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A backhoe is a type of heavy construction equipment, which consists of a bucket-shovel combination at the end of a strong, hinged boom. To excavate, the operator swings the bucket over the material to be excavated, and then uses mechanical force to pull the material free, and move the bucket toward the base of the boom. The bucket, or possibly the entire vehicle holding it, is then turned to drop the material onto a desired spot on the ground, or into a dump truck. Backhoes differ from excavators in that backhoes are mounted on wheels, whereas excavators have tracks.

Large backhoes and dump trucks in military construction

Some construction vehicles are dedicated to moving a backhoe bucket. Others, such as bulldozers or front-end loaders, may have a backhoe at one end and a different construction tool at the other. Combined bulldozer-backhoes, for example, can use the blade to break earth loose, and the backhoe to dispose of it.

Considerable skill can be required to use a backhoe safely. A given backhoe vehicle may be equipped with a counterweight at the end opposite the bucket, and the vehicle engine usually provides some counterweighting. Nevertheless, extending a full bucket, without constant awareness of weight and balance, can cause the machine to fall in the direction of the bucket.