Dirt Rag Gift Guide 2017: Gifts for the Trail Crew

By Evan Gross

Know someone who regularly gives back by doing trail work? Here are some gift ideas they’ll love and use.

Stihl KM 111 R KombiMotor – $350

The Stihl KombiSystem is a motorized head with multiple quick-release attachments to sweep, cut, blow or trim. Attachments vary in price and function but with thirteen options they cover the trail clearing end of the trail work spectrum in its entirety. Stihl divides the KombiMotors into two categories: Homeowner and Professional. The Professional series gives you everything you want to get the most out of your time off the bike – more power, increased fuel storage and a more durable package of very similar weight.

While most trimmers on the market allow you to swap out the gearbox attachment to install another, the beauty of the KombiSystem for trail work is threefold: the ease in which attachments are swapped, the compact size of the motor and attachment when disassembled, and the plethora of trimming implements available for the platform.

After five years of use, my personal KombiMotor is still the go-to trail cleaning mechanism. More recently, Stihl released the KM 111 R motor, and it’s the one to get. It sits in the middle of the Professional series line, offering enough power and fuel storage to keep you trimming for roughly 50 minutes with the throttle wide open.

You won’t find Stihl products at large home supply chains much as you won’t find a Kona Process or Pivot Mach 5.5 at Dick’s or Sports Authority. Our local supplier, Laneys Feed Mill, turned our mountain bike club onto these a number of years ago, and the first trimmer we purchased is still purring. So, if not for someone on your gift list, perhaps gift one to the local trail crew.

Stihl HL-KM 145° Adjustable Hedge Trimmer Attachment – $250

While Stihl makes plenty of attachments, if I could only have one it would be the 145 Degree Adjustable Hedge Trimmer. It’s pretty apparent in just looking at one of these the damage they can do on mountain laurel, saplings, greenbrier, hawthorne, poison ivy, etc. I specifically mention poison ivy because if you’ve ever used a string trimmer and found yourself a patch of poison ivy, you know all too well that those nasty red oozing blisters will appear everywhere. That’s because the string trimmer splatters poison open and throws it everywhere. The hedge trimmer attachment simply lays the foliage flat, vastly reducing the potential for poison juices getting on your face or limbs. Poison aside, this attachment will cut through any hardwood roughly an inch around. While brushcutters and clearing saws are capable of cutting similarly sized flora, they lack the control needed to effectively trim out trails in rocky areas. Constantly pinging a clearing saw up against rocks will render the blade virtually useless after a short bit, while the shearing action of the Hedge Trimmer Attachment skates along the rock surface with minimal impact to the blade.

MSR 30 Ounce Fuel Bottle – $22

They’ve already got a trimmer? It can’t hurt to have a few extra fuel bottles to take on the next trimming session. MSR bottles are heavy-duty aluminum fuel containers that come with a plastic childproof cap. The stock caps seem to wear out over extended use as the safety mechanism tends to strip out. This is a slow process, but can be a royal PIA if out trimming and unable to remove the cap. The once-stock offering known as the Expedition Cap is available aftermarket. It’s a simply threaded plastic cap with a rubber seal well worth the $4.95 purchase price. The 30 ounce bottle sort of fits in metal bike cages should you be riding in, but is best paired with a cargo cage such as an Arundel Looney Bin or Blackburn Outpost Cage.