It was a sad day last year when our trusty wheelbarrow finally decided to shit the bed. It had done service at two other sets of trails before coming to us, and over the eight year course of its life it moved literally thousands of loads of earth. It was actually kind of a shock when it did finally decide to give out on us. Sure, we had make a few bush repairs to it over the years, but it seemed like that thing was going to be around forever. That was until I went to move a load of dirt and one of the handles ripped completely off. Corrosion had been quietly eating away at the inside of the steel handles and that last load was the catalyst for a catastrophic failure.
Seeing as we were now dead in the water as far as moving dirt went, there was no other choice than to head to the local Home Depot to get a replacement. The majority of the problems that we had from the old wheelbarrow were with the poly plastic tub, so I knew I wanted to get something with a steel tub this time around. I had a Jackson brand wheelbarrow in the back of my mind but price was going to be the deciding factor as to whether or not I went that route. As much as I wanted to get a Jackson, I wasn’t prepared to drop 200 bucks on one. That said, it was a pleasant surprise when I got to the store and they had steel Jacksons with steel handles priced at a digestible $109.97. There was one catch though! The ones that they had were outfitted with strange plastic loops at the end of those steel handles…
Seeing as we’ve made it to the “Using It” section, it should be clear that I decided to give one of those Jackson wheelbarrows with the weird handles a go. Jackson calls them “Total Control” handles and they’re supposed to do just what the name implies, give you total control when moving loads around. I honestly was thinking that they were going to be more of a gimmick than anything but it was apparent as soon as I moved my first load of dirt that gimmick they were not. Holding the handles right in the sweet spot of the top curve is both comfortable and gives you noticeably more control over the wheelbarrow than what you get with traditional handles. Same goes for dumping loads. Your hands naturally shift down a bit towards the bottom curves and they do the same as the top curves do, allow you to have more control over the wheelbarrow when you’re emptying it out.
As much as I liked the feel of the Total Control handles, durability was a major concern that I had. That’s actually why I’ve waited close to a year to even do this review. I wanted to make damn sure that they would hold up before I made a decision either way. I’m happy to say that so far they’ve lived up to the rugged reputation that Jackson is known for.
Another unique feature are Jackson’s cleated stabilizers. They give legs more surface area, that according to Jackson make the wheelbarrow 40% more tip-resistant. Jackson also added circular cleats to the bottom of the stabilizers to keep the wheelbarrow firmly planted just where you put it. We’ve all had a wheelbarrow try to go rolling off when you toss that first shovel or two of dirt in it. The cleats help to prevent that from happening.
– Total Control handles are comfortable and do indeed give you more control when moving the wheelbarrow around.
– Rugged steel construction. Excuse the extremely cliché saying, but this thing is built like a brick shithouse.
– Leg stabilizers and cleats do what they are intended to do.
– Like most other wheelbarrows, the brace in front of the wheel has a tendency to catch on uneven ground and roots. Not even the Total Control handles can save you when that happens unexpectedly!
– It’s not that we didn’t like that bright Jackson blue, we just wanted to be a little more stealth since our spot is so close to civilization. That’s why ours has the embarrassingly bad camo paint job that it does.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
It has my recommendation! At $109.97, the Jackson is more expensive than other steel wheelbarrows from brands such as True Temper, Ace, Kobalt, etc, but that little bit of extra cost is well worth it in my opinion. Spend the extra money and you’re getting a wheelbarrow that very well may outlast your spot. There’s a reason that Jackson wheelbarrows are what you see the majority of the time in the back of contractor’s trucks and at job sites. They’re built to last!