Is this pocket chainsaw a good buy or will it land you in the hospital?
It’s easy and fast, perfect for small branches and saplings
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A pocket chainsaw seems like one of those small, stocking-stuffer gifts that’s more novelty than actually useful. After all, there are already numerous ways to cut down trees and trim branches—none seemingly easier or faster than a chainsaw. How useful can a chainsaw chain with some loops for handles actually be?
The Chain-Mate 48-inch manual pocket chainsaw is one of the best rated pocket chainsaws on Amazon. But, frankly, a chain with teeth that you can theoretically whip around also sounds kind of dangerous. We had to see it in action for ourselves, so naturally, we bought one to find out if it’s worth a spot in your hiking bag or whether it’ll land you in the ER.
What is the Chain-Mate pocket chainsaw?
Measuring 48 inches long, this portable chainsaw is small enough to fit in a backpack, emergency kit, or even your pocket. Do be careful anytime you’re unwrapping or otherwise touching the chain—the carbon steel teeth are sharp enough to bite if you’re not paying attention. Luckily, it comes with a carrying pouch that you can attach to a belt; still, be careful anytime you unwrap the saw.
This pocket chainsaw boasts two, heavy-duty handles that you’ll grip when you go to make a cut, which requires minimal effort. It is also available at 24 inches or 36 inches in length.
What we like about the Chain-Mate pocket chainsaw
The biggest surprise of this pocket chainsaw is how easy it is to use. When I first unraveled it from the pouch, I thought cutting through every branch was going to be exhausting, and I started using it with all my strength.
However, the pocket chainsaw works more efficiently with less strength. Just keep the chain moving smoothly and let the teeth do their job. I was able to cut down several 2-inch branches in my backyard in about 30 seconds. Cutting through a 5-inch Christmas tree took me less than three minutes. None of those tasks left my arms blown out—I could have easily kept cutting.
The pocket chainsaw is also incredibly portable. It coils up easily and stores in the included heavy-duty pouch that attaches right onto your belt, which also serves to protect you if you were to slip and fall on the chain while it’s at your side. It’s only about 6 inches in diameter when stored, and weighs 4.8 ounces.
It’s hardly noticeable on your side no matter what you’re doing, and it would be absolutely no problem to take this along on a hike of any length or duration. If I were going on a multi-day trip into the wilderness, this pocket chainsaw would be a must-have on my packing list.
What we don’t like about the Chain-Mate pocket chainsaw
Here’s the catch. When not handled properly, this pocket chainsaw is sharp enough to cut you. Wear work gloves when uncoiling the pocket chainsaw from the pouch. Its teeth are sharp, and I nicked my hands on one before I smartened up and put on a pair of gloves. And make sure that your kids aren’t using it unsupervised to avoid accidents.
Once it’s uncoiled, make sure that you wrap it around the branch you want to cut with the teeth facing down. In place, it is hard to flip over if the teeth are pointed in the wrong direction.
The other thing I don’t love about this pocket chainsaw is that it gets pinched when branches and trunks that it’s trying to cut move.
It only has one-person power behind it. When the branch or tree leans against the cut, it pinches the blade. This happens with regular chainsaws as well, but those have the power to simply cut through a small pinch. The pocket chainsaw becomes unusable when pinched until you relieve the pressure.
On small branches this isn’t a problem—which is really what it’s meant for—but with bigger limbs or small trees, that pinch can interrupt the flow of your cut, particularly if you don’t have a second set of hands to push the tree or branch away from the cut.
Should you buy the Chain-Mate pocket chainsaw?
Yes, if you have a need for cutting small limbs or trees and you’re a careful operator.
There’s no question that in most cases, it’s going to be easier to pull out a chainsaw or some sort of pruning saw. But these tools aren’t always available.
If you’re out camping or going for a long hike, then this is an excellent tool to have with you. It’s also a fantastic backup option for those days when your chainsaw simply won’t start.
A pocket chainsaw can additionally serve as part of your vehicle’s emergency pack, to help clear fallen limbs in the roadway or cut firewood if stranded.
This certainly isn’t going to replace a chainsaw or pole saw, but for small applications, this pocket chainsaw will get the job done without much effort.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.