Trail Building hand tools recommendation

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  • Trail Building hand tools recommendation
  • fergalk

    For a very long time I had scoured the net for proper trailbuilding hand tools without any joy.

    I finally and very fortunately found JRFireTools who were able to post a large amount of tools to me for a very reasonable price (to Rep. of Ireland)

    I bought several of their Broken-Back McLeod, Chingadera and BigFoot tools and have been amazed by the huge amount of time and effort they have saved me in the past years.

    Here in the forests of Dublin Ireland, all the rider-built trails have to be hand built so we need the most efficient and effective tools we can find.

    I can move huge amounts of soil and chop through roots and brambles a whole lot easier than with traditional tools.

    Well worth checking out their website if you are looking for top-quality American designed & made tools.
    John himself is a firefighter and designs, produces and uses his own tools, and they work just as well for trailbuilders as firefighters!

    JRFireTools website

    Here’s a link to a Google+ album of some the work done with them:

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Mmm, nice. How well does the macleod work for finishing/tamping? Sticky out bolts seem like they might get in the way?

    Premier Icon Andy R

    I’ll have a look at their website – I do most of my trail building with a spade, a shovel, an Italian hoe and a rake (and a chainsaw) but I always keep meaning to get a McLeod..

    Premier Icon JoeG

    The best trail tool to use depends so much on the site conditions; tools that work well in one area are useless somewhere else. I’m near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    The best digging tool for us (by a long shot!) is a Rogue Hoe 55H They’re made from recycled harrow disc steel, so they hold an edge better than anything else that I’ve tried. The hickory handles are very strong; I’ve never seen one loosen or break. And they have a dropdown box on the order form to select UK for shipping as well, though I didn’t see a cost.

    I often take a Pulaski (which I keep very sharp) to use only to cut tree roots, but not for general digging.

    I have a couple of Lamberton Trail Rakes as well. They are nice tools, but generally don’t work well for me as there are too many tree roots that they get snagged on. And shipping cost is very high (even inside the US) due to the long length.

    If I’m on my own, I normally take the Rogue and a long handled, round point shovel. Rogue breaks up the dirt, shovel tosses it far away.


    Ooh, they do look nice – both tools and trail. I’d love a set of decent tools but my current project doesn’t have much in the way of roots. A digger would be the weapon of choice but unless Santa is especially good to me i’ll have to make do with the bucket and spade (just up the road from you fergal – Co Antrim 😀 )


    Utilizing the local giant helps alot>

    Premier Icon colp

    I can highly recommend a couple of Ikea bags for soil moving duties.
    I have one in my camelback with a folding shovel for little jobs.


    Northwind – The Mcleod works well for compressing/tamping, the bolts don’t really stick out too far. The BigFoot also works very well especially for tamping small berms due to it’s slightly rounded profile.

    Euro – Nice job! Serious bit of work for a bucket and spade – nice looking playground you got there – looks like an old quarry?

    Get Digging – Azadas (personal favourite is a pick version) in all sorts of weights and blade shapes.

    For digging a long handled fibre glass shovel like this:

    The guy who runs the site has been very generous in discounting tools for us. A top chap and great service.

    Right tools for the job and local conditions mean there’s no single answer IMO.

    Good post too, thanks for sharing 😎

    Edit – Y.O.Y. aren’t there any UK based suppliers / manufacturers of McLeods?

    A great trail building motivational post Fergal!

    I reckon our wee club league circuit up here needs expanded some time soon…


    Always thought this would be good if I only lived closer to where I could build trails.


    Premier Icon Northwind

    I really want one of those. I’ve not got that much use for it, but still. Always wondered how shocky the handle is though (*), metal handles on tools can be unpleasant.

    (* **** off, that’s a brilliant sentence)

    Premier Icon JoeG

    In this recent thread about axes there is a link to Edged Arts that sell Prohoe Rogue hoes.

    So if you’re still looking for trail tools, it looks like you can get them on your side of the Atlantic now. 😀

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