The Best Pocket Chainsaws, Tested

A high-quality pocket chainsaw is an invaluable tool for clearing fallen trees from a mountain-biking trail or cutting logs for firewood while camping.

Best Overall

The Best Pocket Chainsaws Options: Campndoor 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw

Campndoor 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Pocket Chainsaw Option: SUMPRI Pocket Chainsaw Survival Gear -36 Inch

Sumpri 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw and Firestarter Kit

Upgrade Pick

The Best Pocket Chainsaws Options: Nordic Pocket Saw Arborist Pocket Chainsaw Kit

Nordic Pocket Saw Arborist Pocket Chainsaw Kit

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An axe, or better yet, a chainsaw, is an ideal tool for felling a tree or dicing up a log. Both tools are impractical, though, for clearing a fallen tree along a mountain-biking trail or cutting up a log for firewood during a backwoods camping trip. For these situations, you’ll most likely need a pocket chainsaw. We tested several of the top pocket chainsaws for their comfort, ability to cut, and more to compile this list.

A handy survival tool, the pocket chainsaw consists of chainsaw blades up to 36 inches long with two large nylon handles that allow the operator to cut through branches and medium-size trees. Unlike their much heavier battery-powered and gas-powered cousins, a pocket chainsaw weighs less than ½ pound (6 or 7 ounces) and fits in a small case that can easily be transported in a pack or on a belt.

This guide examines the attributes to consider when shopping for the best pocket chainsaw and reviews some of the best models available. To make sure they were really up to the challenge, we put these saws through real-life hands-on testing. Keep reading to learn more about what we found.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Campndoor 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Sumpri 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw and Firestarter Kit
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Nordic Pocket Saw Arborist Pocket Chainsaw Kit
  4. MOST COMFORTABLE: Skyocean Pocket Chainsaw With Paracord Handle
  5. MOST COMPACT: Yokepo Pocket Chainsaw Survival Kit
A person using the best pocket chainsaw option to cut a tree branch in half
Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Pocket Chainsaws

Pocket chainsaws aren’t huge investments, but it’s still frustrating to purchase one and have it turn out to be a dud. For that reason, we put all of the saws on our list through hands-on testing to ensure that they had what it took to make the list. First, we leaned on all of our experience with chainsaws, woodcutting, and even camping to come up with a list of the most important features a pocket chainsaw must have. Then, we performed hours of intense research to create a list of products we felt might fit the criteria.

Once we had a pile of pocket chainsaws to test, it was time to put them to work. One of us got lucky (or unlucky, depending on the outlook), as a recent storm knocked some pretty large branches down in our backyard. We were able to test these saws’ cutting ability, comfort, and quality on the fallen branches. Saws that could “cut it” while also providing value were given awards based on their strengths. Those that couldn’t were ultimately removed.

A person holding the chain to show the teeth on the best pocket chainsaw option and
Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

Our Top Picks

The list below includes some of the best pocket chainsaws on the market. Considerations such as the number of teeth on the blade, the saw’s length, and how sturdy the handles felt during testing all factored into the selections. Any of the products below can cut through branches and medium-size trees.

Best Overall

Campndoor 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw

The Campndoor 36-inch pocket chainsaw might be the right choice for folks looking to blend quality and affordability. This saw features a chain that Campndoor claims can withstand 4,000 Newtons of force, which equates to about 900 pounds-force. The blades are made from 65 manganese carbon-fired steel to improve durability. The saw features 48 teeth as well, which allows it to cut both quickly and smoothly.

The Campndoor also has two nylon handles for comfort and strength. It comes with a thick heavy-duty carrying case with a hook-and-loop closure and a belt loop to keep it secure and safe while backpacking or working.

When we decided to test the Campndoor, we weren’t sure what to expect. Its product description includes terms such as Tiger Claw and Bulldozer teeth. We are glad we tried it, since this saw had a noticeably thicker chain than some of the less-expensive models, and it cut very well while the teeth remained sharp. The handles were also much thicker than the other models, which we weren’t expecting considering the product description.

The saw didn’t come with any additional accessories, but the carrying case was one of the nicest in the bunch. Between its fast cutting, comfortable handles, and quality carrying case, we feel it would make a great addition to anyone’s tool box, camping back, or survival kit.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 36 inches
  • Teeth: 48 teeth
  • Handle material: Nylon

Pros

  • Tiger Claw and Bulldozer teeth cut quickly and smoothly with very little friction
  • Thicker nylon handles are strong and comfortable when cutting through tough wood
  • Heavy-duty carrying case features a sturdy belt loop and secure hook-and-loop closure

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with accessories like a fire starter or whistle, as some other models do

Get the Campndoor pocket chainsaw at Amazon.

Best Bang for the Buck

Sumpri 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw and Firestarter Kit

This pocket chainsaw’s affordable price makes it a worthy accessory for mountain bikers, backpackers, and survivalists on a budget. While it might not have a blade matching the high quality of higher-priced models, its heat-treated steel and long chain offer plenty of cutting power. The 36-inch length is easy to use, so this chainsaw is an attractive option for those without lumberjacklike upper-body strength.

The Sumpri chainsaw’s long straps wrap securely around the wrists, providing a secure fit when applying the tension needed for cutting. When the cutting job is complete, the chain fits into a handy nylon carrying bag with a clip that keeps it securely closed during transport. The carrying bag can attach to a belt for easy accessibility while hiking or mountain biking. An all-weather magnesium fire starter is included for burning the cut wood. Weighing in at about ½ pound, fire starter included, this kit is barely noticeable in a pack or on a hip.

With the affordable price in mind, this is actually quite the little pocket chainsaw for a survival backpack or emergency kit. It doesn’t cut quickly, but in our test, it cut smoothly and the teeth remained sharp. It got pinched slightly in the branch due to the minimal teeth, but that is avoidable by propping up the other end of the log or branch. The handles and chain were the thinnest in the test, and while that means long-term durability might be an issue, it helps it remain lightweight. For the price, however, we felt the Sumpri offers plenty of value, especially for someone who only plans to use it in an emergency.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 36 inches
  • Teeth: 16
  • Handle material: Nylon

Pros

  • With affordable price, a great tool to keep in a safety kit or backpack
  • It cuts smoothly; teeth retained their sharpness over the course of the test
  • Includes accessories: a lightweight nylon pouch and a fire starter

Cons

  • The handles and chain are thin for a light weight but might sacrifice long-term durability

Get the Sumpri pocket chainsaw at Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

Nordic Pocket Saw Arborist Pocket Chainsaw Kit

When it comes to cutting through wood, limbs, or trees quickly, the Nordic Pocket Saw Arborist chainsaw kit can take them down. This pocket chainsaw features a 32-inch chain with teeth on both sides of the chain, pointing in both directions, so this saw can quickly cut through wood in any direction. And, since it comes with two 33-foot straps with buckles, it can cut limbs as high as 26 feet off the ground.

This arborist chainsaw comes with several accessories to easily remove tall limbs, including three weight bags for throwing over a limb, two 33-foot straps, two extra adjustable nylon handles, a carrying case for the chainsaw, and an additional carrying case for the entire kit. The straps attach to the nylon handles on the saw by clipping onto a tab of fabric inside the handle, providing a strong, secure attachment.

This pocket chainsaw is truly next-level and absolutely worth the upgrade. We loved that there are teeth on both sides of the saw, allowing you to begin cutting as soon as it’s thrown over a limb without making adjustments. Also, all of the materials used, including the weight bags and case, are of high quality. The straps are thick nylon, and the chain and its teeth are made of heat-treated high-carbon steel, so the saw feels more substantial and reliable than any other saw in the test.

There are also 43 teeth per side—a more aggressive profile than other pocket chainsaws—that allows this model to tear through dense wood in no time. Our biggest complaint is that it can be difficult to use with one person on a high limb since it’s designed for two-person use (though it works wonderfully with one person without the straps).

Product Specs 

  • Length: 32 inches
  • Teeth: 43
  • Handle material: Nylon

Pros

  • Comes with 33-foot straps that attach to the handles for high-limb removal
  • Double-sided chain allows for cutting as soon as it touches the limb without adjustments
  • Made from high-quality materials: nylon handles and straps and heat-treated steel

Cons

  • Designed for 2-person use, so it’s tough to use alone (but only on high limbs)

Get the Nordic Pocket Saw pocket chainsaw at Amazon.

Most Comfortable

Skyocean Pocket Chainsaw With Paracord Handle

Skyocean’s innovative chainsaw eschews the nylon handle that most pocket chainsaws have. Instead, it has a paracord handle that doubles as an emergency rope. The handles are stylish and comfortable to hold, and help make this one of the more versatile pocket chainsaws on the market. This product is unique because the handle can be untied and unraveled into a 23-foot emergency rope—one that is strong enough to hold up to 220 pounds.

This pocket chainsaw has 36 inches of cutting length and 16 heat-treated steel cutting links that cut in both directions. A nylon carrying case keeps the tool secure during transport. At just over 5 ounces (⅓ pound), this lightweight chainsaw is easy to stow in a backpack or even in a cargo pocket.

We’re not huge fans of paracord, since that phase “phased out” about 15 years ago. However, we’re not going to argue that these handles were by far the most comfortable to use in the group. They’re thick and rounded, preventing uncomfortable pressure points or fabric folding. The biggest downside to this saw is that it has only 16 teeth, so although it is smooth, it takes a while to complete a cut. Plus, the survival aspect of this saw is legitimate, since paracord can be used for first aid, making tools, and many other purposes.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 36 inches
  • Teeth: 16
  • Handle material: Paracord

Pros

  • Paracord handles are thick and round, providing a comfortable grip while sawing
  • Paracord has lots of other uses, including making tools or for first aid; good survival bonuses
  • Light enough to throw in a backpack or on a belt without noticing it’s there

Cons

  • It cuts smoothly, but with only 16 teeth, it takes a while

Get the Skyocean pocket chainsaw at Amazon.

Most Compact

Yokepo Pocket Chainsaw Survival Kit

At just 24 inches long, this hand chainsaw from Yokepo might be shorter than most of its competitors, but it packs a lot of bite. It has 33 large serrated cutting teeth, which is more than twice the number of cutting teeth that most longer models have. Plus, those teeth are strong; they are made of high-carbon steel that scores a 65 on the Rockwell hardness scale. This rating means the teeth are sharp and able to hold their edges.

You can wrap the saw’s wide nylon handles around your wrists for added leverage or hold them in your hands for more control. This pocket chainsaw, which weighs about 7 ounces (less than ½ pound), comes with a paracord bracelet that has a built-in fire starter and an emergency whistle. A convenient front-strap carrying case holds the pocket chainsaw secure until it’s needed.

We did not think we were going to like the Yokepo pocket chainsaw. It just looked too short to be of any use. However, we’re glad we tested this little saw because it’s worth carrying. First, the 33 teeth allow it to cut aggressively. Also, since it’s so short, it rolls up into a significantly smaller pouch than other saws (and it’s lighter, too). You will have to bend over slightly more to use this saw than the others, but with as many teeth as it has, you won’t have to stay bent over for long. We will complain a bit about the handles, however, as they’re quite thin and not very comfortable.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 24 inches
  • Teeth: 33
  • Handle material: Nylon

Pros

  • Strong teeth ensure they stay sharp when cutting through dense hardwoods
  • Short length and light weight for carrying in a backpack or on a belt
  • Features 33 teeth within its 24-inch length to cut quickly and aggressively

Cons

  • The handles are a bit thin for comfort’s sake
  • The shorter length means users will have to bend slightly more

Get the Yokepo pocket chainsaw at Amazon.

ALSO TESTED: Sportsman Industries 36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw

The Sportsman Industries 36-inch pocket chainsaw isn’t a bad pocket chainsaw, and it cut decently during testing. However, it’s the exact same model as the Sumpri 36-inch model, but costs $5 more. Also, since the fire starter that came with the Sumpri was much better quality, it just felt like there was a significant value difference.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Pocket Chainsaw

Blade length, the number of teeth in the blade, and the type of steel the teeth are made of—these are important factors to consider when selecting a pocket chainsaw. Ahead, learn more about these and other important attributes of these compact tools.

Material

Although all pocket chainsaw blades are made from high-carbon steel, not all carbon steel is equal. High-carbon steel is a mix of carbon and steel. The higher the carbon content in the mix, the harder the blade. A blade with a high carbon content will have a sharper edge and hold that edge longer than a softer blade.

Like kitchen knives and other types of blades, a chainsaw blade’s hardness is measured using the Rockwell scale. Softer blades register between 45 and 55 on the scale, while harder steel blades measure between 55 and 65. Premium chainsaw blades will measure around 65 on the hardness scale.

Keep in mind that although a harder blade will cut more efficiently than a softer blade and require sharpening less often, it’s also more brittle. Brittle blades are more susceptible to chipping or even breaking. This is why cutting tools such as axes and hatchets are made from softer metal that is less likely to chip on impact.

Teeth

True to their name, pocket chainsaws have blades that link together to form a chain. Some pocket chainsaws function like a typical saw, cutting when they move in one direction. Higher-quality chainsaws have teeth that are bidirectional, which means they cut in both directions. Bidirectional teeth will cut more quickly through a tree’s limbs, making them the preferred style of the two teeth options.

It’s important to understand that not all of the links on a pocket chainsaw have blades. Some chainsaws have smooth links interspersed between the blade links. Unlike an electric or gas chainsaw, a pocket chainsaw operator supplies all the power to carry the edge through the wood. Chainsaws with alternating cutting and smooth links allow the blade to glide through the wood with less effort, requiring less strength. On some chainsaws, only 16 of 35 or so links may have cutting edges. While this may make it easier to use, it will also take more passes to cut through the wood.

Some pocket chainsaws have cutting edges on all of their links. While this type of chainsaw will cut through more wood with each pass, it requires more force to make each cutting stroke.

Length

Most pocket chainsaws are between 24 and 36 inches long. A 36-inch chainsaw allows for a longer pull stroke; because the chainsaw operator can make longer passes with each stroke, it’s easier to cut through thicker wood. Longer strokes also enable the operator to create more momentum with each pull, making it easier to cut.

A longer chain, however, does not equate to more cutting power. Many 36-inch hand chainsaws may only have 15 cutting links. In comparison, a 24-inch chainsaw can have twice as many cutting links, allowing it to cut more deeply with each pass than a longer model. While this makes the shorter model more efficient, it doesn’t require more strength to use than a longer model with fewer teeth to create friction.

Weight

Pocket chainsaws are designed to be brought into the backwoods on hiking trips, primitive camping expeditions, mountain biking, and other activities in which carrying a standard power chainsaw would be impractical. With that in mind, a pocket chainsaw needs to be lightweight. Most pocket chainsaws weigh around 6 or 7 ounces, including their carrying case. This light weight makes them ideal for carrying in a pack or even on a belt.

Handles

Handles are key components of a pocket chainsaw because they are the means for creating the sawing action through wood. These handles need to be strong enough to endure the tension placed on them during cutting, large enough to allow for a good grip, and comfortable enough that they won’t leave blisters on your hands.

Most pocket chainsaw handles consist of large nylon loops that can slip over the hands and secure to the wrists. This design allows the operator to gain leverage by leaning back to apply tension on the chain as they pull it back and forth over the tree or branch. Pocket chainsaws usually have brightly colored handles, and for good reason: Bright handles make the operator more visible and clearly differentiate the handle from the blade to prevent accidental cuts.

Additional Features

Some pocket chainsaws have features that improve their portability and make them even more useful survival tools. Most pocket chainsaws come with rugged nylon storage pouches that keep the chain compact and protected during transport. These pouches are small enough to throw in the side pocket of a pack. Many have loops that allow you to carry them on your belt.

Select pocket chainsaws also integrate other survival tools into their design. Some include fire-starter kits that allow you to build a fire out of the wood once the cutting is done. Others have parachute-cord handles that can be unraveled and double as emergency rope.

FAQs 

For more about how a pocket chainsaw stacks up to other woodcutting tools or how to care for one of these survival tools, read on for answers to these and other common questions.

Q. How does a pocket chainsaw compare to a camping axe or hatchet?

Each has its pros and cons. A pocket chainsaw is much lighter than a hatchet or axe, and it cuts through trees and branches more quickly. Hatchets and axes, however, are more versatile. They can turn on their sides and hammer in tent stakes, for example. They can also split large tree stumps, turning them into useful firewood.

Q. How long should a good pocket chainsaw be?

A pocket chainsaw should be at least 24 inches long to be easy to use. Shorter models can offer more cutting power by having more cutting blades per inch; longer 36-inch models with fewer cutting blades require less strength to use.

Q. How do I sharpen a pocket chainsaw?

Use a round file to sharpen a pocket chainsaw. Extend the chainsaw over a hard surface, such as a metal vice, and sharpen each blade individually by running the file against the blade perpendicular to the chain and at a 45-degree angle to each tooth. Run the file over each side of the tooth to create a sharp edge.

Meet the Tester

Tom Scalisi has been in the trades for more than two decades. He loves to share his knowledge of construction, home improvement, tools, techniques, and products with the readers of Bob Vila, This Old House, Family Handyman, and even his pest control blog.

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Tony Carrick

Contributing Writer

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer who has contributed to BobVila.com since 2020. He writes how-to articles and product reviews in the areas of lawn and garden, home maintenance, home improvement, auto maintenance, housewares, and technology.

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