Pole saws are great tools, and they are helpful when it comes to cutting some branches high up in the tree without hurting yourself. Still, they aren’t good for everything, and you sometimes need to cut branches that are a bit lower or too thin for a pole saw. Sometimes you just want to make a more precise cut.
There are solutions, like getting on a ladder and using a pair of shears but those might not have the reach necessary. What does is their next cousin, the lopper. These are basically large pruning shears with long handles that you can use to prune your trees without the need to get on a ladder or lean over too much while on one. They can also deal with branches that are too large for simple pruners and too small for pruning saws or pole saws. It’s a nice piece of kit to have in your toolbox, and here are some of the reasons why you should get a pair.
Why Buying a Lopper?
Loppers are tools that are used for tasks that are too large for tools like pruning shears but too trivial to get you to take out your pruning saw. In essence, they are a heavier version of pruning shears, offering more cutting power and capacity but less precision – still, they offer far more control than things like pruning saws.
There’s more to them, however, as they are also easy to use due to how little strength you have to use to cut. The long handles amplify your strength, so cutting even thick branches becomes far easier. It can be made even easier if you use a lopper with a ratchet-action mechanism since they allow you to gradually cut the branch by locking the blade in place each time you slice. That way you don’t have to cut the branch in one go, or put in a lot of strength.
One of the most beneficial things about them, however, is the reach they have, both vertical and horizontal, allowing you to cut things you otherwise couldn’t, but also to make precise cuts. There are no other tools that offer this reach with this much control over the cutting process.
The problem is that not all loppers are good and it’s difficult to easily determine which ones are bad before buying and testing them – trust us, we know.
During our testing process, we bought a lot of loppers which seemed good at first but ended up being rather useless. However, through that testing process we found out a lot, and we did it so you wouldn’t have to go through the trouble.
In this guide, we will present you with the best products we were able to find and go through what we now think are the most important aspects of a good lopper. If that’s not enough, we also added in some genuine user reviews about the products in question. So, let’s look at the products we picked out above the rest.
Meet the Best Loppers
The Good: It has good cutting capacity; it’s comfortable and fit for a variety of jobs.
The Bad: It’s not incredibly durable and might bend or break when you least expect it.
The Bottom Line: Overall, it’s a decent lopper that has its issues, but at this price, it is genuinely hard to pass up.
The Good: This is an amazingly light and durable lopper that is easy to use.
The Bad: Not suited for any heavy tasks and the shock absorber breaks easily.
The Bottom Line: It is a good lightweight lopper, but it’s only that and using it for cutting harder or larger branches is a no-no.
The Good: It’s a heavy-duty tool with great cutting capacity, reach and cutting power.
The Bad: Too heavy, unwieldy and not comfortable to use, while being flimsy.
The Bottom Line: For a heavy-duty tool it’s not durable enough and it’s too uncomfortable to use, which is a shame since it has some nice specs.
There’s still a wealth of information contained in the article below, so keep on reading.
All of the Factors Considered
We tested plenty of different loppers before we came to these conclusions and we can tell you – while they seem rather simple, it’s difficult to pick out a good one. There’s a lot that you can’t easily determine at first glance, and you have to be careful, lest you buy a useless piece of junk that will just take up space in your garage. But, we’re here to save you time, so we compiled a list of the most important factors you should consider when buying a lopper. Let us take a look that that list:
Obviously, durability is a major factor in almost any tool you might be buying, even if you intend to use it only a couple of times a year. You certainly don’t want a shoddy tool if you plan on using it regularly.
The first thing you should look at when it comes to durability are the materials that it is made out of. Plastic is usually far cheaper and far flimsier than metals, so plenty of plastic in the construction might be the first sign of a flimsy tool. However, some metals can also be shoddy, different aluminum alloys for example. Even if it’s made of durable metal, it’s also important that the metal is resistant to rust or getting gummed up with sap and so on.
Next, it’s important how well the entire looper is assembled. Being made of good materials means little if the screws and bolts keep falling out and the whole thing falls apart at the seams. Test it a bit before buying, if possible, look at the parts where it’s all connected and how tightly wound the screws are and so on. Only buy it if you’re sure that it will all hold up through heavy use.
when it comes to loppers and similar tools, like pruning shears and loppers, the most prominent blade designs are the bypass design and the anvil design.
The bypass design consists of a sharp blade that slides past a hook on the bottom, that’s unsharpened, and cuts that way. Loppers with a bypass design make cleaner cuts, but they might have some trouble cutting harder branches.
The other option is the anvil design. As the name implies, they use a blade with strikes down on a flat anvil-like surface, squeezing whatever you’re cutting between the two, thus slicing it in half. They offer better cutting power and can easily go through some harder wood, but the problem with this design is that it won’t provide clean cuts and will simply mangle softer branches instead of slicing through them.
Depending on what you need your lopper for, pick one or the other – neither one is strictly “better,” they just have different upsides and downsides.
This is rather simple – since loppers are made for cutting branches you can’t reach otherwise, you want it to be long enough to get to them and cut them. However, here’s the thing – longer is not always better. If you pick a lopper that is longer than you need it to be you might end up with an unwieldy tool that can’t perform the task you bought it for.
In short, yes, loppers with a better reach are better in principle, but you should still carefully consider what you need them for and how tall you are before putting your money down.
Another thing to consider are the adjustable handles, as some loppers do have them, and that allows you to adjust their reach as needed. This can be incredibly helpful to you if you need them for a variety of tasks.
Another seemingly simple thing to consider when buying a lopper, the cutting capacity indicates the largest diameter of the branches that the tool can effectively cut. You usually want a lopper with the biggest cutting capacity that you can get.
However, if you only want to cut thinner branches, you might want to consider getting a lopper with a medium cutting capacity since larger ones might damage small branches instead of cutting them cleanly.
This is a fine balance to strike, and generally, you don’t want the difference between the diameter of the branch you’re cutting and the cutting capacity of your lopper to be larger than half an inch.
Ease of Use
Since loppers are tools that you will be using for extended periods of time, it’s important that they are comfortable and easy to use. There are a few things that are important when it comes to how easy to use a lopper is.
First is the weight, of course, as you will probably be holding the lopper above your head for the majority of the work, and it’s easy to get tired if it’s too heavy. There’s also the issue of how the weight is balanced as if it’s too top-heavy it might pose more of a problem even if the lopper is light overall.
Then there’s the comfort factor – how the handles are designed, are they comfortable to hold for a long time, are they resistant to slipping, and so on. You should also consider if they have a bumper – a shock absorber to lessen the impact when cutting.
So, those are the things that you should look out for. Of course, the products we picked fared well in those areas – more or less. So, let’s take a look at that now.
In-Depth Reviews of 3 Loppers
Not so Durable
This tool is not extremely durable, and it is prone to bending and breaking at inopportune times. That’s a shame since it’s good in other regards. However, it comes with a lifetime warranty that you can use to get it fixed for no charge at all.
Hardened Bypass Blade
This lopper uses a bypass-type blade, making it able to perform clean cuts with ease. However, the blade is slightly shoddy, even though it’s made of hardened steel, and it needs to be often sharpened. Luckily it is resistant to rust or getting gummed up with sap.
With a reach of 28 inches this lopper fits well into anyone’s toolbox, being easy to use and able to reach whatever you need it to, without being cumbersome or unwieldy.
Good Cutting Capacity
The cutting capacity of this tool is a decent one-and-a-half inch, making it well-suited for cutting both slightly larger and smaller branches in nice, clean cuts.
Finely Balanced and Comfortable
While this lopper weights around 2.5 pounds, you will barely feel it as the weight is well-balanced and the handles are rather comfortable, so it’s easy to hold over your head and use without getting tired.
Who Should Buy This Product
People who are looking for an affordable, yet effective lopper should look no further – this is your tool of choice. It offers great cutting capacity; it works on both larger and smaller branches with ease while being comfortable to use due to its weight being well-balanced and having great comfort grips.
What to Watch Out For
It’s not made from incredibly durable materials, especially when it comes to the blades. People have reported broken blades after only one use, though we had no such issues – the blades did dull rather quickly and needed to be often sharpened. Another small issue is that it requires some strength to use, so it’s not fit for the weak or elderly.
Overall, this is an above-average lopper for a price that’s quite below the average. It has good cutting capacity and can work well for a variety of different jobs. However, the reason for the price is obvious – it’s not incredibly durable. It’s not incredibly shoddy either, and it comes with a lifetime warranty, but it’s still something to consider when purchasing. Otherwise, it works fine.
Despite what you might think at first, this lopper is rather sturdy, and it held up fine after much use. The steel used in its construction is both durable and lightweight.
Sharp Bypass Blade
The blade is a bypass-type, and it is rather sharp, rarely needing re-sharpening. After around twenty hours of use, it finally dulled enough to need some, but that’s quite a while.
The reach of this model is thirty inches overall, placing it in the higher echelons when it comes to that aspect. It’s a bit unwieldy at times, but not too much, and it probably won’t hinder you.
Lower Cutting Capacity than Advertised
The advertised cutting capacity of this tool is 1.25 inches, but that is not exactly true. In practice, it sometimes has trouble cutting even 1-inch branches, let alone anything bigger and it struggles with harder branches that are less than one inch thick.
Incredibly Light and Comfortable
It weighs only 1.23 pounds, making it one of the lightest loppers on the market right now, incredibly well-suited for some light work around the garden. The handles are also well-designed and comfortable. The shock absorber, however, is not up to snuff and it breaks easily, making it less comfortable to use, but still fine.
Who Should Buy This Product
If you’re looking for a pair of easy-to-use and incredibly light loppers, these are just made for you. They are lighter than almost any other lopper out there, and they are decently durable despite it, with the blade being sharp and staying sharp for a long time, while the handles are sturdy and able to withstand a lot.
What to Watch Out For
It doesn’t have great cutting capacity, and it is even lower than what is indicated. Try to use it for a branch larger than one inch in diameter, and you will have some problems. Also, despite most of it being durable, the shock absorber is not, and it broke rather quickly, during the first few tests. That might make it harder to use in the long run.
For a lightweight tool, this lopper works great and is incredibly durable despite weighing only a little over a pound. Still, it isn’t able to perform any heavy tasks and has quite a low cutting capacity. The shock absorber also fails rather quickly, making them harder to use. It’s still a decent product, but you should think twice about what you need it for before getting it.
This is not a well-made lopper, as it is prone to fail in many different ways. The handles and the grips on them can come off; the cutting mechanism is faulty, the blade dulls quickly and so on.
Unlike the other products here this one uses and anvil-type blade design, making it able to cut larger and harder branches. However, it also makes it unsuited for cutting live branches if you don’t want to cause damage to them. The blade also tends to dull.
The reach of this lopper is huge, a full 32 inches, something that is rare. However, combined with how much it weighs, this is not an amazing benefit, as it makes it unwieldy and difficult to use for overhead work.
Unmatched Cutting Capacity
It’s a real heavy duty lopper that can cut branches of up to two inches thick, and maybe even thicker than that. It can output enough strength to cut them even if they are rather hard.
Heavy, Uncomfortable, Unwieldy
It’s not a tool that’s comfortable to use. At 2.7 pounds, it’s rather heavy, and it is not well balanced, so you feel all of it. Due to its length and poor balance, it is cumbersome and difficult to maneuver, almost useless for overhead work.
Who Should Buy This Product
This lopper is ideal for people who need a real heavy duty tool that can cut some impressively large and hard branches with ease. It accomplishes that with no problems due to its huge cutting capacity and the anvil-type blade design. It has enough power to cut through even the hardest of wood.
What to Watch Out For
It’s rather unwieldy due to how it’s constructed. The weight it has is not well-balanced, and it is exceedingly long meaning that it is difficult to use even if you have plenty of strength and almost impossible to maneuver. It also can’t cut smaller branches, and it will just mangle live branches due to the blade design. Another thing to consider is how shoddily constructed it is.
This is a heavy-duty tool that has huge reach and excellent cutting capacity making able to chomp through large, hard branches easily. However a host of issues makes it difficult to recommend – it’s unwieldy, weighty, poorly balanced, unsuited for lighter work and not durable. It could still be of use for tougher work, but consider the downsides before getting it.
The Best Pick – Fiskars Bypass Lopper
We went through a lot of testing to come to this conclusion and discarded plenty of different products before it even came down to these three. There are some decent loppers out there that were edged out only slightly by the ones we presented here. They are all still good, but they aren’t here for a reason – they aren’t the best.
The best lopper we could find on the market right now is the Fiskars Bypass Lopper, without a doubt. This lopper impressed us more than others for a few reasons. The first one is the price – it is incredibly low and affordable by anyone. Then there’s the fact that it’s comfortable to use despite its weight and performs well on a variety of different jobs.
It can cut both smaller and bigger branches, live or dead, hard or soft, unlike the other loppers here. Despite the low durability (the lifetime warranty somewhat covers that), it’s our best pick due to its versatility and cheapness.
So, that’s what it comes down to – in our opinion the Fiskars Bypass Lopper is the best lopper out there. It just wasn’t matched by any other and proved more than a match for our rigorous testing process.
However, it isn’t the best by a huge margin, and some of the others presented here offer a few benefits that it doesn’t, so you should still consider them when looking for a good lopper.
One of those might be the best one for your needs. In the end, you should consider all the info presented here and pick what’s best for you. If you think this article was helpful – share it, please, it lets others in need of help find it easier. Have a good day and good luck shopping for your very own lopper.