If you’re pruning thicker branches and stems that require some serious cutting power, a lopper is a great tool to have on hand. “Tree loppers are tools with a small sharp blade or blades at the end of two long handles, like pliers,” says Andrew Hughes, arborist and owner of Urban Loggers, a tree cutting company based in Ohio. “When the handles are squeezed together, the blades will cut a small limb or branch.”
We researched the best loppers in a variety of categories, evaluating products for their comfort, ease of use, reach, and cutting capacity. Due to its high-quality construction, impressive cutting power, and telescoping handles, the Kings County Tools Double Ratcheting Anvil Lopper is our top overall pick.
Here are the best loppers to enhance your pruning experience.
Best Overall: Kings County Tools Double Ratcheting Anvil Lopper
Extremely powerful cutting force
Ratcheting action increases cutting pressure
Comfortable nonslip grips
Extends to reach high branches
Heavy to use overhead
“If a limb falls in your yard,” says Andrew Hughes, arborist and owner of Urban Loggers, a tree cutting company based in Ohio, “that would be an appropriate cleanup job for an anvil lopper.” The Kings County Tools Double Ratcheting Anvil Lopper earns our top spot because of its heavy-duty craftsmanship and powerful cutting force. With a cutting capacity of up to 2.5 inches, the wide jaws can cut thick branches with ease. Thanks to the ratcheting mechanism, the cutting force increases each time you pump on the handles. The carbon-coated blades show no signs of dulling or nicking—even after heavy use on hard, dry wood. This tool is backed by a limited warranty, and the manufacturer promises a replacement if the ratcheting mechanism stops working.
The telescoping handles can be adjusted between 26 and 40 inches in length, making this one of the most versatile loppers on the market. When fully extended, you should be able to reach high branches and tall shrubs without having to strain yourself. However, these loppers weigh in at over 4 pounds, so you likely can experience some arm fatigue over time. The manufacturer says hand fatigue is reduced by the product’s non-slip rubber grips.
Best Budget: Fiskars Bypass Lopper
Sharp, clean cuts
Comfortable cushioned grip
No safety lock
Despite its low price tag, Fiskars’ Bypass Lopper earns accolades for making a smooth, angular cut without tearing or damaging trees and shrubbery. The 28-inch-long tool, with a low-friction, precision-ground blade, can smoothly cut branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter and maintain its sharpness over time. Plus, the low-friction coating helps reduce sticky residue on the blade that comes from tree sap. (The goo that does accumulate can be easily cleaned off with a soft cloth.)
Thanks to padded grips on the handles, this tool is comfortable to hold for an extended period. At just under 3 pounds, it might not be the lightest, but it’s not cumbersome when cutting overhead either. This lopper also features shock-absorbing bumpers to improve overall comfort. While it works great for more basic gardening and pruning tasks, it’s not the best choice for heavy-duty jobs. But it offers a high-quality design and maximum performance.
Best Splurge: Felco F 22 Pruning Shear
Powerful cutting force
Durable, high-quality construction
All parts are replaceable
Available in 5 different lengths
No safety lock
Since all of the parts on these bypass loppers from Felco are replaceable, the overall longevity is well worth the splurge. The high-quality carbon steel blade delivers a clean, precise cut. Thanks to the curved shape of the cutting head, the pruning process is a lot easier. The manufacturer doesn’t provide a specific cutting capacity, but expect it to easily cut through branches 2 inches thick.
These loppers have forged aluminum handles with non-slip grips, which makes them comfortable to hold and maneuver, and built-in shock absorbers to protect the wrists and arms. These loppers come in multiple lengths ranging from 16.9 to 33.1 inches. The 33-inch length is ideal for trimming higher branches and taller shrubs. At just under 4.5 pounds, these loppers are on the heavy side, so they likely could cause some arm fatigue after extended use.
Best Anvil: Jardineer 2" Anvil Loppers Shears
Giant ratchet jaw increases cutting force
Replacement blade is included
Long enough to reach high branches
Soft, comfortable grip
Not ideal for soft greenery or thicker branches
Fairly heavy if using overhead
“Anvil-style loppers, which have just one blade, are best for cutting larger branches,” says Andrew Hughes, arborist and owner of Urban Loggers, a tree cutting company based in Ohio. These anvil loppers are an excellent choice for cutting dry branches and dead stems. Thanks to a giant ratchet jaw and 2-inch blade, they maximize cutting force and require minimal effort from users. The non-stick carbon steel blade resists residue from sticky sap and makes a clean cut, which is ideal for optimal plant health. A spare blade is included, which is a nice bonus, should you encounter any problems.
Compared with other models, these loppers have a limited cutting capacity of up to .75 inches, so they’re best suited for cutting smaller stems and branches. They also should not be used on softer greenery or thicker branches. Measuring 31 inches long, the Jardineer loppers come in handy for reaching overhead branches. The handles are soft and offer a comfortable, nonslip grip. At nearly 5 pounds, however, this tool is on the heavy side and could cause some arm fatigue over time.
Best Telescoping: Spear & Jackson 8290RS Razorsharp Heavy Duty Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Loppers
Ideal for dead and broken branches
Adjustable handle length
Comfortable nonslip grips
Ratcheting action for forceful cutting
Rust-resistant carbon steel blade
On the heavier side
Pricier than other options
These heavy-duty loppers from Spear & Jackson are a great tool for cutting hard and thick branches. This tool’s biggest selling point, the telescoping handle, can be adjusted between 26 and 40 inches. With the handle extended all the way, you can access high branches that you’d normally need a ladder to reach. The ratcheting action amplifies the cutting force and requires minimal work on the user’s part.
With a few slight pumps on the handle, these loppers can cut through dead branches up to 1.5 inches thick. They come in particularly handy for broken branches and deadwood, as well as dry stems and limbs. The carbon steel blade provides long-lasting sharpness and a smooth cut. It is coated with Teflon to resist rust and corrosion. For a comfortable hold, the aluminum handles feature soft, non-slip grips.
At just over 4 pounds, these loppers are fairly heavy, and you may experience arm fatigue if you don’t give yourself a break. Thanks to a safety lock, these loppers can be stored safely in a closed position.
Best Grip: Corona 31-inch DualLINK Bypass Lopper
Comfortable gel-like grip
Compound action increases cutting force
Long handles improve reach and leverage
Backed by a lifetime warranty
May get heavy if used overhead
As the name suggests, the ComfortGEL grips make these Corona loppers a pleasure to use. These compound action loppers exert enough force to cut through thick branches up to 1.75 inches in diameter. Even though this tool is not extendable (an extendable model is available), the long aluminum arms make it easier to cut hard-to-reach branches and allow for more leverage. Meanwhile, a power-compounding link amplifies the cutting force and reduces the required user effort. And, thanks to a comfortable grip and a shock-guard bumper system, this tool reduces hand fatigue, wrist pain, and blisters.
These loppers have a narrow blade opening, which is ideal for accessing tight spots. The blade can be resharpened as needed, so you can expect years of reliable use. What’s more, Corona backs their products with a limited lifetime warranty.
At just under 4 pounds, these loppers are on the heavier side, which means you may experience some fatigue when working overhead.
Best for Thick Branches: Tabor Tools GG12A Anvil Lopper with Compound Action
Cuts thick branches with ease
Long arms for reaching overhead
Powerful compound cutting action
No safety lock
Lacks shock-absorbing bumper
Ideal for cutting soft green branches as well as hard, dry wood, this anvil lopper from Tabor Tools cuts through thick branches effortlessly. Its compound action amplifies its cutting force, making it highly effective for heavy-duty tasks. The carbon steel blades are very durable and maintain their sharpness, even after heavy use. The blades’ non-stick coating prevents residue buildup and resists rust and corrosion. Shock-absorbing rubber handles make this tool comfortable to hold and easier to use.
With a 30-inch length, these loppers can reach higher branches and taller shrubs. The longer handles also help create more leverage. At 3.6 pounds, the Tabor loppers can be used overhead with little wrist and arm fatigue for most users. But a shock-absorbing bumper, which this product lacks, would eliminate additional arm stress. This lopper is available in another version with an extendable aluminum handle, which can be adjusted between 19 and 32.5 inches.
The Kings County Tools Double Ratcheting Anvil Lopper is our top choice, thanks to its superior quality, ratcheting cutting power, and telescoping handles. If you’re sticking to a budget, the Fiskars Bypass Lopper is a solid choice. It’s definitely not the most powerful option but offers a user-friendly design and smooth cutting performance at an affordable price point.
What to Look For in a Tree Lopper
Bypass Versus Anvil Pruners
Pruning woody plants is best accomplished with a bypass pruner. This type has a sharp curved top blade that slides over the softer lower blade to make a clean angular cut without tearing or damaging the tree or shrub. The edges of the blades on an anvil pruner make direct contact, which works well on green suckers or softer plant material that just needs to be clipped off.
Comfort and Convenience
Pruning trees and other woody plants can be labor intensive, so be sure to choose the lopper tool that feels most comfortable—and learn how to use your lopper properly. Tree loppers constructed with lightweight materials lower the stress on your arms and hands. Cushioned grips help reduce the pressure and wear and tear on your hands and wrists. Ratcheting loppers that cut in smaller increments work best for people with diminished strength in their hands. A carbon steel blade should stay strong enough to do the job, and the option of replacing blades comes in handy if you use the pruners a lot.
Reach and Capacity
Choose a lopper with long enough handles to reach the branches you need to prune. Make sure the blade is wide enough to cut through the size branch you need to remove. Most loppers cut between 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, and some are extendable, which allows you to set the tool at just the length you need.
Make sure the lopper has enough maneuverability to accomplish the work you need to do. Those with shorter handles might work better for pruning shrubs with small dense branching while longer handles might be needed for pruning trees. A lopper with extendable handles might fit the need for both tasks.
How do you clean lopper shears?
Keeping the blades of a good tree lopper clean should give you a lifetime of use, and an ounce of prevention works best. Before each use, lubricate the blade with just a few drops of three-in-one oil, petroleum jelly, or machinery grease. When the job is complete, simply wipe the blade with a clean, dry rag. Then, sterilize the loppers with isopropyl alcohol so they don't spread disease from one tree to another.
How do you sharpen a tree lopper?
Tree loppers can be sharpened on a wet grinding stone. Note that one side of the blade is flat, and the other is beveled. First, dress the flat side by holding the blade flat against the stone and making circular motions across the stone. Flip the blade over and repeat the process, but hold the blade so the beveled edge is flush with the stone.
When buying a lopper, what specific features can improve comfort and convenience?
Loppers with two blades are the best to use for your trees. They are called pass-through pruners. Although they can cut limbs as large as other styles, they leave the cleanest cut. If pass-through pruners are too small for the limb in question, consider using a fine-tooth saw. Anvil-style loppers, which have just one blade, are best for cutting larger branches. If a limb falls in your yard, for example, that would be an appropriate cleanup job for an anvil pruner.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. To select the best loppers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their comfort, ease of use, reach, and cutting capacity. For expert insight, she interviewed Andrew Hughes, an arborist and owner of Urban Loggers, a tree cutting company based in Ohio.