Top 8 Best Ho Tracks: in-depth Reviews & Buying Guide (2020)
Model trains are a truly adventurous hobby for both kids and adults. If you’re looking to build your layout, you might want to get the best ho track, on which your trains will run.
The thing that makes HO tracks suitable is that they are very popular, and getting their accessories is easy.
But before getting them, understand that they’re not all the same. They vary in length, width, flexibility, and other factors. Also, some models are total garbage, and if you want to avoid them, then you got to make your choice carefully.
The following review introduces you to 8 of the top tracks that work.
Let’s jump in.
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Being in operation since the 1830s, Bachmann is one of the oldest producers of model railroads. The company, which offers five of the most popular scales, including HO and N, is respected as a provider of great quality. For those looking for something that is both easy to set up and simple to use, the Bachmann Trains E-Z Track would be a fine pick.
The product is a set that comes with 4 tracks per card. As each of the tracks is 9 inches long, each card gives you a total length of 36 inches or 3 feet. That's quite a good length, which means you might not need many cards to create your track at home.
Ease of use is what makes these tracks one of the most popular choices. There are no nails or screws to fit, and you don’t need any special tools to put them together. As the track system is EZ, you just snap-fit everything with your hands.
Surprisingly, the system is really stable even though there are no nails or screws. You can even use it on your carpet without the track moving, which is extremely convenient.
The general design of the unit comes in helpful. There are no wavy ups and downs at the joints, so the train moves smoothly. The tracks are well designed, so they lay down flat on the surface, with a nice solid fit for seamless train movement.
The track’s look isn’t all that realistic, so it might not suit the avid enthusiast. But, it's a solid set made of a black roadbed and a steel alloy rail. For temporary displays and the kids, it's a really suitable set that is cheap to get.
2. Atlas Code 100 Super-Flex Track HO, 36-Inch
For those who love to design their tracks, the Atlas Code 100 Super-Flex Track HO is a favorable choice.
Made from a nickel alloy and molded plastic, the track is highly flexible. Thus, you can bend it as you like or put it straight. What you'll find convenient about this is that you don't need any special tools to model your railway. You can easily bend the unit with your hands.
When you hear that the hands can bend the track, that might lead you into wondering whether it will really stand up to repeated use with electric trains. But let me assure you that it is a rather sturdy unit.
As for the stability, this track does need nails to put it in place. There is some degree of rebound when you flex it, but it’s not much. Then again, for the price, the little rebound is acceptable. With nails, you should be able to keep it in position and run your trains without any problem.
If you're looking for something long yet inexpensive, this would be a good pick. There are 10 tracks in each pack, and each of the tracks measures 36 inches or 3 feet long. That means the total length is 360 inches, equivalent to 30 feet.
As you might agree, that is truly lengthy. You have enough track to almost fill a 10 by 10-foot room. What many people like are the long continuous sections. Each section measuring 3 feet means there are fewer joints, and hence, the installation work is reduced.
I wouldn’t expect the unit to last ages, but it makes a great temporary setup. Kids love it!
3. Bachmann Trains Snap-Fit E-Z Track
When it comes to quality coupled with affordability, almost no brand is as good as Bachmann. They offer some of the sturdiest tracks in the market and their price is obviously affordable.
What makes this model the ho track is the ease of use it comes with. If you’ve used one of those curved models that need nails or screws to install, you might agree they’re not easy to use. But the Bachmann Trains - Snap-Fit E-Z Tracks snap together, which makes installation a piece of cake.
If you’re getting the track for your kids, you will appreciate the ease of operation it offers. The tracks will not need bolts or any special tools to put them together. Kids as young as 4 can effortlessly join the pieces. Moreover, separation is a breeze.
What comes as a surprise about this track is that although there are no separate fasteners, the stability is top-notch. This is probably because the quality is very good. The unit is made from high-grade nickel-silver materials with a quality roadbed.
Owing to the construction and the design, the unit lays flat on the surface with minimal play. The joints are well-aligned, with each piece integrating nicely with the next. For that, the train doesn’t assume weird wavy movements at the joints.
As for the size, each track is 9 inches long. There are 4 units in a pack, meaning you have 36 inches or rather 3 feet per set. Considering the set goes for less than 20, and that the quality is excellent, the product offers a good bang for your buck.
If you’re looking for a combination of great looks, quality, and affordability, you should definitely try the Bachmann Trains - Snap-Fit E-Z Track.
4. Lionel HO Gauge Track, 9-Inch
Are you on a very tight budget? The Lionel HO Gauge Track is one of the least expensive models I have come across. Astonishingly, it features great quality.
Like the Bachmann products, this unit comes with 4 tracks in a pack, with each measuring 9 inches, which adds up to a total of 36 inches. Going for less than 5 bucks per pack, this is a really affordable pack.
If you or your kids are avid railroad enthusiasts, a close resemblance to the real thing might be one of the most important factors you're looking for. One thing I have noted with the Lionel Track is that it is very realistic.
As you can see in the picture, the unit is made of a textured gray roadbed with a nickel-steel rail. Though not absolutely, the setup has some close resemblance to the real-life thing.
Looking for a track system that is easy to install and use? You will appreciate what this one has to offer. The structure is installed with magnet locks, making the connection as easy as a snap.
There are no more plastic tabs to break or metal clips to install. The whole thing makes building a layout a snap.
This track is not flexible, but to make up for that, it comes in two different types. There are both straight and curved magnelock varieties, which means you can still create corners and curves as you prefer.
It helps to have a track on which you can run different train models. In that spirit, the Lionel HO Gauge Track is a versatile unit that works with Bachmann, Atlas, Lionel, and almost any train model as long as it HO.
Here is yet another product from the reputed Bachmann brand. The special thing about the Bachmann Trains E-Z Remote Turnout Track is that you can perform track turnout remotely. In other words, you can change the direction that the train takes by electronically changing the track alignment.
The most amazing thing is that the transition works flawlessly, with the rails moving smoothly. Switching is a piece of cake. The turnouts are powered. You have the option of using a 16V DC or AC power supply.
Most of the budget ho tracks you will find in the market are meant for temporary use. They just don’t last. But what determines the longevity of a track is the material that it is made from. Speaking of that, this Bachmann unit is built to last.
How do I know that? The unit feels strong and quite solid. While most other models are made of plastic, the rail on this one is made of durable steel alloy.
It, therefore, stands up to abuse for a couple of seasons. Used occasionally, it lasts years.
Like other models from the brand, the Bachmann Trains E-Z Remote Turnout Track is built to make operation effortless for the user. First of all, you don’t need any fasteners to assemble it. Each section snaps easily onto the other.
Another fantastic benefit is the stability. Owing to the quality construction, the unit lays steadily on a range of surfaces. You can put it on tabletops, carpets, and different floors and it won’t move.
6. Atlas 168 Code 100, 36-Inch Train Track
With its nickel silver rail and its black ties, the Atlas 168 Code 100 is an industry standard. This is an extremely flexible track unit that offers you a chance to shape your railway the way you want. You can bend and twist it, and create corners without a struggle.
Kids love something they can play and experiment with. What makes this unit kid-friendly is its great flexibility.
The only thing to keep in mind is that this is not a very stable model. Hence, you will need nails or screws to keep it in one place without play.
On the brighter side, there are not many joints to deal with. Think of it this way. Some models feature a length of 9 inches.
Though they can be installed by snapping them together, the many joints you have to deal with can be a bother. But with the Atlas track, the connection points are fewer.
Moreover, the fact that you don’t need separate curved units for the corners is really convenient.
Speaking of the size, each track measures a remarkable 3 feet or rather 36 inches. There are 25 pieces in the set, bringing that to a total of 75 feet. That is so long!
In fact, for a children’s party, the length would be very suitable. You could set up the unit on the lawn and fill it up.
7. Bachmann Curved Track Snap-Fit
When you purchase the Bachmann Track Snap-Fit with a straight design, it might not be enough. If you need your train to go around, you will need a way to make the railroad have curves and corners. The Bachmann Curved Track Snap-Fit is the model designed for that.
As the name suggests, the model has a curved design, which allows the train to go around.
What attracts many folks to this unit is the design, which is truly magnificent. The rail is steel alloy while the ties are black. The railbed is also black, but less dark than the ties, almost to being gray. Generally, the appearance is attractive.
Like the straight model, this curved track is extremely easy to set up. Rather than using nuts and nails to fasten the pieces together, all you have to do is snap them on together. It is a really convenient, hassle-free installation process.
As the setup needs no tools to install and happens speedily, this is a truly kid-friendly ho track. Plus, the whole business of sticking the pieces together keeps the kids involved.
Whether you're looking for a model that will be used temporarily during Christmas or any other event or something that will be used for a while, the model is a suitable selection. The reason is that it features adequate sturdiness, thanks to the steel alloy construction.
Stability is, perhaps, the most notable benefit that Bachmann EZ fit tracks have to offer. When you place the unit on any surface, be it a carpet, tabletop or concrete floor, the unit stays put. You don’t even need to fasten it to the ground.
8. HO Scale Bachmann Steel Alloy EZ Track, Straight, Black, 9-Inch
Black is such a cool color for a railbed, so I get it why some of you might be looking specifically for it. If that’s what you need, with quality in mind, you may want to check out the HO Scale Bachmann Steel Alloy EZ Track, Straight, Black, 9-Inch.
This HO scale is from the same amazing brand, Bachmann, which, as mentioned before, is one of the market's most trusted.
As suggested in the title, this is a straight model. It does not curve, but goes perfectly with the Bachmann Curved Track Snap-Fit, which we’ve discussed in the previous review.
Like other models from the Bachmann brand, the unit is well-made for sturdiness. It features a steel-alloy rail and a high-quality roadbed. Thus, you can use it not only for temporary setups but also for permanent ones.
If you need something easy to set up and easy to take apart, this track is for you. It comes with a hidden plastic snap-fit tabs, so you don't have to deal with screws and nuts. You will love how easily the sections couple. The connection is also very secure, so don't worry about it coming apart.
Likewise, separation is not complicated. You just move two sections side by side while pulling them apart gently. They will come apart without needing excess force.
There are 12 sections in this specific pack, and each of them measures 9 inches in length. Based on the price, it is truly a budget-friendly option for someone looking for quality.
HO Track Buying Guide
When shopping for an appropriate ho track, there are a couple of considerations to make. Most importantly, the size matters because it determines if your trains can run on them. For instance, the tracks reviewed above are all ho, meaning their size is 1/87 of the real thing. They can only go with 1/87 trains.
Well, the following are the factors to consider when looking for the ho track.
When it comes to size, there are two factors to keep in mind – the gauge and the scale. Gauge refers to the width between two parallel rails, while scale means the size of the track compared to the real-life railway.
Size is perhaps the most crucial factor to keep in mind because if you get the wrong size, it will not be compatible with your trains.
When deciding the size, you also got to think about the availability of the accessories. Some scales are not very common, so getting their accessories or replacements will be challenging. The reason why HO is a great choice is that it is popular and readily available.
Rail tracks vary by what they are made of. Some of the common materials include plastic, rubber, wood, and metal. While materials like plastic are cheap, they do not work very well with model trains, and they don’t last.
If you’re looking for something that will work great with model trains, make sure the rails are made of metal. Look for steel alloy such as nickel-steel, as it is strong and durable.
The ties and roadbed don't have to be made of metal. They can be made of plastic, rubber, silicone, or other materials.
Still, concerning the materials, consider the appearance. Though there are all sorts of looks, black tiles and black or gray roadbed look rather cool and somewhat realistic.
Do you love to design and modify your train tracks? Then flexible units might be the ideal choice for you. With your hands, you’ll be able to bend the tracks as you like, creating corners, twisting paths, and more as you like.
The problem with flexible tracks is that they’re not very stable. They usually need nails and screws to keep them in place.
If you don’t like the flexible units, and you want to have curves and corners on your track, then ensure you have both straight and curved tracks.
Ease of installation is a major factor to keep in mind.
There are two major ways to set up ho scales. The first one is to use nails and screws. If your tracks are not heavy duty, or if they’re not very stable, then fasteners are needed. Unfortunately, using fasteners is not very convenient as it is slow and it can be exhausting.
The second way is to snap the pieces together. Some units, notably Bachmann models, come with hidden EZ plastic snap-fit tabs. All the user has to do is clip the tabs together and a strong connection is created.
Obviously, the second installation method is more convenient as it is faster and easier to operate.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I look for when shopping for a train track?
Most importantly, look at the size. Tracks are categorized into HO, S, N, and more based in their sizes. HO is the most popular type, with a size of 1/87 of the original thing.
What’s the difference between scale and gauge?
Both parameters refer to the size, but there’s a difference. Scale refers to the overall size compared to the real-life train’s size. Gauge, on the other hand, means the distance between the rails, or rather the width.
What makes Bachmann tracks so popular?
Bachmann is loved as they look great, contain plenty of detail, and carry a decent degree of sturdiness. While most other models have to be secured with nails to remain stable during operation, Bachmann tracks are heavy duty and stable enough without fastening.
Another reason why people love them is the ease of set up. You just snap the pieces together to join them.
Laying a HO track is a wonderful idea. You and/or your kids will have lots of fun with the feeling of operating your very own railway in your house.
When seeking the best ho track, you got to consider the construction and features of the tracks as demonstrated in the review above. I’ve tried to make things easy for you by including models that are made from quality materials such as steel alloy, yet budget-friendly.
If you need something that you or your kids will have an easy time operating, I recommend getting one of those Bachmann models we’ve talked about up there. Putting them together is extremely easy, and no tools are needed.
In case you need special features, such as electronic turnout, the Bachmann Trains E-Z Remote Turnout Track, which is discussed above, has you covered.