Hiking With a Chainsaw – Do You Really Need It

Hiking with a chainsaw

People who live off the grid, or forest rangers, will have experience using a chainsaw, but the average hiker and camper do not really need to have a chainsaw in their backpack.

Hiking with a chainsaw can be challenging and requires knowledge and caution. If you are not an expert in the field and don’t have experience using it, it may not be such a great idea.

Because of this, it is best to inform yourself about everything and carefully access whether you may need one or not on your next hiking trip.

Take a Chainsaw Pack

Hiking with a chainsaw may seem like a speedy decision if you want to go through some wild backcountry that has some trails that are rarely used. But, people who don’t have experience with using a chainsaw should not even consider it before getting the required experience or using it without someone’s supervision.

It is a high-demand and dangerous tool. A great example of a practical pack design was constructed by an NHC member John Newman, who was the primary sawyer in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

The main intention of the design is to have a pack that will keep the center of gravity as low as possible with 3 major components with an external frame pack, such as a rectangular plastic bucket, and cloth pouches to carry required gear.

Carrying a chainsaw also requires equipment that needs to be at hand (here is a sample list):

  • Fule 22ou
  • Bar oil 11 oz
  • Plastic wedges 2
  • Chain saw tools
  • Round file
  • Flat file
  • File guide
  • Spark plug
  • Spare chain
  • Spare pull rope
  • Spare bar nut
  • Tape measure
  • Flagging tape

And a personal gear addition:

  1. Water bottle for drinking 2l
  2. Food
  3. Extra clothing (like a rain jacket)
  4. Ground cloth
  5. Camping essentials (compass, headlamp, extra batteries, matches, fire starter, whistle, knife, personal first aid kit, duct tape, and toilet paper)
  6. Axe attached to a backpack with cover carrier

Learning about the maintenance of a chainsaw is also really important, so (in the case you are a newbie and will be using it frequently, here are a few things to know).

Fresh Fuel

In order for the chainsaw to function properly, it is necessary for the mixture of gasoline and oil to be fresh, because gasoline evaporates over time and loses the properties that ensure proper combustion. It is recommended not to use a mixture older than a month. When you have finished working, drain the mixture completely before storing your saw and pour a fresh batch before the next use.

Ideal Mixture Ratio

First of all, it is important to know the difference between a tester with a 2T and a 4T engine. Saws with a 4T engine give the engine energy in every fourth stroke of the piston and are therefore called four-stroke, while in every third stroke they take oil from a separate tank, and in their case, it is not necessary to make a mixture. Saws with a 2T engine do not have a separate tank, so it is necessary to add oil to the tank with gasoline and at the same time very important for the proper functioning of the engine.

The ideal combination of fuel and oil depends on the manufacturer, so be sure to read the instructions. However, for most testers, this ratio is 1:40, or in other words 2.5% oil to fuel. Simply put, to make it easier to remember – carefully weigh and add 0.02 liters of 2T oil per 1 liter of fuel.

Always make the mixture in a special bowl by first pouring 2T oil, and then gasoline. Shake the bowl well and only then pour the contents into the saw tank. There are some things campers should know about the type of fuel that can be used for different tools.

Spark-Plug Check

For good combustion, it is necessary to have the correct spark plug. Only by disassembling the spark plug can we determine how dirty or spent it is. After opening it, clean it or replace it if it is used up so much that it cannot make a spark. When returning the spark plug, check in the manual how many Nm to adjust the torque wrench to tighten it properly. Before buying a new spark plug, make sure to check the type of spark plug you need in the manual or consult the seller or service technician of your saw.

Air Filter

Check the air filter before each use. It is important that the filter is clean and not torn. If the filter is dirty, it is not recommended to clean it with compressed air because that way it can get damaged or pierced. Instead, try to simply shake the filter by tapping it lightly on a solid surface to allow dirt to come out of the filter. If the filter is too dirty or damaged, install a new filter. Also, before each use, make sure that the saw is clean at the suction to avoid unnecessary soiling of the filter.

Hiking with a chainsaw can be dangerous

Chain Tension

For detailed instructions on tightening the chain, see the instructions provided by the manufacturer, however, what may not be written there is that the chain should not be tightened immediately after using the saw because it is still hot at that time. If you tighten it when heated, when it cools down, there is additional shrinkage and so the chain will be too tight. A properly tightened chain can be pulled slightly so that you can pull your finger under the chain, it rests nicely on the sword, it turns slightly without moving the saw.

Guide Maintenance

When dismantling the chain and guide, first clean the guide channel with a small brush as well as the lubrication holes, the part around the sprocket, clutch, and awning. Be sure to check how much the guide channel is worn, the best way to check is by moving the chain opposite to the direction of its movement. So, there must not be much movement from the edge to the edge of the channel, otherwise, the guide should be changed.

One of the tips for extended guide life is to turn it to the other side from time to time so that we get even wear. It is important to check the sprocket on the top of the guide, in case it is loose, it is also necessary to replace the guide. In case there are irregularities on the edges of the guide, you can extend its life with a file in order to get a flatter surface again.

Shaft Sharpening and Protection

In addition to inefficiency, a blunt chain can also be dangerous because it additionally heats the guide and wood. When the saw is not in use, the protective cover for the chain must be fitted, otherwise, the chain may rust.

When sharpening a chain, try to sharpen the most damaged incisors first and then mark them with a marker to know which teeth you have sharpened. When sharpening with a file, count the movements to sharpen each cutting tooth equally. If the maximum length of the cutting tooth is less than 4mm, you will know that your chain is ripe for replacement.

Take a Break During Work

When using a chainsaw, it is important to maintain concentration in work and take breaks. In addition to resting, use the break to check the saw-chain tension and oil condition. It is extremely important to protect yourself from potential injuries. Use protection wear shoes, long pants, work gloves, and protection for the eyes, ears, and head.

Decide to Go Hiking With a Chainsaw- Do You Really Need It?

Carrying a chainsaw can be hard on the body, and people who work at wilderness clubs and on summer cutting trails need to invest time in researching the gear and simply how to make their life easier.

Carrying a chainsaw up the mountain can be hard work all on its own. Using a scabbard for the saw, or a cushion to put it on a shoulder while carrying is one option. Another is to get a chainsaw backpack, or repurposing backpack frames from the army surplus store.

When it comes to people who are not used to working with such heavy equipment, going on summer trails that are uncut may have alternative ways to clear out the path you are walking. On the other hand, you can always call the forest rangers and see if a specific path has been cleared out or not.

Unclear paths are more challenging and if you don’t have the experience, time, or patience to move through the potentially dense bush, simply try planning out another route. There are plenty of wild backcountry roads that can be easily passed on foot or by car if you are car camping. Just keep in mind to do thorough research before going on your next hiking adventure.

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