Loppers are essentially pruning shears but for larger branches. When you need to cut something off a tree that is around an inch thick, loppers are going to give you a lot more cutting power and will help you get clean and quick cuts every time. Loppers have much longer handles to give you more leverage and they’re often used to prune twigs and branches that are several inches thick, depending on what the lopper can handle.
The long handles also help you reach branches that are a little higher up on the tree. This is great if you’re looking to prune a tree that’s slowly invading the rest of your garden or if you’re trying to maintain a larger tree that is difficult to reach.
Since loppers come in many different styles and sizes, we’re going to cover the best loppers available on the market and why we’ve rated them so highly.
Our Top Pick: Fiskars PowerGear Lopper
Let’s start with our winner; the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper. Fiskars is a well-known brand when it comes to blades for gardening, cooking and even crafting, and their lineup of garden tools doesn’t disappoint especially their PowerGear lopper. Ideal for cutting fresh wood and pruning tree branches, the Fiskars PowerGear lopper is capable of cutting things up to 5cm (roughly 2 inches) which makes it a heavy-duty lopper. There are smaller versions available, but we found the L78 to be the perfect option due to its long handle and ability to cut into thicker branches.
Suitable for both left and right-handed people, the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper doesn’t discriminate. The construction is clean and no-nonsense, built with a non-stick coating on the blade to offer smooth and clean cuts as long as you keep it clean. The handles are made from fibreglass-reinforced plastic, giving it a sturdy quality while also making it lightweight to handle. This makes it an excellent tool for cutting high branches without needing to strain your arms. Its weight and powerful cutting blade makes it perfect for seniors as well, or those with arm injuries and weakness.
One feature that the Fiskars PowerGear doesn’t have is a telescopic handle. Some people might consider this a huge deal breaker, but we found that telescopic loppers tend to be a little more flimsy and heavier. The Fiskars PowerGear doesn’t really need a telescopic handle since it’s long enough for most use cases and its lightweight build is one of its best features. If it had a telescopic handle, it would add to the weight and ultimately make it less durable and less usable. We appreciate that Fiskars didn’t add a handle to make it more comfortable and lightweight, but we would love to eventually see a best-of-both-worlds lopper that has an adjustable handle and excellent build quality.
The lack of a telescopic handle is more than made up for thanks to the incredibly sharp cutting edge. Thanks to the rack and pinion force transmission system, it effortlessly cleaves branches up to 5cm thick. The advertising materials state that it’s up to 3 times more performance than a traditional lopper, and we couldn’t agree more. This is all despite it being much lighter than most loppers, and it still feels just as sturdy in the hands. You don’t need the strongest muscles to make clean cuts with this lopper–it truly is an amazing piece of engineering.
One issue we’ve personally seen is people trying to use the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper on branches that are simply too thick. The gear material is the same as the handle, making it very lightweight but also susceptible to damage if too much stress is put on it. If you misjudge the diameter of the branch you’re cutting too many times, then expect to see the blade or the gear mechanism snap. As long as you’re mindful about how you use the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper and keep it clean, it’ll provide you with years of clean cuts.
Runner Up: Spear & Jackson W213 Razorsharp Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper
Our first runner up is the Spear & Jackson W213 Razorsharp Telescopic lopper. This is an intimidating pair of loppers that can cut up to 45mm. It’s not as much as the Fiskars PowerGear lopper, but it’s still a respectable cutting limit. The majority of the construction is metal, giving it a premium feel that also ensures the blades are sturdy and not susceptible to breaking. In terms of its overall build quality, it’s equal to the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper–at least, until you break out the telescopic handle.
The Spear & Jackson comes in at just 46cm and can be extended to reach 72cm. This is actually close to the length of the Fiskars PowerGear, meaning it won’t reach as long as many people think. However, it does have the advantage of being smaller, which some people prefer when looking for a lopper. Despite that, it’s still quite heavy compared to the Fiskars PowerGear, holding it back from receiving a solid recommendation.
While this lopper is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a long lopper, you have to keep in mind that all of that extra bulk and weight doesn’t come with no cost. The Spear & Jackson is heavy and it’s very noticeable when compared directly to our winner. This is probably because of the sturdy construction and materials used. While it does provide an excellent cutting experience and feels like it’ll last forever, it does suffer a bit in a long-term use scenario if your arms aren’t quite up the challenge.
As explained in the section about the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper, the telescopic design and heavy-duty materials used are both a blessing and a curse. Ultimately, they don’t really affect the cutting experience unless you’re pruning tree branches that are out of your reach. If it saves you having to get a step ladder then it’s probably a great idea to use a telescopic lopper. However, as you extend it, it ultimately makes it heavier due to the imbalanced weight. This makes it tough on your arms and you won’t be able to get a clean cut.
We also can’t vouch for the cutting power of the Spear & Jackson over the Fiskars PowerGear. The gear system really does make for some smooth and clean cuts whereas the design of the Spear & Jackson screams power over finesse. While it can initially sound like a good idea to aim for a powerful cut, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a clean one. However, its saving grace is that it’s simply cheaper than the alternatives. We can also praise the Spear & Jackson for its surprisingly comfortable handle grips.
And this leads us to the conclusion of the Spear & Jackson and also it hasn’t taken first place over the Fiskars PowerGear Lopper. It simply tries to do a little too much and falls flat by trying to take the crown for everything. Yes, the telescopic handle can be a good option if you’re cutting large trees, but you’re not going to cut just a branch or two. Instead, you’re going to cut a whole lot of them and if your arms get tired before you’ve finished even half of it, then the loppers are no use. You want a pair of loppers that provides clean cuts, is lightweight and comfortable to use.
Runner Up: Davaon Pro Ratchet Telescopic Anvil Loppers
Our second runner up is the Davaon Pro Ratchet Telescopic Anvil Loppers. It has an extendable handle that can grow from 68cm to 100cm, and it can cut branches up to a guaranteed maximum of 45mm. This makes it on-par with the Spear & Jackson, and they look familiar enough that most people would confuse them for the same product. However, the Davaon is slightly more expensive and extends much further than the other two loppers.
Capable of reaching up to 100cm, this lopper is perfect for reaching high up into trees and pruning their branches. However, its long handle means it can also be used for tree hedges. This is a great option if you’re looking for a multi-purpose lopper that can do a lot of things in the garden.
However, we do need to talk about its cutting mechanism. We don’t believe that the Davaon Pro Ratchet is very “pro” at all. Cuts weren’t necessarily the cleanest we’ve seen and it’s hard to recommend such an unpleasant cutting experience. Sure, it can get the job done and you’ll be pruning trees before you know it, but the overall experience is every akin to cheaper tools.
We also need to talk about the weight of the lopper. Much like the Spear & Jackson, the heavier construction means that it’s harder to wield, especially when its in the extended telescopic mode. This is where the loppers can get surprisingly weighty, making it difficult to actually operate it at the maximum length. This makes it a little pointless to use in its fully extended mode unless you’re just cutting hedges and aren’t too interested in precise cutting.
We can give points for its comfortable handles and overall build quality. It’s heavy and bulky, but that only adds to the sturdiness of the lopper and how nice it feels in the hand. We can’t guarantee that it will be comfortable to use once you’ve extended the handle, but we can say that it’s going to be pleasant enough that you can get some good cutting and pruning in. However, use this for a long period of time and you’ll find your arms aching.
So in short, we can recommend the Davaon lopper if you’re looking for a very long telescopic lopper. However, if you care about the quality of your cuts, we would suggest looking for a different option such as the Fiskars PowerGear that is a little more expensive but ultimately offers a lot more power and usability thanks to its small size and lightweight nature.
Loppers Buyers Guide
So what exactly should you be looking for when it comes to loppers? In this section, we’ll be looking at a couple of differentiating factors and how they can come to affect your purchasing decision and experience with a lopper.
The Cutting Blades
There are two different types of loppers; bypass loppers and anvil loppers. Bypass loppers are the most common type of loppers, featuring two blades that slide past each other much like a pair of scissors. They usually offer the cleanest cut due to the cutting mechanism, but they can occasionally get jammed when you’re trimming dead and dry branches.
On the other hand, anvil loppers are made from a single blade. It’s better at crushing the branches and stems because it only has a single cutting edge It’s known as an “anvil” lopper because the flat side is where the blade crushes the branch against, acting like as anvil. This makes it great for cutting larger plants where precision isn’t required.
Most lopper blades are made from steel for the durability they provide. It’s also a lot easier to work with when sharpening the blade. The best-quality blades are typically made from hardened or carbon steel. This makes them last much longer than typical steel and are less likely to bend, scratch or generally become damaged with general use. These are the most common materials that blades are made from and anything less usually means that it won’t last a long time or might not offer a clean cut. It might also be harder to maintain and sharpening the blade could result in more damage than actually sharpening the blade.
It’s also important to look at the blade’s cutting mechanism itself. The closer the blades are when you close and open the loppers, the cleaner the cut will be. Many quality loppers will allow you to adjust the tightness of the cutting mechanism. This ensures that the blades are very close to each other, meaning there are no spots or gaps that could bend or nick the cutting surface when you use them. Most low-quality loppers will have a bit of a bend in them after a couple of uses.
There are three main types of loppers; geared loppers, ratcheting loppers and compound action loppers.
Geared loppers use a series of gears that give you more leverage when you cut. This often leads to much smoother and cleaner cuts but can make the lopper heavier due to the additional parts. It also has a tendency to fail because of the increased number of parts involved in the cutting process.
Ratcheting hoppers latch as you squeeze and release, meaning they cut in steps as opposed to one clean motion. This can be handy for thicker branches, but do remember that each looper is rated to cut only a certain diameter of the branch and it’s not recommended to go above it.
Lastly, compound action loppers use many different moving parts that open up in order for the blades to get around a branch to cut it. These have a lot of extra bits and pieces that can become loose, meaning it’s very important for you to maintain compound action loppers else the cutting strength and quality can be negatively affected.
Loppers come in a range of different lengths. Choosing the right one should be based on your personal needs, but do keep in mind that it can also affect the leverage and weight. For instance, a shorter handle means less material and lighter weight. This means that you have a bit more control over the lopper itself, but it also means that there’s less power behind your cuts. This usually isn’t a problem unless you’re dealing with very thick branches.
On the other hand, a long handle means that you have a lot more leverage and can reach branches that are further away. They tend to be a little more difficult to work with because of the extra weight, but if you’re comfortable handling it, it can actually be a very good option.
Alternatively, there are loppers that offer telescoping handles. These allow you to manually adjust the length of the handle, meaning that you can get more reach if desired. This offers a great level of customisation, but it does also affect the overall quality of the handle and the lopper as a whole.
Many manufacturers try to fit in as many features as possible to their loppers, meaning that they’ll add a telescoping handle at any cost. This can drastically increase the weight of the telescoping handle, but it can also be flimsy if it’s not constructed correctly. As a result, you’ll get a telescopic handle that doesn’t fit well into the frame of the lopper, causes an imbalance in the lopper which makes it feel very heavy, and you don’t get as much control over the cutting motion. The locking mechanism could also break or be damaged from regular use, especially if it’s a cheap lopper. This means that the lopper won’t stay in place, making it very difficult to actually get any meaningful cuts.
As a rule of thumb, avoid telescoping handles unless you’re buying a high-quality lopper. Many mid-to-high range loppers don’t actually use telescoping handles. Instead, they offer a variety of different sizes. This helps to reduce the number of moving parts, thus limiting the ways in which the lopper can fail. It also helps to keep the weight distribution even so that it never feels too heavy to use. However, some high-end loppers may include a sturdy telescoping mechanism that doesn’t come with any of the downsides.
Loppers also have a variety of different grip types. Some loppers come with basic plastic or silicon grips, while others offer an ergonomic shape that is designed to fit your hand. Some also offer impact-dampening qualities to reduce the strain on your hands when you cut a branch. If possible, try out the lopper you plan to buy to see if the grip is comfortable enough for you.
Loppers also have bumpers close to the grip that prevents the two handles from colliding when you make a cut. This should be able to dampen any impact while also absorbing any shock that might put a strain on your arms.
It’s also very important to consider the weight of the lopper. We’ve alluded to this a few times in this article, but we’re going to dedicate an entire section to it.
For a lighter lopper, you’re typically going to get slightly worse build quality but it’s going to be easier to handle. You won’t strain your arms using it and they won’t feel uncomfortable after a while. These lightweight loppers are often made from aluminium or fibreglass, but the blades are still made from a heavy-duty material such as steel.
For heavier loppers, you can expect them to tire out your arms if you’re not used to using them for a long period of time. Keep in mind that length can also affect the weight of a lopper since it’s adding more material to the lopper itself.
If possible, try and get a feel for the lopper in a store to see how heavy it is. Even if it doesn’t feel heavy at the start, do remember that continuous use for 30 minutes to an hour will greatly change the way you perceive its weight. It can easily start to feel heavy and you want to avoid that at any cost when working for long periods of time. It can also aggravate existing muscle or joint issues if you’re not careful.
Maintenance and Support
Lastly, consider the maintenance options available and the support offered by the company itself. If the manufacturer is known for offering warranty and excellent support, then it’s worth picking a product from that company just for the support alone. This is where buying from a well-known brand name can either backfire or be a fantastic option. It’s worth looking at the reviews of a product before purchasing it to see if the support is any good.
And you should also take a look at the replacement parts available, namely the blades. It’s completely possible to purchase a whetstone so you can sharpen the blades when needed and adjust the distance between them, but this can take a lot of work and some people would much prefer just replacing the blades. However, if you want to get a bit more use out of your loppers and would like to keep them sharp at all times, we do suggest that you learn to sharpen and clean your loppers.
Loppers are an incredibly useful tool to have in the garden if you ever find yourself pruning branches from trees or thick hedges. Picking the right lopper will make a huge difference in how quickly you can get your gardening done, but do keep in mind that there are many considerations involved in picking a lopper that’s suited to your needs.
Which lopper should I use?
It depends on what you’re using the lopper for. If you are pruning tree branches, then one with a sharp blade that offers clean cuts is preferred. In this case, look for a bypass lopper. If you’re only using a lopper to clean up deadwood and thick branches, use an anvil lopper for its cutting power.
How do I prune with loppers?
There are a few tips to follow:
- Make sure the blades are sharp before use.
- Use bypass loppers for a cleaner cut
- Line up the blade with the cutting area and remember that the blades pass each other, meaning that the cutting area shifts a little
- Open the loppers wide so you can get a deep cut instead of snipping at the branches
- Use one fluid motion to make the cut so that it’s clean and promotes healthy growth
How do I hold loppers?
Unless you’re cutting a branch far away, make sure your arms are at a comfortable handle and tightly grip each handle. If you extend your arms, you’ll get tired very easily. When using bypass loppers, don’t let them twist as they will naturally want to due to the cutting motion.
How do I maintain my loppers?
Make sure they’re cleaned on a regular basis to remove any residue and dirt. Scrub them with a brush if there is dirt caked onto the blades. You can also sharpen the blades if they are getting dull by using a whetstone, but be careful not to shave off too much of the blade unless you have a mechanism to tighten the blades. After a gardening session, make sure you clean the blades.
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