Best Pole Saws in 2020
When spring is coming up and you know it’s time to start pruning back those trees, chances are you’re not going to want to go with a manual clipper. Finding the best pole saw for your home can be a trying task, which is why we ran through twelve different saws in order to make sure you’ve got only the best.
So, this season, make life a little bit easier on yourself. A pole saw is the absolute best way to quickly and safely trim trees and shrubs, allowing you to get on with the rest of your day instead of spending too many grueling hours in the sun.
A cut above most of the brand’s tools, the LPP120 is a battery-operated, moderately priced solution that we feel will serve most homeowners quite well. The value is above its price point and the convenience of a battery-operated model is enough to make it our absolute top pick when it comes to value for your dime.
In This Article:
- 1 Top Pick
- 2 The 7 Top-Rated Pole Saws
- 3 Who Needs a Pole Saw?
- 4 How We Selected the Pole Saws
- 5 How We Tested the Pole Saws
- 6 Our Top 7 Pole Saws
- 7 Trimming, Pruning, and Safety With Your New Pole Saw
- 8 Pole Saw FAQ
- 9 Trimming Up High
The 7 Top-Rated Pole Saws
|Upgrade Pick||Oregon Cordless PS250-A6|
|Best Gas Pole Saw||Poulan Pro PR28PS|
|Runner Up for Best Gas Pole Saw||Remington RM2599 Maverick|
|Best Corded Pole Saw||Scotts Outdoor Power Tools PS45010S|
|Best Multi-Use Pole Saw||WORX WG309|
|Best Manual Pole Saw||DocaPole 6-24 Foot Pole Pruning Saw|
Who Needs a Pole Saw?
Powered pole saws are pretty niche tools if you get right down to it. While they can make a serviceable small chain saw for some tasks with a big enough bar… you’d be better served with a dedicated tool.
However, they’re awesome for pruning trees and shrubs. They have more power than a hedge trimmer and the long grip maintains good control. This makes them excellent for those plants which are halfway between a shrub and a tree like juniper.
If you have trees in your yard, you’ll be well served with one. They can make short work of any branch the bar will fit through without requiring you to go fetch a ladder in most cases. And, let’s face it, running a chainsaw on a ladder is never a fun time. Plenty of people do it, but most wince at the risk they’re taking every single time that they go for it.
On the other hand, they’re a bit unwieldy if you’re planning to use them for anything else.
For those with trees and shrubs, pole saws are awesome. Those without them aren’t going to get a whole lot of use out of the tool, however.
How We Selected the Pole Saws
We’re sure that our arborist friends are getting tired of being run through the wringer with a bunch of questions, but in this case, it was pretty easy to figure out what we needed to look for in the pole saws we planned on testing out.
Essentially we got a list of brands, asked about bar sizes, and then cross-referenced with the general online consensus in forums and on the sites which sell the tools. In the end, we had a dozen different pole saws of various lengths, bar sizes, and power sources that let us get a good feel for the tools.
We found the following to be the most important qualities.
The bars for pole saws range from 6”-8” or so. We found little difference practically, but if you’re planning on seriously cutting back trees you may wish to go with a bigger bar.
For limbs much larger than 4”, however, we still think a chainsaw and ladder setup is likely to be the best way to go about things. Cutting overhead with a pole saw can be done, but large branches are heavy so you need to be extremely cautious about where you let them fall.
During testing, we used plug-in saws, gasoline-powered saws, those which run with a battery, and we also tested a high-end manual saw just to leave the option open for those who aren’t planning on sinking serious money into their saw.
We found that the usual caveats applied. Gasoline models are heavy and expensive, but also powerful and can be run pretty much anywhere. They’re also a bit fiddly like any small engine-powered tool, so a bit more expertise is required to keep them in top-notch shape.
Plug-in models were cheap and had a surprising amount of power. They were also the lightest of the tools we tested, but you’re restricted by your extension cord.
Battery-powered models had the least amount of power, making them worse for cutting larger limbs, but don’t require the maintenance and know-how that a gasoline-powered pole saw does.
Finally, the manual model we tested was slow, but since the power source is just you, they can be used anywhere and you never have to worry about running out of power or having a motor or engine seized. You’re really only limited by the amount of time the saw stays sharp and we found a few minutes with a file would get them field-ready again.
Many of the pole saws we tested were able to be extended to a good length. Anything between 12’ and 14’ we considered to be sufficient for most tree trimming that needs to be done around a residence and they caused no issue during testing.
Smoothly extendable poles were better than those with just a few settings, allowing you to get much finer control. They’re also not present on every model and really most of the hassle is just having to reposition yourself to bring the blade down properly.
We did find that manual saws were often able to extend to a much greater length since there’s no wiring or internal belts that need to be run through the handle.
We ran into almost no power issues with what we’d consider normal for trimming and pruning(ie: branches 3” around or less) but if you’ve got serious overgrowth then you’ll want to ensure that you spend some time selecting a powerful enough saw.
As usual, plug-in models are measured by amperage, battery-powered by voltage, and gasoline-powered saws are usually rated by the size of the motor.
Overall Build Quality
For an electric or gasoline-powered pole saw to function they already have to be built pretty well. Indeed, of the models we tested, only a couple felt like they weren’t going to last for a long time to come.
Still, it’s important to find a well-built tool and pole saws will inevitably take some serious abuse. A good warranty helps and most manufacturers will stand behind their saws, but it really doesn’t help if the saw breaks down halfway through a pruning job and you need to wait a couple of weeks for repairs to happen.
How We Tested the Pole Saws
Once all of our packages had arrived we assembled the saws that needed assembling and headed out to a local apple orchard which had lain unused for a few years. The property owner needed his trees trimmed as he was planning to bring his apples back to market and we needed to test our saws so it was mutually beneficial.
We ended up spending a couple of days testing out the saws in eight-hour spurts which gave us a good overview and the apple trees a much-needed pruning to keep them from becoming entangled in the near future.
Exhausting work overall, but in the end, we had some real-world experience with the saws and made notes on all of the following:
- Cutting Power: We mostly measured this on larger limbs that needed to be felled. In our experience, all of the saws performed well, but the gasoline-powered saws did much better when it came to trimming down branches with larger diameter.
- Exhaustion and Usage: We also asked our reviewers how tiring the saws were to use. In general, the longer and heavier the saw the more exhausting they were to use. The obvious exception was the manual pole saw which was more tiring to use despite a lighter weight than the majority of the saws.
- High Cuts: We tested out how well the pole saws performed when extended to their maximum length. With some help from an arborist, we were able to safely drop larger branches without anyone getting hurt.
- Run Time: We checked the run time on the units. Battery operated models fared the worst by a long shot, but we still think they’re a suitable option for medium-duty. Gas models fared much better. Obviously, plug-in saws weren’t subjected to this particular test.
- After Work Inspection: All of the saws were put through the paces and we had the small orchard we’d used to test trimmed to the owner’s satisfaction. Since we’d pulled in quite a few people on this one most of the saws were put through extremely heavy use compared to what would be “normal” and so we inspected them for any damage or wear afterwards to see if we thought they’d hold up in the long run.
In the end, we settled on a total of seven different saws that we felt represented a wide range of different usage patterns and power sources so that we’d have a diverse selection.
Our favorites measured up as follows:
- The BLACK+DECKER LPP120 was our favorite. With a modest price to boot, this battery-operated pole saw was hitting far above its price point during testing.
- The second battery-operated model on our list, the Oregon Cordless PS250-A6 made the Sun Joe look bad in virtually every category but price. For those who want a high end, battery operated pole saw it’s the way to go, however.
- For those looking for something gas-operated for farther and longer use, the powerful Poulan Pro PR28PS was our top pick for gas-powered pole saws. Powerful, robust, and easy to start it’s an excellent saw overall.
- For those looking for a cheaper but still solid gas-powered saw the 25cc Remington RM2599 Maverick is an excellent choice. It’s a bit cheaper but nearly the same in use as the Poulan Pro PR28PS.
- For corded models, the Scotts Outdoor Power Tools PS45010S proved to be a versatile, powerful pole saw that we were quite happy with.
- Meanwhile, the slightly less well-built WORX WG309 had the ability to take the head off for use as a chainsaw, making it a fast favorite since it worked well in both configurations.
- And, for those who insist on doing things the hard way, there’s the DocaPole 6-24 Foot Pole Pruning Saw which had an astonishing reach, a sharp blade, and won’t run out of power since it’s a manual pole saw.
Our Top 7 Pole Saws
We decided to go with two pole saws for each power source and a manual option to round things out and make sure you can find what you’re looking for. Read on for more in-depth reviews of the saws we decided on as the top 7 pole saws that are on the market this year.
At a Glance:
- Bar Size: 8”
- Length: 6.5’ to 10’
- Weight: 6.3lbs
- Power: 20V Battery
BLACK+DECKER gets a lot of flak for putting out mediocre tools, but in this case, they’ve outdone themselves for the price point. This is a powerful, battery-operated saw that extends to allow for a generous amount of cutting. It’d be better if it had a smooth slide, but in this case, you’ve only got the two length settings to work with.
This saw is lightweight, easy to control, and packs a surprising punch for the 20V battery. The 8” bar is just right for most jobs as well.
We found that in practice the battery lasted for quite a while in the field as it were. We didn’t test the manufacturer’s claim of 100 cuts in pine since we were cutting apple trees, but we ended up finding ourselves not too worried about the whole affair.
It’s not perfect, of course. The main problem we found was that the chain needed to be periodically tightened throughout the day. We strongly recommend checking on it after every five or six cuts just to be safe but it mostly seemed to slip off the drive gear rather than do anything spectacularly dangerous.
Oregon Cordless PS250-A6
At a Glance:
- Bar Size: 8”
- Length: 7’3” to 10’4”
- Weight: 13.5lbs
- Power: 40V Battery
Undoubtedly the easiest to use of all of the pole saws which we put to the test, the Oregon Cordless PS250-A6 is near professional quality and the price tag reflects it. For those willing to shell out the money, however, this lightweight battery operated pole saw is fantastic.
The pole is long to start out with, but even extended fully to the end we found that the mid-mount on the motor kept it well balanced and made the whole saw both easier and safer to operate than virtually any of the others we tested.
In addition, the build quality on this one is impressive and the battery life was somewhere between awesome and unbelievable. We got about twice the amount of cuts from the battery and the charger was much quicker.
It’s not perfect of course. The main problem that we ran into is that the saw will derail itself if you cut into things with the tip and cause kickback, but you really shouldn’t be doing that anyways. The hook for branch removal is also a bit sketchy to remove if you have the extension in, we found it pulled too hard on the frame.
Best Gas Pole Saw
Poulan Pro PR28PS
At a Glance:
- Bar Size: 8”
- Length: 4’3” to 6’7”
- Weight: 14lbs
- Power: 28cc Motor
While a little bit shorter than many of the tree saws which we tested out, we found the 28cc motor and the ability to quickly and easily cut through things more than made up for it in the end. Keep in mind that as a general rule gas powered pole saws are shorter due to their powering mechanism.
What we weren’t expecting was the excellent balance of the saw. The motor and bar lend themselves well to using the saw for extended periods and seem to mitigate the higher weight of the saw itself.
It made short work of branches up to the limit of the bar and we found that it worked extremely well for extended periods. It’s a bit pricey for most and frankly, a lot of people don’t need all of the extra power for around the home pruning and trimming but it’s a beast and we fell in love with it.
There’s one other thing to be aware of: the carburetor tends to starve a bit and bog down the saw when it’s held at extreme angles and the gas tank is less than 80% or so full. Just keep that in mind, you’ll definitely notice the saw slow down when you hit that point.
Runner Up for Best Gas Pole Saw
Remington RM2599 Maverick
At a Glance:
- Bar Size: 8”
- Length: 7’
- Weight: 17.95lbs
- Power: 25cc Motor
If you’re not looking to break the bank but insist on the convenience and power of a gasoline-fired pole saw then you’ll love the Remington RM2599. The Maverick is a beast and we only paid about half of what we did for our favorite gasoline model.
The slightly smaller engine does tend to mean it’s a bit less powerful, but compared to battery-powered options… well, there’s no real comparison. It made short work of everything we threw it at while going through our testing process.
One thing: it’s heavy and not quite as well balanced as the Poulan we favored. It’s also multi-function if you care to get the other ends, turning into everything from a weed whacker to a blower depending on the accessories. None of these got tested during our trials, however, so we’re not sure about its function as anything other than a standard pole saw.
Within that realm, however, it outstripped even some of the more expensive gasoline-powered saws by quite a bit. It’s reliable, easy to start, and doesn’t seem to bog down at any given angle, unlike the Poulan. One thing we really didn’t like? It tends to lag a bit when you pull the throttle, which meant we had to wait around half a second after pulling the trigger to make a cut.
Best Corded Pole Saw
Scotts Outdoor Power Tools PS45010S
At a Glance:
- Bar Size: 10”
- Length: Adjustable to 9’5”
- Weight: 7.5lbs
- Power: 8A
If you’re willing to work with a corded pole saw then this was the best of the best. Our favorite part? The pole is fully adjustable rather than just having an extension which makes it quite easy to use… especially when you consider that it’s also extremely lightweight.
The 10” bar is a nice touch and takes full advantage of the 8 amp motor which powers it. We weren’t exactly felling trees during testing but it was the only one which was able to get through some of the bigger branches we cut and it did so quite well.
It outperformed the only other 10” bar pole saw that we tested by a mile. Indeed, the other one was bad enough we didn’t bother to include it despite relatively high ratings in the online retail community. But this one? It’s a wonder, limited only by your extension cord.
We wouldn’t call it perfect but we certainly found it to be one of the best during testing apart from the inherent limitations of a corded model of pole saw. Mostly, it was kind of a pain to have to push the safety with each cut to engage the trigger.
Best Multi-Use Pole Saw
At a Glance:
- Bar Size: 8”
- Length: 8’
- Weight: 10lbs
- Power: 8A
For those looking for something a little different, the WG309 was the best of the detachable headed saws we found. In addition to the 8’ pole, giving surprising reach, you can detach the head in order to use it as a small chainsaw for more regular tasks around the home.
This double-whammy was pretty nice. While it’s a tiny chainsaw, in practice we found it worked extremely well in both modes and 8” is enough to turn smaller rounds into firewood provided you’re careful.
This was a corded model, however, so make sure you have an extension cord that will reach. Compared to the Scott’s model above, it feels a bit “cheap” in the hand but our after-testing inspection didn’t show a significant amount of wear.
Our favorite part? The auto-tensioning. As the saw runs it will automatically tighten itself to the correct tension which can save a lot of time. It’s a great little dual-use saw, but of the models that made it to our top positions, it’s probably the “worst” saw. That’s not to say it’s not a good saw, just that it didn’t particularly stand out.
Best Manual Pole Saw
DocaPole 6-24 Foot Pole Pruning Saw
At a Glance:
- Blade Size: 13”
- Length: 6’ to 24’
- Weight: 7.9lbs
We just had to test a manual pole saw out after running through all of the myriads of powered variations that are out there. After a lot of research we felt this was the one, it has a well-engineered blade and an accessory kit is available to extend it to a shocking 24’.
And… it still cuts at that length, albeit it’s more than a little bit unwieldy once you’ve attached all of the extensions.
The blade is well-engineered, cutting in both directions and having a tri-teeth design that rips through wood quite easily. All of this together makes it a fantastic pole saw if you’re not afraid to lay into some serious work.
And that’s the only real flaw: it’s not powered so you’ll have to hand saw through branches. The extended blade makes it quite a bit easier than you’d think once you get the hang of it, of course.
Trimming, Pruning, and Safety With Your New Pole Saw
When it comes down to it, pole saws can be extremely dangerous to use. They lack safety features like automatic brakes in all but the very, very top end of the saws and you’re also using them to bring down branches which are surprisingly heavy.
Six feet of a branch which is 6 inches around, a reasonable branch to bring down with a pole saw, weighs over 75lbs for instance. And that’s probably going to come crashing down from at least ten feet.
On top of that, many models of pole saws are extremely unbalanced at the end which means you need to be very aware of when the branch you’re cutting is going to break off so you can let off the trigger.
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
A hard hat and safety goggles are strongly recommended anytime you’re using a pole saw. Trees can react unpredictably and they’re pretty much a requirement if you’re seriously trimming a tree back.
When you’re using one make sure you do all of the following:
- Set your feet in a wide, stable stance.
- Keep your rear hand on the pole at waist level or below, this will help you make a fast recovery if something happens. Never raise your arms overhead to try and get more reach, just go get a stable step ladder and find the right stance.
- Cut outwards and at an angle. Ideally, you’ll be at least four feet or so back from the branch. This limits the reach of the pole saw somewhat but it’s essential for your safety.
- If your pole saw doesn’t have an auto-oiler then press the bulb every fifteen seconds or so to ensure the chain remains well-lubricated.
- Always clear the space under any significant branches before felling them. We’d consider anything which might potentially weigh over 20lbs or is more than 2” around significant.
- If your pole saw has a head adjustment that allows for angles, then use it to make sure you’re setting only the side of the bar on the limb which needs to be cut.
Pole saws make trimming up high quite easy… but they also require a significant amount of strength to use safely. Indeed, if you’re physically weaker, then you’ll probably go with a manual option, they’re far lighter and you don’t need to worry about a sudden jump through a branch that you can’t correct immediately.
Overall, pole saws are a bit more dangerous than many tools that you can use around the home. They don’t have quite the mangling potential of a circular saw and injuries with the bar are far less likely than a standard chainsaw, but when combined with dropping branches from a significant height you’re looking at a tool that you need to respect during use.
If in doubt about your ability to control the bar, then you really should opt for a manual saw.
After asking our reviewers if the were going to go get one of their own only a couple showed interest, although there was a considerable amount of interest generated by the hybrid small chainsaw/pole saws but most insisted they were mostly going to use the chainsaw.
The main reason cited was safety concerns.
You know yourself best, and they’re great tools that can handle things that chainsaws simply can’t from the ground, but be aware they can be a hazard if you’re incautious while using them.
Pole Saw FAQ
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. We’ve anticipated questions through our research and testing process and we’re here to bring you answers you didn’t know you needed. If you’ve got another one, leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Can I use a pole saw to trim hedges?
A: Honestly… maybe. However, we strongly advise against doing so as the chances of kickback occurring when the small branches get caught in the saw are quite high. While they’re theoretically up to the task, in practice the short bar and long length of the pole saw makes it hard to control the tip and makes the whole affair much more dangerous than it needs to be. Just get a hedge trimmer and call it good.
Is there a best way to approach large branches with a pole saw?
A: Absolutely. You’ll want to cut larger branches down in chunks ranging from 6-12” starting at the end. For the most part, you can ignore this with anything smaller than 3” but around that size, the weight really starts to add up and it’s best advised to approach each branch as an individual job while cutting. Take into account the height as well for the best results.
How hard is it to use a manual pole saw?
A: The model we tested had an extremely sharp blade that cut going both ways. We found it more time consuming than anything, as the other saws were much heavier for the most part. The curved blade also made some of the higher cuts easier, but you still need to take the same precautions as using a powered model.
With all the added danger isn’t it preferable to use a chainsaw over a pole saw?
A: Nope. During our chainsaw testing rounds, we found that being able to reliably use a chainsaw from a ladder is dicey at best. With smaller saws it’s doable but probably far more dangerous, with chainsaws that have standard 18” to 24” bars things become rapidly dangerous for the untrained. A pole saw is the safest option in this case, although care must still be taken.
How wide can I cut compared to the bar?
A: In theory, you could take a cut from both angles and get nearly twice the width of the bar. In practice, that’s extremely dangerous and not something we recommend trying. Instead, we found that cutting through branches that were 1” less than the bar still felt reasonably safe during our testing.
Trimming Up High
Pole saws make pruning a snap, and while they might not get much use you’ll be thankful for having one during those times that a tree needs a serious haircut. Finding the best pole saw was easier than we thought, although professionals may need something with the extra power of gasoline behind it we feel battery powered pole saws are the best solution for most people.
So, there’s no need to let that tree stay shaggy. Get out there and get your new pole saw today!