THE SILKY OUTBACK GOMBOY CURVE PROFESSIONAL IS A FOLDING SAW WORTHY OF ANY CAMPING KIT
On most every camping trip I’ve taken, I’ve had a saw available. I’ve used full-size bow saws, a takedown Wyoming saw and, when traveling light, at least the saw blade on a Swiss Army Knife. They’ve all proven useful. But my go-to saw has always been one of several folding saws that I’ve owned.
Why is that? A folding saw is compact, lightweight, and the blade, your skin, and your other gear are protected when it’s closed. They’re quick to get into action—no assembly required—and with a blade ranging from 6 to 10 inches, they can handle most jobs I need done.
Recently I had the chance to work with a Silky saw. I had no previous experience with that brand before—it’s a Japanese company—but I won’t forget it soon.
The model I chose to test was a mid-sized model geared toward campers and hunters called the Silky Outback Gomboy Curve Professional. That’s a lot for a name, but it’s also a lot of saw.
This saw has a curved blade that’s a hair under 9 ½ inches long. That’s a great length. When working with short 6- to 7-inch saw blades, I’ve often wished I had something that provided for a longer draw stroke, even when sawing small diameter wood. A longer draw stroke means fewer strokes overall and easier, faster cutting with less energy expended.
“…this saw will be a reliable tool that will see lots of use in the years ahead.”
The Silky Outback Gomboy Curve features a blade with 6.8 teeth per inch. Those teeth are taper ground and positioned at four angles. They’re impulse-hardened too for durability. I found the blade to be very sharp. While it’s excellent for sawing wood in camp, it’s also fine enough to cut bone if you’re processing big game.
The blade is plated with a nickel/tin blend. That reduces friction, provides some corrosion resistance, and increases durability. It’s less shiny too. I suppose that’s handy if sawing is part of some clandestine operations or should you want to avoid inadvertently signaling passing airplanes on sunny days.
Shiny or not usually doesn’t figure in my decision-making when buying or using a saw. Your needs might be different.
The blade locks open at two different angles, which allows you a couple of options if you must saw something in a hard-to-reach or awkward position. A push of the spring-loaded locking lever on the top forward end of the handle releases the lock.
The handles of the various saws in the Silky Outback line are what they call arbor composite. It is said to provide an excellent grip in all conditions, wet or dry, cold or hot. I didn’t get to endure all of those extremes.
During my testing of the saw, the weather was sunny with temperatures in the 50s. I found the handle to be the best I’ve used on any such tool. It had enough texture to keep my grip secure, but it was smooth enough that my tender writer’s hands did not develop any hot spots or blisters.
WHY A SAW?
I always find a use for a saw around camp. On family camping trips when we’re staying in a campground, I’ll usually have to dish out $4 or $5 for a small armful of pre-cut firewood. There’s little choice there.
But in other places, I can use a saw to make quick kindling out of a downed tree limb and its many off-shoot branches. And if you have children running around your campsite, using a saw can be a bit safer than swinging an axe.
“I found the handle to be the best I’ve used on any such tool.”
It’s always easier to make a straight deep cut into wood with a saw than with a knife. So, if I’m making a hanger or support for my cook pot, a saw is nice to have. A saw comes in handy for other camp projects as well. If you’re teaching your children how they can use a knife to improvise what they need outdoors, incorporate a saw into those lessons.
Many old campcraft books are filled with simple projects. Maybe I’ll make a tripod with some sticks and some paracord for a wash basin stand. Maybe I’ll lash together four sawn branches and fit a log on top to form a stool for sitting around the campfire.
A saw isn’t just for fun and games, however. One year a storm left a tangle of branches covering the deer camp we had set up for the season. I used a folding saw to free those branches. An axe, hatchet, or machete really wouldn’t have worked in that instance.
There’s always a chance a family camping trip can bring unexpected difficulties. Losing track of the trail markers during what was supposed to be an easy day hike can mean you might have to build an emergency shelter and spend the night where you are.
A twisted ankle might mean piecing together a travois to haul a family member to safety. In some cases, a saw can be a lightweight, more efficient option than a hatchet or axe for such tasks.
IN THE MIX
I don’t rely on untested equipment. Not ever. After working with the Silky Outback Gomboy Curve Professional, I’m confident I can now put it to work as part of any knife-hatchet-saw three-tool kit that I put together.
With reasonable care, I believe this saw will be a reliable tool that will see lots of use in the years ahead. And undoubtedly my wife will coax me into using it to prune the trees in our own yard before any further wilderness travel.
SILKY MORE THAN A ONE-HIT WONDER
Silky has a couple of other folding saws in its Outback series, namely the PocketBoy
Outback Professional with 6.7-inch straight blade and the BigBoy 2000 Outback Professional with 14-inch curved blade.
Overall, the company has a full catalog of both fixed blade and folding hand saws, including pole saws for long-reach pruning. The company offers some brush-cutting and chopping tools as well.
Silky Outback Gomboy Curve Professional
Blade Length: 9.45 inches (240 mm)
Closed Length: 11 inches
Overall Length: 20 inches
Teeth Per Inch: 6.8
Handle Material: Arbor composite
Other: Locking blade (two positions); plastic carry case
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the July – August 2021 print issue of Knives Illustrated.