Snow Saw Sheath – Kydex®

Snow study - Rocky Mountain National Park, Feb 2014
Snow study – Rocky Mountain National Park, Feb 2014

This is an update to an earlier post regarding snow study kit modifications – this one, deals specifically with the snow saw sheath. The snow saw mod has been a dilemma, and not just with me — but other users as well. Sharp objects such as ice axes and snow saws tend to make all backcountry users a bit..anxious. As previously mentioned in other posts, I prefer the BCA snow saw over other brands. Part of the reason for this is the unparalleled usage. The secret to the BCA saw is that the blade is actually a high-end arborist saw blade. While this saw works flawlessly for Extended Column Tests, it will also take your hand off. I have used a G3 Bone Saw, and a few variations of the Black Diamond saws. These are nice saws, don’t get me wrong. However, I do like the dual function of the BCA saw. I should also note there are a few brands not mentioned above that are absolutely worthless – Caveat emptor.

Several other users prefer the BCA snow saw over the various other brands out there, but the common complaint with this saw is the sheath problem (or lack thereof, because it does not include one). I have even seen a sheath made of cardboard and duct tape! Trust me, if this saw gets loose in the avy pack it will annihilate everything it comes in contact with, including gear, shell jackets, air bag, etc. Should you carry it outside the pack as I do, you will be praying you do not take a digger.

I posted earlier last season that my temporary fix was a bread knife sheath made by Messermeister, which quite frankly even for a bread knife is a piece of junk. I emphasize the word temporary because the bread knife sheath works great at temps down to about 30° F, after which, due to PVC contents in the plastic it will crack and disintegrate.

With the season rapidly approaching, I got together with a few others and we created a few sheaths made from Kydex®. I tested various thicknesses of the material in a deep freezer to 0° F and the flexibility and durability was just perfect. I can’t imagine any of us will be doing snow pits in temps below that, if we do, it proves our insanity. While there are several standard thicknesses of Kydex® and Holstex® out there used for gun and knife sheaths, I decided on the thinner .020″ Kydex®.

Kydex® is an ABS thermoplastic that is heat-molded to shape. There is a tantamount load of information out there on heat forming Kydex®, so I will not delve in to that here. I will say however, its application for a snow saw sheath is amazing. It adds just under one ounce of weight and it’s function and purpose are well met.

Here’s a quick narrative on how we did it. We were able to crank out six of these in just a few hours. Enjoy!

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