The great advantage of cordless stick vacuums is that they can be easily moved from room to room for ongoing cleaning without worrying about cord lengths and outlet locations. Of course, they run on rechargeable batteries, so that limits their run time; if you need a stick vacuum that allows you to clean for a longer period of time, see our discussion of corded stick vacuums elsewhere in this report.
It's no contest in this category, the Hoover Linx BH50010 (Est. $130) is a strong performer that works well on both carpet and hard flooring. It runs for about 20 to 30 minutes on a single charge, reviewers say, which is pretty good; most cordless stick vacs average about 15 minutes of runtime. Owners who were leery of that being enough time to finish the job say they were surprised at how much quicker you can clean when you're not navigating around a power cord. Some owners say they buy an extra battery as well, which costs about $70, just to have a backup on hand or to be able to extend the runtime. The Hoover Linx uses a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery that powers the vacuum at full strength (no loss of suction as the battery runs down) until it's completely drained. It has a light that indicates how much battery power is left. A full recharge takes about three hours.
Not only does the Linx work well on different types of floors, but you can easily switch between floor types with a brush roll switch on the handle that's easy to flip on and off -- simply turn the brush roll off when you're on a hard surface to avoid the spinning brushes sending debris flying, then turn it back on for area rugs or carpet to "sweep" up dirt. It works quite well on carpet for a stick vac, say reviewers, although it's best for low-pile carpets and area rugs. However, it excels on hard floors, even with chunkier bits of debris. It also cleans effectively close to walls and around baseboards thanks to special edge-cleaning bristles on the powered brushroll. The Linx doesn't come with any attachments, such as a crevice tool, so it's not the best choice for cleaning anything other than floors. At 7.3 pounds, it's very lightweight and users say it's easy to carry around the house.
At 11 pounds, the Shark Navigator Freestyle (Est. $115) is not quite as easy to pick up and carry as the Linx, but its biggest claim to fame is its extreme maneuverability. Experts and users say the Shark Freestyle navigates seamlessly around any number of obstacles, and it gets a lot of praise for how quickly and easily it cleans under and around dining room tables and chairs -- or high chairs -- after messy family dinners.
Like the Hoover Linx, the Shark Navigator does not include any additional accessories; however, it tends to get better reviews overall from owners than the Hoover as a main vacuum rather than a backup unit for light cleaning, and it gets equally good reviews for carpet and bare floors.
There are some negatives. The brushroll shutoff is located on the head, so you have to either use your foot or bend down to turn the brushroll on and off. The Navigator uses a 14.4 volt nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery. Most say it runs for about 15 to 20 minutes on a charge, but, unlike the Li-ion-powered Linx, the Shark will lose suction as the battery is expended (that's a by-product of its NiCd battery technology). According to the manufacturer, the Freestyle takes four to seven hours to charge.
With as many features as more expensive cordless stick vacuums, the Eureka Quick Up 2-in-1 (Est. $50) gets rave reviews for its versatility and performance. Unlike the Hoover and the Shark, the Eureka Quick Up (model 96JZ) converts to a handheld vacuum, and the hand vac gets good feedback for cleaning surfaces like upholstery and drapes. Users also say the stick vacuum part of the Quick Up 2-in-1 does a very good job even on chunky debris on hardwood floors, as well as vacuuming low-pile carpets and throw rugs. Its NiCd battery provides a fairly short run time, only 10 to 15 minutes, but an extra battery pack is included, so if you need more time just swap it out.
We saw a few scattered complaints about the Eureka Quick Up. As might be expected at its very low price point, some owners say it feels flimsy and the parts don't always seem to fit together well -- especially the dust bin. The Quick Up is also quite small and taller users might have to stoop to use it, but, on the plus side, it only weighs four pounds. Many also say the battery run time begins to shorten very quickly and if it weren't for a second battery the charge would not last long enough to clean up all but the smallest messes. (That's another by-product of NiCd technology; for best battery run times, be sure to completely discharge the battery each time before charging the vac). It's also only a 6-volt battery.
In 2015 Dyson revamped their product line, renaming most of their vacuums, discontinuing some, and introducing a few new models. CNET presents an excellent overview of the changes in this article. As CNET notes, the shakeup was to introduce a new stick vac, the Dyson v6 Absolute (Est. $500). As part of that introduction, Dyson has renamed and discounted much of their existing line of stick vacuums. The popular Dyson DC59 Animal is now called the Dyson V6 (Est. $300) and the Dyson DC59 Motorhead is now the Dyson V6 Motorhead (Est. $400). Both of those prices are about $150 to $200 less than what the former models cost, but one trade-off is that they come with fewer attachments than previously. You can also pick up a refurbished Dyson DC44 Animal (Est. $230), a previously discontinued, and well-reviewed, Dyson stick vacuum, for about $230.
Because Dyson is such a prominent name in the vacuum market, we wanted to explain these changes. However, we don't specifically recommend any Dyson models because, based upon both professional tests and owner feedback, Dyson stick vacuums don't perform well enough compared to other, much less expensive vacuums to justify their much higher price. The one exception is the Dyson V6 (formerly the Dyson DC59 Animal) which earns an Excellent in one professional test for its performance on carpet. However, most users don't agree, saying it only works well on hard floors. Still, if you have a lot of area rugs or low pile carpet, and you don't mind dropping $300, you may want to consider a Dyson V6.
As for the new Dyson stick vac, the Dyson D6 Absolute, so far the expert and owner reviews have been lackluster -- most say it's simply not worth the high price. That said, there are also very few reviews at the time this update was prepared, so for now, we are reserving judgement.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Reviewed Stick Vacuums: Whether you prefer corded or cordless, or need a stick vacuum for quick jobs or whole-house cleaning, these are the best stick vacs for any task or budget.
Best Corded Stick Vacuums: Corded stick vacuums can handle cleaning jobs that take longer because they have unlimited runtime. These are the top performing, most durable corded stick vacuums.
Buying Guide: There are thousands of options when it comes to stick vacuums. Our buying guide will help direct you in choosing the best stick vacuum you need for your household cleaning tasks.
Our Sources: These are the expert and user tests, comparisons and reviews we used to determine the best stick vacuums. They are ranked in order of their credibility and usefulness.