It’s a new year, and with every year comes a new crop of beard trimmers. As usual, there’s a few good ones and a whole lot of terrible ones. We Beard Pros are here to set you straight; we’ll get you the skinny on the best beard trimmers of this year so you don’t waste your money on the bad stuff. Your beard deserves a Trimmer whose blades and battery work as hard as you do. We weeded out the wusses and produced a list of trimmers worthy of Odin himself.
As always, we evaluate our trimmers on five important criteria. We think it gives you the best overall picture of the trimmer before you plop down your hard-earned dinero.
- How long does the trimmer hold up after months of use? Do the blade remain sharp?
- How long does it take to charge and how long does a charge last?
- The Cut
- What is the range of cut the beard trimmer provides?
- How much does the trimmer tug of your hair?
- Ease of use
- Is it easy to use and maintain?
Top Beard Trimmer 2016: Philips Norelco BeardTrimmer 7300
The Philips Norelco 7300 has a handy stubble vacuum.
Last year, we ranked the little-brother of the Norelco 7300 (the old model was the 5100) as the top trimmer. We moved up this year because we had heard good things about the 7300, and we were not disappointed. We reviewed a lot of good trimmers, but what kept the 7300 at the top of the charts? The best feature of this trimmer is the vacuum that helps you clean up as you go. If you’re trimming your beard every day (which you obviously do because you give a damn about your personal grooming), you know that those stubble trimmings get everywhere; they have a mind of their own and their only mission is make your bathroom look more lake a dirty hair salon. With the 7300, your stubble trimmings will be sucked up and stored in the trimmer instead of scattered all over your bathroom vanity. That’s not the only reason you want this trimmer though; it scores well across the board on our ratings. Here’s how it did:
- Mostly solid construction, but not without issues. There’s a clear plastic door that holds in your collected stubble trimmings; it’s definitely flimsy. You’re going to want to be very gentle as you open and shut the door so you don’t end up breaking it off like we did. Worst case, you can glue the door back together (because you’re a man’s man that fixes his own appliances). Otherwise, this unit has held up well over time.
- In our tests, this unit was able to get about 6 trimmings before it needed recharged. As it aged through our 6-month test, its battery definitely declined, but it still got all the way through a trim without running out of juice. Even with a weak battery, we found ourselves coming back to this trimmer because the vacuum feature made up for its wimpier power pack.
- The Cut
- We tested several of the settings from 1mm-18mm. We found the cut to be consistent for shorter settings. At longer settings we had to make more passes over our face felt, but it was no different than any other trimmer we tested. Our only complaint is the lack of a longer comb. Some of us Pros like to keep our beards at a healthy 40mm (1.5 in), which excluded this trimmer.
- This trimmer was outstanding. On its standard setting, none of the Pros experienced tugging or pulling – our second-most-hated experience before the sun comes up, other than drivers doing 55 in the left lane. To top it off, this trimmer’s ‘Turbo’ setting ratchets up the blade speed. It seemed to us like the trimmer could double as our new hedge clippers, let alone trim a thick beard.
- Ease of use
- The 7300 does fall down a bit here. We want our trimmers to just work without a bunch of maintenance. All trimmers require a bit of oil after every trim, just like a car needs oil every 5k miles… this trimmer was like a car that needs to be in the shop every few months. We had to repeatedly remove the blades from the top of the unit to clear out stubble we found blocking the gears. Without periodic cleanings, the trimmer would bind up and stop cutting completely. It’s not a deal-breaker (cleaning only takes about 5 min including dis-assembly/reassembly), but it’s something you’ll want to know going in.
We love this trimmer. Its Turbo setting made sure we never had snags, and its vacuum minimized the cleanup chores. Using the Norelco 7300 was like using a riding lawn mower instead of a push mower – you notice the difference right away, and you never want to go back to the old way. Its stumblings in construction quality and maintenance were easily overcome by its usefulness. We would absolutely buy this trimmer again.
Top Detailer: Philips Norelco GoStyler
Just like the Norelco 7300 is your riding lawn mower, the Norelco GoStyler is your edger and weed-wacker. There’s always a few hairs that want to be ‘unique snowflakes’ and ‘stand out from the crowd’ and all that – but the GoStyler will keep them in line.
We used to stay away from edgers and stylers, thinking they were a waste of money. After all, we figured that if you spent your budget on the best trimmer, it would be able to do everything you need, right? Wrong. A good trimmer is a workhorse and will get your beard looking good, but there’s no substitute for the clean, even lines that a proper styler can attain.
For the GoStyler, we used a subset of our normal selection criteria since it doesn’t quite fit into the category of a standard trimmer. Still, we put it through the NFL Combine of trimmers – here’s how its measurables came up:
- A solid product. It doesn’t get much use each morning (only a moment or two – much less time than the trimmer) so it doesn’t need to be super durable, but nonetheles we can see this product lasting a long time.
- Unlike most trimmers, the GoStyler uses a single AA battery. We found this to be the right power method for this product. We didn’t want yet another accessory to plug in every few nights. We found that the single battery lasted nearly a month with daily (albeit light) use.
- The Cut
The Norelco GoStyler will keep your beard in a trim line.
- Three comb lengths are included: 1-, 3-, and 5-mm, but we didn’t ever use them. We used this product to keep the edges on our beards clean, so the combs were superfluous. Still, we were glad they were included.
- For cleaning up edges, the GoStyler was excellent. It never tugged or caused irritation.
- Ease of use
- Easy-peasy. Nothing to say besides ‘it worked.’
If you want something to help keep your beard’s edges clean and straight, the Philips Norelco GoStyler is your best bet. We put the asterisk* in the title because we would not recommend this product as a stand-alone trimmer. It can do your detailing, but if you want something to trim your full beard, you’ll want to step up to something bigger and beefier (see the 7300 above).
Best Budget Trimmer: Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 3100
We found the Multigroom 3100 to be the best bang for your buck.
If you’re looking for something a bit more budget-oriented, we have you covered there, too. I mean hey, fancy vacuums and stuff are nice, but if you’re in school trying to get a degree, you’re probably more worried about paying for the next 30-rack of Natty Light than some fancy-ass beard trimmer. We get it. Roombas are nice too, but we can’t all afford fancy-ass robots when a broom will do just fine. That’s why we tried out same lower-end trimmers – because we care about all of our beard-bearers, no matter the budget.
We tried a few different trimmers, and we can easily recommend the Norelco Multigroom 3100. It has everything you need, nothing you don’t, and it clocks in at under $20.
- For the price, this thing holds up well. Construction is simple and solid.
- The battery on this unit is pretty weak. It held a charge long enough for a full shave for a week or two, but it didn’t take long to degrade to the point where its death would occur halfway across a chin. The unit works fine with the cord plugged in, though – expect to be using it a lot.
- The Cut
- Two combs are included with the package, plus the trimmer has 6 length settings built-in. We found it a little tricky to get the right length initially. After some trial-and-error, we got the right lengths, though, and the unit was consistent thereafter.
- We wouldn’t recommend this trimmer if it was a tugger. We figured that this was one of the most important things to get right for a budget trimmer – if you’re going to compromise on price, you expect to take a hit on things like features, but you don’t want to take a hit on the cutting experience. The 3100 gave us no issues when it came to catching or tugging.
- Ease of use
- This unit was super easy to use. Nice sharp blade, on-off switch, a couple combs, and a power adapter – that’s all you get, and that’s all you need.
Compared to the 7300, this trimmer has fewer features and a meaker battery. Still, in the budget category you want something that does the important stuff right and ignores the rest. That’s what you’ll get with the Philips Norelco Multigroom 3100 – it will trim your beard. No, it won’t vacuum up your trimmings, and it won’t tell your girl that her dress looks good, but it will get the job done.
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