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Pat Kinsella

Felco 601 folding saw review: a compact beast

Felco 601 folding saw.

Meet the reviewer

Felco 601 folding saw: first impressions

Swiss brand Felco are famed for producing excellent bladed tools for use in the kitchen, garden and wider outdoor environment, and the Felco 601 folding saw is one of the very best implements in its armory for camping and general alfresco adventure use. 


• List price: $27 (US) / £35 (UK)
• Weight: 141g/5oz
• Blade length: 12cm / 4.75in
• Overall length: 30cm / 12in
• Closed length: 18cm / 7in
• Teeth per inch: 8
• Blade: Chrome-coated carbon steel
• Lanyard: None 

Despite the ‘Swiss-made’ insignia, Felco products (including this one) are actually constructed in South Korea these days, but that doesn’t appear to have negatively affected the build quality, which remains excellent. 

Previously we’ve reviewed the Felco 600 Pruning Saw, a garden weapon that works well in many campsite scenarios, but the 601 – being slightly more compact (albeit only by an inch when folded), a little lighter and having a couple more teeth per inch – is considerably easier to carry and better designed for campsite and adventure-style applications, from cutting firewood to clearing trails. But how does it compare other excellent camping saws on the market? To see, I went out and sawed. 

Felco 601 folding saw: design and construction

The handle is ergonomically designed with a thumb groove to fit comfortably in either hand (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Perfectly proportioned for the itinerant wood cutter, the Felco 601 boasts a super strong but nice and narrow 12cm-long chrome-plated carbon steel blade, which bristles with slightly off-set dual-design fangs, featuring a mini tooth on the inside of each larger one. Designed to do the business of cutting on the pull (back) stroke, this smart blade then glides forward with virtually no effort required. 

The Felco 601 doesn’t lock shut in the closed position, but unlike the longer 600, none of the teeth are left showing when it’s retracted into the handle, so there’s little to no chance of it catching and flipping open. It is possible that the opening action will become loose over time, but the single screw can easily be tightened to sort that out. On that note, if the blade were to snap or deteriorate (which it really shouldn’t), you can replace it.

The safety switch automatically engages when you open the saw and the lock can then be released with a simple, single press (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Like any folding saw worth its weight, the 601 does, of course, lock into place when the blade is extended. The safety switch automatically engages when you open the saw, stopping it from closing on your hand (or anything else). This lock can then be released with a simple, single press from your thumb or finger, and the serrated blade folds entirely back into the handle.

The handle itself – colored bright red, to drive home the Swiss roots and create an association with the famous Swiss penknife, perhaps – is ergonomically designed with a thumb groove to fit comfortably in either hand.

Annoyingly, the 601 doesn’t come with a carry case, holster or lanyard, but there is an eye in the handle for looping a piece of cord or leather (or a separately sourced lanyard) through if you so desire.

Felco 601 folding saw: in the field

The Felco 601 cuts on the backstroke and moves smoothly forward again afterwards (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Although I’ve subsequently used this folding saw in all kinds of camping and outdoor scenarios, its maiden voyage was during a course checking patrol for a local trail running race that I’m involved in organizing. Bad weather in the lead-up to the event had resulted in branches and whole trees being left strewn all over the trails. The Felco 601 made short work of cutting through them. 

In the campsite, it’s an absolute beast. Many people automatically reach for an axe or hatchet to get wood chopped while camping, but often these tools are far less dextrous and effective than a really good saw, which gets the job done much quicker, using less effort and creating a smaller mess. 

The cutting edge of the Felco 601 goes through branches several inches thick in a matter of seconds, and this is an excellent tool for everything from bivy making, site clearing and firewood grading to trail maintenance and bushcraft. I did find that some sawdust became congealed in the tiny cavity between the big and little fangs on the offset serrated blade, but you can brush those off (don’t use your bare hand, though – this saw bites).

The blade bristles with slightly off-set dual-design teeth, featuring a mini tooth on the inside of each larger one (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

As a southpaw with semi-ambidextrous capabilities (I wouldn’t chance operating a chainsaw with my right hand, but I’m happy to risk giving a folding saw a go) I love the fact that lefties and weirdo right-handers can use the Felco 601 equally easily. The handle sits really comfortably in either palm, and the thumb groove is a particularly nice touch. The locking system is effective and easy to use, too.

With a svelte weight of 5oz, and measuring just 7in when folded up, it’s simple to stash the Felco 601 into the pocket of a hiking backpack for use when you’re in camp, whether you need to cut firewood down to size, clear debris from a potential tent pitch or collect branches for bush craft. It can also be used to clear significant obstacles blocking trails. And once you’re back at home, it comes in super handy in the garden too.

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