As their name suggests, backpack blowers are air blowing devices designed to be worn on the back of the user. The engine is situated in the backpack, along with a fuel tank, while the nozzle, through which the air is ejected, is connected via flexible tubing. This design allows for the utilization of larger, more powerful engines that could not be carried comfortably in hand, but are more mobile than walk-behind devices.
Characteristics – What to expect from Backpack Blowers
Since backpack blowers have larger engines compared to handheld devices, with the average displacements of 61 cc and 26 cc respectively, it is reasonable to expect a higher blowing power from them and hence a higher CFM.
When comparing their average values, backpacks beat the average CFM of handheld devices by 240. The MPH may vary based on the design, specifically the diameter of the nozzle and thus the averages come very close, differing only by 46. For a more detailed explanation of these two parameters, check our guide dedicated to MPH and CFM.
With that said, both backpack and handheld leaf blowers remain far behind the walk-behind models in terms of performance, since their average engine displacement constitutes 300 cc.
(Though this of course may not be the case when comparing two completely different price categories)
Backpack leaf blowers come in both gasoline and battery-powered variants. The gasoline engine types utilize both 2-stroke and 4-stroke designs without any discrimination.
The size and weight distribution of the backpacks allows for high volume tanks and batteries. The result are longer operation times and a higher wattage of the motor. In general, roughly 70 oz tanks and 7.5 Ah batteries can be expected. As for a comparison, handheld devices feature only roughly 20 oz tanks and 3 Ah batteries (few reaching 6 Ah).
Backpack blowers generally offer a versatile experience. Variable speed settings are a common feature from the lower middle class devices upwards. However, none of the backpack devices listed in our database includes the ability to vacuum.
Backpack blowers are heavy. Their weight ranges from 8.3 to 29.2 lbs, although exceptions do exist. However, the overall comfort and the subjective feeling of heaviness boil down to the design of the device. The most comfortable devices will feature a hip belt and sufficiently padded straps. Many backpack blowers feature a tube-mount throttle and therefore allow you to keep your left hand free, whereas other blowers will have a hip-mount throttle, which can make it easier on your right hand if you operate them over an extended period of time.
The vast majority of the devices are designed as right handed, without the option to switch the side at which the nozzle is located. While flexibility of the nozzle varies by make, it is most commonly analogous to the flexibility of a cocktail straw.
As a result, the mobility of these devices may be limited compared to the handheld units, yet they are often far more comfortable to operate, especially when considering professional use.
Backpack blowers are VERY LOUD. Their noise ratings of their gasoline versions reach commonly over 70 dB and up to 85 dB. The motor itself is situated just a few inches away from the user’s ears and thus, may impair his hearing. It is highly recommended to use high quality hearing protection when operating these devices, such as ear plugs or safety ear muffs. Be sure to also check up on any regulations in your area, since many leaf blowers may be outright banned in some cities.
The backpack leaf blower is quite large and will require more thorough cleaning than its handheld counterpart.
Depending on the brand and power, the price of a backpack unit can greatly vary, starting at $150 for the cheapest backpack blower and reaching up to $771.92.
According to our research, the most popular products come from 4 brands in the following order. Stihl, Husqvarna, Echo and Makita. Most products of each of the brand occupy their own price category.
Who are they for?
By the listed criteria, it is obvious that backpack blowers are a more powerful substitute for handheld leaf blowers. When considering larger areas, which require more power, duration and operation time, backpacks are often the best option.
Their battery-powered version is a great solution in areas with strict noise or emission restrictions, since the power of cordless handheld blowers can often be insufficient, even for very basic chores.
However, due to the lack of their flexibility, they may be disqualified from leaf blowing that involves crevices and irregular terrain.
Their weight may be issue as well – Backpack leaf blowers may not be suitable for women, children and the elderly.
Lastly, if you lack the storage space for both a large device and a pile of leaves, look elsewhere – Blower vacs could be a better option, yet none of them come in a form of a backpack.
Backpack blowers provide substantial power and range, yet at a high price. While they may be quite comfortable compared to the handheld devices, they are louder, less flexible and more expensive. They also do not offer a vacuuming feature.
- Immense power
- Long range
- Large fuel/battery capacity
- Very loud (gas version)
- Can be expensive
- Large and heavy
- Not flexible
- No vacuum
- Almost exclusively right handed