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An arborist relies heavily on their tools for their day-to-day work. Caring for trees is more than just the regular task of watering and checking on their health. You also need to maintain them by pruning regularly and keeping them properly trimmed.
Therefore, having a great chainsaw is essential for an arborist, but picking the right one can be a complex process.
Our top five chainsaws for arborists are broad in performance and features, from the light and affordable Craftsman S165 to the more powerful and speedy Toro 51851. This list contains both gas chainsaws and battery-powered options to fit different needs.
Keep reading to find out our top recommendations and decide which is your perfect fit.
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STIHL MS 170
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Best Value For Money
Toro 51851 16 in.
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EGO Power+ CS1604
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The 5 Best Chainsaws for Arborists of 2023
Table of Contents
We’ve chosen the Milwaukee M18 FUEL battery chainsaw as the best overall tool for arborists in 2023. This powerful machine cuts faster than a gas chainsaw and is known for delivering up to 150 cuts on a charge.
If you’re looking for a battery-operated machine with various benefits, this is a great choice. With the battery, the startup and maintenance are more straightforward, and you won’t need to be concerned about fuel emissions, which means these tools are more eco-friendly, which might be of particular concern to an arborist.
A high-powered battery chainsaw like this has been said to be just as good, if not better, than a gas equivalent, but creating less noise and fumes, making the decision of which option to buy relatively simple.
Although perfectly designed for pruning and trimming, it also functions great for any job on a farm or other job sites. It has a Power State brushless motor providing speed and strength to handle even more heavy-duty jobs like cutting down entire trees.
The lasting performance of the M18 FUEL is excellent, and the Redlink Plus intelligence feature offers protection against overload, overheating and over-discharge, making it an efficient tool to run while you’re up in the branches.
The M18 FUEL can be purchased as an entire chainsaw kit, including a battery and charger. Milwaukee recommends using its M18 RedLithium High Output HD12.0 battery which offers an outstanding runtime and 50% more power than standard RedLithium HD packs.
Designed to be lightweight and handles well, this tool makes for a comfortable and easy job to match with its power and speed. This is an ideal combination for someone working up in the trees on a trimming or pruning job.
The Milwaukee’s stylish red and black design gives it extra appeal making it the perfect purchase.
If you prefer working with a good old classic gas-powered chainsaw, then you need to consider our editor’s choice, the STIHL MS 170 16-inch 30.1CC gas chainsaw, as the ideal chainsaw for an arborist in 2023.
The MS 170 is lightweight, compact, and comfortable to use, which are great features for quick and easy trimming and pruning, making it an excellent tool for arborists, especially those who work on small to medium-sized trees.
However, you can also use this tool for chopping firewood for camping, and even some tasks around the yard or a farm site, if needed.
It uses STIHL’s Easy2Start system, a simple pull-start mechanism that increases the ease of use, and the tool is incredibly easy to maintain overall. It’s renowned for being a great piece of equipment for arborists who need a day-to-day tool.
The STIHL also uses an Intellicarb compensating carburetor designed to automate the air/fuel adjustment in the machine, meaning that it will automatically use air from the clean side of the filter without you needing to make any changes manually, simplifying the process.
Despite its small size, the STIHL MS 170 chainsaw packs impressive cutting power. With a 30.1CC engine and a 16-inch bar, this chainsaw can easily handle most small to medium-sized trees.
The Ematic guide bar is another excellent feature of this product. When used in collaboration with a specified STIHL Oilomatic chain, it helps to reduce your oil consumption and further lubricate the chain more effectively, making it last longer. This chainsaw also features a toolless fuel and oil cap, making it easy to refill essential fluids quickly.
All of these characteristics, combined with the anti-vibration system and the compact size, make pruning and trimming work up in the branches much more manageable.
Unfortunately, a frequent issue with the MS 170 is that users often find that the carburetor needs frequent replacing, which might be concerning for someone who uses their chainsaw regularly or daily. However, the other great features typically make up for this drawback!
The best value-for-money choice for an arborist’s chainsaw is the Toro 51851 16-inch 60V battery chainsaw, as it is one of the easiest to use on the market and still gets the job done well.
The Toro 51851 battery chainsaw is an exceptional tool for arborists who require a lightweight, cordless, and powerful saw for trimming and pruning trees. It’s been created with many features that make it perfect for arborists, including its durable design, high-performance motor, and versatile cutting abilities.
The chainsaw is easy to start due to its button and pull trigger. It is also light with a manageable weight of only 8 lbs, making it comfortable to hold and carry, and it offers excellent control, making it ideal for demanding work and use at a height.
Despite its ease and comfort, this is also a powerful tool. The full 16-inch bar allows for easy cutting of larger trees and branches, with a battery offering up to 40 cuts through 6-inch by 6-inch branches on a single charge.
The Toro 51851 is sold as a complete chainsaw kit, including the charger and battery you’ll need to run your chainsaw, eliminating the need to purchase a battery on your own or decide which type to buy. This battery feature makes it easy to use, fast, and quiet, not to mention the fact that you won’t need to deal with engine exhaust fumes or the restrictions of working with a cord – this mobility is essential for arborists.
It runs on a brushless motor with RunSmart onboard intel, designed to be maintenance-free, reducing the need for repairs or replacements; its weather-resistant design means that it can be used in all weather conditions. This also increases the efficiency of your tool without needing to think about it.
This chainsaw also offers professional-style chain tensioning and an automatic chain oiler too. Overall, the Toro 51851 is an excellent tool for arborists requiring a lightweight, cordless, and powerful saw for trimming and pruning trees easily and efficiently.
Our bestselling chainsaw for arborists is the EGO Power+ CS1604, a super powerful battery-operated machine.
This chainsaw is also sold as a complete kit, including the EGO Power+ 5.0Ah 56V ARC Lithium battery and charger, which is the battery recommended by EGO to achieve their promised 250 cuts on a 4×4.
Furthermore, the battery is long-lasting, allowing you to keep working without needing to stop for a charge, which is ideal when you’re up in the branches for extended periods. A battery-operated chainsaw also allows for a quicker and easier start than a gas chainsaw.
This powerful tool offers the performance and power of a 35CC gas chainsaw but without the fumes and a reduced sound, making it an excellent choice for any bigger job you may need to do. This eco-friendly aspect is typically an enormous pull factor for environmentally conscious arborists.
The cuts are smooth and efficient due to the brushless motor, delivering up to 6800 RPM, allowing you to cut through hardwood, softer woods, branches, thicker tree trunks, and more. This tool is ideal for small, medium, and even larger trees.
It also comes with a reversible 16-inch bar and is equipped for IPX4-rated weather-resistant construction; this allows for easy cut through up to 12-inch diameter trees at a ferocious speed and a neatly done job, making it ideal for an arborist’s refined and detailed work.
The speed and power make this chainsaw incredibly easy to use. Although this is a slightly heavier model weighing 16 lbs in total with the battery, the motor makes getting a task done quickly and efficiently no trouble.
In addition to speed, power, and ease of use, the Power+ CS1604 is also packed with features you’d want in this type of equipment. The tool-free chain tension adjustment makes it easy to manage and maintain, and the low kickback design is an added bonus for more comfort.
While this chainsaw may be tricky to set up at first, for a consumer-grade product, it provides all the power needed for trimming, pruning, or any other work you’d need to do to maintain and care for your trees.
The Craftsman S165 42 CC gas chainsaw might be your best option to buy without sacrificing power, speed, or agility if you’re looking for a cheap alternative.
Although this 16-inch chainsaw is the most budget-friendly option on our list, it still offers excellent performance and steady speed. The 42 CC high-output engine provides a good amount of power for pruning and trimming smaller and medium-sized trees.
For any bigger branches and trees you might need to work with while trimming and doing maintenance, this chainsaw can also take an 18-inch bar and chain, making it ideal for handling such jobs.
The Craftsman is another lighter model option – weighing 12 lbs; it also comes with a cushioned full handle wrap and anti-vibration system, making this tool comfortable to operate.
Due to its weight, size, and overall design, it is further well-balanced and maneuverable. With its Easy Start Technology starting, the tool is made simple and easy – simply pull the mechanism, and you’re running and ready to go.
The S165 is also equipped with an inertia-activated chain brake, which stops the chain automatically to ensure your safety when using this machine. Keep in mind that even as a professional, you always need to take extra precautions when using dangerous tools, regardless of safety features.
The Craftsman has been known to be a little light on the automatic oiler, so there’s a chance you’ll have to do the job manually from time to time, and it might leak a little oil too.
For bigger, more heavy-duty jobs, this chainsaw might not be your go-to selection. However, if you’re looking for lightweight and durable machinery for day-to-day tasks as an arborist, the Craftsman might be your perfect pick.
How to Choose The Best Chainsaw for Arborists
As an arbor, you’ll have pretty specific needs when it comes to your chainsaw. It’s okay to be particular about the tools you use for your work, but having a clear idea of what you need is essential.
Here are three of the most crucial features that an arbor should be looking out for when shopping for the perfect chainsaw.
1. Ease of Use
As a first step, an arbor should be looking for an easy-to-use tool, making your day-to-day chainsaw simple to use without too many complications or unnecessary maintenance.
The perfect example of an easy-use chainsaw is the Toro 51851. The fact that this tool is battery-operated makes it even simpler to get going, and the maintenance is minimal.
Depending on your requirements, it’s always better to find a chainsaw that’s easy to start and use, even when working at height or in tight spaces. Looking for uncomplex equipment will help make your work quicker and easier, allowing you more time for other tree-maintenance tasks aside from trimming.
2. Weight and Size
As a professional arborist, you’re looking for something comfortable. Nothing will make your job more difficult than working with heavy, clunky, and uncomfortable tools to use every day of your life.
Ideally, you’ll want to opt for a lighter and more compact chainsaw for ultimate comfort. These will be lighter to hold and carry around, and smaller equipment will be easier to maneuver in tight spaces and when you’re working up in a tree.
The Craftsman S165 checks all the right boxes in the size and weight department if this is your main priority. This chainsaw also offers a cushioned full handle wrap, making holding the tool for an extended time much more comfortable.
3. Speed and Power
Opting for a more powerful chainsaw is essential for professional use. You’ll have a lot of work to complete in a day, and getting it done at a good pace will be important for your productivity.
A speedier and more powerful cut essentially means that you don’t need to hold the chainsaw for as long, making the job quicker and more comfortable overall.
For optimal power and speed, an option like the Milwaukee M18 FUEL might be just what your tasks require. This chainsaw is indeed a comfortable fit; additionally, its power and speed will significantly enhance your job.
Safety is a critical concern for users of any ability level, even professionals. Your top priority as an arborist should be choosing a chainsaw you feel safe and confident using since you’ll need to use the tool regularly.
Each chainsaw discussed in this article has been designed with safety in mind, but the Craftsman S165 might be considered your best safety-focused option. Not only is the tool light and comfortable to use, but it also has specific safety features to consider.
The main beneficial feature of the Craftsman is the inertia-activated chain brake, which stops the chain automatically, preventing accidents that might result in injury and will put your mind at ease while working.
Remember that even with safety features in place, it’s vital to work carefully and mindfully with any piece of equipment and to have protective gear and other safety precautions in place before starting.