Experts recommend the 4.5-gallon Ridgid Pro Pack WD4522 (formerly the WD4550), as the best ultra-portable shop vacuum in its size range. This unusual wet dry vac is shaped like a toolbox, with a handle and flat top. A storage compartment in the lid holds the cord, hose and three cleaning tools. For getting to hard to reach locations such as underneath a car, the Ridgid Pro Pack comes with two extension wands; the wands are stored in external side brackets rather than inside the storage compartment. Reviews say the Ridgid Pro Pack works well for vacuuming cars or for use on stairs. Some owners complain about the company's customer service, but most say they are quite satisfied with this portable shop vacuum. If portability and compact storage are not priorities, experts recommend another Ridgid wet dry vac, the WD1450 (*Est. $135), which has a 14-gallon tank.
ConsumerReports.org reviews the Ridgid Pro Pack WD4522 (then the WD4550), objectively testing it with 22 other consumer-brand shop vacuums, including five other extra-small models. Popular Mechanics also tests the discontinued Ridgid WD4550, comparing it with five other shop vacuums for speed, capacity and convenience. This Old House Magazine evaluates four of the top compact utility vacs, including the Ridgid Pro Pack. Additionally, we found useful reviews posted by owners of this model on HomeDepot.com, Amazon.com and in the Ridgid Tool Forum.
ConsumerReports.org includes the Ridgid Pro Pack WD4550 (now the WD4522) in its roundup of 23 consumer-brand wet dry vacs, comparing it primarily with five other small models. Each vac is tested and assigned ratings in several performance categories.
Review: Wet/Dry Vacuums, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, March 2007
This review compares the Ridgid WD4550 (replaced by the Pro Pack WD4522) with five larger wet dry vacs. Tests show the Ridgid WD4550 is among the slowest at dry pickup, but it's fast in vacuuming liquid -- though it can only hold about 2.5 gallons. The review praises this shop vac's quality and convenience, except for the short hose.
Review: Wet/Dry Vacuum Showdown: We Test 6 New Clean Machines, Tom Klenck, Sept. 1, 2007
3. This Old House magazine
Contractor Dave Andrews tests four compact wet dry vacs during a gut renovation of his own home. The review features a highlight for each shop vacuum along with Andrews' "two cents" about the vac's performance. He likes how the Ridgid Pro Pack WD4522's "boxy design allows convenient storage of all accessories" and appreciates the extension wands for vacuuming while standing. The Pro Pack is one of his favored models.
Review: Tool Test: Compact Utility Vacs, Sal Vaglica, Nov. 2010
More than 40 Home Depot users review the Ridgid Pro Pack WD4522 shop vacuum, rating it a sparkling 4.9 out of 5 stars overall. Among other attributes, reviewers say they value the Pro Pack's washable filter, compact convenience and internal storage compartment. One reviewer calls the WD4522 "one of the most practical and most valuable tools I have ever owned."
Review: RIDGID 4.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac, Contributors to HomeDepot.com
About 10 Amazon.com users review the Ridgid Pro Pack WD4522, but most of them view the portable shop vacuum favorably, rating it 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. One reviewer details how he has used the Pro Pack for cleaning up everything from his computer to vomit on the carpet to water overflowing from his washing machine.
Review: Ridgid WD4522 4.5 Gallon Pro Pack Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum, Contributors to Amazon.com
Although most participants in this discussion about the Ridgid Pro Pack WD4550, since replaced by the WD4522, wet dry vac praise it, there are some complaints about customer service -- mainly the difficulty of getting filters and replacement parts.
Review: Ridgid Pro Pack Vac, Contributors to RidgidForum.com