String trimmers, otherwise known by the brand name “Weed Eaters” have become a have-to item for both homeowners and landscaping contractors. Their ability to quickly and easily perform tasks like cutting the grass around trees, edging along sidewalks, and cutting the grass in places that can’t be reached with a lawnmower has made them an essential yard-care tool.
Today there are many companies making a wide variety of string trimmers. Of these, the best is the gas-powered ones. They are more powerful than their electric cousins, as well as being more convenient, as you don’t have to drag an extension cord around with you.
But even within the realm of gas string trimmers, there are vast differences in what you can find. The first thing you’ll probably notice is that some have straight shafts and others have bent shafts. Of all the explanations I’ve heard about this difference, the best is: “That shows the position of your back while using it. If you buy one with a straight shaft, you’ll be able to stand upright. But if you buy one with a bent shaft, you’ll have to be bent over while using it.”
By and large, the bent shaft trimmers are less expensive than the straight shaft ones. But the reality is that what you don’t have to pay at purchase price will be paid in backache. With that in mind, I made the switch from bent shaft to straight shaft years ago and I’m glad I did.
This isn’t to say that bent shaft trimmers are all bad. One advantage that they have is that it is easier to flip them up on edge and use them to trim around the edges of your sidewalk and driveway. So a lot of your choice is going to have to do with how you intend to use the trimmer.
The next most important factor is the string size and type. All of these tools use a nylon-string or line, but not all of those lines are the same. Thicker lines hold up better, cutting more before they need to be replaced. They can cut through heavier grass or foliage without breaking. Ultimately, that makes the job easier, because you won’t have to be extending or replacing the line as often.
The worst configuration for the trimmer line is round. While that will still cut through most grass and other plants, the lack of a sharp edge means that it requires more force to push that line through the foliage. This can potentially slow down the trimmer’s engine and will definitely slow down your own.
It’s important to remember that none of these nylon lines are strong enough to survive being run up against rocks and concrete, without it damaging them. Using a string trimmer as an edger, where the nylon line has to rub up against the concrete of the sidewalk or your driveway is a sure way of wearing outline quickly and having to extend it.
Finally, engine size and quality are important considerations. The larger the engine, the less likelihood of the string trimmer being bogged down by any resistance provided by thick grass or other foliage. The faster the engine can run, the better it cuts, so a small engine, which is more likely to be bogged down is going to reduce the efficiency of the trimmer. To make up for that, you’ll have to work slower, taking thick stands of grass in “bites” and allowing the trimmer’s engine time to get back up to speed.
Keep in mind that these are small engines. As such, they need to be maintained properly, especially before storing it for a prolonged period of time. More than anything, you need to empty the tank of gas and then restart the trimmer, allowing it to run out of gas, using the residual gas in the carburetor. That will help prevent the carburetor from being gummed up by leftover gas.
Table of Contents
- Best Gas String Trimmer – Comparison
- 10 Best Gas String Trimmers – Review
- 1. Makita EM2850LHN, 25.4cc String Trimmer
- 2. Echo SRM-266T, 25.4cc String Trimmer
- 3. Honda HHT25SLTAT, 25cc String Trimmer
- 4. Sunseeker BC152, 52cc Trimmer & Brush Cutter
- 5. Tanaka TCG27EBSP, 26.9cc Commercial String Trimmer
- 6. Husqvarna 129LK, 27.6cc Attachment Capable String Trimmer
- 7. Ryobi B07N27NL9P, 25cc String Trimmer with Edger Attachment
- 8. Hitachi CG23ECPSL, 22.5cc String Trimmer
- 9. Troy-Built TB42 BC, 27cc Brushcutter
- 10. SunSeeker 26cc 4-in-1 Multi-Tool
Best Gas String Trimmer – Comparison
|Makita EM2850LHN, String|
|Echo SRM-266T, String|
|Honda HHT25SLTAT, String|
10 Best Gas String Trimmers – Review
1. Makita EM2850LHN, 25.4cc String Trimmer
I was a little surprised to find that Makita made a gas string trimmer. More than anything, they’re known for professional-grade power tools, especially cordless ones. I’ve used Makita’s products for years and can attest to their quality.
This trimmer has a four-stroke engine, which means that it will run quieter than the Echo model we just looked at. Typically, four-stroke engines give you more power at lower speeds, while two-stroke ones give you more power at higher speeds. You don’t have to worry about putting oil in the gas either. From my experience with Makita’s products, I’d say that they’ve maximized this one for power.
At the same time, they’ve managed to keep the weight down to only 10.9 pounds, making it easier to work with and reducing operator fatigues. The engine automatically decompresses when you stop it, making for quicker and easier starting. With a high-capacity bump-feed for the line, it’s a great unit overall.
- Four-stroke cycle engine is quieter
- High capacity bum-and-feed trimmer head is easy to load
- No need to add oil to the gas
- Steel drive shaft for lower vibration
- Low weight at only 10.9 lbs.
- Mechanical engine decompression system for faster and easier starts
- Price is rather high
2. Echo SRM-266T, 25.4cc String Trimmer
I’m starting out with the Echo SRM-266T mostly because I have one. I’ve found it to be a very rugged and reliable unit. In the past, I’ve had some problems with lesser expensive line trimmers, where the engines would get gummed up and stop running. No such problem with the Echo. While I do try to maintain it properly, I haven’t even had problems on those occasions where I forgot to.
The other thing I really like about this unit is the line that the Echo makes. It’s an eight-edged, lobed string that is very efficient at cutting through tall grass and other foliage. Of the various different trimmer lines I’ve used, this one is excellent.
This trimmer sports a 25.4cc engine, which isn’t the biggest around. But I haven’t had any problems with it. It cuts a 17” swath, with the string fully extended. Mine has always been easy to start, even after sitting for a while.
- Highly reliable
- Excellent line
- Well-balanced and easy to hold
- Bump-head is easy to reload and feeds line extremely easy
- The engine is a bit smaller than some of the others on this list
- The two-stroke engine is noisier than a four-stroke one
3. Honda HHT25SLTAT, 25cc String Trimmer
Honda, the same company famous for its high-quality motorcycles and cars, also makes string trimmers. With their reputation for quality vehicles and the engines they build for them, I think it’s safe to say that they build quality string trimmers as well. You can be sure that the engine will last for years.
This is a four-stroke engine, meaning that you don’t have to add oil to the gas. It also makes for a trimmer that doesn’t produce enough noise, which should make your neighbors happy. The Fuel-efficient engine cuts a 17” swath, running line out of what they call a “semi-matic” bump feed head. Like the engine, the line is designed for quiet operation as well.
This durable unit is designed for ergonomics, making it comfortable to work with. The four-stroke engine produces lower vibration, which is further dampened by the padded handles.
- The four-stroke engine produces lower noise, vibration, and smoke
- Quick-start system
- Quality design
- Ultra-quiet line
- Solid trigger design for increased durability
- Ergonomic design
- Heavier than previously mentioned units at 13 lbs.
- Price is a bit high
4. Sunseeker BC152, 52cc Trimmer & Brush Cutter
This is a heavy-duty unit, actually designed by the manufacturer more as a brush cutter, than a string trimmer. Nevertheless, it can also be used as a string trimmer. At the same time, it has the power you need, so that it can handle the heavy jobs, when you need it.
The bicycle-style handles on this trimmer help make it easier to use with the heavier-duty jobs. An oversized guard helps to protect you from the sticks which will invariably be kicked up by cutting brush. While this reduces visibility slightly, it is a necessity for using this trimmer as intended. A 52cc two-cycle engine provides plenty of power.
Please note that you are supposed to replace the bump-feed head with a brush cutter when cutting brush.
- Very powerful unit with a 52cc engine; most powerful one we’ve looked at
- Bicycle style handles, used with an over-the-shoulder strap give you great control
- Large brush guard protects you when cutting brush
- Chrome-plated cylinder for long life and minimal wear
- Ball & needle bearings in the engine, again for long life and minimal wear
- Purge pump primer allows priming the carburetor without flooding it
- Great price
- Unit is a bit heavy, but that’s made up for by the over-the-shoulder strap
5. Tanaka TCG27EBSP, 26.9cc Commercial String Trimmer
This trimmer was designed to be a commercial unit, which is why it has a slightly larger engine than the first ones we looked at. As such, it would probably last you nearly forever as a home unit. They back that up with a 7-year consumer warranty. The S-start technology incorporated into the engine helps ensure quick and easy starts, every time.
This unit has a rugged tank guard, reducing one of the biggest maintenance risks to line trimmers. An anti-vibration system, along with padded handles and fairly light weight makes it easy and comfortable to work with. An outstanding unit that will provide years of use.
- The commercial grade gives you long life when used as a consumer product
- Solid steel drive shaft for lower vibration
- Built-in spindle lock makes it easier to change cutting attachments
- Padded front and rear handles
- Price is a bit steep
- Guard is a bit hard to see around
6. Husqvarna 129LK, 27.6cc Attachment Capable String Trimmer
Husqvarna has an excellent reputation for both consumer and commercial yard-maintenance products. Their products tend to be easy to use and last well, providing users years of trouble-free service. Everything I’ve ever used from them is easy to work with, with controls in convenient locations and starters which are easy to work with.
This string trimmer has a 27.6cc engine, just a touch larger than the Tanaka we just looked at. That really isn’t going to make much difference in what it can cut, but just like on a car, a larger engine doesn’t have to work as hard, so will most likely last longer. On top of being larger, it comes with smart-start technology for trouble-free starting and an auto stop return switch to simplify the trimmer’s controls.
One thing I really like about this trimmer is that it was designed right from the start to have interchangeable cutting heads. You can remove the string trimmer head and attach other heads, which are bought separately as accessories. This gives a wider range of use for the same tool, saving you from having to buy multiple tools, with separate engines that need to be maintained.
- Click on attachments for versatility
- Auto-start technology for trouble-free starting
- The slightly larger engine gives longer life
- Auto stop return switch, simplifying controls
- Husqvarna’s reputation for quality
- Decent price
- Forward handle doesn’t seem as stable as some others, but it is metal for durability
7. Ryobi B07N27NL9P, 25cc String Trimmer with Edger Attachment
Ryobi has built themselves quite a reputation for consumer-grade power tools over the last decade. By and large, you can count on their power tools for commercial-grade service, without having to pay that commercial-grade price. This is the lowest-cost trimmer on our list and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it. I have several Ryobi power tools and none of them have failed me yet.
This trimmer comes as a kit, with both the string trimmer head and an actual edger head. That will save you from eating up the string at a crazy rate, just trying to edge your lawn. At the same time, you’ll probably end up with much neater edging. Other heads are available, as with the Husqvarna unit above, giving you a complete tool system, with one power pack.
The string bump head comes with a hand crank, making it the easiest one I’ve seen to reload. That’s just one example of how Ryobi has tried to make this tool easier to use than the competitions.
- Easiest bump head to reload with string there is
- The multi-tool system, giving you more capability for the money
- Comes with edger
- Good price for what you get
- While the edger comes with the kit, you do have to buy the other heads separately
- The two-cycle engine is a bit noisy
8. Hitachi CG23ECPSL, 22.5cc String Trimmer
Hitachi is another company which has been making great strides in the last several years. They’ve become known for breaking away from the norm in their product design; such as they did with this string trimmer. It only has a 22.5cc engine on it, making it the smallest in this list. I would normally shy away from that, but I’m giving Hitachi the benefit of the doubt here. From what I’ve seen with their other tools, they’re going to get plenty of power out of that engine, even if it is smaller.
One nice thing that smaller engine does is make for a lighter-weight tool. This is one of the lightest weight straight shaft string trimmers around, even though it has an extra-long shaft. Coupled with their S-Start effortless starting system and a Walbro carburetor, it is an extremely easy tool to work with.
- Lightweight at only 10.3 lbs.
- Extra-long shaft length
- Solid steel drive shaft
- S-Start for effortless starting
- Anti-vibration system
- Smaller engine size may cause problems, but the warranty should cover that
9. Troy-Built TB42 BC, 27cc Brushcutter
Troy-built is another company I’ve had a lot of good experience with. I used to live about 20 miles from their home, which meant that I worked with a lot of their equipment. I’ve always thought it was extremely well made and well worth the money.
This trimmer is actually designed to be a brushcutter, more than a string trimmer. It’s ideal for those slightly heavier jobs when a nylon line just won’t cut what you need it too. The 27cc engine gives it that extra boost of power needed for the steel blade to get through the thicker brush as well. But it’s not just limited to being a brushcutter, as there are 10 different attachments available for this unit, including some I haven’t seen elsewhere, allowing it to do just about any job in your yard.
- Quality construction
- 10 different heads, allow the same power pack to be used for a large variety of work
- The engine automatically adjusts to the head attached
- Slightly larger engine
- Good price
- Continually variable transmission
- J-handle gives you more adjustment than a standard D-handle does
- Uh… nothing
10. SunSeeker 26cc 4-in-1 Multi-Tool
Call me a sucker for multi-use tools, but I like getting my money’s worth. When I see a unit like the Troy-Built with 10 attachments or this one, which comes with four, it catches my attention. This 26cc power pack can be used as a string trimmer, a brush cutter, a hedge trimmer, and a pole chainsaw, just by changing out the head. That’s versatility, and it comes at an incredible price.
If you are needing a lot of capability for your yard work, this unit is definitely worth taking a look at. The pole saw head articulates, allowing multiple angles. Using a hedge trimmer with a longer shaft, like this one, makes trimming those larger hedges or even trees much easier. An included strap helps to support the tool’s weight, making it easier to use for an extended period of time. All in all, a great package.
- Multiple heads in the package allow for different types of work
- The engine is large enough to power all those heads
- Articulating pole saw head
- Extended reach, articulating hedge trimmer
- Comes with a strap for easier use
- Great price
- Whenever buying a multi-unit like this, you have to watch out for quality. From everything I know, Sun Seeker makes quality products; but check it out carefully.
A good string trimmer is worth the investment. I’ve owned cheap ones and I’ve owned good ones and the cheap ones never lasted. Personally, I’d rather have one that I know I can count on, without having to worry about it wearing out too soon.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I only included straight-shaft string trimmers on this list. All of these companies make bent-shaft units which are essentially the same engine and head, with a different shaft. But having used both, I am convinced that any straight-shaft string trimmer will outperform a bent-shaft one, any day of the week. The extra expense is worth it; your back will thank you.
With proper care and maintenance, the engines on these units should easily last 10 years. The biggest problem is usually the carburetor. But if you don’t leave gasoline in the tool, that shouldn’t be an issue. Just be sure to change the oil on the four-stroke ones and to use fuel with oil added on the two-stroke ones. Between those two maintenance items, you can avoid over 90 percent of the potential problems with these tools.
Always remember that string trimmers can be dangerous. While these tools aren’t as dangerous as a chain saw, you can cut your skin rather badly. It’s a good idea to wear long pants, with boots, when using them. even pieces of grass thrown from a string trimmer can break the skin.