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Best Backpack Leaf Blowers

By: Carl Laron on August 29, 2017

Backpack leaf blowers are built for heavy-duty use

Backpack leaf blowers "provide the power and go-anywhere ability of gas without the arm strain of a handheld blower," says Sal Vaglica at This Old House. Experts say that desirable features include a carrying handle on the top, an easy-to-reach fuel spout, a see-through gas tank and a footrest for pull-starting the engine.

The Husqvarna 350BT (Est. $315) gets strong reviews from experts and users alike, and continues to lead the backpack leaf blower pack to Best Reviewed status. It has a low-emission engine that creates airspeeds of up to 180 mph and air flow up to nearly 495 cfm. In addition, it offers a range of comfort features, such as an ergonomic, padded harness with a thick hip belt and wide shoulder straps, and an adjustable, soft-grip handle. Its fan speed can be locked, so you don't have to keep pulling the trigger, and it comes with a two-year warranty. Testing shows that the 350BT is a champ when it comes to sweeping leaves and other debris, and when digging out debris that have become embedded in your lawn or garden. However, like most well-regarded backpack blowers, it is strictly a blower and there is no vacuum or mulching functions.

The Husqvarna 350BT has been around for a few years now, and seems to have well withstood the test of time. It earns good feedback in Popular Mechanic's comparative evaluation of backpack blowers, with Roy Berendsohn noting that its airflow is powerful and "unusually productive." He also calls this model the most comfortable machine in his magazine's test. In addition, product expert Dale Vogelsanger of LeafBlowersDirect.com says the 350BT is highly powerful and yet "remarkably quiet for a gas leaf blower" -- though that's certainly grading on a curve as experts widely recommend hearing protection when using this backpack model. The 350BT also earns Recommended status in a comprehensive leaf-blower test conducted by ConsumerReports.org. That test based its recommendations based on performance, handling and noise.

But user reviews are what continue to tip the balance in favor of the Husqvarna 350BT. Nearly 680 users posting to Amazon.com give the 350BT an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Like the experts, owners find it very powerful on wet and dry leaves, as well as dust, cobwebs and snow. They also call it comfortable and like how easily it starts. We found relatively few complaints about this model. Elsewhere, more than 200 users weigh in at LeafBlowersDirect.com, where it earns a near perfect score and recommendations from 96 percent of owners. At Lowes.com, it gets reviews from more than 310 owners, who rate it at a strong 4.5 stars overall, with 98 percent saying that they would recommend it to a friend.

With that type of feedback, the 350T is an easy call, but there are other options. TheSweethome.com names the Stihl BR350 (Est. $350) the best choice among backpack blowers. "Of all the gas blowers our landscapers looked at, this was the one model they universally loved," says that site's Doug Mahoney. The unit has been in the hands of a crew of landscapers, and they report that it continues to be "very well-received." The Stihl also earns Recommended status at ConsumerReports.org.

According to Mahoney, despite the more modest specs compared to some blowers -- average air speed at the nozzle of 167 mph (maximum of 201 mph) and an air volume of 436 cfm -- the BR350 still "moved leaves better than the other backpack blowers" in TheSweethome.com's testing. However, it was design features that set it apart even more. "The gas fill is oriented upward, as opposed to at an angle, making for an easy, spill-free pour; the gas cap has a hard plastic ridge around it, protecting it from bumps; and the top of the tool is the perfect shape for placing a hand while you're pulling the starter," he says.

Like all Stihl blowers, the BR350 is sold by independent authorized retailers, not online, so the best place to find user feedback is at the Stihl site. There aren't a ton of reviews, but most of the nearly 120 owners that weigh in seem pleased and the Stihl BR350 earns a 4.8 star rating.

A battery-powered backpack blower

Both of the backpack blowers above are gasoline powered. That means the hassle of dealing with gas (see the Buying Guide for more information) and noise levels that are high enough to require ear protection and perhaps annoy nearby neighbors if the blower is not used with courtesy (Stihl offers some suggestions on proper and courteous leaf blower use).

One alternative is the EGO LB6002 (Est. $260), a battery-powered backpack leaf blower. We found that experts are of a split mind on this one. ConsumerReports.org likes the EGO well enough to name it a Recommended model and a Best Buy, but others aren't as sure.

In concept and performance in moving leaves, etc., it draws good feedback. It's a mid-pack performer, power wise, and is rated at 145 MPH and 600 CFM, but that's plenty for most homeowners. At ProToolReviews.com, Clint DeBoer notes that the EGO will come up "a tad short" compared to a commercial gas backpack blower, but adds that "it's close" and that "It also doesn't require ear protection -- or gas -- and that's something."

The hang up is run time. "There is no question that the backpack offers convenience and it allows the tool to come with Ego's large and heavy 5.0 Ah battery, but we're not convinced that the weight shift of the backpack is necessary for less than a half hour of run time," Mahoney says. He goes on to add that that's just six minutes more than the EGO LB5302 (Est. $180), which TheSweethome.com (and we) name as the best cordless leaf blower.

That said, Mahoney notes that the LB6002 can make sense if you already own other EGO tools and, presumably, batteries so that you can swap those out as needed. In addition, since all EGO batteries are swappable, you can use the EGO BA2800 (Est. $245) battery that accompanies this tool in your other EGO equipment -- and it may be worth noting that the battery if bought separately costs nearly as much as the blower (which includes that battery and charger).

For very large properties, consider a walk-behind leaf blower

According to Dale Vogelsanger at LeafBlowersDirect.com, "The pinnacle of performance and power for leaf removal is a walk-behind leaf blower," adding that "These big hoss blowers will eradicate every last leaf on your lawn in no time."

Look for models that let you alter the direction of the air flow, and for large rear wheels (for navigating irregular terrain) and a swiveling front wheel (for easier maneuverability, for example, next to buildings). Pricing covers a wide range, starting at less than $300 for an entry level wheeled leaf blower, to around $5,000 for the most powerful commercial models with features such as a self-propelled motor.

For homeowners, the Troy-Bilt TB672 (Est. $440) looks like a good alternative. Also sold as the Troy-Bilt 24A-672G011 at Lowes.com, this entry-level walk-behind blower draws good expert and user feedback. It's one of seven wheeled leaf blowers rated in ConsumerReport.org's roundup of leaf blowers of every type and size, and earns Recommended status. While user feedback isn't extensive, what's available is generally positive -- 4 stars at Lowes.com, for example, based on more than 35 reviews.

This is one powerful blower. While its airflow velocity isn't exceptional at 150 mph, its airflow volume at up to 1,000 cfm outpaces virtually all handheld and backpack gas and electric leaf blowers. With a sound-level rating of 100 dB you will very much want to be wearing hearing protection when using this walk-behind blower, although tests show that sound levels at 50 feet and beyond are surprising low -- lower than most other wheeled blowers and low enough to not overly bother any neighbors -- as long as some basic courtesies (such as not running too early in the morning or late at night) are observed..

The 12-inch rear wheels are large enough to make moving the blower over uneven ground not too challenging, but the front wheel is fixed, so maneuverability is limited. There are three discharge chute positions, as well as louvers to direct the air up or down. There's no vacuum feature. The Troy-Bilt TB672 is covered by a two-year warranty.

If you need something more powerful, the Billy Goat F601S (Est. $760) may be a consideration. It's A-rated and recommended at LeafBlowersDirect.com, where Vogelsanger also says it's the best in its category. "If you are looking for an affordable, but high quality leaf blower, the F601S is a great option for anyone from homeowner to landscaper," he says.

Rated at 1,090 CFM and 200 MPH, Vogelsanger adds that it kicks out as much air volume as 2.5 backpack blowers. It's also a recommended model at ConsumerReports.org. User feedback is limited, but what we found, primarily at LeafBlowersDirect.com, is positive, with recommendations from around 94 percent of the nearly 20 owners that have weighed in.

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