The Bahco Laplander is one of the most ubiquitous tools in any bushcrafter’s arsenal. It’s basically legendary at this point, but if you’re thinking that this might be one piece of kit that doesn’t live up to its hype, you’d be dead wrong.
Bahco Laplander Folding Wood Hand Saw – Amazon
Out of the box we have this (surprisingly) aesthetically pleasing folding saw. It’s odd to attribute a sense of style to something as utilitarian as a saw, but compared to the Fiskars & Silky alternatives, I think this is one of the best looking folding saws you can buy. Its design just seems very put together – almost like a folding knife.
It’s extremely difficult to discuss folding saws objectively because performance is pretty much the only metric people care about. The Bahco Laplander’s sawing capabilities are top notch, but with so much competition in the market, I think it’s good to look at other factors like fit and finish, portability, and general feel as well.
The Bahco Laplander’s size is pretty much what you would expect. Next to my falcon pipe, you can clearly appreciate that this is a very sizable tool with full 7.5 inches of blade to work with. You can actually pocket it (more on this later), but this is ultimately a consequence of its lightweight construction rather than its size.
The Bahco Laplander’s handle is made of a hard plastic (possibly ABS) with a tactile rubber over-mold. It’s very grippy, and the palm swell towards the butt of the saw makes it very comfortable to grip. No need for choils; it ain’t going anywhere.
It’s shocking how much sawing performance is packed into such a large tool that weighs so little. To put this in perspective, the Leatherman Skeletool next to the Laplander in the photograph below weighs more than the Laplander. Folding saws are definitely an interesting concept, as they allow a great deal of sawing performance to be had, which can then be coupled with another cutting tool (like an Opinel for example) to provide what’s still an incredibly lightweight outdoors/bushcraft solution.
I am not saying the Bahco Laplander can replace an axe in all situations, but for a 3 day hike? No problem leaving heavier tools behind in my opinion.
The Bahco Laplander has a safety lock that securely locks the blade in when both opened and closed. It’s a good practical consideration, although its not like you would wield this tool haphazardly. Saws by their very nature tend to be utilized using a standard sawing motion, which is, needless to say, very safe for your digits.
Interestingly, whilst you might try to compared the Laplander to a large knife like the Cold Steel Rajah II, in practice the construction is very spartan. No slick bronze phosphor bushings or crisp detents here. It’s definitely a more rudimentary design, with a construction that gets straight to the point. Deployment is slightly sticky and unrefined, which is not a negative, but rather a confirmation that this was designed as a $25 folding saw and very little else.
The blade can be removed (and replaced) by simply unscrewing the pivot using a Philips (or flat head) screw driver. The pivot is literally a bolt and a screw. If you over-tighten it, the blade will be almost impossible to deploy, as you would expect.
Now let’s get to the meat of the review. The Bahco Laplander has a 9 inch carbon steel blade with 7 TPI (teeth per inch). It literally chews through logs and I was quite stunned when I first tried it out. I was always a little dubious over folding saws with my preconceived notion of them being little more than light gardening tools, but seriously, this thing is remarkable.
The Laplander is not an inferior, lightweight alternative to an axe. It really isn’t. In many situations, it not only matches an axe or chopper for performance, but in fact knocks it out of the park. Soundly.
You can decimate a 3 inch diameter log in record time, with no safety risk to your digits, feet, or any other body part, and minimal energy spent. I am floored, and frankly, whilst I would stick to a felling axe for trees and obscenely thick logs, I think the Laplander is actually the ideal tool for sub 4 inch logs and saplings.
I am not an expert on saws. I know that the Bahco XT toothing is well regarded by the industry, but frankly I can only speak based on my anecdotal experiences of this saw – it’s a freaking demon. I don’t see how a saw could be better, but I will endeavor to test out its competitors, like the Silky Saw, and will see if they match up. Frankly, I find the Bahco Laplander to be remarkable. I see no point in using a chopper for saplings anymore (unless, like me, you do it just for fun).
My only concern over the Bahco Laplander has been the durability of the teeth. As you can see below, with repeated sawing, the low-friction coating does come off, revealing those shiny, super sharp teeth. I have gone through quite a few logs (and a picnic bench) with this thing, and even though performance is still superb, I do find it bothersome that saws are such disposable tools.
It must be the prepper in me that likes the idea of a reusable saw that can be sharpened and last almost indefinitely. I may criticize my choppers in terms of sheer performance compared to the Bahco, but frankly, if I had to be stuck in the woods without aid for extreme periods of time, I would take a chopper like the Gerber Parang over the Bahco Laplander. I can sharpen the Parang (or any other plain edged tool) in the field, I can’t say the same about a saw, and that does bother me more than it perhaps should.
I did mention in a thread on our forum that I would love for a manufacturer to make something similar to the Bahco Laplander, but with Veff serrations so that they can be maintained. Obviously, performance won’t match the XT teeth that the Laplander possesses, but I do long for pieces of outdoor kit that can last “forever.” Maybe, though, that’s just idealism talking. Hell, even the pioneers had bow saws that had disposable(ish) blades.
The Bahco Laplander’s inherent safety in that you don’t have to swing it, and there is no risk of the blade bouncing against the log because you miscalculated the angle, means that this is a tool a toddler could use to process wood. It’s as simple as can be and offers some great benefits in the real world.
You can position the blade to saw saplings close to the ground at awkward angles. Sawing at an awkward angle – perfectly fine. Swinging an axe like that? Not so much.
Being able to get really low means that you can collect the most amount of wood without risking dings and notches on the edge of your blade. The stock of the Bahco is very thin, but it’s flexible enough thanks to its Swedish carbon steel, which means it can take a fair bit of abuse in terms of torque and warping.
Even if you are unimpressed with the Bahco Laplander’s potential as a bushcraft tool, I think it’s a piece of kit everyone should have one for gardening. It’s one of those things that you never knew you missed until you had one.
The Bahco Laplander comes with a generous leather throng that pulls through the lanyard hole at the butt of the knife. Always nice to have an extra safety device, although I’ve never really felt like it was needed in most situations thanks to the Laplander’s super-grippy rubberized insert scales.
The lanyard does allow you to gain more reach and safely de-limb trees if you are perched on a branch precariously. I remember cutting a tree down with my Ontario Raider Bowie and realizing how unsafe that was. If you lose your balance, it’s very easy to see how an accident could happen.
I don’t think I will ever mess around with a large knife when de-limbing again since I have this in my possession now. It’s just not worth the risk.
You can clearly see below that the Bahco Laplander has a very lean blade (like all saws that I know off). I did notice a bit of binding when I was sawing through a 5 inch log, but a quick spray of WD-40 and I carried on without a hitch. It’s fair to say that its limitations are inherent based on length alone. The blade is very springy (I can easily bend it 90 degrees with my hands) which is good when dealing with buckling, but does mean that when you saw through a thick log, the blade will warp and bind up.
This is not a negative mark against the Bahco. but rather a general observation about pretty much all folding saws. Rigidity is an issue and has to be taken into account when deciding which size log to saw through.
So, can you pocket it? Technically, sure. In theory, it’s very much a pocket-able tool, but only because it weighs next to nothing. Beyond that, the Bahco Laplander is a very unwieldy tool, and unlike similar sized folding tools, like the Cold Steel Rajah II, this item was never intended to be pocketed as such.
I would consider the Bahco Laplander to be a knapsack/satchel kind of tool. With that said, if you’re going for a quick walk to collect some wood, it’s so light that you wont really feel it in your pocket. Something that is worth considering if you are the kind of person who lives on a homestead (or farm) and frequently need to cut down saplings or small limbs.
A great tool that works for a number of different uses, and, as I’ve already said, really is the kind of kit that you don’t realize you miss until you have it. Personally won’t be going without one again in the future.
The ability to decimate sub-4 inch thick logs remarkably quickly, safely, and with very little energy spent? Yes please.
In terms of practicality – the Bahco Laplander is exactly what you think it is. It’s a folding saw: it folds and it saws. The Laplander does both while functioning perfectly, and I see no reason why anyone purchasing this would ever feel any kind of buyer’s remorse.
I think the bigger question is not if the tool is good (because that’s truly undeniable), but rather if you need such a tool in your life, and frankly, until you have used one, you have no idea what you are missing out on.
The Bahco Laplander spits out chips of wood like nobody’s business, and even though I was a skeptic (I honestly have so much fun chopping down saplings with machetes that I actually didn’t think a folding saw would grow on me), you can officially call me a fanboy of the Laplander now. No way I am trekking out without a folding saw by my side again considering this tool is so lightweight and easy to take along for the ride. It’s definitely one of those tools I’d leave in my pre-packed lightweight hiking pack, or a B.O.B.. Hell, I’ll likely also have extras around the house so I can use them for gardening as well. And for less than $25, I think I would be comfortable saying that any of you would be a convert, too.
BAHCO says the 396LAP has a 7.5″ blade. I can find no one selling a BAHCO Laplander with a 9″ blade. However, BAHCO says the 396LAP is 9″ overall.
Thomas Xavier says
Eek, you are indeed correct Tom- I have edited the article, no idea how I messed up that measurement. Thanks for letting me know!
I’d like to see Bahco sell replacement blades as well as other blades that fit the knife….a hacksaw blade immediately comes to mind.
Thomas Xavier says
That would be pretty awesome! A nice modular setup for a reasonable price. Maybe Bahco will drop by the comment section and take your suggestion under advisement!
Thanks for dropping by
The Walking Herbalist says
What an excellent and informative review! Came across your site via link on twitter. We have only rarely run into the need for a folding knife, as we are urbanites with a city plot (no large trees in our garden). But lately I have been thinking up more needs for one… This review may have convinced me (especially if you actually cut a picnic table!
I too do not like disposable tools, so I hear your frustration.
Mindy from The Walking Herbalist
Thomas Xavier says
Howdy Mindy, its definitely a useful tool & yep, it decimated that picnic table. I was very impressed.
If you get one, let us all know how you find it (here or on http://survivalthreads.com )!
whats that watch your wearing?
Thomas Xavier says
That would be a Seiko SNXS77, great watch (on the smaller side), I frequently wear it as its low entry point means I don’t worry about getting it dinged up.
Thanks for commenting Seth!
Like you, I don’t imagine myself using a folding saw, but often I think it might actually be useful while hiking or even around the yard. I’ve read great things about the Laplander and this reviews is another point in that direction.
I’m still not convinced though, and I’m not sure I would become a fanboy, but I get you didn’t too.
This was a good review, with a lot of valid points. I just thought it was too long, I confess I didn’t even read some parts of it because it was so long.
Probably I’m just tired and need to sleep before reading reviews, so don’t take me too seriously. :-)
Keep up the good work. Cheers.
Thomas Xavier says
I do tend to babble on, its OK to skip ahead! ;) Let me know if you ever try out the Laplander (or any other folding saw) would be interesting to see if anyone else gets converted!
dan seven says
Really nice Review Tomas:
Important to know it is a pocket saw, and as such an important use is cutting dead wood for a survival situation, and if i dare say it does quick work on dimensional lumber, too.
For those processing wider logs, or for next year (green wood) it is not so good as it was not intended for that purpose, and the big wide spaced for clearing out gummed up wet wood was not designed into the idea of it for firemaking in the short term on the trail.
Awesome item to have in the BOB, and small enough to pocket on foraging trips too.
Thomas Xavier says
Have you used this sort of saws against pine Dan? I am super happy with it but I definitely need to test it against different kinds of wood over a prolonged period of time.
Thanks for dropping by with your thoughts, always a welcome sight!
Dan Schwemin says
Thomas, I’ve used mine many times on white pine. Both green and dead. I like white pine for survival training because it’s a soft wood, it’s resinous which helps with fire craft, and it’s extremely abundant where I’m from (Massachusetts). There are also about a hundred other reasons why pine is very useful but this isn’t the topic of discussion lol! As for the Laplander, it will cut pine just fine HOWEVER, it needs to be DEAD and DRY! I think that is something “DanSeven” was not considering in his comment. Often times even dead wood can still in fact be very wet, even just maybe on the outer 25%, but nonetheless it means you are going to sometimes try to saw through gummy, wet wood and the Laplander sucks at this. Just something to keep in mind. Personally, after doing some research online about the different types of saw teeth available, I found that there are much better offerings than the Laplander’s saw teeth style. The Corona, Silky, and even the Home Depot equivalent to the Corona – the Fiskars folding saw, all sport a much better all around tooth pattern than the Laplander. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the design of the Laplander however, I just wish I could throw a different style blade on it! =)
Dan Schwemin says
I own 2 Laplanders myself. I also picked up a Corona 10″ folding saw as well. Honestly, after using the Corona I noticed a few things…. First, I came to learn that there are saw teeth designed for green wood and saw teeth designed only for dead wood. Unfortunately, I also learned that the Laplander’s teeth are only designed to cut dead wood. Frankly, the Laplander absolutely SUCKS at cutting green woods. It takes literally FOREVER! The saw teeth on the Corona are designed to cut green and dead wood very efficiently and quite honestly is FAR superior to the Laplander in cutting performance. On the other hand, I don’t really care for the handle shape on the Corona. It almost looks as though they wanted to design a cool looking handle and didn’t put as much emphasis on ergonomics as they did on looks. Furthermore, the Corona is quite a bit larger than the Laplander which puts it just outside the realm of being able to throw this saw in your pocket. So there are a few trade offs but if I were to go on a multi day overnight outing and knew I was going to have a lot of wood to cut, I would pick the Corona over the Laplander everyday of the week. The Corona just gets it done, and quick!
Also something to note, I feel completely the same way you do when it comes to being bothered by the fact that today’s folding saws are not able (or designed) to be sharpened and maintained by the user like a machete, knife, or axe. I too am unsettled with the idea of using a disposable tool. So I completely understand your sentiments.
Oh also, I’ve never personally used a Silky saw, although I have heard that the silky saws perform rather very similar to the corona as they both have the same type of tooth pattern which is completely different from the Laplander. I’m really curious as to what you will think once you get to try the Corona or the Silky. And one other great thing about the Corona is that you can buy them at any Lowes store for only $20! Anyways, sorry for the long post and great review Tom! Take care brother. =)
Thomas Xavier says
Silky reached out to me so it looks like i will be reviewing their offerings this year. I am psyched! Good to know there are more options in this field.
Thanks for commenting Dan.