Spider hoes, also known as walking excavators, are remarkable pieces of machinery. Like backhoes and bulldozers, a spider hoe is a piece of heavy machinery commonly used in construction and landscaping. A spider hoe's unique design allows it to access locations that are extremely dangerous for similar types of equipment. This special ability comes from the fact that besides wheels or tracks like traditional back hoes, spider hoes have "legs" that allow for support and walking movement.
Spider hoes are highly comparable to regular backhoes in size and strength. Likewise, they have the ability to be transformed for a variety of useful applications, including buckets for digging, grapple buckets for grasping, and a ditching bucket for clearing earth. By using legs instead of wheels or tracks, a spider hoe can access very small areas and very steep hills, up to 100% grade, that are inaccessible by other types of heavy machinery. River beds and very steep inclines are two of the most useful applications. Another highly useful feature of spider hoes is that many of them can be disassembled into smaller parts for shipping or air-lifting to otherwise inaccessible work sites.
Given these features, there are two primary uses for a spider hoe. First, because of their ability to access very steep inclines, spider hoes are often used in the building and maintenance of ski lifts. In these environments, wheels or tracks would not allow a traditional backhoe the stability necessary to leverage its strength and safely do its job, so a spider hoe is necessary for the task of excavating for ski lift supports. Another important application of spider hoes is in fragile environments where wheels or tracks would do serious damage to the local environment. These unique machines can walk through a marsh, across a river bed, or through a forest to assist in restoration activities while leaving the surrounding terrain undisturbed. For this reason, spider hoes are often contracted for by research and restoration organizations.