Backpack, or shoulder, vacuums may not be a common household item, but their popularity is on the rise. With exceptional power, multiple functions and high durability, the backpack vacuum is surprisingly joyful to use.
This article will take a closer look at the vacuums and explain what to look for when shopping for a new one. I will also showcase the top 8 backpack vacuums on the market right now to help you make a final decision.
The Best Backpack Vacuums
- 1 The Best Backpack Vacuums
- 2 Why You Should Consider a Backpack Vacuum
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Right Backpack Vacuum for Your Needs
- 4 8 Best Backpack Vacuums 2020
- 4.1 1. Best Value Backpack Vacuum – Hoover Shoulder Vac Pro
- 4.2 2. Best Choice for Home Use – Atrix Ergo Backpack Vacuum
- 4.3 3. Best Commercial Backpack Vacuum – ProTeam Super CoachVac Vacuum
- 4.4 4. GV 8 QT
- 4.5 5. ProTeam ProVac FS 6 Commercial Backpack Vacuum
- 4.6 6. Great for Hardwood and Carpet – Powr-Flite Comfort Pro Backpack Vacuum
- 4.7 7. Sanitaire Quiet Clean
- 4.8 8. GV 10 QT Backpack Vacuum
- 5 How to Properly Use a Backpack Vacuum
- 6 Care and Maintenance
- 7 Backpack Vacuum FAQ
- 8 Final Words on the Best Backpack Vacuum
- Best Value Backpack Vacuum – Hoover Shoulder Vac Pro Commercial Backpack Vacuum
- Best Commercial Backpack Vacuum 2020 – ProTeam Super CoachVac Commercial Vacuum
- Best Choice for Home Use – Atrix Ergo Backpack Vacuum
- Great Pro Choice – ProTeam ProVac FS 6 Commercial Backpack Vacuum
- Great for Hardwood and Carpet – Powr-Flite Comfort Pro Vacuum
- Sanitaire Quiet Clean Backpack Vacuum
Why You Should Consider a Backpack Vacuum
Backpack vacuums are among the most powerful and versatile cleaners on the market . However, they were made and intended for commercial use. This small aspect has made the marketing and availability to the residential public less than it should have been.
Today, you can get the functionality of a floor cleaner, the versatility of a whole-home cleaner and the durability of a Sherman tank right in your own home.
Here are some of the many reasons to consider a backpack vacuum:
- Powerful suction power. Most models have more power than a standard upright.
- HEPA filtration. You can help reduce in-home allergens with HEPA filtration.
- Portable. Once you have the vacuum mounted, you can go virtually anywhere.
- Whole-home cleaning. Clean the floors, dust shelves and clean overhead with ease.
- Accessories. Many models come with on-board attachments to make cleaning even easier.
- Durable. Designed for commercial use, backpack vacuums are extremely durable and rugged.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Right Backpack Vacuum for Your Needs
Before you just pull out your credit and click that buy now button, there are a few things you first need to consider. Below are several factors that will help you make an informed decision before your next purchase.
Weight of Backpack Vacuums
The total weight of the unit may be the biggest factor. Some of these machines can get quite heavy. If you aren’t capable of carrying the canister on your shoulder or back for long periods, then nothing else about the vacuum will matter.
Make sure you pick a vacuum that has a weight you can easily tote around and be comfortable with .
Ease of Use
If you have never used a backpack vacuum before, the controls may not be as clear as what you are used to.
You will want a vacuum with easy to use controls. Make sure they are located where you can reach them.
The tools and accessories also need to be easily swapped and stored. The more comfortable the vacuum is to use, the more use and enjoyment you will get from it.
Backpack vacuums have multiple power options. If you go with a corded model, make sure the power cord is long enough to get the job done.
Having to bend over and stand up again with a vacuum on your back isn’t the ideal solution.
You can also opt for a battery powered model. Just ensure the battery will last long enough to complete your chores. Having to stop in the middle and wait a few hours for a recharge isn’t ideal or practical.
Not every model will have HEPA filtration. This may or may not be important to you, though. For homes with allergy sufferers, HEPA filtration is almost required.
Capable of removing in-home allergens such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander can help a lot.
However, if you don’t need the extra filtration levels for health reasons, you may be able to save a little bit of money by finding a model that doesn’t use HEPA filtration.
Accessories and Extras
Accessories make the vacuum. Each accessory should be there to help you get the job done easier or faster. Look for things like extension hoses, various floor cleaning heads, brushes, tools and especially straps.
Price and Warranty
The price is always going to be a factor when buying a new vacuum. You want a great deal, but you also want a vacuum that performs well. The cost to value ratio should be high enough that the vacuum fits within your budget, but also cleans to your expectations.
Check the warranty information as well. Knowing what is and isn’t covered, for how long and what is needed to make a claim will help you choose the right option for your needs.
8 Best Backpack Vacuums 2020
In this section you will find the 8 best backpack vacuums used for both residential and commercial cleaning. Each model is reviewed and compared to help you decide which vacuum is best suited for your needs.
1. Best Value Backpack Vacuum – Hoover Shoulder Vac Pro
Hoover is a name that has been in the floor cleaning industry for decades. The reliability and trust the company has built in that time is almost unmatched. When it comes to backpack vacuums they have one model that stands above all others.
The Shoulder Vac Pro is a lightweight yet powerful vacuum that exceeds all expectations . When properly strapped on, the vacuum weighs less than 10 pounds. It also sports an extra-long 48-foot power cord so you can make it through most rooms without having to stop and find a new outlet.
The top filter cone is HEPA quality, stopping up to 99% of in-home allergens. For homes with pets, seasonal allergies or other pollution concerns, the Hoover vacuum is quite adept at stopping them all.
When you purchase this model you will get enough accessories to clean your entire home. The aluminum extension wand will easily clean any floor type and when you pair it with the hard floor cleaning head, you can clean your kitchens, bathrooms and other hard flooring surfaces.
You also get the standard tools like the crevice, brush and upholstery tools. For above-head cleaning there is also a flex hose that fits all other tools.
Cleaning your entire home, purifying the air and being free to move from room to room is made simple with the Hoover Shoulder Vac Pro. The 2-year warranty helps your peace of mind, too, knowing you are covered if anything should go wrong.
|Power Supply||48-foot power cord|
|Accessories||Flex hose, extension wand, crevice tool, brush tool, hard flooring cleaning head, upholstery cleaner|
2. Best Choice for Home Use – Atrix Ergo Backpack Vacuum
If you like your vacuum ready for any task, then the Atrix Ergo is the backpack vac for you. This thing has incredible power and comes with more accessories than a jewelry store.
The unit is corded and comes with a 12-inch pigtail. You can choose the length of extension cord that works best for you and never have to replug again. You also get the option to use over 14 accessories including a blower hose, hose plugs and an air-powered cleaning head.
Carpet, hard flooring and above-head cleaning have never been easier. Gentle enough to clean drapes and tough enough to deep clean carpeting, there is nothing in your home you can’t take on.
The downside is that the accessories aren’t the best made. Some have been known to break or lose their ability to stay attached. However, with proper care and storage, most consumers state they get several years from their most often used tools.
The 1-year warranty is also a little low for the market, but it does cover the motor, tank and cleaning heads for the full 12-months.
|Power Supply||1-foot extension cord pigtail|
|Accessories||6-foot hose, blower adapter, exhaust filter cover, extension wand, set of 3 blower nozzles, furniture nozzle, crevice tool, round brush, floor brush, air driven turbo brush, extension cord strain relief, set of hose and filter plugs|
3. Best Commercial Backpack Vacuum – ProTeam Super CoachVac Vacuum
The ProTeam Super CoachVac is designed for serious commercial use. Adored by large warehouses and schools for years, this model is now available for your home.
The extra comfort harness includes a tool belt that holds all the attachments. You get all of the standard tools and the ProTeam multi-surface cleaning head. It is called the Xover Floor Tool and will clean hard flooring to low-pile carpet.
The Xover has been known to leave small marks on softer surfaces like pine, and it can get hung up on medium or high-pile carpet . However, in large spaces, there isn’t much better.
The 50-foot power cord means you can go just about everyone on a single outlet and above-head cleaning is just as easy and floor cleaning. It also uses a multi-stage HEPA filtration system to remove up to 99% of in-home allergens.
The warranty is designed for commercial applications. It covers the vacuum for 3 years or 1,400 total running hours, whichever happens first. In a residential setting, the coverage is the same, though you will most likely reach the 3 years long before the 1400 hours.
|Power Supply||50-foot extension cord|
|Accessories||Extension wand, crevice tool, brush tool, multi-surface floor cleaning head, upholstery tool|
|Warranty||3-year or 1400 hours warranty|
4. GV 8 QT
The GV brand has begun making backpack vacuums designed for residential use. While you can still use them for commercial applications, they are more suited for cleaning you home instead of a school or office building.
The GV 8 QT is one of the smaller sizes available (see further below for another, larger option), but is quite capable of handling the toughest messes in your home . You get plenty of tools to use as well, which aid in above-head and ground level cleaning.
The best features here are the attachments. Specifically, the power cleaning head that fits in the palm of your hand and the air-powered cleaning head for stubborn flooring.
With these two attachments, you can clean all of the furniture in your home as well as all of your flooring. The crevice and brush tools get in hard to reach areas as well as over head for a whole-home clean.
The pack is a little heavy, weighing just under 20 pounds, but the harness has 2-inch straps and comfort chest latch that helps distribute the weight over your back and shoulders.
The downside is that it only has a 25-foot power cord , so you will be looking for outlets sooner than you might with other models. But, it comes with a 2-year warranty that covers all the important parts and customer service makes it easy to call and discuss your options .
|Power Supply||25-foot power cord|
|Accessories||Crevice, brush and upholstery tools, power cleaning mini-head, hard floor cleaning head, air-powered cleaning head, extension hose|
ProTeam is back on the list with the ProVac FS 6. This 6-quart capacity backpack has more power than you need for your home, but you’re going to want it. It is very similar to the previous model, the Super CoachVac.
This model also comes with the 50-foot extension cord and the multi-level HEPA filtration . The main difference is the harness which now has better lumbar support and the motor is much quieter.
When running, the noise produced is not much louder than a hair dryer on high (about 67dB). However, over time this can become louder, especially for the one wearing it.
The kit includes the same tools, including the multi-surface cleaning head and it also has the same restrictions. It is lower on the list because of the smaller capacity. But even 6-quarts should be plenty to clean your entire home a few times over.
You will also need to adhere to the same 3-year or 1,400 hours as the previous model, and once again you will easily reach the 3-year mark before the hour count when using in a residential setting.
However, if you are looking for a powerful vacuum with a whole-home clean versatility and want to save a few dollars, the FS 6 is the way to go.
|Power Supply||50-foot extension cord|
|Accessories||Extension wand, crevice tool, brush tool, multi-surface floor cleaning head, upholstery tool|
|Warranty||3-year or 1400 hours warranty|
6. Great for Hardwood and Carpet – Powr-Flite Comfort Pro Backpack Vacuum
Like the FS 6 mentioned above, the Comfort Pro from Powr-Flite is also a residential designed, 6 quart capacity backpack. It is comfortable, as the name implies, but there are a few other factors worth noting as well.
The 5-stage filter process is among the best in the industry . It rivals the commercial-made vacuums ending with a large HEPA filter to collect particles down to 3 microns and helps to eliminate in-home allergens.
You get a nice set of tools that come with it and they too, fit in the harness belt. The wide, adjustable straps make cinching up the 12-pound vacuum easy and the weight distribution won’t cause shoulder or lower back fatigue.
The down side here is that you need to provide your own power cord. The machine has a 3-prong adapter and will accept any grounded extension cord. If you don’t have one, this will be an extra purchase. However, you can select any size you desire. There is also a slack holster to hold loops of cord for your convenience.
The 3-year warranty protects the motor, housing, harness and tools . It doesn’t cover the buckles, abusive wear and tear and it begins the moment you make your purchase.
Replacement filters are a little hard to come by, but they last 6 to 9 months with proper care, so you have time to find a set when you can.
|Power Supply||3-prong extension cord adapter|
|Accessories||Extension wand, floor cleaning head, crevice tool, upholstery brush|
The Sanitaire company produced the Quiet Clean primarily for commercial use until a few years ago. It is unclear if there was a change at the top or the company just decided to make a slight turn. However, for homeowners, this is the good news.
The motors aren’t as powerful as they used to be, but the overheating and thermal protection aren’t as needed in home or residential use. While these models may not be the best for large, commercial applications, for your home, it will be a night and day difference.
With great suction power and multiple cleaning heads, you can go from carpet to hard floor without missing a step . You also have the required tools and attachments to help you reach overhead (up to 5 feet) and furniture, upholstery and even curtains.
The unit comes with a 2-year commercial warranty , and if you do own a small business, you can purchase multiple units at once for a slight price discount. The Quiet Clean is available in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-packs all with their own tools and hoses.
With commercial grade suction, HEPA filtration and a budget-friendly price point, the Sanitaire backpack vacuum is a great place to start when looking into the different vacuum style options.
|Power Supply||50-foot power cord|
|Accessories||Flex hose, extension wand, crevice tool, brush tool, hard floor cleaning head, carpet cleaning head|
GV rounds out our list with the 10 Quart model. Unlike the 8 Qt mentioned earlier, this model has a bit more suction power and a sealed filter set up. It is a bit louder than the 8 QT, but will carry more debris, meaning you have to stop less often.
Like the previous listed model, you will need to supply your own power cord. Measuring for your cleaning space, you can get an extension long enough to prevent having to find new outlets.
The power button is located near the end of the 12-inch pigtail cord adapter so it is always within easy reach.
The unit comes with the standard cleaning tools, but also includes two mini cleaning heads for deep cleaning upholstery, furniture and even automotive detailing. The crevice and brush tools will help you take care of any overhead cleaning, as well.
Like all GV backpack vacuums the 10 Qt model comes with the 2-year warranty which also includes a 30-day refund period. Customer service is easy to get a hold of and are always happy to assist you.
|Power Supply||1-foot pigtail|
|Accessories||Crevice tool, duster brush, upholstery tool, deluxe floor tool, hand held mini brush roller, hand held air-driven cleaning head.|
How to Properly Use a Backpack Vacuum
Using a backpack vacuum may make you feel like a Ghostbuster, but the vacuum isn’t as complicated as a Proton Pack. There are a few things you need to know before using, though.
- Understand your power limits. Corded packs can only go so far before you reach the rope limit. Know where this is to prevent injuries or outlet damage.
- Battery operated packs also need forethought. Know how long you can clean on a single charge and when you are learning, clean the important areas first.
- Use the vacuum to clean from the top down. Cleaning above the head will knock dust and debris to lower levels. You don’t want to have to clean the floor twice. Start high, end low.
- Remember you have a vacuum on your back. While cleaning it is easy to forget you have added width and you may not fit into tighter spaces anymore. You also need to take care when turning around.
- Vacuum like you normally would, but also make sure you know the limits of the vacuum. Most have large collection bins so you don’t need to empty it every time. However, letting it become overfilled can be disastrous.
Care and Maintenance
Proper care of your backpack vacuum will help it perform better and last longer. Each model will have its own set of instructions for care and maintenance intervals. However, the following list will help you with any model.
- Check the filter regularly. If your model has a washable filter, wash it out. If not, a light shaking or dusting over your trash can can help keep it cleaner until it is time to replace.
- Empty the collection bin or bags often. Each collection bin will have a full line and you should attempt to keep your dirt and debris below this line. When it gets full, empty it to preserve air flow and suction power.
- Check the hoses, wands and cleaning heads for clogs, tangles or debris. Blocked air flow and cleaning brushes can prevent proper operation.
- Check the power cord (if equipped) for knots, tangles and frays.
- For battery powered units, ensure the batteries recharge correctly and maintain the charge. Rechargeable batteries will only last a couple of years. Replace as needed.
Backpack Vacuum FAQ
Here, I will answer some of the more common backpack vacuum questions. As always, if you have further questions or concerns, feel free to use the comment section below the article.
Q. Are backpack vacuums stronger than upright vacuums?
- For the most part, commercial grade backpack vacs are stronger and provide more suction power than upright models. This doesn’t mean that they always clean better, but they can clean deeper and collect more debris because of their design.
Q. When shouldn’t I use a backpack vacuum?
- Because of the cleaning style and the fact that you have to wear the vacuum, they may not be ideal in all situations. While they perform better than most in large areas or for longer cleaning times, they aren’t the best option for small messes or short cleaning spurts.
Q. Are backpack vacuums good for pet hair?
- Yes, they work well for pets and pet hair. With superior suction, great versatility and HEPA filtration, backpack vacuums are ideal for homes with shedding pets.
Q. Can backpack vacuums clean stairs?
- Backpack vacuums can clean almost anywhere. Stairs are no problem for this style of vacuum because you don’t need to worry about position or lifting. While you do need to maintain control and balance, as long as you can go up or down the stairs, the vacuum will clean.
Q. How long do backpack vacuums last?
- With proper care and maintenance a backpack vacuum is one of the most durable and longest lasting vacuums on the market. It isn’t uncommon to have these vacuums performing well for over a decade. With regular cleaning and filter changes, 8 to 12 years is easily achievable.
Final Words on the Best Backpack Vacuum
Backpack vacuums aren’t for everyone. Designed and marketed to commercial applications, they only recently started making it into residential homes. However, with their simple operation and exceptional cleaning abilities, they are becoming a crowd favorite.
This article showed you what to look for when considering a backpack vacuum and I outlined the 8 best backpack vacuums for your consideration.
If you are still unsure where to go next, take another look at the Hoover Shoulder Vac Pro. It has everything you need to keep your whole-home clean.