March is winding down, and that doesn’t just mean the snow is beginning to disappear (at least where I live), it means that camping season is fast approaching. So I was pretty excited when the Agawa Canyon team offered to send me one of their Boreal 21 folding bow saws to try out.
A decent bow saw is always useful to have. Camping is one application where the need to cut wood is something that frequently arises–you can only do so much with a hatchet. Typical portable hand saws like those sold through outdoor outfitters are pretty flimsy and small; they’re limited to cutting small branches that, frankly, I could probably snap in half just as easily.
The Boreal 21 arrives as a compact device that will easily fit in a backpack. There are no exposed blade edges to worry about, and it weighs just over one pound. Mine came in a really cool “Crazy Horse” leather sheath with a carrying strap (other variations are offered), and I’d hate to hide it away.
The saw itself is a nifty piece of engineering. The whole thing unfolds and opens up in one motion, with the blade rotating around to lock into the handle creating a 21-inch bow saw. There are no parts to attach and nothing to tighten, simply swing the blade around, let the hinged components fold out, and ratchet a lever (that hides in the handle) to lock the blade into place. The blade is automatically set to the correct tension.
The frame is made of extruded aluminum, the grip is weather-resistant nylon, and the hardware is stainless steel. Assembled, it is sturdy and comfortable to use.
I put the Boreal 21 to the test in the back yard, cleaning up some storm damage–another application where this bow saw will come in handy. I tackled a dead tree limb roughly 6-inches in diameter. I still don’t know what kind of tree it is, but it’s hardwood. It took maybe three minutes to cut through (including a pause midway to snap a few photos), and the frame was large enough to handle the job in a single pass. The all-purpose blade supplied with the saw made light work of it.
I can totally see this saw becoming a key part of my camping gear, doing double-duty for yard work.
I mentioned the sheath earlier and the fact that this carrying case is offered in various options. The same philosophy holds true for the Boreal 21 itself. You can choose a yellow or green handle, clear or black anodized aluminum frame, and there are three different blades: the All-Purpose blade included with the review unit, a Dry Wood blade, and the aggressive, Sidney Rancher blade.
The Boreal 21 was a successful Kickstarter project that is now available commercially. You can configure and order the saw from Agawa Canyon, starting at $62.00 (blade included). That’s more than many camping saws cost, but I’ve broken enough of those over the years that I could probably have paid for the Boreal 21 several times over.
Disclosure: Agawa Canyon provided a Boreal 21 bow saw and sheath for this review.