Mountain Lab Backcountry Chainsaw – Gear Review
Every mountain sledder should carry some sort of saw, for a couple of reasons. The most common of these is to extract your snowmobile from difficult entanglement with a tree. Without a saw this can otherwise be downright impossible. Another crucial application is for use in collecting wood to burn in an emergency situation. In both cases—common and rare—a good saw can be your best friend. With that said, here’s our review of the Mountain Lab Backcountry Chainsaw.
Mountain Lab Backcountry Chainsaw Review
Now this little fella is new this year from Mountain Lab, and it’s a completely different concept than what we’ve used before. In the past, we’ve relied on foldable saws, like our own Mountain Sledder saw. We know these to work great, but they aren’t as small as we’d like in a perfect world. There are other wood saws available on the market as well which don’t fold at all—but, they too, take up a fair amount of storage space.
The Backcountry Chainsaw is tiny and light. It comes in a small, canvas pouch that’s slightly larger than your palm and about as thick.
The Mountain Lab Chainsaw uses chainsaw-style teeth along a chain, with a handle attached to either end. The concept is simple: pass one end of the chainsaw around the backside of a tree, and the cutting action is produced by see-sawing the handles back and forth. The teeth are oriented in alternating directions, so the cutting happens on strokes in both directions, unlike a traditional saw which usually only cuts one way.
Pros and Cons
Small size won’t take up much storage space
Light – do we need to tell you why this is good?
Can be sharpened using a chainsaw file
Comes in a handy little pouch that keeps it all neat and tidy
Can become pinched in a cut the same as a chainsaw
Pulling action means it can only cut from the backside
The Mountain Lab Backcountry Chainsaw is a nifty little gadget. It’s small, neat and light. It can easily live somewhere on your sled and you’ll forget it’s even there until you need it.
The real advantage of the chainsaw is that there is no chance of bending the blade like can happen to a traditional folding saw—especially cheaper ones with thin blade material.
When it comes to cutting speed, we found that the Backcountry Chainsaw cuts either little faster (on smaller diameter wood) or a little slower (through the big stuff) than a folding saw, depending on the size and dryness of the wood. And just like a folding saw, if you’re cutting a larger tree and the cut becomes pinched, you might have difficulty removing the saw. Something to think about as you plan your cut.
On the upside, the chainsaw can be maintained for a long life. Its teeth can be sharpened with a chainsaw file, so it can be kept razor sharp for when you need it. In addition, its links can be oiled periodically (probably like once a year if you’re like us!) to keep it cutting smoothly.
So if space, weight and durability are at a premium for you, this is a great choice.
For more reviews of snowmobiling products, outerwear, safety equipment and more, check out our gear review section!