Thursday, January 19, 2012

It slices, it dices

Over the past few weeks, I’ve often found myself using some cheap doodad that works well and makes life a tiny bit better, and thinking, “Damn, I should blog about this shit.” So, in the interest of sharing my little treasures, each Thursday or Friday for the next few weeks I’m going to feature some little gadget that I’m glad to have.

A couple of years ago, I was killing time before a flight out of Denver, and ended up in one of those hook-and-bullet superstores where guys in camo caps and sleeveless T-shirts sneak away from their wives for some heavy petting with bass boats.

One wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find much of interest for a moun
tain biker in such a store (and one would be right) but I stumbled across one of my favorite winter-biking accessories for a mere 20 or 25 bucks: a super-light wood saw that stows away in its own handle and makes easy work of clearing small branches and trees from trails.

This little beauty from Gerber has become a standard piece of gear in my frame bag. It’s light enough that I can leave it there all the time, which is good because I’d otherwise forget to take it on post-storm rides. That’s exactly what happened the first year I owned it — every time I needed the freakin’ thing, it was at home in my toolbox.

But last fall, I put it in the bag and vowed to leave it there. It’s satisfying to come across a small blow-down on the trail and be able to cut it up and re-open the route. It’s no chain saw, but it cuts pretty quickly through branches up to about four inches thick. That’s perfect when there’s only a branch across the trail, or a small tree that can’t be moved by hand because it’s still attached at the trunk or wedged between other pieces of vegetation.

This baby is like a Swiss Army knife of portable saws. After a big windstorm last month, there was a big spruce down across Rover’s Run. I couldn’t remove it, but five minutes of cutting was enough to clear some branches and open a route over the tree, which made life a little easier for everyone until someone could get out there with a gas-powered chain saw.

I love an inexpensive tool that works well. Especially when it makes a job easy and allows me to feel good about doing a little quick trail maintenance during a ride. Everybody winter fat-biker should have one of these things.

Hell, it might even be a good idea to carry it all summer, too. Yo
u never know when one of your buddies will get a compound fracture in the backcountry and need a field amputation.


Flyboy said...

"You never know when one of your buddies will get a compound fracture in the backcountry and need a field amputation."

Oooh, I live for the day!
Yep, couldn't agree more. I have a similar saw that lives in my Camelbak and has cleared many a trail. Mine isn't up to the Gerber standard, but it does the job.

Debbie said...

I would like to nominate someone for amputation.

The Old Bag said...

Can we nominate the person and the appendage?

Tim said...

Hey, don't forget I'd have to go for a ride with them!

Unknown said...

Have a Gerber saw and it is great. I also have a Corona foldable saw that is a bit bigger and a little bit better for larger stuff. Would still be very light weight and packable. Gerber blades are more easily replaceable though and usually come with two.

mattyfu said...

Have you ever tried one of those pocket chainsaws? My parents had one and I remember using it to cut down much thicker trees than the recommended 3", they turn up in the same type of store you found your folding saw the prices seem completely random though from $7 to $30.
here's a picture:

Anonymous said...

Note to self. If I ever bike with this person, wear chainmail.

Jeff said...

The little pocket chainsaws come in two flavors: one kind that is essentially an abraded wire and another that is more like an actual chainsaw blade. The first kind are smaller and lighter. They work decently, but will break after a bit of use. The second kind are heavier and bulkier, but cut better and last much longer. For an "emergency" saw (that won't see much actual use) the wire kind is a good choice. If you really plan to use the saw frequently, though, I would skip both and look for something like a Sven Saw or the Gerber that was used here.