This is not a review of the Trail Boss collapsible tool system as a whole. That’d be kinda pointless. These U.S.-made splined sectional trail tools don’t really have any worthy one-to-one competitors. So, until that changes, Trail Boss wins by default. But that’s not a bad thing. Although traditional tools are sturdier and cheaper, you can’t stow traditional tools inside a pack, do legit heavy tread work, then pop mad wheelies while comfortably carrying them home. So, instead of stretching my not-so-hot take for hundreds of words, I’m just going to talk about Trail Boss’ new made-in-house tool head, the Hoe Rake, and stretch that for a mere hundreds of words.
There are eight different earth-moving “heads” you can lock onto a handle set, ranging from picks to hoes to rakes to shovels. Unlike the lightweight fiberglass and aluminum handle segments, these heads are heavy steel. Whenever possible, I try to bring just one. Lately, this has been the one.
The Hoe Rake is an arched plate of 0.25” steel that’s 6.5” wide and 9” long, with six sharpened and tapered tines on one end and a curved sharp blade on the other. It crams a lot of utility into one device, so I accept some compromises when I rely on it exclusively. It’s not as good at breaking up hard-packed dirt as a pick mattock, it’s not as good at hacking limbs as a pulaski, and it’s not as good at moving large quantities of dirt as a mcleod. But it’ll do it all if I need it to.
Those long tapered tines make it easy to cut deep and pull a lot of material instead of just skimming the surface. They can also chop into some pretty dense earth if you swing right. Note: that doesn’t mean swing hard. Trail Boss handles can become loose or unbonded if you abuse them. The trick is letting the head’s momentum do the work, instead of forcing it into the dirt. The Trail Boss handle also isn’t made for prying, but the Hoe Rake’s teeth are spaced narrowly enough that I had no problem pulling out any root ball small enough to fit between them.
On the other side is that curved blade. It’s good for scooping fine dirt, but I try to keep it fresh and sharp. If I can hack a branch close to the trunk, it’s quicker than my handsaw. It’s also nicer than trying to hack roots with a pick mattock, because my aim doesn’t need to be perfect. And the 48” handle makes for a wide sphere of destruction.
The Hoe Rake can even pull a little extra loose dirt when flipped on its side thanks to its 9” length. So, I kinda wish those sides were flat, but that’s really my only complaint. It’s probably the most versatile single tool I’ve used, so it’s what I carry when I just need to mop something up two hours from civilization, and don’t want my wheelie-popping to be inhibited.