When it comes to modular portable trail building tools, there’s really just one option that checks all the boxes in terms of functionality and portability: the Trail Boss tool from Trail Boss USA.
Over a decade ago when we did a stint as traveling trail builders, we encountered quite a few folks working on their own take on creating a portable McLeod. Most of the ideas we heard were similar in concept: make a trail tool with integrated couplers that could break down in a similar fashion to a pool cue so that it could be carried in a regular pack.
We’ve met with a lot of folks that had plans to create one, but the Trail Boss is the best rendition of this concept we’ve seen to date. Is this the portable trail tool we’ve all been waiting for? The modular tool features a number of attachments to aid in the trail building cause: a McLeod, axe/ mattock (similar to a pulaski), shovelhead, hoe head, and saw head in an all-in-one solution that can break down small enough to fit a large hydration pack.
The McLeod is one of the tools most favored by trail builders all over. Originally designed as a wildland firefighting tool, it has a large, hoe-like blade on one side, and a tined blade on the other. Essentially a burly rake mated with a hoe, the McLeod is a staple in constructing bench cut trails. The rake is used to remove slough, while the hoe cuts the backslope. The flat surface works well as a tamper to compact the tread. The long handle makes it possible to work long hours with minimal fatigue. It is an excellent finishing tool, and combined with a pulaski, you’re a one-man trail crew armed and ready to cut some new trail sweetness.
Packages of the tool start at $250 for the 3-piece handle with a McLeod head, or $270 for a 3-piece handle with a Rogue Hoe head, making them a sizable investment. If you factor in the cost of all the tools separately, as well as the value in having a portable tool, it seem to be a worthwhile investment. For comparison, a McLeod will set you back betwen $40-$130. A Pulaski: $27-$55. Shovel: $12-$35. For the tools separately you’d be spending $79-$220.
The 4-piece handle with 6 heads runs over $700, which admittedly is a lot of cash for a trail building tool – they’re definitely on the pricey side. We’re still strapping our tools to our pack and hauling them the old fashioned way. But if you can afford it, it looks like a very well made product.
check it out: the Trail Boss