Stihl HLA 85 telescopic hedge trimmer

Stihl HLA 85 - image: HW
Stihl HLA 85 - image: HW

Sharing many of the features of the HLA 65, this Stihl trimmer has brushless electric motor, quick and easy head adjustment to 115 degs plus double-sided blade and tip protector. It also employs the same lithium-ion AP 180 battery. What makes it stand out is the telescopic shaft.

With a total extended length of 3.3m, the HLA 85 means tall or deep hedges can be tackled with the operator's feet firmly on the ground. For its size, we find it surprisingly lightweight in its shortest positions. Vibrations are extremely low and, of course, there are no emissions.

Typical Stihl construction, this tool is well-engineered and soundly built. It's tough. The battery slots in with a confident click. It's unlikely to slip out and is nicely protected from branches and debris.

Both testers first use it with the shaft retracted, then gradually extend the shaft to its full reach. "That's impressive," says Braund. It's clear from his expression that there is a "but" coming. "But unless you stick to using it vertically, it is hard not to drop the head."

Would he angle the head to top the hedge? "No," he replies. "This is so tall you can't see the top of the hedge anyway."

Blade: 50cm double-sided
Tooth spacing: 33mm
Maximum cutting thickness: 26mm
Stroke rate: 3,000/min
Weight: 4.4kg without battery
Total length: 3.3m fully extended
Recommended battery: AP 180
Sound pressure level: 75dB(A)
Sound power level: 94dB(A)
Vibration level: 2m/s2 left and 2m/S2 right
List: Price £307.50 body only; AP 180 battery £150; AL 300
Quick Charger £55.83 (all prices + VAT)
Tel: Stihl - 01276 20202

Tested This Issue
- Stihl HLA 65
- Makita EH7500W
- Stihl HLA 85
- Makita DUH551Z
- Cobra LRH40E
- Makita EN4950H
- Hyundai HYHT36LI

Review Panel

Sam Braund, grounds worker, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus

Keith Hoare, grounds supervisor, Bridgwater College

It is time for the last clip of the year and at Cannington, the land-based studies centre of Bridgwater College in Somerset, the grounds staff are tasked with trimming the cherry laurel hedge alongside the car park of the department of animal management.

Time then to ask grounds worker Sam Braund and supervisor Keith Hoare if they would use a selection of recently introduced hedge trimmers.

As battery technology continues to improve, we have two such models from Stihl, both long-reach units, to tackle the hedge, which is more than 3m high. We also have battery tools from Hyundai and Makita, both being standard format units for regular hedge-cutting work. Another long-reach unit is the electric powered Cobra, supplied by Henton & Chattel, and we have a four-stroke petrol cutter with a massive reach from Makita.

Finally, because Braund loves engines, we have a standard format, petrol engined machine from Makita. Which ones will impress our testers?

Conditions on the day of the test were hot with bright sunshine. The hedge presented a wide range of branch diameters up to 25mm in thickness.

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