Best Weed Whackers of 2018

Grant Morgan ·
Managing Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We used 10 weed whackers on five lawns and at a city park to find out which machine was the most powerful and functional. Our testers unanimously agreed that the Hitachi CG23ECPSL is the best weed whacker overall because of its light weight, power, anti-vibration system and cutting capability. This gas-powered weed whacker effortlessly cut its way through thick weeds and grass and even took down tough, reedy vegetation. The 60-inch shaft makes it easier on taller users and gives a person of any height longer reach.  

Best Overall

Hitachi CG23ECPSL

The Hitachi CG23ECPSL performed the best in all our weed whacker tests, and our reviewers were impressed with its exceptional cutting power, reduced vibrations and the trimmer’s long reach.
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Best Value

Ryobi RY253SS

The Ryobi RY253SS has a variety of attachments (sold separately) that make it useful beyond trimming. It is backed with a three-year warranty and cuts a wide 18-inch path.
Best for Low Vibration

Toro 51978

While on the heavier side of the weed whackers we tested, the Toro 51978 performed exceptionally well without tiring our hands from vibrations. It also impressed us with its cutting capability.

Our Test Results

Product
Price
$197.99Amazon
$165.99Amazon
$179.00CJ
$129.00CJ
$129.99Amazon
Overall Rating
9.8
9.4
9.3
9.3
9.3
9.1
8.6
8.2
Functionality
10
9.4
9.7
9.4
8.6
9.7
8.1
7.9
Design
9.4
9.6
8.6
8.9
10
8.8
9
7.6
String Features
9.8
10
10
10
9.4
7.8
9.4
9.7
Warranty & Support
10
8
9.3
9.2
9.3
9.2
8
9.2
Sound
92%
85%
99%
98%
99%
99%
98%
99%
Cutting
100%
100%
100%
80%
85%
90%
75%
90%
Balance
90%
95%
95%
70%
85%
90%
75%
80%
Weight
95%
85%
80%
85%
90%
95%
100%
80%
Vibration
96%
96%
100%
85%
96%
96%
43%
74%
Attachment Capable
N/A
N/A
Weight (pounds)
10.3
12
12.5
12.2
12
11
10.5
12.4
Shaft Length (inches)
60
40
44
40
41
21
55
41
Fuel Capacity (ounces)
14.5
N/A
18
12
N/A
10
12.8
10
Cutting Path (inches)
15
17
18
18
17
17
17
17
Anti-Vibration
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Debris Shield
Shoulder Strap Included
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Engine Displacement
22.5cc
25cc
25.4cc
25cc
27cc
25cc
26cc
25cc
Sound Level (dB)
100
105
97
97.1
96.8
96.8
97.3
97
Warranty
7 Years
2 Years
3 Years
3 Years
3 Years
2 Years
2 Years
2 Years
Online Manual
Phone
Service Centers
Drive Shaft Warranty
Lifetime
2 Years
3 Years
3 Years
3 Years
2 Years
2 Years
2 Years
Email
N/A
N/A
Dual-Line Exit
Line Diameter (inches)
0.095
0.095
0.095
0.095
0.095
0.095
0.08
0.095
Line Feed Capacity (feet)
13
25
25
20
25
8
20
12
Line Feed Type
Semi-Automatic
Bump
Bump
Bump
Bump
Bump
Bump
Bump
Best Overall

Hitachi CG23ECPSL

The Hitachi CG23ECPSL was the best weed whacker overall in our extensive testing. Our reviewers cut through thick grasses and even reedy vegetation with ease, and it was easy to angle the machine to use it as an edger along sidewalks and driveways.
This gas-powered trimmer has a 60-inch-long shaft, which made a world of difference for the backs of our taller reviewers, since they didn’t have to slouch or overextend to reach the weeds and grass. Our shorter reviewers had a slightly harder time getting used to the longer shaft, but they quickly adjusted and commented that it was nice to be farther away from the flying grass and debris. An additional comfort feature of this Hitachi weed whacker is an excellent anti-vibration system that reduces the shaking produced by the engine and spinning spool. This makes it possible to trim longer with less fatigue in your hands and arms. In addition to trimming, Hitachi offers various attachments, sold separately, that can attach to the front of the CG23ECPSL, such as an edger, pole saw and hedge trimmer. We are particularly impressed at how powerful this weed eater is, considering it only weighs 10.3 pounds. It is also well-balanced and was one of the most comfortable machines in our testing.
Pros
  • 60-inch-long shaft gets to hard-to-reach areas
  • Lightweight and balanced
  • Anti-vibration system is easy on hands and arms
Cons
  • Spool can hold only 13 feet of string
  • Longer shaft can be difficult for shorter people
  • Does not include a shoulder strap
$193.91Amazon
Best Value

Ryobi RY253SS

Our best value pick, the Ryobi RY253SS, cuts grass and weeds efficiently and is compatible with a multitude of Ryobi attachments to help with your lawn work. While it may not be a deeply discounted model, the combination of additional tools, power and warranty make this weed whacker a great budget option for homeowners who don’t want to invest in multiple lawn machines.
Our testers remarked that the Ryobi had above-average cutting power and that the 18-inch cutting path made their work easier. Ryobi backs this gas-powered weed trimmer with a three-year warranty, better than the industry standard of two years, and you can find Ryobi attachments and parts at your local Home Depot. While not as light as our overall best pick, the Ryobi weighs around 12 pounds, which is standard for a trimmer with its engine size and power. Unfortunately, this weed whacker does not have an anti-vibration system to reduce the shaking generated by the engine and the spinning of the string spool. Our testers noted that their hands tired sooner than with our top models but that the amount of vibration generated wasn’t above normal expectations. The straight shaft measures 40 inches, giving you plenty of range for hard-to-reach areas, such as around shrubs and bushes. Some of the attachments available (sold separately) include a blower, edger and a tiller. These attach at the end of the trimmer where the head is located, rather than halfway down the shaft like some other models, giving you the advantage of the machine’s full length.
Pros
  • 18-inch cutting path
  • Compatible with multiple attachments
  • Three-year warranty
Cons
  • Weighs over 12 pounds
  • No anti-vibration function
  • Heavy engine balance is tiresome for long jobs
Best for Low Vibration

Toro 51978

The Toro 51978 is the best weed whacker for low vibrations, thanks to its excellent built-in anti-vibration system. Of the weed eaters we tested, the Toro was among the top for performance and comfort in use.
Our reviewers were impressed with its ability to cut through tough lawn vegetation while remaining balanced throughout our rigorous tests. This gas-powered weed whacker cuts an impressive 18-inch path and has a 44-inch-long shaft, which makes it easier to reach behind bushes, posts and trees. Toro itself does not manufacture attachments, so if you want an edger, blower or pole saw, you have to look elsewhere. Fortunately, the Toro can use other brand name attachments – as long as they use a universal connector – without voiding its warranty. This is a great value if you already own multiple attachments but need a stronger weed whacker. It can also potentially save you money since you can shop for the best attachment deals, regardless of brand. One of the only downsides to the Toro 51978 is that it weighs 12.5 pounds, which is quite heavy for extended use. You can purchase a neck strap separately to alleviate some of the weight, but for a small or medium-sized yard, it shouldn’t be necessary.
Pros
  • Can use many attachments from other brands
  • 18-inch cutting path
  • Spool can hold up to 25 feet of string
Cons
  • The engine is the heaviest of all the models we tested
  • Shaft length is not optimal for taller people
  • Weight can tire users quicker

Why Trust Us?

Top Ten Reviews has tested, evaluated and compared weed whackers for over six years. Our expert reviewers have trimmed, cut and tested with over 60 models during that time to find the machines that perform the best. I cut the second paragraph because in a recent copy edit meeting, we discussed that it was a relic from Paul that raises questions the reader likely didn’t have. Let me know if you think it is necessary in this particular module.

How We Tested

We took 10 weed whackers to five lawns and a city park to test their functionality. A trimmer should be powerful enough to cut through the thick brush in your yard with only a few passes, so our testers used each trimmer in a series of practical everyday tasks and some controlled tests to determine which tools performed the best.

For design, we measured the decibel level of each trimmer running at full throttle. We measured the shaft length, the cutting path and the weight. To make sure we catered to all body types, we enlisted the help of several testers of varying height, weight and strength to determine how the balance and weight of each weed whacker worked for them. Exposure to vibrations for a long period of time can be potentially damaging, so we also asked the testers to rate the level of vibrations they experienced while using the weed whackers.

After completing these tests, we determined which tool works best for tall, strong users; which trimmer was the most comfortable to use that didn't leave us feeling shaky; and which tool would be best for those of smaller stature with smaller hands. Our tests identified the tools that cannot eradicate thicker weeds but might work satisfactorily for your yard if you don't require a more powerful engine.

What Else Is Important When Selecting a Weed Whacker?

Below are some other considerations when selecting your next weed whacker.

String Features: How Easy Is It to Replace the String, and How Long Does It Last?
All weed whackers use some variation of a wound-up spool of string, which is enclosed in a case inside the trimmer, to knock down tough grass and weeds. This string wears out and needs to be replaced, often several times in one session. String reloads from the case in a few distinct ways: Semi-automatic models have string that adjusts on its own. Most models require a bump, meaning you need to knock the bottom of the weed trimmer against the ground to activate a button at the bottom that feeds out additional string. Manual-feed models require that you stop trimming, turn over the unit and pull the string out manually.

You want to pay attention to the amount of string the case holds. The more feet of string you have, the longer the weed whacker will work before you need to purchase replacement string, which can be expensive.

Warranty & Support: What Guarantees and Support Do Manufacturers Provide? 

It's important to know how long your weed whacker is covered by a warranty. Also, you should be able to download a manual from the manufacturer's website in the event you lose the physical one.

Support is necessary if you have questions about the warranty, and customer service representatives can help walk you through the operation of your weed whacker and suggest a nearby service center if you need your trimmer repaired.

If you have a smaller yard or you don't need to do yardwork weekly, an electric string trimmer could be a good fit for you. And if you want to fill up your tool shed, be sure to also check out the top 10 gas lawn mowers and eco-friendly electric lawn mowers.

All the weed whackers we tested are good choices, depending on your needs, so read through our comparison chart and reviews to find the gas-powered, straight-shaft weed whacker that works for you.

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