Choosing What Is Best For You
On this page I am only going to point out what I think is the only brush cutter harness to buy as shown on the right below and why. Sadly some brush cutters are still sold with a very basic harness, like that shown on the left.
I find it sad to see so many videos on YouTube, where operators use no harness at all. I think that this may be because people have upgraded from a bent shaft trimmer, where most of then do not even have a hitch point, to a straight shaft machine and cannot break the habit of not using a harness. So if you have upgraded to a straight shaft machine and starting to use a metal blade, it is much safer to use a harness. If you should slip or fall, the harness should prevent the spinning blade making contact with your body.
Most reputable brands of brush cutters, are starting to recognise the importance of a good harness and the quality of them is getting better all the time compared to that shown on the left which was common only a few years ago.
Unfortunately, all these better quality harness, rarely come as standard with brush cutters and are offered as upgrades. But from what I hear, most people do not make this upgrade step. If you decide to buy a new brush cutter and decent harness at the same time, insist on a discount, for not taking the cheap harness and let them dispose of it. This will eventually force the brush cutter suppliers to provide the best harness or no harness at all with the machine. This means you are free to choose the best harness form either that brand or another brand.
Pretty much all harnesses are designed to suit a bicycle handle machine, where the hitch point and rub pad, are being restrained as much as possible to give more control of the cutting head. So if you own a bicycle handle brush cutter, there is a good range to chose from now, with the best at this stage, being Husqvarna, Echo and Stihl.
However, it you were astute enough to have chosen a real brush cutter with a loop handle, than the only harness to buy at the moment is a Husqvarna Balance XT
Besides an amazing build quality, that will last you a very long time. The ability of this harness to transfer load to you hips is brilliant and works really well. This feature, takes a lot of load away from the shoulders, neck and back. Thus allowing you to work for many more hours and come away at the end of the day without any shoulders, neck and especially back pain. The stiffness of the backplate also, prevent you from winding up your back as much, forcing you to use your arms and your legs to swing the brush cutter and this helps prevent lower back pain.
But there is an even more important benefit to this, that even Husqvarna may not even aware of and that is stability. By effectively transferring a good portion of the load of the brush cutter to your hips, you are effectively lowering your centre of gravity and you would be surprised how much more stable you feel and are, on steep and slippery ground with this harness.
The other major benefit of this harness, if you own a real brush cutter, is the freedom of movement you have to move the brush cutter all around you, while it is still caring the weight of the brush cutter. Thanks to the long strap and sliding hitch point.
There is one part of this harness, that I am totally lost as to the reason for and that is the stretchy red strap with the black buckle in the centre of the photo above. Its job is obviously, to pull the hitch point back and is most likely meant for use with a bicycle handle grass trimmer, but is a major hindrance to movement with a loop handle brush cutter. If you decide to use this harness with a loop handle brush cutter, cut it off and throw it away.
Another feature this harness has, is a quick release hitch, in the event you may slip or fall, which in theory is probably a very good idea but I have never had to use it. With a Loop Handle brush cutter, you can use the brush cutter as a walking stick on slippery ground or when crossing a creek. You can use the brush cutter as a balancing aid, like a tight rope walker’s balancing pole, if you loose your footing or want to walk along a fallen log. This is the only harness, other than the simple loop strap, that gives you this freedom of movement while still having the the brush cutter attached to you. You simply cannot use a bicycle handle trimmer this way and as far as I am concerned, bicycle handle machines should not be called brush cutters. (probably get a lot of hate mail for that comment, but the truth is the truth).
I have witnessed some scary moments with operators of bicycle handle machines, where the weight of the machine and the lack of movement of the hitch point becomes a hindrance to balance instead of an aid that a loop handle brush cutter offers on steep slippery ground.
So my advice for what it is worth, is that if you own a real brush cutter (sorry Loop Handle brush cutter), invest in a Balance XT harness. It will probably be some of the best money you ever spend.
If you have steep of rough country to deal with and own a bicycle handle brush cutter. And that if you decide to buy this harness, add a real brush cutter to the shopping list at the same time.
What is not good about this harness
The hitch point retaining clip can open itself if you lift the brush cutter up, so that the brush cutter hitch is carrying the weight of the harness hitch assembly. Which causes the hitch hook to pivot outwards and this movement opens the locking clip. When this happens, the brush cutter will unhook itself from the harness.
This happens, sometimes or a lot depending on the brand of brush cutter and the freedom of movement of the hitch on the brush cutter on the shaft and funnily enough, the standard Husqvarna brush cutter hitch is the worse for releasing itself. To be fair to Husqvarna, this harness was probably not design to be used with a loop handle brush cutter, but for the large high powered clearing saws.
When I get a chance I will take some photos that clearly explains this, and a workarounds of replacing the latch spring with a stronger home made spring that helps minimise this problem.
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