Product Review: SOG, Silky F180, and more

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They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Or do they?

After a rather disappointing winter camping trip with a new SOG folding saw last January, it appeared I’d made a poor purchase. The saw seemed to require far too much effort for the results it yielded. I didn’t feel like running out and spending another 20-40 dollars just to try another, so I chucked it into a camping bin to keep as a spare and forgot about it.

My wife and I were about to take our kids for a wilderness canoe trip in the BWCA in July, and we needed to bring a saw. The thought of bringing that SOG along for the ride didn’t sit well with me. Having seen good things posted about Silky folding saws on forums, I decided to take a chance on one. 

Unfortunately, the Forest Service declared days before our trip that fires would not be allowed due to chronically dry conditions. The yet-untested Silky saw stayed home, its abilities (or weaknesses) unknown. 

Until last week. 

While we were up north for a long pre-Thanksgiving weekend, I put the SOG and Silky saws to the test against an old folding saw of mine (Woodzig), as well as a you-can’t-find-that-in-the-store saw, just for fun. 

Bucksaw test

The Test

A piece of aspen was chosen to sacrifice. It had a segment approximately three feet long with a remarkably consistent diameter: almost exactly two inches. 

I counted the number of cycles—forward/back— it took to cut through. For the sake of accuracy, I asked my daughter to double check my work. We got the same count every time. 

Each saw was given four chances, to allow for any variations in the wood to be averaged out. 

The Analysis

The SOG folding saw has an overall length of approximately 17.5”. Its row of teeth is approximately 7.5”. It is the only model in this test that comes with a carrying pouch. The pouch is nothing special; frankly, I wish they’d have put that money into R&D. This saw (which almost never unlocked for its first use and was almost returned to the store) required 22, 24, 30, and 28 cycles to cut through the wood, with a sluggish average of 26. 

The Silky F180 is the most petite of the four with an overall length of 16” and cutting surface of only 6.5”. It was more than twice as fast as the SOG, needing only 13, 10, 13, and 14 cycles, with an average of only 12.5.  

My Woodzig folding saw has been around a while (decades). I’m not even sure what the model is and it doesn’t look like anything like it is still on the market. Its overall unfolded length is 20.5”, with about 9.5” of teeth. I’ve always thought it was pretty efficient, although it gives the impression of being flimsy because there is some play between the blade and handle. While not as fast as the Silky, it beat the SOG with 19, 22, 22, and 21 cycles, for an average of 21

I happened to have my wife’s grandfather’s bucksaw readily available and threw it into the mix. It is obviously not a viable option for a canoe or backpacking trip, but I wondered how it would stack up with its extremely basic blade. With 9, 10, 8, and 10 cycles to cut through, the buck was the fastest (though not that far ahead of the Silky). Not bad. 

SOG folding saw, Silky F180 saw, Woodzig folding saw

The Rankings

1. Silky F180

2. Woodzig (model unknown)

3. SOG folding saw

Other than to go by the numbers, there doesn’t appear to be a good way to rank saws. I mean, they basically do one thing. Features and options are minimal, and the folding saws are relatively the same size. 

Among the folding saws, the Silky was the clear winner. Though the bucksaw was faster, the Silky was nipping at its heels— especially impressive considering the bucksaw’s blade is more than twice as long. 

One nice thing about the Silky is that its blade can be locked into two different positions, which can be useful. Of the folding saws, however, it is the only one whose blade does not lock into the closed position. Probably neither here nor there. 

I wouldn’t mind trying out more saws, but at this point I have enough to choose from. There is one folding bow saw out there which has a good reputation, but seems a bit long for stuffing into a dry bag (or backpack). Maybe I’ll consider it when I wear out the Silky, since the F180 replacement blade ($30) costs almost as much as the whole saw ($37). 


The Season for Outdoor Savings

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It seems every year I tell myself I’m going to get new hiking boots. And ice fishing boots. And snow bibs. And winter clothing layers. And a new backpacking stove. I’m sure I’ll get around to all those, but most of my procrastination has to do with finding the right items at the right prices. Well, now is the time of year when prices get slashed and I need to be on top of my shopping game. You should too, especially if you need any type of outdoor clothing.  Continue reading “The Season for Outdoor Savings”

Product Review: Irish Setter VaprTrek Boot

It all started in 2014. A great pair of leather boots had given up the ghost and I needed something new. Another pair of leather boots seemed a good idea, but with all the walking I do in the bird hunting season, I didn’t want anything too heavy. One boot caught my attention, marketed as light in weight and tough as nails. I’d never owned anything in kangaroo leather before, so who was I to doubt their claims? 

Well, I should have. Astonishingly, I wore those boots out in just one October. The leather in the toes completely disintegrated, and the waterproof layer underneath could clearly be seen. I regret to this day I didn’t take pictures, but I was livid as I packed up the box. I wanted them out of my sight. Ever since then, I’ve been in search of a boot that could stand up to the way I hunt.  Continue reading “Product Review: Irish Setter VaprTrek Boot”

Do Something New: Quarter and Pack Out a Deer

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I’ve long dreamed of hunting in the mountains, spending days climbing, glassing, and stalking. This kind of trip has always seemed quite accessible to me, except for one aspect: getting the meat out of the woods. It would be impractical to expect to drag a deer back to the truck. Foolish, really, and out of the question with an elk. So that would mean quartering and packing the animal out. This is nothing to the hunter on horseback, or even one who is accustomed to doing it. Continue reading “Do Something New: Quarter and Pack Out a Deer”

Product Review: 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage

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“It’s a work truck. You’re a smaht guy.” Those were the last words spoken to me by salesman Sean, through the truck window, as I drove my F-150 Heritage off the lot in April of 2004. After I rolled the window up, my wife and I looked at each other and wondered aloud what that was supposed to mean. It seemed nonsensical. We laughed and shrugged it off, but never forgot that moment. I’m not sure what made those words so immortal, whether it be their cryptic nature or because it was fun to say “smaht” in our best manufactured Massachusetts accents. Either way, they stuck with us. After fourteen and a half years, however, Sean’s absurd adieu now seems strangely prophetic.  Continue reading “Product Review: 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage”

Product Review: Sea to Summit X-Pot

It all began a year ago when I received a funny-looking thing for my birthday from my brother and his wife. “It’s a pot for cooking; we thought it would be good for your hiking and camping trips,” she explained. I had to examine it a bit to understand what it was: a collapsible cooking pot, made of aluminum and silicone. With no backpacking or canoe trips in my immediate future, I put it away with similar equipment (and apparently almost forgot about it). Continue reading “Product Review: Sea to Summit X-Pot”

Product Review: Sawyer Mini Water Filter

When I decided to take a short ice fishing trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, I had a problem where water filtration was concerned. I have historically used a pump-type filter, but I didn’t consider this an option for this outing; even though the temperature was forecast to be above freezing during the days, the night temperatures would certainly imperil anything that would be damaged by freezing. Likewise, I couldn’t expect to keep containers of water on hand, so whatever amount of water I treated would have to be used in a short time. I decided that I would be able to keep something- if small enough- warm in interior pockets by day, and in my sleeping bag with me by night. What I didn’t know was how many different options there are now for water filtration/purification. Continue reading “Product Review: Sawyer Mini Water Filter”