Corona ComfortGEL+ Extendable Bypass Lopper: Product Review
A tough, heavy-duty lopper for heavy-duty pruning
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The Corona ComfortGEL+ Extendable Bypass Lopper is marketed for heavy-duty pruning work, including the ability to cut through limbs up to 1 ¾ inches in diameter. That’s a pretty bold claim for a pruning lopper so I put it to the test against some of the toughest wood around – mesquite.
Think of loppers as long handled pruning shears. When your hand shears are just too small to cut through larger material, you then have to opt for it’s big brother/sister, the lopper. Loppers come in a variety of configurations and prices. But suffice it to say the old adage of, “you get what you pay for” applies.
>> See our Tips and Top Picks for Loppers
>> If you’re looking for something smaller, here are our Recommended Pruning Shears.
Features of the Corona ComfortGEL+ Bypass Lopper
Here’s what Corona has to say in their marketing materials:
- PowerSOURCE cutting action for limbs up to 1 ¾ inches
- ShockGUARD bumper system
- Strong, trapezoid steel handles
- Extreme comfort grips
- Patent-pending blade and hook design
- Reduced handle opening for less work and more power
So, let’s address their bullet points and add what our testing showed …
PowerSOURCE Cutting Action
According to Corona, the ComfortGEL+ Extendable Bypass Lopper, with its compound action cutting head, should cut through limbs up to 1 ¾ inches. When I put it to the test, I had no problems cutting through 1 ¾ inch deadwood. And to the lopper’s credit, I was able to cut through 2-inch live material.
In both instances, the handles were extended to their full length of 30 inches. For lesser diameter wood the extended handles can be easily slid back to their compact handle length of 22”.
The extreme cutting power that I found even eclipsed Corona’s specs by ½”, which I attributed to the unique PowerSOURCE design. With 4 hinge points (as compared to some other lopper configurations that have a set of blades with a single bolt, or other compound action cutting heads with 3 pivot points), the PowerSOURCE innovation gave the lopper some real “brute force” on even the toughest deadwood.
I tested it on mesquite tree deadwood, one of the hardest woods you’ll find, and the Corona ComfortGEL+ bypass lopper made quick work of it.
Corona states that the PowerSOURCE design gives the lopper a 3X power increase when cutting. Translated into layman’s terms, for each pound of pressure exerted on the handles, the cutting jaws exert a force that is three times the handle pressure. While I can’t say for sure that power was tripled with this lopper, it’s a very nice feature when you want to power through tough materials.
Now, we don’t live in a perfect world and the PowerSOURCE design did have its limitations.
Like many loppers that we’ve tested here at the Gardening Products Review, blade spread (when the non-cutting blade spreads apart from the cutting blade) was also an issue. When we tested other brands with compound action cutting heads (see the WOLF-Garten RR900T Telescoping Loppers review), the same issues arose. The corrective measure is to have the cutting blade on top and the non-cutting blade below.
Cutting on a bias causes similar problems with blade spread. But this is NOT a show stopper, and is common among many lopper designs. We did find that with smaller diameter branches (in the neighborhood of 1 inch), the ComfortGEL+ bypass lopper left extremely clean cuts even on bias cuts.
And one final mention about the Corona cutting mechanism – be careful not to nick live bark on branches that remain after pruning. I found that the 4 bolts that hold the PowerSOURCE cutting head together (they’re located on the back side of the lopper) protrude beyond the fastening nut. In tight pruning areas, these bolts can scrape off living bark tissue, which can compromise the tree or shrub’s health. Again, this wasn’t a problem if I positioned the bolts away from any live wood that wasn’t being pruned away. If you’re pruning deadwood, you can “let ’r rip” with the bolts in any direction … unless there’s live wood near the deadwood that could be injured by the bolts.
Once aware of the cutting head design and proper use to prevent tree limb/branch injury there were absolutely no problems.
ShockGUARD Bumper System
Most lopper companies use a set of rubber or synthetic bumper “buttons” near where the handles attach to the cutting blades. These prevent the handles from banging together and causing your arms and wrists to experience premature fatigue. Think of it like a shock absorber in your car.
Corona offers a rather unique bumper system, known as the ShockGuard. Instead of using the traditional method noted above, Corona has designed a bumper system that uses only one bumper that’s integrated into the cutting head mechanism.
This bumper had a nice cushioned feel when making a pruning cut. It really earned its stripes when cutting through deadwood. In this type of cutting condition, lopper handles tend to slam together as the deadwood finally lets go. But not so with the ShockGuard system. This, combined with the Extreme Comfort Grips (below), reduced upper body fatigue significantly.
Strong Trapezoid Steel Handles
Yep, they are strong.
Some loppers have aluminum handles as a way to reduce weight. But let’s face it, steel is stronger than aluminum. That’s not a knock against aluminum lopper handles. Some people prefer a lighter lopper and aluminum is the natural choice.
But if you’re looking for sheer (no pun intended) brute strength and can muscle a pair of steel handled loppers, then the Corona ComfortGEL+ Bypass Lopper should be at the top of your list.
Editor’s Note: These Corona loppers are for heavy-duty work and yes, they’re also on the heavier side. If you’re looking for lightweight loppers, these probably aren’t the best choice for you.
And as a final note, I REALLY put some muscle into cutting some of the gnarliest hardwood on the planet. I seriously thought the handles would at least bend and possibly break. But these bad boys/girls held up like a champion prizefighter with a perfect KO record.
Extendable Handles & Locking Mechanism
Whether the handles were fully extended, fully collapsed or any length in between, they were both easy to slide and locked securely into place with strong plastic snap latches.
These latches act like a friction cam and grip the steel handles when pressed toward the handle. When the latch is lifted up to the fully open position the handles slide easily.
These latches are extremely strong (despite being made of plastic) and snapped into place easily, thereby locking the handles at any length.
When cutting even the toughest of hardwood (where a fair amount of body strength was necessary) these snap latches held the steel handles securely in place – I experience no movement (sliding up or down) in either handle.
These snap latches are a very nice design feature. They make it possible to micro-adjust the handles to the user’s desired length.
There are other lopper designs/manufacturers that use a series of holes in the handles and a spring-pin mechanism to secure extendable handle positions. That type of design doesn’t offer the degree of flexibility or utility found in Corona’s handle securing system. I found the micro-adjustment feature “just the ticket” in virtually any pruning situation.
Extreme Comfort Grips
Corona markets the grips as the ComfortGEL+. As lopper grips go they are somewhere between a wooden handle and soft foam grip. There were three things I really liked about the ComfortGEL+ grips:
- First, they’re comfortable to hold, well … just like the name implies. Kinda that not too hard and not too soft feeling.
- Second, the handles have a slightly rough finish that makes for an excellent gripping surface, even with gloves.
- Third, they’re rugged.
All three are qualities that you’d want for a day of pruning. And these grips aren’t going to fall apart, so at the end of the day if you toss these loppers into a wheelbarrow the grips won’t crack or break.
However, it’s worth noting that for smaller hands these handles may be a little large.
Patent-Pending Blade And Hook Design
As noted above, the unique and powerful cutting head is what this lopper is all about. Powerful, strong, sharp, and tough are words that come to mind. This unique design puts ComfortGEL+ Bypass Lopper in the big leagues for cutting performance. It looks different than most other loppers but it sure does work well.
Reduced Handle Opening For Less Work And More Power
This is true, except when you want to get some serious cutting leverage with the extended handles.
With the handles retracted, the open handle spread bordered on 47 inches. With the handles fully extended, the open handles were about 62 inches apart. That’s a pretty wide spread but it’s only necessary when you want to prune the largest possible materials that will fit in the cutting jaws.
When closed, the handles are only about 9 inches apart in the fully retracted position and approximately 12 inches apart with the handles fully extended.
Overall, when working on the largest materials that will fit in the cutting jaws, the PowerSOURCE cutting head design offers significant lopping power with minimal handle spread.
The Corona ComfortGEL+ Extendable Bypass Lopper lived up to its reputation as a top-of-the-line lopper, capable of tackling the toughest pruning jobs. I liked it in both its compact and extended handle positions. The blade stayed sharp when put to the ultimate test on extremely hard deadwood. It also proved an impressive tool when cutting live wood (within the confines described above).
This is not a tool for everyone due to its weight and handle grip size. But for those who need an extremely durable lopper with extendable handles and awesome cutting power, this is a tool that I would highly recommend.
Where to Buy
Corona loppers, including the SL 4364, are available from the company directly. You can also buy them on Amazon.
Last update on 2023-03-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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the corona bypass ratchet RL 3560 was a great tool and it is too bad they stopped the production. For me it was a 5 stars and i wanted to by another one for my cottage and my forest. I will look at corona comfort gel but…..
I empathize – it’s always frustrating when a company stops making a good product, especially when it’s one you’re used to and enjoy using. I do know that Corona is coming out with a LOT of new pruning tools this spring – maybe there’ll be a good replacement for the RL 3560.
Perhaps the company sent you prototype to review ? Your dimensions are way off, when compared to the item listed at amazon.com. The full length when extended is NOT the 30″ you have mentioned in this article. It seems to be 37″ in the version listed (as of July 2018) on amazon. Also, the seperation distance between the handles (at full extension of length) seems to be too much since your article mentions this to be 62″. Can you confirm these numbers, and perhaps correct this article if current model is different from the one you reviewed couple of years back ? Thanks.
Sam, I think you may be looking at the wrong information. I assume you’re looking at this description on Amazon “HANDLES ARE EXTENDABLE: Extends 27 1/2″ to 37 1/2”. The handles extend so that the length of the lopper is 37.5 inches – but the handles themselves are only 30 inches (the rest of the length is made up of the blades and cutting mechanism). Also, the “wingspan” (the spread between the handle ends when they’re fully extended) is indeed 62 inches. That’s very wide so smaller individuals or those with shorter arms likely won’t be able to open the handles (and, therefore, the blades) all the way when the handles are extended. The model we reviewed is the SL 4364, the same version that’s currently available and what you see on the Corona website and Amazon – nothing has changed.