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The Chainsaw might be the most valuable power tool in your vehicle-mounted arsenal when venturing off the beaten path. Out of all the tools you might think to carry with you on a trip or trail, the chainsaw can make or break a moment when nothing else, short of an axe, can fill the void. Most of us will be bringing tools with us—ratchet straps, wrenches, extra bits and bobs—but the chainsaw is often overlooked.

While the axe has been the go-to manual version of felling trees for hundreds of years before the industrial revolution, wielding an axe is a skill that should be taught and is incredibly exhausting. We could imagine, the number of people in a thousand who have fell a tree with an axe can probably be counted on one hand. While the skill is invaluable, when you are miles from the nearest person or hospital, the quick and efficient work of a chainsaw in competent hands is the safest and quickest way of clearing your path.

There are dozens of manufacturers of saws available and sizes, as well. So, if you are thinking about picking up a saw for your travels, now is your time to research. Our personal favorite is the Stihl Magnum Rescue which might be the most-overkill thing we have ever done, but its size has its limitations and its weight becomes tiring. Our rationale? When your trails exist in some of the most-dense deciduous forests of the United States and severe storms are a weekly occurrence, the line that blurs overkill starts to become more vague. So, if you are living on the East Coast where oak and ash trees are the name of the game, a big saw might be up your alley. If you are a West Coaster and the douglass fir and ponderosa pine are as far as the eye can see, a smaller saw is probably for you. If you are in the PNW, well, you are probably going to need both because the only thing that separates a rain forest from a desert is the Cascade Mountain Range.

Remember when using a chainsaw, wear the proper protective equipment—like safety glasses, gloves, heavy pants and boots­—and be aware of your surroundings and what you are doing. Most chainsaw injuries happen because of slips or not being cognizant of the direction of the blade. Being aware of all scenarios and taking proper precautions will mean the continued safe use of a chainsaw.

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