I can't think of a better way to test the Echo SRM-280T String Trimmer than The Mountain. This giant water feature is located at the northern end of my parents' yard. About a few years ago, the county decided to widen the road in front of their house. Dad somehow managed to commandeer all the pieces of sidewalk that were damaged by the project and turn them into his own creation.
Soon after The Mountain was completed, it became apparent that all the weed control net rolls that had been carefully placed and secured before the mulch fell were nothing more than an expensive exercise in futility. The weeds started to pop up as if the mesh was a seedbed (ironic, huh?), and it took more and more time to get them under control. Eventually, the mulch acquiesced to the weeds, and the mower became the only weapon that could tame the mountain. This is a job that really benefits from using a quality brushcutter. Still, as a lawn worker, can you justify buying a single-purpose tool that you only use occasionally on one account?
Editor's note: Check out our best gas line trimmers article for our top recommendations.
Echo SRM-280T: Up to the challenge?
That's where the Echo SRM-280T, the flagship of the Echo line of commercial cord trimmers, is your ace. The 280T takes weed control to a whole new level. Its 28.1cc motor produces uninterrupted power, and the reduced gear ratio increases torque and puts the "T" at 280T, which means the RPM of the cutting head doesn't stop. The Echo SRM-280T delivers enough punch to handle any attack you throw at it with trimmers and more.
I've been hesitant to delve into the upper tier of cord cutters where the 280T sits, mostly because of price, but more specifically because of value issues. Is the extra power of the 28.1cc motor worth the extra money? Strength is great, but there isn't always a mountain to climb. Does this extra power really provide tangible benefits for everyday use? Does the "T" after the number really make a difference?
In a word – absolutely! The Echo SRM-280T can be a gardener's everyday best friend. All that extra power will drastically reduce the time it takes to mow your yard. Many trimmers seem to somehow create a slight downforce at the cutting head. It's as if the grass is dodging, requiring an extra pass to cut properly. At full throttle, the 280T cuts with such respectable speed that the weeds are invincible, proudly awaiting a sure decapitation. It also works well as an edger when your flower beds are away from the normal edger routes. Work will definitely go faster with this machine!
Echo SRM-280T: Digging Deeper
Full throttle doesn't work for every situation, and for me it's a bit hard to warm up with throttle control on the 280T. The trigger is different than what I'm used to on string trimmers. Essentially, the Echo takes the throttle off the backpack blower and installs it on the trimmer. What used to be a slender lever that turned at the connecting end is now more of a button. Aesthetically, for you gunners (women included), the trigger used to be like a revolver. Now it's more like a 1911 trigger. It still turns from the same point, but constrained.
Both styles have a unique feel, as well as pros and cons. Previous triggers offered more control but were less durable. The Echo's new throttle fits tighter, with less leverage, but is stronger, and inadvertent disengagement is less, if not entirely impossible. While I still prefer the old accelerator to the new one, the current version is satisfactory and takes some practice. You can't deny its resilience.
Equipped with Echo's .95 Cross-Fire spool, the Echo SRM-280T will also handle .105 line through the Speed-Feed head affixed to the business end. In addition, the Echo offers as accessories a bumper head and a fixed wire head that can provide bears with up to .155 wire loads. However, for The Mountain or general use, the 1.05 line seems to be the right ammo for me.
The Speed-Feed head is a great one, but like the new triggers, this variation on the theme doesn't come without a slight learning curve. The headers are really easy to load – almost to the point where you wonder if you're doing it right. There's never a need to remove the bumper plate for wiring; in fact, doing so makes things tough. You simply line up the arrow on the top with one of the eyelets, slide the thread halfway through, and turn the top of your head until the thread is the right length. complete.
The tricky part comes on rare occasions when the wire gets twisted and gets pinched inside the head. Then the hat has to come off. The tabs on the sides, keeping it snug, are not very cooperative. Getting the head back in place wasn't the easiest task either, as keeping the wires tight and lined up and snapping back the tabs properly was awkward. Twice so far I've gotten it "correct" by just closing the lid on boot. I now know how special it is, so I should be able to avoid this in the future, but it's your learning curve.
That said, I really like the Speed-Feed head, not only for its ease of winding, but for the way it glides evenly across the ground. The smooth, almost flat surface of the bumper cover makes it almost impossible for experienced users to dig grass, and it makes it look as if a novice knows what they're doing. Those patios and backyards that have to be trimmed with trimmers will look great if you use the 280T.
In short, the Echo SRM-280T is a great sidearm. Here's George Foreman dancing ballet gracefully, Superman having tea with a six-year-old…you get the idea. The 280T has all the power you could possibly need, yet is easy to tame and can work out every yard detail in seconds. Good stuff, Echo!
Echo SRM280T: Specs
- Engine Displacement: 28.1 CC
- Engine Type: 2 Cycle
- Air/Oil Mixing Ratio: 50:1
- Alcohol compatibility: up to 10%
- Fuel Capacity: 21.1 fluid ounces
- Cutting diameter: 17 inches
- Line System: Double Strand Bump with Rapid Feed
- Shaft: Straight
- Warranty: 5-year consumer warranty, 2-year commercial warranty
- Price: $399 at Home Depot