If you’ve never heard of a tree lopper you may be more familiar with their other common names such as tree pruner, tree trimmer, branch cutter, etc. They’re essentials tools for anyone who wishes to maintain their treed property and keep back those unruly branches. But there are so many models to choose from. And how do you know which is the best lopper for your needs? How can you tell a good lopper from a poor quality one? The best tree loppers would allow you to cut small to medium sized branches with ease and illuminate the need for a ladder, thus, creating a safer environment in which to do yard work. But let’s break it down even further than that.
BEST LOPPERS COMPARISONS TABLE
|Tabor GL-18 Garden Pruner||
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|Fiskars 32-inch Lopper||
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|Fiskars 28-inch Lopper||
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|Power Drive 28-inch Anvil||
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|MLTools Bypass Lopper||
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DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOPPERS
When deciding between the types of tree loppers you’re choices are simple: bypass or anvil. But what do they mean? What does each one offer that the other does not? Simple, let’s break it down!
These are the most common kind of pruning loppers used today. They have a super sharp, single edge blade that cuts through thick branches, leaving a nice, clean cut behind. These are ideal for easy cuts, thinner branches, and for people who wish to achieve a cleaner appearance.
These bad boys don’t leave as nice a cut as bypass loppers do, but they pack a lot of force. The anvil loppers have a thick, sharp blade that slices through a branch and meets a flat surface instead of bypassing the other blade. These are ideal for thick branches, dead wood, or thick brush.
WHAT MAKES SOME OF THE BEST TREE LOPPERS?
Like any product, there are many factors that go into making a good tree lopper. And, depending on your own personal tree trimming needs, what’s considered the perfect tool for you may not be for another. But in order for a tree lopper to perform its basic duty of removing branches, there are a few key features that are must haves.
Yes, the blade of the tool is essentially what cuts the actual branch, but the quality of the handles is extremely important. It’s where the force is being applied and if the quality of the handles is less than stellar then you risk the possibility of bending, or even breaking the arms. Not exactly the ideal situation.
When looking for a great pair of tree loppers, be sure to check that the handles are made from a strong metal like titanium, steel, or reinforced aluminum. Handles with a foam or rubber grip are also considered above the rest due to the better grip the allow.
SHARP AND STRONG BLADE
Imagine trying to cut a 1” thick branch with a pair of dull scissors. That’s pretty much what you’d get if you had a pair of tree loppers with a poor blade. Make sure to look for quality loppers with reinforced steel blades that have a “stay sharp” feature.
In addition to sharp blades, the best limb loppers should have a special coating that prevents rusting as well as provides an ease of glide. The coating allows you to make a nice cut but without the sticky kick-back.
LENGTH OR ABILITY TO EXTEND
There are tons of tree lopper models with short arms that are designed for single hand-held cutting. You can tackle those low hanging branches and unruly stragglers that hum around the bottom of the tree, within an arm’s reach.
But what about those pesky branches you wish to get that are up high? Some people would grab a ladder, but to create a safer environment in which to do yard work, some tree loppers do come with longer handles and even ones that have an extension feature. From the ground, you’d be able to reach almost any branch without the loss of force. And since most trees tend to soar well over our heads, a limb lopper with long arms or extensions is almost a must have.
A good number to aim for is a length of anywhere from 28” to 40”. Any longer than that, you begin to lose the power of force and the length becomes obsolete.
GOOD SPRING BACK
Yard tools like pruning shears and tree loppers each have their own mechanisms for spring back. For those who don’t know, spring back is the action which happens after you make the cut. If the tool bounces back and pops open with ease, then you have yourself a great branch cutter. But there are models that have poor spring back, some have none at all.
This is concerning because with little or no spring back, the user is forced to pry the handles open each and every time. Think of a sticky pair of scissors and how poorly they would cut paper. The same thought applies to tree loppers and their ability to spring back. So be sure to check the specs for a spring loaded mechanism, they always list it.
When shopping for a great tree lopper, try and sway towards ones that are lighter without sacrificing strength. There are tons of cheaper models, made of hollow aluminum. Sure, they’re definitely lighter, but they won’t last very long.
Instead, pay close attention to the specs and look for ones that are solid aluminum or processed steel and state that they are ergonomically light. You don’t want to be holding heavy limb loppers above your head for very long, you’ll grow tired and lose power of force. A good weight to try and aim for is between 2-3lbs. Anything more than that will be too hard to maneuver and will tire you out before the job is done.
OPENING OR CUTTING CAPACITY
It goes without saying that you want a tree lopper that will cut those thicker branches. While most professional tree loppers can hack away at majorly thick limbs, don’t expect that from residential ones you get at the hardware store or even online. But still, check the specs and make sure the blades have a cutting capacity of at least 1”. Anything less than 1” is rather pointless and won’t get you very far in your pruning work. Tree loppers are better when they fall within a 1-2” cutting capacity which means the blades will open enough, and easily, to chop thicker branches up to 2” thick.
LOPPER REVIEWS: 5 BEST TREE LOPPERS FOR LESS THAN $50
Every tree lopper is different and are often intended for different uses. It’s important to determine your own backyard, tree trimming needs and weigh the pros and cons of the top loppers within your budget. This process of elimination is sure to narrow down the search and provide a few great models to choose from. But to make things a little easier, here’s a breakdown of the top 5 tree loppers.
FISKARS 32-INCH POWERGEAR BYPASS LOPPER
- Warranty: Lifetime warranty
- Length: 32 inches
- Weight: 2.8 lbs
- Handle: Aluminum handles
- Feature: PowerGear technology to make cutting even easier
Fiskars is one of the most popular brand on the market, and for good reason. For the PowerGear Bypass Lopper, their patented technology involving a gear system increases the leverage the user has on the tool upwards to three times that of a standard, non gear system lopper. In other words, this means that with this tool you can slice through super thick branches, thicker than the ones that regular loppers can.
Also, by reducing the need for heavy duty blades, this lopper weighs in a little lighter than most, which makes handling the tool easier on the user by decreasing strain on the limbs, wrists, and hands. The Fiskars PowerGear is well accepted by users and the lopper reviews are mostly positive with only a few less than stellar ones sprinkled in. The main disadvantage is that the PowerGear system creates a situation where the user requires a bit more room in order to operate it. Overall, a great lopper.
- Cuts through 2” thick branches
- Less than 3lbs
- Less force required to make a cut
- Need to spread arms wide in order for gear system to work properly
- Can’t reach high branches like other 32” models
- Don’t function well in thick brush
FISKARS 28 INCH BYPASS LOPPER
- Warranty: Lifetime warranty
- Length: 28 inches
- Weight: 2.6 lbs
- Handle: Stainless steel blades, solid steel handles
- Feature: Shock absorbing handle grips
The thick, hardened blade is super sharp and stays that way long after use. This bypass lopper may not have the PowerGear technology but it does have shock absorbing bumpers which some may consider a better feature for long periods of cutting. The blade themselves have a low-friction coating which prevents them from gumming up and even rusting.
The non-slip grips made it really nice when reaching up high above my head, I didn’t have to worry about the tool slipping and falling down onto of me. The non slip grip also makes them easier to carry around your yard and maneuver in and around the trees. The fact that they reach upwards to 28” without requiring an extension is a major plus. Another really great feature of these loppers is their solid steel handles. Don’t expect these suckers to bend or break at any time, they’re built to last.
- Low friction coating prevents gumming from sap
- Cuts 1.5” thick branches
- Less than 3lbs
- Blade tends to chip and/or break
- Can develop surface rust
- Not recommended by users to go to it’s cutting capacity
TABOR GL-18 GARDEN BYPASS PRUNER
- Warranty: 1-year warranty
- Length: 20 inches
- Weight: 2 lbs
- Handle: Solid steel handles, thick rubber grips
- Feature: Ergonomic grips
This lopper has the common feature of a thick, solid blade which apparently never dulls. I’ve yet to find a review that states otherwise, so that fact could very well be true. Although these garden loppers can only reach about 20” in length, it definitely makes up for it with performance. The thick, powerful arms are gripped with ergonomic rubber handles and make it so easy to make the cut. I wish I had these last summer because they lopped through the branches as if they were nothing more than straws.
You may have to break out the ladder to reach the higher branches, but it’s worth it in exchange for a superior tool like this one. Especially since it really only weighs about 2 lbs, it comes in as the lightest tree lopper under $50. The loppers reviews were all phenomenal, users really love this garden tool.
- An extremely thick handle will most likely never break or bend
- A mere 2lbs
- Strong, quality design
- Only reaches 20” without aid of ladder
- Only has a cutting capacity of 1.25”
POWER DRIVE – 28 INCH HEAVY DUTY RATCHET PRUNING ANVIL HAND LOPPER
- Warranty: Lifetime 100% satisfaction warranty
- Length: 28 inches
- Weight: 3 lbs
- Handle: Aluminum cast construction
- Feature: Ideal for smaller people or women
The specs state that this tree lopper is ideal for smaller people and women. At first, I laughed at that statement, but after using the tool I found it to be true. It has a built-in ratcheting system which allows you to hack away at the branch until it’s cut, but without the extra force that would normally be needed or such a movement. The system gives the user an extra 5 times the power compared to other lopper which obviously bodes well for people with weaker muscles or women who may not be as experienced with the tool.
The only downfall to this lopper is that it’s an anvil blade which, if you remember, we discussed earlier. It doesn’t leave a clean cut, but it kind of makes up for that with cutting power and ease of use. It’s fairly long, as well, which is perfect for reaching those high branches without the aid of a ladder
- Extremely easy to use and cut
- Long reach
- Ratchet design allows you to get through really tough branches
- 3lbs, which is the most you should have
- Anvil blade which doesn’t leave a clean cut
- Aluminum arms that aren’t as solid as they should be
MLTOOLS EASY CUT RATCHETING EXTENDABLE BYPASS LOPPER
- Warranty: Lifetime 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Length: 27 inches – 39.5 inches
- Weight: 3.6 lbs
- Handle: Aluminum handles, steel blades
- Feature: Extending arms
This extendable bypass lopper is made from a carbon steel blade which makes it lighter to hold but just as strong as regular steel. But the extension feature adds extra weight and put this tool at the top of the list for heaviest tree lopper under $50. But, with that being said, you definitely shouldn’t need a ladder with this guy in your hands. The extension feature allows you to go from an already impressive 27” to a whole 39.5”! The blade opens up to cut branches as thick as 1 ¾”, even in the extended mode.
Another great feature of this model is the ratcheting system which allows the user to ratchet, or hack, through any tough branch. This provides a much easier way of cutting and makes this lopper great for those who have weak muscles. The aluminum handles have non slip grips which is almost a must-have with the extension feature.
- Arms are able to extend an extra foot
- Long reach for high branches
- Helpful ratcheting design allows you to hack those tough branches
- Users say that handles are weaker when extended and may break
- Arms have been known to bend
- Although they have a 1 ¾” cutting capacity, they don’t work well over 1.5”.
When comparing these 5 top tree loppers it’s easy to see a common issue. The longer they reach, the high the risk of the arms bending and breaking. Besides a dull blade, this is the last thing you want when cutting branches. Immediately, that factor eliminates a few of these models. But, to narrow it down to one winner is a tough call because each contender has great pros to balance the cons, it really depends on the user. But the Tabor GL-18 Garden Bypass Pruner has the best pros and the least cons.
Yes, it’s reaching ability isn’t as far as the rest, but it’s awesome quality and customer reviews really speak for the product. It’s important to maintain your treed property and the lush plants that may live there, and there are many tools that can help you do that. But with this one in particular, breaking out the ladder might just be worth it if it means having a superior tool that falls within the $50 budget.