Best Backpack Vacuum Cleaners

backpack vacuum mBackpack vacuum cleaners are a group of vacuums that are being carried around on the back (hence the name) of the user, while vacuuming the floors and if required, elevated surfaces.

Backpack vacuums can be carried on the shoulders as well, using just one strap or they are designed to be carried by the handle or via shoulder strap - shoulder vacuum cleaners.

Backpack vacuums are mostly commercial units, allowing the user to clean large, heavy soiled areas quickly. Nonetheless, owners of the large homes often use backpack vacuums for regular vacuuming of their homes.

Published: January 24, 2020.

When choosing right backpack vacuum cleaner, there are many details to look for, but here are the most important ones.

Power Source - Cordless or Corded Backpack Vacuum Cleaner?

Backpack vacuums can be cordless or corded. Also, there is a small group of mostly construction and workshop backpack or shoulder vacuums that can operate both using mains power or via onboard battery.

Cordless backpack vacuums are compact units, powered using onboard batteries, providing excellent maneuverability and freedom during cleaning. Since they don't depend on the mains power, they can be used for vacuuming cars, plains, yachts, workshops, construction sites etc. Also, when vacuuming homes, hotels, dorms and similar objects, cordless vacuums allow the user to move from area to area, not wasting time on plugging in and out and dealing with in general with the power cord.

makita cordless backpack vacuum

However, autonomy of the cordless vacuums is limited by the amount of energy stored at the onboard battery (or batteries). When the battery is discharged, user must stop with the vacuuming, attach charged battery and continue with the cleaning - in the mean time, discharged battery can be recharged again.

Note: Lithium ion batteries can be charged quickly, but they require more time to be charged than they last at the cordless backpack vacuum - commonly, one pair of batteries is not enough for constant operation. But, this is also often model dependent - for short, read the manuals :)

Corded backpack vacuums have power cord to pull around and their operation depends on the presence of the mains power.

But, corded backpack generally have stronger suction and larger air flow, allowing the user to clean the same area/dirt more thoroughly.

Note: most backpack come with power selector, especially cordless vacuums. When operated at full power, cordless units can achieve suction and air flow comparable with the corded units, but such operation drains the batteries rather quickly, limit very much operating time on the single battery charge.

Bagless or Bagged Backpack Vacuums

Bagless backpack vacuums store collected dirt in the onboard canister, allowing the user to quickly dump the dirt into the trash can, without maintenance costs.

Bagged backpacks store collected dirt in the onboard vacuum bag which can be disposable or reusable vacuum bag. When the vacuum bag is full, disposable bags are thrown away together with the dirt, while reusable bags are shaken out in the trash can.

hoover n type bags

Personally, although reusable vacuum bags keep the maintenance costs to minimum, disposable bags are better choice, since they allow the user to empty the backpack vacuum faster, without making the mess. Also note that the price of the disposable vacuum bags, when bought in the larger pack, is rather low per single vacuum bag.

 True HEPA Air Filtration or Not?

There are several levels of HEPA air filtration, and one of the most used is so-called 'true HEPA' air filtration. A vacuum cleaner with 'true HEPA' air filtration is able to capture 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles, exhausting practically clean air.

Such level of air filtration requires special air filters causing noticeable air pressure drop, decreasing the energy effectiveness of the vacuum. But, for people having issues with dust, pollen and other allergens, or for people working with hazardous materials that can cause respiratory issues, 'true HEPA' vacuums are must-have.

proteam backpack vacuum

Note: bagged backpack vacuums often rely on the high-quality vacuum bags to achieve desired level of air filtration. Also, all vacuums depend on the high-quality air filters to achieve true HEPA air filtration - for short, never buy cheap vacuum bags and non-OEM air filters. Only OEM bags and filters can ensure proper operation of the backpacks, air filtration included.

In order to keep the air filtration at high level, but also to improve the effectiveness of their vacuums, many vacuums feature 99.9% air filtration level, which is also one of the HEPA air filtration levels.

 Backpack or Shoulder Vacuum Cleaner?

Backpack vacuums are carried on the back of the user using padded harnesses and straps, which allow carrying even the larger and heavier vacuums.

Shoulder vacuums are carried around via shoulder straps and as such, they are generally lighter and more compact that 'true' backpack vacuums.

Note: when in the hurry, users often carry backpacks on the shoulder - this is NOT recommended and due to the straps' design and unit weight can cause various issues, and even injuries.

hoover portapower

Shoulder vacuums are common in the workshops and on the construction sites where their small size and compact design allow the user to clean hard-to-reach areas, often using ladders and similar accessories.

Although their air volume is slightly reduced, shoulder vacuums often have very good static suction and air filtration.

Cleaning Tools and Accessories

List of the cleaning tools and accessories for the backpack vacuums depends on the model and intended use.

Backpack vacuums designed for vacuuming large floor areas usually come with limited number of cleaning tools for elevated surfaces (commonly crevice tool, dusting brush, upholstery tool), but have several cleaning tools for floors, with the most common being main cleaner head with automatically adjustable height and motorized brushroll that can be turned off and on.

Such main cleaner head allows the user to quickly traverse over various floor types and clean them thoroughly, which is very important for commercial vacuums.

cleaning tools

Large floors that must be vacuumed very often are usually cleaned using cleaner heads without motorized brushroll - wear and tear of the carpets are decreased, cleaner head maintenance is simplified, floors are vacuumed faster etc., at the expense of not vacuuming the carpets as good as with motorized brushroll - one gets some, one lose some.

For vacuuming elevated surfaces, backpack vacuums commonly use crevice tools, dusting brushes, upholstery tools, flexible crevice tools or under appliance wands, telescopic wands etc.

Most brands offer additional cleaning tools that can be purchased later, when and if required.


Long Story Short: if you are looking for a backpack vacuum cleaner, choose according to your individual needs and preferences.

atrix backpack vacuum

Good backpack vacuum cleaner can save time and effort and can help the user to clean large areas quickly and efficiently.

Just be sure to read the manuals before the very first use ...