi-strips).

    The first time out with the Steri-pen and the platypus bladder was a major bust. First, the diameter of the platypus bladder opening is too small to put the light all the way into the water. In fact, little more than half the lamp actually makes it past the neck, and if the bottle isn't topped off, you're lucky to reach the water at all. These two items are not compatable. I ended up resorting to using my camelbak, but then discovered the relatively new batteries (used only for a couple tests at home over the last three or four months) were already dead. This was a major disappointment, but thankfully, I also had tablets with me. That said, I went from iodine to a chlorine based tablet this year because they were individually packaged, thus I could use a couple and not have to throw the bottle of 50 away at the end of the season. However, they left the water cloudy with significant sediment on the bottom. This was pretty unappealing, but it was odor and taste-free, which I did appreciate. I'm not sure if I'll be sticking with them or going back to iodine as my back up yet. Also, after looking at a review on Doug Ritter's site, I think I might bail on the platypus and get something even more compact like the Gerber milk storage bags. They can be rolled or stored flat, which can save space in an already bulging kit.

    Finally, there's the Mora 780. I have never felt so comfortable abusing a knife in my life. Having my Benchmade pocketknife as a backup made the abuse that much easier, because, frankly, I didn't care if I broke it. The primary use was for cutting small (under 1" diameter) green branches for my shelter and bedding. I used a wooden stump gnarl as a hammer and beat the crap out of the knife cutting off dozens of branches in 5-10 blows each. While the blade did dull noticably from start to finish, it still retained a workable level of sharpness and never chipped or bent. It took more abuse that I've ever subjected any knife to and was always up to the task. I now feel that my SOG and Benchmade sheath knives are pretty ornaments to display, but I'd never feel comfortable treating them the way I treated the Mora. Sometimes cheaper is better (heck, for the price of one "quality" knife, I could buy a half-dozen 780s).

    As for the weekend, it was an excellent success. I ended up building a great little lean-to requiring only 6' of 550 cord and a space blanket (with spruce bows over it) and never bothered to get out my head gator or space bag for added warmth. I discovered that dry duff is way better bedding than spruce bows (albiet much more flammable) and that my minimalist approach is entirely adequate for most conditions I experience in the summer here in Colorado. The items that continue to stand out to me are my magnesium firestarter, especially in combination with vasoline'd cotton balls; my Cyclops headlamp and Photon II light; the Mora knives; chicken bullion cubes; and of course the pocket chainsaw. I'll continue to carry convenient essentials like my disposable poncho, bug dope (although it wasn't needed on this trip), and for a little while longer at least, a 10' length of surgical tubing (only used on a handful of occasions in the past as a tow strap, and not so much lately. In a pinch, 550 cord can serve the same purpose).

    I will be binning my aluminum cup, as it was too unstable to boil water on the coals and the empty beer can worked much better as a boiling container. It was also way too hot to drink from without burning my lips. I might toss in a plastic collapsable cup in its place for drinking from. If I must carry a beer to always have a good boiling container, well then, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Also on the bubble is the traditional mylar space blanket, as I may opt for the larger two person version from Adventure Medical Kits. The additional two feet in length would really help build a more weatherproof shelter. The price and size still makes it competitive with the super-cheap generic one person versions.
    I'll rest when I'm dead...


  2. #2
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Nice reviews. Thanks.
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    Always Learning dolfan87's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed reading that. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Endurance - how would you rate it against (if you've used one) one of the folding razor tooth saws for cutting performance. I know that size wise they are very different, just curious about performance.
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  5. #5
    MMhmMmmm
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    Cool review and sounds like a fun trip too
    Mountain Man

  6. #6
    "PIRACY IN THE BLOOD" Icemancometh's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good time. I would have to say I'm a little envious. Too hot here to do much.
    ""What the hell you doin' with that lawnmower blade?" "I aim to kill you with it.""

  7. #7
    Thoreauvian endurance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Endurance - how would you rate it against (if you've used one) one of the folding razor tooth saws for cutting performance. I know that size wise they are very different, just curious about performance.
    I haven't used any of the folding saws, but I've used limbing saws with similar tooth patterns (albiet longer blades with probably more flex). On smaller diameter green wood, they're relatively comparable, but on dead wood and larger material I clearly give the advantage to the pocket chainsaw. There was some awkwardness using it in tight places that I'd suspect would be easier for a fixed saw blade, but overall, the efficiency of using both hands, pulling toward you the entire time was superior to the attempts to balance the pushing down into the wood while pushing the blade back and forth with a normal blade. It did have a tendency to bind on larger branches as you were cutting the top, side and bottom at the same time, but it never bound before being cut thoroughly enough to tear the branch off at that point.

    As for the weekend, it was one of those things we've been meaning to do forever and we finally just made it happen. We have the luxury of the mountains here, where it was over 90F in Denver on Saturday, it never made it over 75F where we camped. The trip brought up new ideas that I'd like to experiment with in the future, albiet probably not in an all-weekend format like this was. I'm still hoping I can rely on my Steri-pen in the future because it beats the heck out of the time and energy spent pumping water. However, if it's going to burn through batteries just being stored and leave me hanging in the future where I have to depend on tablets, I'll happily pull out my MSR WaterWorks again.
    I'll rest when I'm dead...

  8. #8
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Very nice write up. I really enjoyed it. I just can't bring myself to rely on a light bulb to sterilize my water. I know the science but still......

    If you put a silicone bracelet on the metal cup it won't burn your lip when you drink from it. You can find them just about anywhere. Those bracelets that support breast cancer or our troops etc, etc, are perfect to fit on most metal cups. Then your lip touches the bracelet and not the metal.

  9. #9
    Thoreauvian endurance's Avatar
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    Cool idea, Rick, I'll give it a try.
    I'll rest when I'm dead...

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by endurance View Post
    So last weekend me and a friend loaded up the bikes (his is motorized, mine's not) and went to a remote location at about 9,900' to put our backcountry ride kits to the test. This is the stuff we carry every time we go out, whether it's for an hour ride on a local trail, or bushwhacking for six hours in the back country, but not a planned overnight trip. We took the precaution of bringing in a tent, sleeping bags, ground pads, and a couple MREs, but after setting up the tent, we set to building our shelters and subsisting off the food, water, and gear we normally carry when we ride.

    My kit is certainly on the minimalist side, but I try to account for the foreseeable events. I've learned through past experience that a sling (triangular bandage), Sam splint, a couple percocet, tweezers and water purification tablets are all useful items in my kit, but I'd never had a need for the Mora 780, steri-pen, platypus canteen, or pocket chainsaw that I added over the last year or two. Frankly, when I paid $45 for three Mora's on e-bay, including shipping, I wasn't expecting much. I had high expectations for the steri-pen, but reserved judgement on the pocket chainsaw until I got into the field with it.

    So as shelter building commenced, I put back on my riding gloves and pulled out the pocket chainsaw. I took to gathering both deadwood for firewood and live spruce bows for bedding and shelter material. Within minutes I was amazed at the efficiency and ease of use. Any branch under 3" in diameter could be cut through in under a minute, green or dead. While above 4" diameter stuff was nearly impossible because of the short pulls it allowed, it was impressive on the smaller stuff. Pretty much anything too big to snap off cleanly was fair game. In a matter of an hour I had a stack of firewood that had my friend laughing whether I was building a cabin or a lean-to. Despite all the cutting I did with it, it seemed to retain an edge and cut cleanly and efficiently. My only criticism was the color. While I'm not going to gripe about the oxide-black blade itself, the olive drab handles have got to go. Given that they're just 550 cord, I'll be making a trip to the local army surplus store and picking up some florescent orange cord so the saw can be set down without taking 10 minutes to find it again (as happened a few times throughout the day). Also, as a safety note, I'd recommend not using this tool without gloves. I pulled a little close to my thumb one time and if it weren't for the glove, I'm certain it would have resulted in a very nasty wound (beyond surgi-strips).

    The first time out with the Steri-pen and the platypus bladder was a major bust. First, the diameter of the platypus bladder opening is too small to put the light all the way into the water. In fact, little more than half the lamp actually makes it past the neck, and if the bottle isn't topped off, you're lucky to reach the water at all. These two items are not compatable. I ended up resorting to using my camelbak, but then discovered the relatively new batteries (used only for a couple tests at home over the last three or four months) were already dead. This was a major disappointment, but thankfully, I also had tablets with me. That said, I went from iodine to a chlorine based tablet this year because they were individually packaged, thus I could use a couple and not have to throw the bottle of 50 away at the end of the season. However, they left the water cloudy with significant sediment on the bottom. This was pretty unappealing, but it was odor and taste-free, which I did appreciate. I'm not sure if I'll be sticking with them or going back to iodine as my back up yet. Also, after looking at a review on Doug Ritter's site, I think I might bail on the platypus and get something even more compact like the Gerber milk storage bags. They can be rolled or stored flat, which can save space in an already bulging kit.

    Finally, there's the Mora 780. I have never felt so comfortable abusing a knife in my life. Having my Benchmade pocketknife as a backup made the abuse that much easier, because, frankly, I didn't care if I broke it. The primary use was for cutting small (under 1" diameter) green branches for my shelter and bedding. I used a wooden stump gnarl as a hammer and beat the crap out of the knife cutting off dozens of branches in 5-10 blows each. While the blade did dull noticably from start to finish, it still retained a workable level of sharpness and never chipped or bent. It took more abuse that I've ever subjected any knife to and was always up to the task. I now feel that my SOG and Benchmade sheath knives are pretty ornaments to display, but I'd never feel comfortable treating them the way I treated the Mora. Sometimes cheaper is better (heck, for the price of one "quality" knife, I could buy a half-dozen 780s).

    As for the weekend, it was an excellent success. I ended up building a great little lean-to requiring only 6' of 550 cord and a space blanket (with spruce bows over it) and never bothered to get out my head gator or space bag for added warmth. I discovered that dry duff is way better bedding than spruce bows (albiet much more flammable) and that my minimalist approach is entirely adequate for most conditions I experience in the summer here in Colorado. The items that continue to stand out to me are my magnesium firestarter, especially in combination with vasoline'd cotton balls; my Cyclops headlamp and Photon II light; the Mora knives; chicken bullion cubes; and of course the pocket chainsaw. I'll continue to carry convenient essentials like my disposable poncho, bug dope (although it wasn't needed on this trip), and for a little while longer at least, a 10' length of surgical tubing (only used on a handful of occasions in the past as a tow strap, and not so much lately. In a pinch, 550 cord can serve the same purpose).

    I will be binning my aluminum cup, as it was too unstable to boil water on the coals and the empty beer can worked much better as a boiling container. It was also way too hot to drink from without burning my lips. I might toss in a plastic collapsable cup in its place for drinking from. If I must carry a beer to always have a good boiling container, well then, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Also on the bubble is the traditional mylar space blanket, as I may opt for the larger two person version from Adventure Medical Kits. The additional two feet in length would really help build a more weatherproof shelter. The price and size still makes it competitive with the super-cheap generic one person versions.
    Hi folks. I am new here. I was found informations about pocket chainsaw on the google then I saw this cool post and review. Thank you so much for this review

  11. #11
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Glad you liked it. Sorry you couldn't stick around to give us your amazing new source and link that you just happened to stumble upon.
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  12. #12
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I was found informations about his amazing new source. It was A Okay. You might say it was On the Google.

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