By Matt Gibson
If you are a gardener that has trees, shrubs, bushes, and other larger plants on your property, you will need something a little bit more heavy duty than a pair of scissors or hand held pruning shears. To prune back and trim trees and large plants with thick branches, you are going to require some heavy duty loppers.
At the very minimum, you will need to purchase a nice pair of heavy duty bypass loppers. However, it’s a good idea to invest in a few different options aside from a pair of large bypass loppers, as different types of loppers are suited to different pruning tasks. You may also want to add a pair of anvil loppers, especially if you have to cut back a large amount of dead branches on your property. If you have to take on incredibly large branches, or even cut down full-sized trees, there is no lopper that is going to cut through that much wood at a single time. For very large pruning jobs, you will need a heavy duty powered lopper, or even a chainsaw to get the very toughest jobs done.
There are many variables to take into consideration when deciding what loppers you need to invest in for pruning back the large plants and trees on your property. The first thing to take into account is the different blade types that are available for heavy duty loppers. The most commonly used blade type for loppers are bypass blades.
Bypass blades consist of an upper cutting blade that slides past the lower blade, or fixed jaw, very closely, slicing anything that comes between the two blades the same way that a pair of scissors slices through paper, or other small objects. Bypass blades provide a clean, precise cut that is even and doesn’t crush the plant tissue in the process, which allows the plant, or tree, to heal properly.
The Difference Between Bypass and Anvil Loppers
The bolt that holds the two blades together at the proper distance must be precisely adjusted so that the blades will make the cut correctly. If the blades are too far apart, they won’t be able to cut through the object at all. If the blades are too tight, the loppers will provide too much resistance, making it difficult to close the handles to clamp the blades down on the object you are trying to cut. For precise cutting, the bolt must be adjusted so that the blades slide past each other closely enough to evenly and easily cut whatever is placed between them.
The other common blade type found on loppers is anvil blades. If bypass blades are comparable to scissors, anvil blades are compared to a knife and cutting board. Anvil loppers have a sharpened upper blade that strikes down on the anvil blade below, crushing and cutting whatever is placed beneath it simultaneously. Cuts from anvil loppers are usually not as clean and neat as those from bypass loppers. Cuts from anvil loppers can crush or damage the branches, or bark of the plant it is cutting. This is why anvil loppers are typically used on dead wood or dry branches, and bypass loppers are typically used on living branches.
Ratcheting & Powered Loppers
Bypass and anvil loppers are both considered traditional cutting mechanisms. Another popular cutting type for loppers is the ratcheting mechanism. For gardeners with limited arm strength and for thicker branches, ratcheting loppers are designed to take some of the pressure off of the user when trying to squeeze their way through thick, stubborn branches. Ratcheting loppers feature a ratchet mechanism that clicks each time you close the handles, increasing the mechanical pressure on whatever you are cutting with each click. A handful of squeezes will result in a handful of clicks, which will increase the amount of pressure that is needed to cut through thicker items, such as branches and stems.
For cutting through especially thick branches and even tree trunks, powered loppers, or even chainsaw loppers may be needed to get the job done. These devices do not depend on physical exertion from the user to cut through the branches, but a motorized mechanism that powers the blade, so that you can cut through massive branches and trunks without having to squeeze with all of your might to make the desired cut.
What To Look For When Shopping For Loppers
The best loppers are comfortable and easy to use. High-quality blades and proper adjustments can go a long way, but there are other factors that can give certain lopper models an edge over others. Long handled models allow users to reach difficult to reach branches, such as high branches, or the tops of tall bushes and shrubs. Long handles also make your loppers more clunky and awkward to handle. Some models offer telescoping handles that are adjustable so that you can change the length to suit your task.
Different lopper models offer different types of grips. Some grips focus on ergonomics, offering the most comfortable hold while pruning and trimming back your plants and trees. Some grips focus on control, making sure that your loppers are firmly held and unlikely to slip from your grasp. As long as you have a good grip on your tool and the handles don’t cause you excessive muscle fatigue, or wrist, arm, or hand pain, they will suffice. Bypass loppers are equipped with bumpers on each handle that keep the handles from coming too close to each other. Some anvil loppers also have bumpers, which are in place to keep the handles from closing too tightly.
Other important factors to consider when selecting the right pair of loppers include the weight of the tool. Lightweight loppers might be cheaply made and could easily bend or break under pressure. Loppers that feel too heavy could cause additional stress and fatigue on your muscles, and could be unwieldy to use. Again, go with what is most comfortable to you.
Cutting capacity is another key factor to use when picking out the right loppers. If you have hand pruners that can handle branches up to a certain thickness, you need to pick loppers that can cut branches that are too thick for your pruners, up to the largest size branches you might encounter regularly when pruning the plants and trees on your property. If you have to prune back excessively large branches, you might consider investing in a powered lopper, in addition to a bypass and/or anvil lopper for medium-sized branches that are too large for your pruners but too small to bother bringing out your powered lopper.
Consider brands and models that offer replacement parts and how readily accessible the replacement parts are in your area. A lesser-known German brand of loppers may have replacement parts available to order, but you have to pay to have them shipped from overseas, which could take forever and cost an arm and a leg. If you are investing in a nice pair of loppers, being able to easily and quickly find replacement parts is key, because no matter how nice of a model you choose, your loppers will eventually become damaged, grow dull, or even break.
Loppers perform a very tough task, and even the nicest ones on the market are occasionally prone to deterioration. A satisfaction guarantee or a lifetime warranty is even better than readily accessible replacement parts. Just make sure that you have options for protecting your investment when you buy a nice pair of loppers, as high-quality gardening tools are far from cheap.
Now that you know what to look for when shopping for a pair of loppers, here are the best loppers available on the market, grouped into four categories, bypass loppers, anvil loppers, ratcheted loppers, and powered loppers. By grouping the best loppers available and researching which loppers have the best reviews and are recommended by experienced gardeners, we have narrowed the selection for you considerably. It should be easy to peruse the loppers below and figure out which one (or several), are the right ones for you.
Best Bypass Loppers
Fiskars 28 Inch Bypass Loppers (391461-1003)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2Gw2gyq
The blades of the Fiskars bypass loppers are coated in a rust-resistant treatment that’s designed to reduce the friction as the blades chop through branches and vines. As a result, these loppers don’t require a lot of hand strength to use, and you won’t get hand cramps or exhaust yourself when you work for long stretches. As a bonus, the low friction coating helps sticky substances like sap and other plant debris slide right off the blades instead of gumming up the works so you have to stop and unclog your loppers every so often.
The stainless steel blades are also precision ground, making them super sharp and helping them stay that way through session after session in the garden. But if you put these loppers to seriously heavy use and do end up dulling the blades, they’re replaceable, so you can just pop in a new set of blades instead of needing to replace the loppers entirely.. Reviewers say that projects that used to take ages go by quickly because of the sharpness of Fiskars’ loppers and the time saved since you don’t need to clean off sticky sap that would normally clog other tools.
Wolf-Garten 35.5 Inch Telescoping Bypass Lopper (RR900T)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/365ZLvd
Wolf-Garten’s telescoping lopper’s blades are made with premium German steel, which the manufacturer says provides four times the cutting strength of other blade options. Despite the size (which telescopes out to just over 35 inches) and the durability of these loppers, they’re designed to be lightweight for ease of use. These bypass loppers can power through branches and vines that are up to 1.97 inches thick. And even though they’re powerful, the anvil style blades are made to slice cleanly and prevent unneeded damage to your trees and shrubs.
Those who have used Wolf-Garten’s loppers say the telescoping action helps reach into spots that would be tricky to handle with shorter tools. They also found the heft and power of the loppers a good balance with their weight, meaning they’re heavy enough to get the job done but not so heavy that you’ll be feeling the burn after using them. In the words of one reviewer, “they cut like a hot knife through butter.”
TABOR TOOLS 30 Inch Bypass Lopper (GG11A)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/387dzbL
TABOR’s bypass loppers are made to quickly and easily slice through branches up to an inch and three quarters thick. The blades are made from hardened carbon steel and are treated with a nonstick coating, keeping them from getting gummed up with sticky sap. They’re equipped with soft rubberized grips on the handles, which makes them easy to use and comfortable even for gardeners who have arthritis or other conditions that cause pain in the joints or hands, so they’re also a good choice for those of us who don’t have a lot of grip strength.
At 30 inches long, you’ll be able to reach into the interior of your trees and shrubs, but they’re not so long that they’ll be unwieldy. What gives these loppers their strength is the compound action, with moving parts and multiple pivot points that put three times more force behind every chop. And you don’t need to worry about them breaking on you shortly after purchase—TABOR stands behind this tool with a 12-month conditional warranty, which covers damage that happens due to normal usage. Reviewers say the slight serration of the blade helps these loppers grip into the branches and stay in place as they slice, and they praise the strength and power of the compound action.
Corona DualLink 30 Inch ComfortGEL Bypass Lopper (3264)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/32a8VWo
These loppers from Corona are the garden tool equivalent of a luxury vehicle—they’re loaded with features that make them comfortable, so they’re a pleasure to use. The handles have ergonomically shaped gel grips to reduce hand fatigue and help you keep a secure hold on them, even if you work up a sweat. They also have Shock-Guard bumpers that are made to decrease muscle strain and reduce fatigue when you’re facing a tough project or a long day.
The Dual Arc blades have a nonstick coating, so you won’t have to stop every few minutes to clean and unclog the loppers as you work, and they’re designed to cut through branches up to an inch and a half thick with ease. Gardeners who have used these loppers love how powerful they are and were surprised to find that such a lightweight and comfortable tool was hefty enough to stand up to the most demanding of tasks.
Fiskars PowerGear2 32 Inch Bypass Loppers (394801-1003)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/32cLA6w
These heavy-duty loppers from Fiskars are rated for use on branches up to two inches thick, slightly more than many other loppers on the market—so if you have lots of large, mature trees and shrubs to deal with, this may be the set for you. The blades are made of hardened bypass steel, with a low friction coating that makes these loppers resistant to both rust and gumming or clogging. The handles are rounded and come with ergonomic SoftGrip coating on the touchpoints to help prevent hand fatigue, calluses, and blisters even through the toughest of tasks.
Gardeners who have tested these loppers say they’re an excellent choice when you have easy access to the branches you need to slice through, and they admired the cutting strength that lets Fiskars’ PowerGear2 loppers stand up to thicker branches. Many reported that with the help of this tool, they were able to easily work through projects they’d doubted they were strong enough to handle without suffering from sore muscles or torn-up hands as a result. Buyers should be aware the warranty does not cover damage that results from expected and normal wear and tear of the tool.
Felco 200 24 Inch Bypass Loppers (459067)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2HUOE0s
The most interesting feature of Felco’s 200 bypass loppers is that the slide resistant anvil blades are adjustable, so you can tailor the cut to the needs of different tasks. You can get two tools in one if you purchase the 210 replacement blades separately, which transform these straight-bladed loppers into curved cutting head loppers whenever you need.
The handles are solid cast from aluminum alloy, making them sturdy and durable. These loppers can be used to cut through branches up to 1.4 inches thick. Reviewers who have put these loppers to work in the garden say they’re worth the extra initial investment, and they found using Felco’s loppers made the tools they’ve owned in the past seem “junky” in comparison.
ARS 24.5 Inch Orchard Lopper (LPB-30M)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3jWoYNU
Gardeners love these loppers. One reviewer called them the best loppers they’ve ever owned, and many pointed out that although they’re plenty strong, ARS’ orchard loppers are lightweight and easy to use. They’re extremely sharp, with a counter blade that’s been drop forged, so these loppers will slice through branches up to an inch and a half thick with ease. If you need a hefty tool that won’t require too much elbow grease to get through strenuous work, consider these loppers. As one reviewer states, “the tool does the work—not me.”
STEELHEAD Heavy-Duty 27-40 Inch Adjustable Bypass Lopper (B07TVLC4G1)
Find if on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3mR7h3X
If you need a set of loppers that can handle cutting through branches up to an inch and three quarters thick and will help you reach far into dense canopies, STEELHEAD’s adjustable bypass loppers may be the right tool for the job. The handles of these loppers are made to telescope out, letting you set the length between 27 and 40 inches so you can reach far into tangled shrubbery and easily work in those tricky spots deep in a tree’s interior that can be hard to reach with shorter tools. The high carbon steel blades have a nonstick coating to prevent clogging that’s also rust resistant, so you can rely on these loppers for years to come. The jaws of these loppers have triple the strength of standard tools thanks to the ratcheting gear-bypass fulcrum, which means the cutting force comes from the loppers instead of from your own muscles and effort.
Paired with the ergonomic handles, that means you can tackle the most stubborn tasks as long as you like without worrying about hand fatigue or the effects of shock to your joints. The forged aluminum handles are made to suit hand sizes ranging from petite to supersized in comfort, and they’re lightweight to make them easy to use. Reviewers love the way the handles can be made longer or shorter and found the adjustment easy to handle, and they appreciated how strong STEELHEAD’s loppers were even though they’re lightweight and don’t require the gardener to exert a lot of force to get the job done.
THANOS 27-40 Inch Adjustable SK-5 Bypass Lopper (B07VBQWXX3)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/34XJ1XT
Chop through branches up to two inches thick with the hardened, precision-ground SK-5 steel blades of THANOS’ adjustable loppers. The blades are made to resist rust and are coated in Teflon to keep sticky plant material from gumming up the works. The aluminum alloy handles are also rust resistant, and they can be adjusted to change the length between 27 and 40 inches to increase your reach.
The size of the cutting mouth can also be adjusted, with three different gears to choose from. Aluminum alloy handles provide plenty of strength without adding extra weight to the tool, and they’re tipped with anti-slip rubber to help you keep your grip even when the work gets sweaty. Best of all, THANOS stands behind these loppers with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their performance. Gardeners who’ve put these loppers to the test said they’re super sharp, requiring “no effort whatsoever” to chop through thick branches. They also appreciated the light weight and solid durability of these loppers. As one reviewer put it, “We cleared a whole lot and they still are like brand new.”
Best Anvil Loppers
T-MAI Extendable 28 – 40 Inch Anvil Lopper (B07V8HC141)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/365y99E
T-MAI’s anvil loppers can be counted on to slice through branches up to 1.9 inches thick with ease thanks to the SK-5 blades with radian-toothed edges, made to grip the branch firmly so cuts are clean and precise. You can adjust the rods from 27 inches out to 40 inches, helping you reach into the center of shrubs or get to those tricky branches deep in the tree’s interior without pulling out a ladder or straining and stretching.
Handles made from aluminum alloy are designed to stand up to the toughest tasks without making the tool so heavy it’s a pain to use for long sessions working in the garden, and the handles are tipped in anti-slip rubber so they’re easy to hold on to even in sweltering, sweaty conditions. The cutting mouth has three gears so you can adjust its size, and T-MAI stands behind the quality of their loppers with a money-back guarantee. Reviewers were pleased that these anvil loppers made short work of tasks that had proven too tough for tools like carpenter saws when they’d tried them in the past.
KSEIBI Extendable 28 – 40 Inch Anvil Razor-Edge Pruning Lopper (252606)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3mQFD7d
KSEIBI’s extendable anvil loppers are rated for branches and saplings up to two inches thick. The blades is triple heat treated and made of SK-5 hardened steel with a Teflon coating, so you won’t need to take breaks to clean sticky sap from your loppers, and they’ll stand up to years of wear without suffering from rust or corrosion. The Teflon coating also means that once the job is done, it’ll be no sweat to clean the tool before you put it away. The handle can be adjusted between five settings that range from 27 and 40 inches, so you can reach high branches in your tallest trees or stretch to make cuts in the dense interior canopy.
The chopping power comes from a lever drive system, meaning the loppers will exert the force required so you don’t have to. That makes KSEIBI’s loppers a good choice for gardeners who have joint pain or simply don’t have the strongest grip. As one pleased gardener explains, “The jaws have enough curve to hold the branch, but not too much so that they are difficult to position. The handles are strong when extended to their full length, and the extending mechanism is quick and easy to use.” These loppers are backed with a satisfaction guarantee from KSEIBI, and they come along with an electronic maintenance brochure to help you care for your loppers well and learn to sharpen the blades as needed.
Troy-Bilt 30 Inch Comfort Classic Anvil Lopper (B00T04IWTS)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3oW6G2V
Troy-Bilt’s Comfort Classic Anvil Lopper is made from high carbon German steel that is sap-resistant and rust resistant. Blade stays sharp through extensive usage. Anvil blade is designed to stand up to tough, mature wood, working like a blade on a chopping block to easily slice through stubborn branches up to 1.75 inches thick. Ergonomic and lightweight handles with shock absorbing coating offer a comfortable grip that reduces cutting impact and optimizes power. Cutting head mechanism provides effortless 2X power cut technology.
Best Ratcheting Loppers
Spear & Jackson 28 Inch Ratcheting Loppers (8920RS)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3mSoUQS
Upper blade is made with high-quality SK5 high carbon steel that stays sharp through extended use. Ratcheting mechanism provides easy cutting in short, quick steps. Perfect for slicing through thick, hard branches with ease. PTFE coated blades provide additional rust protection and resistance to dulling. Backed by a 10 year guarantee. Lightweight design features strong adjustable aluminum handles that expand from 27 to 39 inches with a non slip grip coating for added comfort. Locking mechanism latches for safe and compact storing.
EZ Kut G2 Ratcheting Lopper (4008270)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3jR6A8Y
The EZ Kut G2 Ratcheting Lopper is a heavy duty tool and it looks and acts the part as well. The jaws have a pronounced tooth set on one side to take a bite out of the branch and a smooth plate on the other side to protect the bark on the trunk side of the cut. The replaceable blades are streamlined and made from high-quality SK5 carbon hardened steel for easy cutting through the toughest of branches.
The EK Kut patented oiler bolts lubricate the device by adding a drop of oil whenever the inserts are depressed during cutting. Extendable replaceable arms are contoured for added durability. Thumb depressors easily lock arms into place. Handles are made with a non slip rubber to provide a solid grip. Includes a locking proprietary strap. All parts are backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Best Powered Lopper
Black & Decker Alligator Lopper 4.5 Amp Electric Chain Saw (LP1000)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/34TYs3c
The Black & Decker Alligator Lopper uses the same lithium-ion battery system as any of your other 20-volt Black & Decker electric tools. Battery life will provide 150 cuts of 1.5 inches per charge. Equipped with innovative clamping jaws that grip and saw through branches that are up to four inches in diameter in a single stroke. Backed by a two year limited warranty. Battery and charger are not included for the price listed above.
Scotts Cordless 7.2 Volt Rechargeable Power Pruner (PR17215S)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/32fzoSK
The Scotts Power Pruner is a cordless electric tree pruner that is lightweight, compact, safe, and easy to use. It was designed to cut the stress and muscle fatigue out of tough pruning tasks. Battery and charger are included, and it is backed by a two year warranty and an excellent customer support team.
It is important to note that this is an electric pruner, not an electric lopper, so it only cuts branches that are up to ¾ inches thick. This product should be paired with an electric pruner for gardeners that have low arm strength and stamina and want to trim their plants and trees quickly and easily without over exertion.
WORX JawSaw 20V Chainsaw with Auto-Tension (WG320)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2TRqw15
The WORX brand JawSaw is a highly rated, safety-minded chainsaw lopper with a protective guard to keep your hands and fingers out of harm’s way when pruning. Cuts through branches that are up to four inches in diameter. High-speed chain stays oiled and tight and makes fast cuts. The JawSaw is a lightweight tool that you won’t regret lugging around.
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Lopper (CMCCSL621D1)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3kWOBiF
Craftsman tools are a household name, and one that has long been associated with quality. You can be confident that you are purchasing a good product if it bears the Craftsman name, and for even more assurance, they offer a limited three year warranty on their cordless lopper, just in case you find a way to wear it out in less than three years time. This cordless powered lopper has patented clamping jaw blades that grip and cut through tree limbs in one fluid motion.
The Craftsman Cordless Lopper cuts through branches that are up to four inches in diameter in a compact design that stores away easily. Chain and bar are replaceable. Includes battery and charger.
*BONUS BUDGET SET*
iGarden 3 Piece Combo Garden Tool Set with Lopper, Hedge Shears and Pruner Shears (B00VXTFJFS)
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2Gscrnv
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on your pruning equipment but you want to get a complete set, this three piece combo will provide all the trimming tools you need without breaking the bank. All three pieces are made with high carbon steel blades and comfortable rubber handles that are easy to grip. Are these tools that will last you a lifetime? No, they are not. But according to reviews, they should get you through a couple of seasons before needing to be replaced. If you need something to get you by until you can afford to invest in some quality pruning gear, this is a good buy.
Once you have picked out your set of pruning tools, you shouldn’t have to reinvest in pruning ever again. A pruning tool set may consist of two pairs of hand pruners, two loppers, and a powered cutting tool, such as an electric lopper, or a chainsaw. That is because there are different types of pruning tools for different types of pruning. That may seem like a lot of tools to invest in just to keep your plants properly trimmed and neat, but once you have your set, you should be set for life.
We may have to replace some of our gardening tools from time to time, and there are certain things, like gardening gloves and potting soil, that you will always have to buy more of, but once you find the right pruning equipment, those tools should either last you for the rest of your life, or come with a lifetime warranty so that you can replace them anytime they start to show signs of wear or deterioration.
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