A pull-behind backhoe is more portable, flexible and economical than a traditional self-propelled backhoe. Pull-behind backhoes are also easier to adjust for different jobs, as their buckets and trenching attachments are light enough for one person to install and remove.
While a traditional, self-propelled backhoe requires a flat-bed tow truck or other heavy transportation vehicle for moving between job sites, a pull-behind backhoe offers many more options. Pull-behind backhoes are light enough for towing by any pickup truck with a towing hitch. Once on site, the pull-behind backhoe can continue using the pickup truck for transportation between tasks, or it can use smaller vehicles like ATVs. A pull-behind backhoe can also perform tasks in areas with soft ground, while a heavy traditional backhoe quickly becomes mired in the soil.
Self-propelled backhoes require large, heavy-duty engines, while pull-behind backhoes use small gasoline engines of less than 20 horsepower. These small engines require very little gasoline for hours of operation, while traditional backhoes have much greater fuel needs. Because pull-behind backhoes only need a pickup truck for towing, their transportation costs are also lower. Pull-behind backhoes also have a much lower up-front cost, as these machines sell for a fraction of the cost of their self-propelled counterparts.