The Hobart Trek 180 is the jack-of-all-trades welder. At $1,200 it's not inexpensive, but it can be plugged in at home or taken on the trail as a rechargeable MIG welder. This makes it superior to the rest if you could only have one.
The Trek is packed into a small 51-pound suitcase, and although it can take up valuable cargo space it's also a lifesaver when you need to patch up your busted 4x4. This portable welder runs either flux core welding wire, or solid core wire and a shield gas, but the flux core is more convenient for trail welding since you don't need to lug along a tank. The welder also uses the small 2-pound wire spools so you need to buy a few extra for a big project.
The biggest downfall of the Trek is that when you use up the charge you're done welding until you can get to a 110V outlet for a recharge. One 90-minute charge will weld 3 to 6 feet of bead depending on material thickness, which is pretty good for your basic repair, though we would like to see an integrated 12-to-110 voltage inverter for recharging off your vehicle.
|HOBART TREK 180|
|Price||$1,100-$1,400 depending on retailer|
|Duty Cycle||20% at 120 amps|
|Thickness||24 gauge to 1/4-inch steel|
|Dimensions (in)||135/16 x 17 x 77/8|
•Great welder for home or trail
•MIG welding is easy to learn
•Great heat control
•Must be charged with 110V
•Only welds for 2-3 minutes (3-6 feet) on full charge