If you’re going on a long hike it’s essential that you are prepared and bring with you the best tools and gear. This will not only help to keep you safer, but it will also improve your experience and make the whole trip more fun and rewarding.
Things that you should absolutely have in your rucksack to this end include: compass, first aid kit, torch, food supplies, rope, masking tape and blade.
But not just any blade. Bring the right blade and it will be able to help you in a large number of different scenarios and give you more options for feeling self-sufficient and resourceful. The ideal choice will be something that is versatile and that is portable. And this presents two interesting options: the survival hatchet and the folding saw.
Both will meet those requirements. But which is the best choice for long hikes? Let’s find out by looking at what you can use them for and what their pros and cons will be.
The Folding Saw
A folding saw is a saw that can be easily stowed away in a bag. The fact it folds means it will take up less space in your carry and at the same time, cover the otherwise-exposed blade so that nothing gets damaged in your bag.
From there, a saw will be able to cut pretty much anything you could possibly throw at it and no branch or log will be too big or thick. All that’s required is a little persistence on your part and you should be able to make your way through nearly anything. This is ideal then for splitting fire wood, for cutting logs to use for a shelter, or for removing shoes etc. in case of an injury.
But while a folding saw might sound appealing, the hatchet is pretty much superior in every way for hiking, camping and survival.
The hatchet works like a splitting maul, making it perfect for chopping firewood in a single blow. While the saw will provide a straighter cut, that really doesn’t matter if you’re just going to burn the wood. The problem with a maul is that it’s too large to fit into a back, but a hatchet is much smaller – so there’s no such issues. A saw also requires significantly more effort to cut anything with and if you’re hiking long distances, then energy management is one of your primary concerns. You need to do everything as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Likewise, a hatchet has the significant advantage of being much more versatile. You can use it for hunting should you need to, you can use it as a hammer – to drive a tent stake into the ground for instance – and you can use it to chop through foliage and branches blocking your path (though a machete would be better for this). You can even throw a hatchet if you have to, though this is a very dangerous move and one you should never attempt unless you have had training and there is no alternative.
The point is though, that a hatchet has a lot more options and can therefore be used by more people in more situations – you should definitely take a survival hatchet.
That said, there is no reason not to bring both! And while you’re at it, you could also bring a knife of some sort or perhaps a machete. At this point, your ruckstack starts to become heavy and laden with sharp implements though, so you need to weigh up the likelihood of needing these items versus the costs of bringing them.