I believe in sweat equity when giving back to something I love.
That means at least two or three times a year I enjoy a weekend of trail work.
And I do mean enjoy.
It is a different way of experiencing the outdoors. I get to spend time with others doing something productive. And where my solo backpacks are often off-trail or on obscure routes, trail work lets me enjoy our more famous paths.
After my most recent trail work weekend, I picked up some valuable advice from a friend and real world experience on what tools are practical for a compact trail work kit.
Two of these tools?
- Big Boy Silky – This tool will handle many small or even moderate sized blow downs or a branch trimming quickly and efficiently.
- Gerber Myth Folding Loppers – Folds compactly for sticking in my water bottle side pocket and has a lot of power for branches or even cutting saplings without having to break out the saw.
I have been performing more trail work and felt it was time to get some tools to call my own.
Altogether, these tools are a compact, useful, and efficient package. Not light by backpacking standards, but at 2.5 lbs, light by tool standards.
But my favorite tool from that weekend? The Chainmate Pocket Chainsaw.
Yes, the tool has now been rebranded as a Survival Chainsaw. I refuse to call it that as I have visions of overweight men in camouflage preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.
Instead, calling it a pocket chainsaw is a more apt description.
Meaning the tool is small, compact, and really does slice through the trees.
Why would a person want such a tool?
- Designated Wilderness Areas do not allow gas-powered chain saws.
- If there are blow downs, you need a tool to cut the trees.
- A Silky is not typically meant for logs much above 5″ or 6″ in diameter. At least easily!
- A cross-cut saw is EXTREMELY effective. But hard to pack in, technically you need to be certified to use it and is meant for massive trail work projects with huge blow downs more than ~ 16″ in diameter.
The Pocket Chainsaw shines for the areas in between. Quite a few trail maintainers had this tool on them.
And easy to see why: Compact enough to fit on a hip belt, weighs a scant 5 oz for the 48″ version, is easy to use, super efficient, and it is fun.
Skip ahead to the sixth slide for a short video of this tool in action
Shoutout to Disco & POD for getting myself, and many others out doing trail work for the first time. I’ve likely walked over thousands of water bars and downed trees yet I’ve never really taken care of either. It felt good, and was fun to learn from such knowledgeable folks! — Another thanks to all of those that came out for two days of work, including @mrsgraceshattuck @itsmnky @piece_by_piece_ht @andreannamarie @pmagsco @felicialhermosillo @thetrailshow @colorado_yeti and also Meadow Feather Shattuck (even if you ate my burrito). — #coloradotrail #gaggles #takelessdomore #trailwork #sawatchrange #ladiesownthetrail
The tool can be used solo but is more efficient with a partner.
The Chainmate Pocket Chainsaw is made in Vermont by Green Mountain Products and is very high quality. No need to buy the knock off versions of suspect quality when this product is only $32.
With a Chainmate Pocket Chainsaw, the Gerber loppers, and the Big Boy Silky, many basic trail maintenance tasks can be performed. This kit is just under forty-eight ounces, is compact, and at $120 not terribly expensive for good quality tools that will last a long time.
If you are drinking the trail work Kool-Aid, consider picking up the tools discussed in this article. You will have them for years to come and have a kit that works for many conditions without breaking the bank or your back.
Note: This kit is optimized for American West conditions: Less brush and overgrown trails. Larger blow downs. Check out Guthook’s great post of a kit optimized for Eastern trail conditions.
Disclosure: All these tools were purchased on Amazon with my funds.