8 Most Used Trail Tools for Lifting and Hauling

These are the most commonly used Lifting and Hauling Tools with tips on using them safely and effectively.

by Jim Schmid

These are the most commonly used Lifting and Hauling Tools with tips on using them safely and effectively.

Rockbar (Pry Bar)

For trail work a rockbar 4-foot in length and weighing 16 to 18 pounds with a beveled end is best. This is an essential tool for prying and levering large, heavy objects such as boulders, logs, and beams. The secret of using a rockbar is leverage. Slip the beveled end under a heavy object, and then apply basic physics to raise the object and ease it toward its destination. As with all hand tools, rockbars require wise use. Work as a team, making sure everyone understands each step of a rock move before it begins. A rockbar can also be used as a drop hammer to break rock or open a crack.

Safety tip: Keep toes and fingers clear of places where they could be pinched.

Timber Carrier (Log Carrier)

Timber carriers are used for transporting heavy timbers and logs. They look like giant ice tons with 5-foot-long wooden handles. These handles allow room for two people on each side of the carrier. One carrier can be used to drag the log, and a heavy log can be carried using two or more in order to avoid dragging the log through a fragile area. Timber carriers can be used to move bridge stringers and are helpful in shelter construction.

Safety tip: A firm tap on the back of the hooks will set the hooks into the log before carrying in order to avoid slippage.

Peavey and Cant Hook (Cant Dog/Log Dog)

The peavey (named after its inventor Joseph Peavey) and cant hook (a cant is a square-edged timber or a squared log) are used for rolling and positioning logs and timbers. This includes rolling the log or timber to move it to another site or to rotate it in place. The main difference between these two tools is the shape of the their ends. The Peavy has a straight spike at the end whereas cant hook has a blunt tip. The spike allows more control over the handling of the logs, but may cause more damage to the surface of the log. Peaveys are quicker to reposition when rolling a log or timber some distance while trying to maintain momentum. Cant hooks provide for more precise rotating. When arranged as opposing pairs, either tool can serve as a timber carrier if a true carrier is not available.

Safety tip: Exercise caution not to roll timber or logs onto your or someone else's toes.

Griphoist (Cable Winch)

Griphoist is the brand name for a compact, lightweight-rigging tool (cable winch) that can be used to move rock or timber. The machine consists of a metal body with a cable running through it. By cranking the lever, a set of cams clench the cable and pulls it a few inches, moving heavy objects with ease. Its biggest advantage is that is a continuous cable puller. In other words, a cable of any length can be used. This allows for long pulls without having to re-anchor, which is particularly helpful when pulling from across a stream or ravine. Nylon slings (which weight less and do less damage than chains) should be used to anchor the winch to a tree and to harness rock or logs. The winch cable should be kept freely suspended (rather than dragging it through dirt or rock) to avoid fraying and deterioration of the cable. Only crews trained in the art of rigging should use the Griphoist.

Safety tip: Always stand clear of stressed lines and out of the load's path of movement.

Come Along (Comealong/Come-a-long/Come-along/Power Pull/Power Puller/Winch Puller/Ratchet Winch)

The come along is a simple ratchet-and-pawl cable winch used for pulling, lifting, or stretching. The better models can move substantial loads-large rocks, logs, and stumps-without breaking but are limited by the length of cable that can be wound around the spool (usually about 25 feet). Because of this limitation, hauling material a considerable distance requires frequent reanchoring of the winch.

Safety tip: Stay out from under the load.

Rigging (Block and Tackle)

Rigging refers to a system of cables, pulleys, and winches used to suspend and move heavy loads. Rigging systems are most appropriate when there is a considerable amount of work to do at one site, such as when constructing a bridge, retaining wall, steps, or a shelter.

Safety tip: The setup and use of a rigging system requires sophisticated training or experience and should not be attempted without this knowledge. Severe accidents can occur if this system is used improperly.


A wheelbarrow can be used to haul materials and tools to a work site as well as moving rock and dirt. Most wheelbarrows have a metal box and frame, wood or aluminum handles, and solid rubber or pneumatic tires. Pneumatic-tired wheelbarrows are recommended because you can adjust the tire inflation to roll easily on uneven terrain. Lift a loaded wheelbarrow with your legs, not with your back. Another option is to use a two-wheeled cart. They have better balance and can often carry heavier loads; however, they require wider space to maneuver.

Safety tip: Do not overload a wheelbarrow. Several light loads will be easier and safer to manage than one large one. Stay behind handles, not between them.

Canvas Bags

C. R. Daniels, Inc. sells a heavy-duty canvas bag ($16-20 per bag) that is great for carrying dirt, small rocks, tools, or anything else you want to carry. Originally designed to carry coal these canvas bags can tote up to 95 pounds of stuff. They have four handles making it easy for two people to carry the load. You can have your logo silk screened or embroidered for a small additional fee.

Safety tip: Do not overload. Best to share the load with another person.

About the Author

During his career Jim Schmid served as South Carolina’s first State Trails Coordinator as well as working for the US Forest Service as a Trails Manager in AZ, ID, and FL and also had the pleasure of managing the Florida National Scenic Trail. Jim is a collector at heart. Check out his collection of trail quotes, terms, acronyms, sayings and more at jimstrailresources.wordpress.com. In addition to updating his website and writing book reviews for American Trails Jim enjoys traveling around the country riding rail-trails and mtn bike trails.

Contact: [email protected]

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