This content was originally published on OldHouseOnline.com and has been republished here as part of a merger between our two businesses. All copy is presented here as it originally appeared there.

A clean work and living environment is hygienic, reduces illness and allergies, increases productivity, and makes one feel good. However, no one wants to spend more time cleaning than necessary. Whether in the cleaning industry as professionals or in your own home, fast and efficient ways of cleaning save precious time and energy. Those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, corners, blinds, and shelves are often neglected causing dust and dirt to build up and spiders to find a comfy home. With backpack vacuum cleaners you don’t have to slog through the house or office pulling a heavy unit along with you. Simply walk through as usual with a handy pack on your back and reach all those tight corners, keeping every cranny dust and spider-free. To help you choose a lightweight yet powerful unit for ultra-fast and effective cleaning, we’ve listed the best backpack vacuum cleaners.

Buying Guide for the Best Backpack Vacuums

Backpack vacuum cleaners are designed to be comfortable, easy to maneuver, and effective to reach tight spaces. The type you choose will depend on your cleaning requirements. A small device may be suitable for cleaning a single office unit while cleaning a gym, school, theater, buses, or larger offices will require a robust unit with good power and run time. In this guide, we highlight the benefits of a backpack vacuum and reveal everything you need to consider when choosing the best backpack vacuum for your needs.

Backpack Vacuum Benefits

Choosing a backpack vacuum for your home or cleaning team comes with a host of benefits.

  • Firstly, they are more ergonomic than any other type of vacuum. They are specifically designed to be lightweight, so don’t think that you’ll simply be carrying the weight of a regular heavy vacuum on your back. The lightweight design is also created to balance out evenly across your back. With the device, you don’t need to do as much bending and can adopt a more neutral posture while working. This significantly lowers the stress on your body and joints that occurs with long periods of unnatural movements.
  • Since the vacuum is not a bulky separate device that needs to be pulled along behind the user, it is much easier to effectively clean areas that pose maneuverability obstacles such as staircases, closet areas, hallways, public transport, lectures rooms, and seating areas. Not only are the units easy to move around but they can be easily transported to different work sites.
  • Backpack vacuums come in corded and cordless models. A cordless model eliminates having to coordinate outlets and extension cords, especially when cleaning a large building with staircases and multiple levels. It is also a great benefit when cleaning theater or stadium-type venues that require multiple extension cables which can become unsafe.
  • With less time spent finding and organizing cables and outlets as well as reduced effort on pulling a big device around, backpack vacuums make cleaning much faster, allowing you to cover larger and more difficult-to-clean spaces in a much shorter period of time. For home users, this means your home can be cleaned without stealing too much time out of your day. For commercial businesses, this saves time and money, allowing you to service more clients, in an equally effective manner, in less time.
  • Backpack vacuums generally have less hardware than other types of vacuums, which means less maintenance and repairs – another cost saver.
  • Unlike stand-up vacuums, backpacks have long extendable handles and various attachments. These may include dust and floor brushes, upholstery cleaning attachments, and crevice tools for those really tight corners. The attachments allow the device to be used for dusting and cleaning air vents too.

To ensure you get all the benefits you need within your price range there are a number of things to consider when making your purchase.

Choosing a Backpack Vacuum

Size

If you are using the vacuum for a house of one or 2 bedrooms only, a small unit will be ideal. You will need to consider a bigger backpack for commercial cleaning. In addition to the size of the unit, consider the stature of the person who will be wearing it. A heavy unit will not be comfortable for a petite or elderly person or someone with injuries, especially when using it for lengthy periods of time. In this case, it may cause more pain and discomfort than offer benefits. A generally healthy person can however handle a regular size unit quite comfortably.

Harness construction

Commercial cleaners may need to wear their cleaning backpacks for a few hours a day. This means it is important to consider the safe and comfortable construction of the harness or straps.

Ideally, you would want something that is adjustable for different people to wear. This includes strap adjustment for height as well as harness adjustment to stabilize the vacuum canister. Shoulder straps should offer padding, sufficient support, and solid construction that is durable for long wear. The straps should be easy to get on and take off and should not have any protruding structural parts.

Besides the strap comfort, the lumbar padding is very important to protect the wearer’s lower back. The vacuum should not sit right against the wearer’s body as this will cause discomfort and will prevent sufficient airflow causing both the wearer and the machine to become hot.

Suction power

Many people mistake the unit’s wattage for its suction power. High wattage does not mean high suction power. The wattage simply refers to how much energy is consumed during the running of the vacuum but does not necessarily indicate performance.

Vacuum suction will generally be indicated with the terms ‘water lift’ or ‘vacuum’. A higher suction is better at removing dirt and dust. This is especially useful when removing dirt and settled dust from thick carpets. Low suction units will still remove dirt but only on the top surface of carpets. They are generally only sufficient for home use and not suitable for industrial or commercial use where more powerful dust removal is needed.

Air flow

The vacuum’s airflow is indicated in cubic feet per minute or liters per second. The power of the airflow is what moves the dirt along inside the pipe once sucked up. As with suction power, a higher airflow measurement offers better quality cleaning. Cord-powered vacuums generally have higher airflow although you may find some battery-operated units that match up.

HEPA filter

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are pleated mechanical air filters that are designed to remove 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, and any other common allergens with a size of 0.3 microns. HEPA machines are highly recommended for any medical facility. Filter replacement is required periodically for maximum results.

Electric or battery operated

If you require a unit for cleaning in areas where it is difficult to access an outlet such as staircases, public areas, buses, and stadiums; a battery-operated option is ideal. It will however need recharging, so check the running time per charge. A battery-operated unit can also make cleaning around the house in different rooms a very fast and efficient ordeal since you don’t have to keep stopping to find a new wall outlet.

Power cable operated units do sometimes offer better suction and cleaning power and of course, do not need recharging.

Cleaning attachments

Check the attachments and cleaning tools included in the purchase. Crevice or corner nozzles as well as different attachments for carpets or tiled surfaces are standard attachments that should be included. Some units may also have attachments for upholstery cleaning and a dust brush to use the machine for dusting.

All the attachments may sound unnecessary, but they make every job much easier, faster and allow for effective cleaning.

Ease of operation

The on/off switch should be easy to locate and tubes or pipes should fit securely without coming undone. Check the ease of filter replacement as well as whether the unit requires bags, how available the specific bag types are, and whether there are alternative options if required. You may also want to check whether the unit has any green cleaning features.

Comparing the Best Backpack Vacuum

Hoover Commercial Backpack Vacuum

– Best Overall

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This lightweight backpack vacuum cleaner from Hoover Commercial weighs only 9.2 pounds. The machine can be used for carpets and hard floors and includes specialized attachments for reaching narrow gaps, dusting, and cleaning upholstery. The extra-long 48-foot power cable allows you to cover a wide area before having to change outlets and the HEPA filtration mechanism minimizes allergens in the air. Its ergonomic design with padded shoulder straps and a supportive waist belt ensures comfort, reduces back strain and improves productivity.

Pros

  • HEPA filter reduces allergens
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Ergonomic design reduces back strain
  • Quiet operation
  • Comes with specialized cleaning attachments

Cons

  • Requires a power outlet (Not rechargeable)

ProTeam Backpack Vacuum

– Runner Up

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Ideal for classrooms, offices, doctors’ rooms, campuses, and other commercial areas, this backpack vacuum is designed for quiet operation, increased capacity, maximum reach, and improved air quality. The unit features a 50-foot long power cable and 10-quart capacity. With pro-level filtration facilitating better quality air, this unit is a good option for use in high traffic areas. The harness construction offers adjustable padded straps, an integrated tool belt, and a cord hook.

Pros

  • Suitable for multi-surface cleaning of wood, tiles, carpets, carpets, upholstery
  • Quiet operation
  • Includes extra attachments for cleaning crevices, upholstery, and dusting
  • Extra-long 50-foot power cable
  • Pro-level filtration improves air quality

Cons

  • Requires vacuum filter bags

Atrix Backpack Vacuum

– Honorable Mention

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This backpack unit from Atrix can be used for commercial or residential cleaning with a weight of 10.3 pounds and is easy to use with the right or left hand. The shoulder straps and belt are adjustable, ensuring a comfortable and customized fit for every individual. It features firm back support as well as tool-holding loops in the belt for ease of changing attachments while on the go. Convert the vacuum cleaner into a blower with the set of 3 included blower nozzles. This allows you to unsettle dust particles that get stuck in hard-to-reach corners and top edges of windows and doors.

Pros

  • Includes multiple attachments such as a crevice tool, brushes, and 3 blower nozzles
  • Ergonomic design with adjustable straps
  • HEPA filter for protection against allergens
  • Right or left-hand use

Cons

  • Requires an extension cable to cover large areas

Prolux Backpack Vacuum

– Also Consider

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This sleek cylinder backpack vacuum is comfortable and lightweight, increasing productivity and the quality of cleaning. The straps have been custom designed for an ergonomic fit with quality padding. Specialized filtration technology minimizes allergens in the air and also ensures that dust does not accumulate near the motor. For effective cleaning of various areas, the unit includes a multi-surface floor attachment and floor brush, a crevice tool, an upholstery cleaning attachment, and a pet hair removal tool.

Pros

  • 35-foot cord allows you to cover a large area
  • Includes specialized cleaning attachments
  • Ergonomic design with shoulder strap padding
  • Filtration system reduces allergens in the air

Cons

  • Requires a power outlet to work (Not rechargeable)

GV Backpack Vacuum

– Also Consider

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Whether you have low pile carpet, high pile carpet, hardwood, or tiled floors, GVs backpack vacuum allows you to reach every corner and angle with the included 7-piece attachment set. If you have pets, the pet hair attachment keeps carpets and sofas fuzz-free. In addition, the HEPA filtration system also minimizes allergens, promoting good quality air. Padded straps offer a comfortable fit and the supportive waist belt allows you to keep attachments on you while on the move.

Pros

  • Works with any floor type
  • Large range of attachments for corners, dusting, and pet hair removal
  • HEPA filtration system keeps the air clean
  • Can also be used as a blower with the attachment included

Cons

  • Best for home use, not suitable for commercial use

Backpack Vacuums FAQ

Q: Are bagless vacuum cleaners more eco-friendly?

A: The problem with bagless vacuums is that they still need to be emptied, and this is usually done into a plastic bag, which ends up being worse. Opt for biodegradable vacuum bags or make sure you empty dirt from bagless units into biodegradable bags. Also, look for vacuum bags that are made from recycled material.

Q: Why has my vacuum cleaner suction decreased?

A: To maintain good suction power on your vacuum cleaner, make sure to clean the filter and empty the bag regularly as dirt build-up will decrease the power.

Q: Can I use a backpack vacuum to vacuum liquids?

A: The vacuum cleaner you choose, whether a stand-up or backpack design, needs to specifically state that it can be used for wet and dry vacuuming. General vacuum cleaners are for dry vacuuming only, however, you get a few wet-dry models available in backpack designs as well.

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