The Best Backpack Vacuums (Review & Buying Guide) 2021
Revolutionize your vacuuming strategy with these ergonomically designed backpack vacuums
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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON June 28, 2021
If you've ever vacuumed you know how frustrating it can be to lug the canister behind you. It can bump into furniture and walls, creating unsightly marks and scuffs. It can also create a dangerous tripping hazard either on your floors or, worse, the stairs. This is why a backpack vacuum is such a great invention since it allows you to wear the canister on your back to avoid tripping over it or risking a back injury from awkwardly picking it up and lugging it around the house.
A vacuum backpack evenly distributes the canister's load and the contained debris across your entire body, leaving both hands free to operate the vacuum hose and attachment head. To help you find the right backpack vacuum, we have done the research and composed a handy buying guide that outlines some of the best models currently available.
Hoover knows vacuums and has been manufacturing reliable and durable equipment for decades. This particular model features a quiet operation that allows you to vacuum without disrupting those around you.
- Weighs less than 10 pounds
- HEPA filter can eliminate up to 99.97 percent of particles in the air
- Equipped with an extra-long, 48-foot, quick change power cord
- Metal vacuum extension hose can be difficult to maneuver, since it’s not flexible and can get caught on objects and furniture
This ergonomically designed vacuum weighs a light 10 pounds and is compact enough to wear comfortably for prolonged periods, allowing you to move from room to room or floor to floor with ease.
- Doubles as a blower and can be used for outdoor applications, like leaf removal
- The 8-quart HEPA filter safely and securely catches and traps dust particles and other minuscule allergens
- Power cord is short, so you may need to use an extension cord to allow you to go farther
This company introduced one of the first models of backpack vacuums more than 30 years ago. It has a large capacity, a 10-quart filter that provides three times the capacity of a typical upright vacuum cleaner, yet weighs only 11 pounds.
- Accessories include a multi-surface floor tool, a dust brush, a crevice tool, two wand extensions, and an upholstery tool
- More expensive than some other models
- Only comes with two bags, so you will need to order extra
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Benefits of Backpack Vacuums
- Easier to get around your home or office. Backpack vacuums allow you to keep both hands free to use the vacuum’s accessories and clean your chosen area more quickly.
- Stronger and better capacity. Many backpack vacuums are made to be commercial-grade cleaning systems. This means they often come with a larger canister capacity, more powerful motor, and a wider variety of cleaning attachments and accessories compared to most household vacuum cleaners.
- Provides a farther reach. You can reach higher and stretch farther with the unit off the ground, giving you the best in maneuverability and reachability.
- Added safety. Backpack vacuums don’t have to be pushed in front of you or towed behind you, thus eliminating the possibility of accidental injury from tripping or unevenly straining a back muscle while cleaning.
Types of Backpack Vacuums
This vacuum is the type many grew up using, where all the dust and debris collected is stored in a bag attached to the canister inside. When the bag is full, and it’s time to change it, you remove the bag and throw the entire thing into the trash, making it a clean but less environmentally friendly option.
As you might expect, this type of vacuum collects and holds all the residues inside the canister directly, without the need for a bag. When the canister gets full, you open the top of it and empty the contents directly into the trash. While this is a very environmentally friendly option that saves you throwing extra bags away, it does tend to be messier in that much of the dust and dirt you’ve collected can sometimes escape back into the air and get on your hands while emptying.
Without the need for a cord that tethers you to the wall, a cordless vacuum is an excellent option that allows you free reign to go wherever you need to without having to stop to unplug. The downside to this type of backpack vacuum is that it often has limitations on battery power and run time, meaning you might not get the entire job done before you need to plug the vacuum back in to recharge the battery.
This is the more common type of backpack vacuum. Because many backpack vacuums are used in commercial settings, they need to run reliably for hours at a time. Typically, the cord on the backpack vacuum is quite long, allowing users to move around larger spaces without the need for having to relocate to another outlet constantly.
Headquartered in North Carolina, Hoover has been revolutionizing how you clean your home for over 100 years. The company is credited with inventing the first motorized vacuum in 1907. Today, it manufactures reliable and durable products like the Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind Upright Vacuum.
Founded in 1967 as a vacuum cleaner parts distributor, the company’s rapid growth and aggressive nature has become its trademark. Powr-Flite has been a leader in the commercial floor care business for over 49 years. It makes innovative commercial cleaning products like the Powr-Flite Wet Dry Vacuum 20 Gallon Dual Motor with Poly Tank.
ProTeam is a subsidiary of Emerson, a global company that combines technology and engineering to benefit its customers. Its more popular cleaning products include the ProForce® 1200XP Upright Vacuum w/On-Board Tools.
Atrix has been manufacturing premium filtration since 1981. The company makes ESD Safe vacuums. It’s one of the few companies that manufacture patented HEPA and ULPA Filters. It also makes durable and reliable products such as the Atrix Rapid Red Cordless Stick Vacuum.
Backpack Vacuum Pricing
- Below $200: This price range will get you the most basic functioning backpack vacuum. Vacuums in this range are usually more compact, with smaller motors. They’re sufficient for occasional household jobs.
- $200-400: This is the price range in which you will find the majority of backpack vacuums. There’s a wide range of household and commercial backpack vacuums that come with a variety of accessories and a broad range of sizes.
- $400 and up: Backpack vacuums in this price range are usually designed primarily for commercial use and have more industrial-sized motors, extension wands, and cords. They’re powerful and come with large capacity canisters that can clean a big space without needing to be emptied too frequently.
Backpack vacuums come in different sizes with different dust collecting capacities. Depending on the size of the space you need to clean regularly, you should choose one with a capacity that will allow you to clean several areas before having to empty the vacuum. Larger capacities—such as 6 quarts or greater—are naturally going to have larger canisters that may be more awkward or difficult to carry around but can hold much more dirt before needing to be emptied.
Weight is a crucial consideration when selecting the appropriate backpack vacuum. Because you will be wearing the unit on your back during use, you want something that you can use comfortably for the duration. Depending on how tall you are or if you have any pre-existing back issues, the vacuum's weight can make all the difference when it comes to ease of use. Most backpack vacuums weigh between 10-18 pounds, and that extra eight pounds can make a lot of difference over time.
Since you’re planning on wearing the vacuum on your back during use and it will be closer to your ears, the noise level that the vacuum puts out needs to be as low as possible. Look for ultra-quiet functioning as an option when you’re shopping for your backpack vacuum. You can always wear hearing protection as an added precaution, but if that’s not your thing, look for vacuums with a noise rating below 70 decibels.
All backpack vacuums come equipped with different accessories designed to tackle different jobs, whether you need to clean your car or tidy your home. You can choose from various attachments that allow you to clean bare floors, carpets, stairs, drapes, pet hair, and more. Maybe you want a longer extended wand to reach up higher or a longer cord so that you don’t have to unplug and plug back in as frequently.
This is almost always a significant consideration with anyone purchasing a new vacuum. Because many backpack vacuums are designed as commercial-grade, they often require a higher initial investment than many typical household upright or canister vacuums or steam cleaners. The tradeoff is that many backpack vacuums come with more powerful motors and better cleaning capabilities.
A good quality backpack vacuum manufactured by a reputable company will be backed by a reliable manufacturer’s warranty that will protect you and your investment from unplanned defects or issues with proper function.
- Comfort. Based on your physical height and size, some backpack vacuums may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re going to wear the vacuum’s canister on your back for extended periods, it’s essential that it fits comfortably and doesn’t impede your movements during use.
- Duty Rating. Backpack vacuums come with different capabilities in terms of operation times. Some are rated to run for just 20-30 minutes, while others can run continuously for hours. Choose one that will last long enough to clean your chosen areas without interruption.
- Filters. Backpack vacuums come with different numbers of filters inside them. If you’re a pet owner or an allergy suffer, look for a backpack vacuum that comes with two or more filters. Also, look for HEPA filters, which are known to be the upper echelon of filtration, removing some of the tiniest dust and airborne particles.
Best Backpack Vacuums Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Because of all the straps and attachments associated with a backpack vacuum, it’s important to have a dedicated and safe place to store the vacuum when not in use so that the unit won’t accidentally be exposed to water or damage from curious children or pets.
- Regular cleaning of the canister, filters, cord connections, and exhaust should be done to allow for optimal function and no suction loss. Clean brushes and accessory attachments at the same time.
- If you have a bagged backpack vacuum, make sure the bag is attached correctly every time before use. A bag that detaches mid cleaning can make a huge mess that will take you even longer to clean up.
- If you have a bagless model, be sure to empty it frequently so it doesn’t get overfilled and start back flowing out of the vacuum.
- Check belts, filters, and hoses frequently for wear and tear so that you can order replacement parts ahead of time and be ready before you need them, because you know those things always break in the middle of a big clean before someone important is coming over.
Q: Are backpack vacuums good on carpet?
A: Most backpack vacuums are ideal for carpet and come with one or several accessory attachments that are specifically designed for carpets, rugs, and stairs. You can use backpack vacuums for your RV or your home.
Q: What vacuum do professionals use?
A: All the backpack vacuums on our list are used by professional and commercial cleaners. That being said, the Hoover Commercial Lightweight Backpack Vacuum and the ProTeam Commercial Backpack Vacuum seem to be particularly popular models among professionals.
Q: Are vacuums with bags better?
A: The answer to this always boils down to personal preference. Bagged vacuums are better at containing dust, dirt, and debris, while bagless vacuums are better for the environment since you’re throwing away less waste over time.
Whether you choose the Hoover Commercial Lightweight Backpack Vacuum, the Atrix HEPA Backpack Vacuum, or something in between, a backpack vacuum can be a game-changer for people who are concerned about lugging around heavier and more awkward models. They’re worth considering when it comes time to purchase your next vacuum.