Purchasing a gas-powered weed eater seems like something that should be easy. After all, they’ve been a staple in our garages for decades.
However, if you’re shopping online, you may have realized that this process isn’t as straightforward as you may have thought. Manufacturers and their ad teams aren’t shy about overinflating what their equipment can do, while downplaying any potential downsides.
We think that a well-informed consumer makes great decisions, which is why we assembled this list of reviews of the best gas weed eaters of 2020. We also created a buyer’s guide, so you can learn everything you need to know about gas-powered weed eaters before you buy. That way, you can get the model that’s perfect for you, and that won’t break the bank, either.
|Homelite 26cc ZR33600|
|Poulan Pro 967105301||2 years||4.2/5|
|Remington RM2560 Rustler||2 years||3.9/5|
The Husqvarna 128 LD is one of the absolute best gas-powered weed eaters on the market today. It comes with a 17” cutting width, which is massive, and will help you finish cleaning up your yard faster than ever before. It also comes with a Smart start system, which makes it easier to start the engine in just one or two pulls. It also features the ability to work with .065”, .080”, and .095” diameter trimmer line, which means that you can use whichever gauge meets the task at hand.
However, the best thing about this model is that it serves as the base for multiple Husqvarna tools. The weed eater attachment can be taken off the shaft. You can then buy additional accessories to transform this model into a hedge trimmer, brush cutter, sweeper, edger, tree pruner, tiller, or pole saw, which means you can get really good value for your money when you buy this model. The one complaint about this model is that some units need their carburetors adjusted before use, which is not something everyone will know how to do. However, it still provides a great experience and earns the top spot on our list.
The Hitachi CG23ECPSL is another good choice for you if you’re looking for a powerful gas-powered weed eater. It comes with a shaft that’s just under 70 inches long, which makes it great for tall people who would otherwise have to bend over to use a weed eater. It also comes with the S-Start recoil starting system, which means that it starts consistently in 2 pulls or less and requires less force than other models on each pull. It also features an anti-vibration system, which lowers the stress on your body while you use it, and it means that you’ll be less worn out at the end of the process.
It’s also a lightweight model, weighing in at just over 10 pounds, which is light for a gas-powered weed eater. The one flaw in this model revolves around the included bump head that dispenses the trigger line. It doesn’t always dispense more on each bump, and it can be frustrating to have to hit it multiple times to get it to work, which ultimately keeps this model out of first place. However, this is something you could replace with an aftermarket part, though that would drive up the total price.
The Homelite 26cc ZR33600 is our choice for best for the money. It comes with a curved shaft, which makes it a great model for clearing weeds out of an open area, though it makes it less valuable for tight spaces. It comes with a Quick-Fire carburetor, which helps it start on the first or second pull every time, and lowers the force needed for each pull. It also cuts a 17” swath, which means it will take fewer passes with this model to clear the same area than with other models. The price is also great, coming in at under half of what you’ll pay for the first two models on our list.
However, this model does stall sometimes. It’s easy to restart the engine, but we’d like to see it last longer while idling to give you a chance to reposition without having to start over. Like the previous model on this list, it also has problems with the bump head, which dispenses more trimmer line inconsistently. This is a problem you can fix with an aftermarket part, but that adds to the overall price. Overall, this is a decent weed eater available for a great price.
The Poulan Pro 967105301 is a very inconsistent weed eater. It’s another easy staring model, which features a low-force pullcord, and is designed to start on the first or second pull. It comes with a large 17” cutting width, which makes clearing large areas quick and easy. It also comes with a separable shaft, which allows you to buy and add a hedge trimmer, cultivator, blower, brush cutter, edger, or pole pruner attachment. That gives you a lot of versatility out of the single-engine and increases the value while the weed eater lasts. It also works really well while it lasts.
However, this isn’t a model that you can expect to last for years. It has significant durability problems, which means that it’s going to be better for the occasional yard worker, instead of someone who will be out there every weekend. Some units also come with a loose handle, which doesn’t ruin the model, but makes it feel like you don’t have great control or precision. While it’s not the most expensive model on the market, it’s not the cheapest either, and it probably won’t make you feel like you got good value.
The Remington RM2560 Rustler is an overall disappointing weed eater. It does come with a straight shaft, which makes it good for getting under bushes, in fence corners, or other areas that are hard to reach. It also comes with a 16” cutting width, which isn’t the longest on our list but is still very respectable. However, it has a few significant downsides. First among these is how heavy it is. This model weighs 14 pounds, which more than 33% heavier than most models on the market today.
It also has a short shaft that makes even people on the shorter side bend over to use it. That’s a big problem and means you should avoid this model if you’re on the taller side. It also suffers from poor quality control. You can never be quite sure which problem you’ll have, but dead-on-arrival models are too common in this line, as are models whose engines die after just a few uses. If you’re looking for a model that will last forever, you should look elsewhere. Overall, the price isn’t too bad, but you’re not going to get good value for the money.
Not all gas-powered weed eaters are made the same. They come with many different features, varying qualities, and are sold at different price points. If you want to get a good deal, you not only need to know what you’re looking for, but you also have to understand your needs, and how those needs affect the value of each weed eater.
Hopefully, our reviews have already given you some ideas about what you should be looking for when you shop for a weed eater. If you still have questions, be sure to check out this buyer’s guide, which explains many of the features you should consider when you shop, but also explains some of the thinking that went into our reviews.
Weight is one of the most important considerations you should have when shopping for a gas-powered weed eater. While two models might be equally effective, one that weighs less is going to wear you out significantly less during the same tasks. With the right model, you can finish cleaning up your yard feeling fresh instead of completely drained.
Sometimes the weight is listed online, but other times it’s less clear which models are low-weight and which are comparatively heavy. Many online retailers require companies to list the shipping weight, but that’s often much more than the final weight of the weed eater. The shipping weight includes the weight of the box and any shipping materials, like foam. This drives up the weight significantly, so you shouldn’t consider it to be reflective of the weed eater’s weight.
Different companies use different cardboard thicknesses and different amounts of foam and packing plastic, so you can’t even subtract a number from the listed shipping weight to guess at what the final price will be. However, sometimes manufacturers will voluntarily list the weight of their item. This will sometimes be in the same stat block where you can find the shipping weight, and will instead be referred to as “item weight.” Or, it will be listed in the weed eater’s advertising copy, which is especially common if the manufacturer has made low weight a point of emphasis.
There are a few features that dramatically change your experience based on which variety you choose. Chief among these is power, and something you have to keep in mind is that not all weed eaters are made equally. A common mistake is to think that a 4-stroke engine is twice as powerful as a 2-stroke engine. That is untrue. While there are differences between the engines, if they have the same cc or horsepower, they will have equal effectiveness.
Instead, the two extra strokes in the 4-stroke engine change how oil is delivered to the moving parts for more efficient lubrication, which extends the life of the engine. It requires you to use standard gasoline, like that you would use for your car, as well as add oil for lubrication. 2-stroke engines use a 50:1 oil-gas mix, which you can make at home or buy premade, but you can’t use gas with any ethanol in it as it will burn out the motor. The 4-stoke has fewer emissions, so it’s more environmentally-friendly.
The 2-stroke has a lot of advantages in lawn care, though. It’s going to be lower maintenance over its lifespan since it has fewer moving parts. It’s also going to be smaller, and importantly, lighter weight. It will also produce less vibration while it’s on, which makes for a more pleasant experience. 2-stroke engines are far easier to start, and most models that start on just one or two pulls are of the 2-stroke variety.
Shaft type is another area where many people get confused. It’s not usually clear why you might want to get a curved or straight shaft on your weed eater, so many people buy one or the other without really knowing why.
Curved shafts are preferred for clearing large areas with few hard to reach areas. The curved shaft results in some loss of torque from the engine to the head, but it’s not too big of a loss. The curve makes the shaft idea for long, sweeping cuts, which makes clearing a large area much easier. Since the furthest point out is a bit closer to you, you have to exert less force on the weed eater to move it around, which means a curved weed eater of equal weight to a straight one will be easier to move around.
However, the curve in the shaft does make it harder to get into tough areas. Getting under bushes can be a challenge with a curved shaft.
The straight shaft, on the other hand, is great for getting into corners and under bushes. The head is going to be a bit further away than on a curved model with a shaft of the same length, which means you’ll have a bit more reach than you would with the other model.
Keep in mind that the length of the shaft is especially important if you short or tall. If you’re tall, it’s important to look for a long shaft, otherwise, you’ll find yourself bending over while you work, which is very uncomfortable. If you’re short, look for a short shaft, or you’ll have to hold the weed eater above a natural position to keep the head level, which is also very uncomfortable.
Several smaller features can add or subtract value to your purchase depending on your needs. For instance, getting a model that is low-vibration is a great deal for many people, because a large part of the tired feeling that you get in your arms after weed-eating is not due to weight, but instead due to vibrations. Using a high-vibration model is like using shake weights, which may not be something that you’re looking to do.
You’ll also want to consider the number of compatible string gauges. The thicker the diameter of the string that you use, the better it will cut, which means you can clear thicker vegetation with thicker string. A lighter-weight string might not be up to the task and could require multiple passes or leave weeds standing no matter how hard you try. Thicker strings also tend to break less often, which means you don’t have to change it out as often.
Of course, you have to keep in mind that heavier-gauge string is harder to move around, which means your weed eater may need to be more powerful to cut things with the heavier gauge.
The cutting area is often advertised on each model. Bigger cutting areas require more power, so the models with the largest cutting areas tend to be the most powerful ones on the market. 17” is about the best on the market when it comes to handheld gas-powered weed eaters. That’s a huge cutting swath, and it will help you get your jobs done faster.
The right model of weed eater is going to vary from person to person. Everyone has a different yard, a different build, and a different budget. That means you may not be looking for the cheapest or the “overall best” model, but instead looking for the one that will suit you the best.
A great way to get great value is to start with a list of requirements for your next weed eater. Read through this buyer’s guide and pick out some features that you’d like to have, and then create a shortlist of matching weed eater models. Once you’ve done that, you’re safe to choose the cheapest model on that list, since it has all the features that you’re going to expect, and that means you’ll get great value.
The Husqvarna 128 LD is our top model, due to its large cutting width, awesome attachments, and smart start system that gets it up and running fast. The Hitachi CG23ECPSL features a lightweight frame, a quick-start system, and a long shaft that means even tall people won’t have to bend over to use it but misses out on first place due to an inconsistent bump head. The Homelite 26cc ZR33600 features a curved shaft which makes clearing large open areas easier, as well as a large cutting width and a great price that makes it our choice for best value. The Poulan Pro 967105301 features an easy start and has a range of possible attachments you could buy separately but falls to fourth on our list because of its durability problems. The Remington RM2560 Rustler features a decent cutting width, but its short shaft and poor quality control drop it to last on our list.
We hope that our reviews and our buyer’s guide have helped you think through the different features you need to consider before you buy a gas-powered weed eater. You should be able to use this information to find the model that’s right for you.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!