Pros: Stihl Diehard Quality, Weight Distribution, Articulating Head
Cons: How developed are your forearms?
Recently I had the opportunity to pick up a Stihl HL 100 when I dropped off my chainsaw for service. I was waiting in the service area and was admiring this formidable trimmer when I realized that I really could use one at my place for Yews, a Privet Hedge and a few Holly trees that line my driveway. Yes, this was certainly feeling like an American Express moment.
Kicking The Tires A Bit
The Stihl HL 100 solves the issue of having to take a ladder out with you when trimming your hedges, which I absolutely loathe as it complicates things and becomes a safety issue. With its 59 shaft and 20 blade length the Stihl offers the user the capability to reach up to 79 beyond their reach, to tackle higher hedges. The 135 ? articulating head offers the capability to stand and cut 45? angles above head or to face your hedges and trim flat with a simple adjustment of a lever. The ability to articulate the cutting head not only allows the user to get into difficult angles, it also works with the user toward getting to comfortable working position, although I found it best to compromise on a common angle that avoids frequent adjustments. The loop handle aids greatly in taming the Stihl HL 100 through thick hedges, allowing for great maneuverability.
Cutting through Yews, Forsythia and Holly around my property just got a whole lot easier. I found that some of the overgrown branches up to about an inch are also no problem as the dual sided reciprocating blades chomp through them effortlessly. Powered by a 31.4 cc engine, rated at 1.3 bhp., the Stihl HL 100 uses a 2 cycle mix of 50:1. Stihl calls for at least 89 octane gas in that mix. The 18 oz tank will accommodate 20-30 minutes of constant trimming.
Starter interlock, trigger and slide controls are simple and within reach of the user. All starting and stopping functions are located on the slider. Starting the HL 100 is a matter of 3-5 pulls in my experience, thought the user manual calls for up to 5 on the average. Experience with other Stihl products, and if you can adjust a carburetor and keep the air filter clean, along with accurate fuel mixes, you can keep pulls to a minimum. Incidentally, the 42 page user manual offers hints on carburetor adjustments.
Care and feeding the Stihl HL 100 is simply a matter of keeping the air and fuel filters clean, lubricating the gear box as needed and checking the spark plugs periodically is all that is required. Blade sharpening is best performed by a Stihl technician to assure accurate filing and to assure the cutting head isnt damaged, unless you have experience in sharpening these tools.
Some Final Thoughts
Stihl has put a great deal of thought into the Stihl HL 100. You can buy cultivator, edger, scythe, hedge cutter, power sweep and pruner attachments that easily connect to the shaft for additional flexibility!
The only negative I can document, is perhaps weight. While the HL 100 weighs in at just over 15 lbs., the extension of that weight can become burdensome after awhile. While the included, adjustable, shoulder strap helps pivot the HL 100 on your shoulder for horizontal cuts, you quickly find it gets in the way and you are better off without it. You would be able to build up your forearms if you did this for a living. I found that it is best to avoid fatigue and tackle the job in stages.
Using the Stihl HL 100 is a dream. The heads make quick work of hedges and it is extraordinarily with professional results. Noise levels are average and emissions are compliant with no evidence of smoky emissions. The anti vibration technology built into all Stihl
Products reduce fatigue to the user.
All things considered, you have to realize that this is a commercial grade tool and it may be heavy for some users, perhaps requiring a little more maintenance than your average garden implement, Stihl really delivered on the HL 100. It has revolutionized the way I trim my higher hedges and cut my time exponentially. This one is a winner!