WOLF-Garten RR900T Telescoping Loppers: Product Review
You may not have heard of the WOLF-Garten brand here in North America, but in Europe the German brand is well-known for making high quality gardening tools and the signature red and yellow colors are instantly recognized.
We put the RR900T Telescoping Bypass Lopper to the test to see if it would live up to its reputation. We were pleasantly surprised with the results.
Loppers are basically specialized pruning shears with long handles. They’re intended for cutting thicker branches and stems, sometimes up to 2 inches in diameter, whereas pruners (also known as secateurs) generally shouldn’t be used to cut anything over 3/4 inch (1 inch at the most, depending on the brand and style).
Why can loppers cut through thicker wood? Because they have larger, stronger cutting blades and longer handles, which give you more leverage (and therefore more power).
Some loppers, like these WOLF-Garten loppers, have a compound-action cutting head. There are multiple pivot points and moving parts which “multiply” the force you exert against the handles. The end result is that it’s easier to cut through thicker branches than with a “regular” lopper.
To learn more about the different types of loppers and what makes a quality lopper, see our article on the Best Loppers for Pruning.
The handles are made of aluminum, making them lightweight but strong. Given the weight of the blades (compound action blades are always on the heavier side), I appreciated the lightness of the handles.
Many heavy-duty loppers have steel handles, which increases the overall weight of the lopper considerably. The trade-off is increased handle strength, letting you cut through thick, hard wood without bending the handles.
I had no problem with the aluminum handles – no bending, twisting or “give” – even when putting all of my weight against them.
The handles on the WOLF-Garten RR900T extend from 25.5 inches all the way out to 35.5 inches. Even when used at 25.5 inches, there’s plenty of power to cut through at least 1 ½ inch branches. When fully extended, I found them a little long and unwieldy; my husband had no problem with them fully extended. I suppose it depends on upper body strength.
There are six positions at which to lock the handles – basically, there’s a length for everyone and almost every situation.
Unlike most telescoping loppers which use a “twist and lock” mechanism (which often doesn’t stay firmly in place), the WOLF-Garten loppers use a spring-loaded “switch” to lock the handles in place. Simply press one end of the switch and move the handle until it locks in place at the desired length (it’ll click into one of the six holes in the handle).
You don’t need to worry about a handle unexpectedly coming unlocked – once you hear that “click”, the handles will stay put. There’s a very slight looseness but you don’t notice that when using the lopper.
Blades / Compound Action Cutting Mechanism
The carbon steel cutting blade is extremely sharp and very strong. Even after cutting through 1-inch roots in sandy/gravely soil (which is NOT a recommended thing to do with a good pair of loppers!), there were no nicks in the blade.
It’s difficult to show in a photo just how closely the blades fit together. Even after repeatedly cutting 2-inch mesquite branches, there was no sign of looseness or bending of the blade (which is common with softer blades after pushing them to their max).
However, we found that the blade was slightly dented after repeatedly cutting through thick mesquite deadwood. Mesquite is incredibly hard and bypass loppers shouldn’t generally be used to cut deadwood (use anvil loppers instead) so that slight dent was a better outcome than I had expected.
Replacing the Cutting Blade
The cutting blade is replaceable. It’s easy to remove and put back in place by taking out one bolt (you’ll need a Torq or star screwdriver), lifting out the blade, and slipping the new one back into the slot. There’s no fiddling around required to get it placed properly. Then just tighten the bolt and you’re ready to go. Replacement blades can be purchased online from Blue Stone Garden.
The WOLF-Garten RR900T is supposed to cut wood up to 2 inches in diameter. It does. And it does so fairly easily, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. I was able to cut through 2-inch live wood with the handles only partially extended. My husband cut through 2-inch dead mesquite (which is incredibly hard) with the handles at full extension, although that did dent the cutting blade slightly.
Keep in mind that bypass loppers are best used for cutting live wood. Anvil loppers (or pruners) are the proper tool for cutting deadwood.
When using loppers or pruning shears, pay attention to the stated cutting capacity of the tool. Pushing beyond that can damage or break the blade (which could injure you) and unless you’re incredibly strong, you’re unlikely to make a clean cut. Ragged cuts and torn bark damage the tree or shrub, leaving it vulnerable to pest damage, disease, and even death.
Many loppers, when used at their maximum cutting capacity, twist slightly as you push the handles together. That’s partly due to the lopper design/geometry, partly to how well the blades cut (or don’t cut), and partly due to “operator error” (if it’s difficult to push the handles together, most of us end up twisting as we struggle to make the cut). We experienced none of that with the WOLF-Garten lopper when used correctly. Each cut was straight, clean, and made smoothly with no unnecessary struggle.
Hold the Lopper Correctly
When cutting on a bias (a slanted or angled cut), the lopper only cuts cleanly when used correctly.
If you hold it upside-down, the blades will twist and the branch is likely to get stuck between them. This isn’t really a problem with the lopper – more a case of “operator error”.
We’ve seen this with other loppers, particularly when cutting through softer wood, but it seemed to occur more often with the WOLF-Garten RR900T. Ideally, the cutting blade should be held with the beveled cutting edge facing upwards (or away from the end of the branch that’s attached to the trunk) while the stationary “claw” is closest to the trunk. This keeps the branch steady as you make your cut.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to make a cut that way (for example, when other branches are in the way). In those cases, try to make the cut at 90 degrees to the branch or this lopper is likely to twist.
Distribution of Weight
Overall, the lopper weighs in at 3.8 pounds. Most of that weight is in the compound action cutting mechanism. When the handles are in the shortest position, I didn’t really notice the weight of the cutting head. But when fully extended, I quickly found it tiring to use, particularly when working overhead or stretched out in front of me. On the other hand, my husband (a licensed Arborist and former owner of a tree care company) thought that the head wasn’t heavy at all. In fact, compared to the loppers he’s used to working with, these cut better and were much lighter. He’s now a WOLF-Garten convert!
Bumpers, usually placed near the blades, act as a shock absorber to minimize the amount of jarring and arm fatigue experienced as the handles come together.
The bumpers on the RR900T are large and well-placed. Although they’re hard plastic, rather than softer and more absorbent rubber, they do a good job of absorbing most of the shock.
The grips on the handle ends are comfortably shaped and have a non-skid surface on the outside (where your palms go). They’re long enough to allow different hand positions.
These are the best telescoping, compound-action loppers we’ve tested. The handles stay put and the blades cut cleanly through even the toughest wood with ease.
Although we tested the RR900T Telescoping Bypass Lopper on deadwood (part of our standard testing process for cutting tools), bypass loppers are best used for cutting live wood. If you plan to cut a lot of deadwood, we recommend that you use the WOLF-Garten Telescoping Anvil lopper (RS900T).
Where to Buy
WOLF-Garten loppers are distributed in the US through Blue Stone Gardens for WOLF-Garten loppers. Or, if you prefer, you can also find them online on Amazon. They’re difficult to find in garden centers or stores.
This lopper currently retails for about $65. You can find essentially the same lopper, distributed in the USA by Troy-Bilt under the Comfort Max line of garden tools, for $69.96. You’ll find that here on Amazon.
And now over to you – What’s your favorite telescoping lopper? Let us know in the comments below.
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See Our Other Lopper Reviews
Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Blue Stone Garden for a free lopper for us to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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