With a backpack leaf blower, yard cleanup is a snap. They make quick work of removing fallen leaves, grass clippings, dust, and other debris from your property. Leaf blowers with adaptor pipes can even clean your rain gutters. If you want to spend less time on yard work, a leaf blower can help with most projects. With so many models of leaf blowers on the market, however, deciding which one to buy can be a challenge.
Whether your yard is large or small, or whether you prioritize lower emissions, higher air velocity, or the least amount of noise, there’s a leaf blower that fits the bill for your needs. In this guide we will review the best backpack leaf blowers in eight different categories. But first, we’ll take a look at the considerations that elevated these blowers to the top of the list.
- BEST OVERALL: Husqvarna 965877502 350BT 2-Cycle Gas Backpack Blower
- RUNNER UP: Husqvarna 150BT 2-Cycle Gas Backpack Leaf Blower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Poulan Pro PR48BT, 2-Cycle Gas Backpack Leaf Blower
- UPGRADE PICK: Husqvarna 967144301 360BT Backpack Blower
- BEST QUIET OPERATION: Makita EB5300TH 4-Stroke Engine Backpack Blower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Schröder Industrial Backpack Leaf Blower: SR-6400L
Types of Backpack Leaf Blowers
Backpack leaf blowers are powered by either gasoline or electricity. The power source affects the leaf blower’s weight, air speed, run time and other factors.
Gas-powered blowers are the go-to choice for landscaping professionals because they offer high power and lots of run time per tank of fuel. They efficiently clean up large properties without the user having to stop and refill the gas tank. Gas-powered blowers are ideal for yards of 1/2- acre and larger, where battery-powered blowers run out of power. They’re also great for smaller properties with heavy leaf cover that require more consistent power for efficient cleanup.
Gas-powered blowers require both fuel and oil, which adds to their operating cost. They emit exhaust fumes and should only be used in well-ventilated outdoor spaces.
Battery-powered backpack blowers offer a clean running, lightweight alternative to gas-powered blowers. They work especially well for smaller properties of less than 1/2 acre, and where leaf cover is lighter. Runtime varies significantly among models. Power settings also have a lot to do with how long a blower will run: On average, battery-powered blowers can run from as little as 10 minutes on high power to as long as 1.5 hours on low power.
The performance of most battery-powered backpack leaf blowers is similar to that of gas-powered blowers, but the battery-powered blowers run for a shorter amount of time. Because it can take an hour or more to recharge a blower’s batteries, some owners buy additional batteries to avoid downtime.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Backpack Leaf Blower
There are several key considerations to bear in mind as you shop for a new leaf blower. It should be powerful enough to clear debris, and have sufficient power (in the battery or in the fuel tank) to do the whole yard. In this section, we’ll take a close look at these and other important shopping considerations.
Properties larger than 1/2-acre with leafy trees, lots of grass, outbuildings, and other areas that require detailed cleaning benefit from the maximum run time and airflow from a gas-powered blower. A powerful blower with a long run time blows debris further and faster than a less powerful model. They’re also more efficient because users don’t have to stop their work to refuel or change the blower’s batteries.
Opt for a lightweight, battery-powered blower if you have a smaller property, or if you only need to blow leaves off the sidewalk, the patio, or the driveway.
Power Source and Run Time
Battery power is measured in volts (V). Battery-powered blowers have a limited run time of about 1.5 hours maximum for light-duty applications. Heavy-duty blowing decreases the run time to as little as 10 to 15 minutes.
Gas-powered blowers are limited only by the size of their fuel tanks. Engine size is measured in cubic centimeters (cc). Most gas blowers’ tanks hold enough fuel to operate at high power for 1.5 to 3 hours.
2-Cycle vs. 4-Cycle Engine
Gasoline-powered blowers have either a 2-cycle or a 4-cycle engine. A 2-cycle engine needs one revolution of the crankshaft to produce a powerstroke, while a 4-cycle engine needs two revolutions of the crankshaft to produce the powerstroke. A 2-cycle engine produces more power than the same size 4-cycle engine. Blowers with 2-cycle engines require a fuel mixture of gas and oil that powers and lubricates the engine at the same time, while 4-cycle engines run on gasoline and have a separate oil reservoir to lubricate the engine. On average, efficient 2-cycle engines produce more power than 4-cycle engines of the same size, but clean-running 4-cycle engines produce lower emissions.
Air Volume and Speed
The two best measurements of a leaf blower’s performance are the air volume, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), and the air speed, measured in miles per hour (MPH). Air volume is how much air moves through the machine, while air speed measures how fast it is moving. CFM is the better measurement of leaf-moving ability.
Manufacturers indicate the average maximum CFM and MPH values on product labels, but the speed at which blowers truly operate depends on the user. Users control backpack blowers’ power settings via a trigger or a lever. You have to run the machine on full power to reach the maximum CFM and MPH ratings indicated on the product’s package. To clean up hard surfaces like driveways and patios, 400 CFM blowers are sufficient. Use a 500 to 700 CFM blower for larger properties with significant lawn and leaf areas.
Battery-operated backpack blowers weigh as little as 15 pounds, while their gasoline-powered counterparts average about 10 pounds heavier. Weight certainly affects comfort, especially on large properties where leaf blowing may take an hour or more. A leaf blower’s weight generally coincides with its power, however, so it’s not always prudent to purchase the lightest model. Instead, choose the blower with an ideal combination of light weight and high power.
Comfort minimizes user fatigue and reduces the chance of injury. Features that affect user comfort include the leaf blower’s size, harness system, hand controls, and tube.
Overall machine dimensions should be appropriate for the user’s body size. A tall and heavy user can operate any size blower, but an operator with a smaller frame would be the most comfortable using a compact blower. The leaf blower’s harness system should feature an adjustable waist strap and adjustable shoulder straps, all with plenty of padding, plus a sternum strap for added stability and balance. The tube should flex and rotate comfortably at the user’s elbow. The hand controls should be sensitive enough to work smoothly, single-handedly.
Backpack blowers average 95 to 105 decibels (dB), measured at the user’s ear level. To avoid hearing loss, it is important to wear earplugs or over-ear protection while operating a leaf blower. Some municipalities have noise ordinances that dictate how loud machinery can be, so be sure to check local laws before purchasing a new blower. There are low-noise backpack leaf blowers on the market that average between 58 and 70 dB, and are powerful to get the job done efficiently.
Several safety accessories help minimize the risks of injury while operating a blower. In addition to hearing protection, leaf-blower manufacturers and OSHA recommend the use of safety glasses to keep lawn debris out of the eyes. A high-visibility safety vest, hat, and/or gloves allows users working near streets and sidewalks to be seen by oncoming traffic.
Other helpful accessories include extra batteries for cordless electric blowers, and a spark plug wrench and fuel funnel for gasoline-powered blowers.
Our Top Picks
After weighing the shopping considerations outlined above, we selected eight of the industry’s best backpack blowers. Whether you maintain a large or small property, if you need more power or less noise, you’ll find just the right fit on this list.
The Husqvarna 350BT gas-powered backpack leaf blower is a solid, all-around pick for large or small landscapes at a mid-range price. The 50.2 cc, 2-cylinder X-Torq engine pushes up to 494 CFM at 180 MPH for general landscape cleanup. This machine weighs in at 22.5 pounds.
Husqvarna’s X-Torq engine design reduces exhaust emissions by up to 60 percent and increases fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent. Dampeners between the engine and chassis reduce vibrations. The padded harness and hip belt are shaped to fit the contours of the operator for a more comfortable operation. The offset handle makes the blow force easier to control, preventing arm strain and fatigue. The variable speed throttle with cruise control can be set for easier handling.
The Husqvarna 150BT is a good general-purpose pick for most landscapes. The 50.2 cc, 2-cylinder X-Torq engine pushes up to 434 CFM at 251 MPH, which is enough power for all but the heaviest, matted leaves. The 150BT leaf blower tips the scales at 22.5 pounds.
The 150BT has the same low-emission, fuel-efficient X-Torq engine design as the Husqvarna 350BT. Dampeners between the engine and chassis reduce vibrations. An auto-return stop switch automatically resets to the “on” position for easier restarting. The offset handle makes the blow force easier to control, preventing arm strain and fatigue. The variable speed throttle with cruise control can be set for easier handling.
The Poulan Pro PR48BT is a strong performer at an extremely competitive price point. Its 48 cc, 2-stroke engine pushes 475 CFM at 200 MPH. Weighing just 22 pounds, it is lighter than its competition, which weighs an average of about 24 pounds. This blower includes padded, adjustable shoulder straps, and a heavy-duty frame. The variable-speed throttle has a cruise- control feature to reduce operator fatigue.
The Husqvarna 360BT provides ample power and air-moving ability to clean up large properties. The 65.6 cc, 2-cylinder X-torque engine pushes 631 CFM at 232 MPH for heavy-duty cleaning ability. The blower weighs 23.2 pounds.
An offset handle makes the blow force easier to control by preventing the arm from being pulled downward, reducing operator fatigue. The contoured and fully adjustable shoulder straps and waist strap allow the operator to customize the fit for greater comfort and balance. Husqvarna’s X-Torq engines provide 2-cycle power efficiency with improved fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions. The air purge feature removes air from the carburetor and fuel system for easy starting.
The Makita EB5300TH features cleaner emissions than 2-cycle engines, and a 52.5 cc, 4-cycle engine that uses only gasoline. It pushes up to 516 CFM of air at a velocity of 184 MPH, for strong cleaning capacity. At 70 dB, it is much quieter than the competition, which average 95 to 105 dB. This blower weighs 26.5 pounds.
The EB5300TH features mechanical automatic engine decompression for fast, easy starts, and a large-capacity air filter that is conveniently positioned for replacement as needed. Adjustable shoulder straps let the operator easily customize the fit. Tool-less handle adjustment allows the operator to quickly change the position of the handle for maximum efficiency.
The Schröder SR-6400L features a strong 63.3 cc, 2-cycle engine that uses a 50:1 fuel mix. It pushes up to 920 CFM of air at a velocity of 230 MPH, for strong cleaning capacity. It weighs just 19.5 pounds.
This blower produces enough power to easily move heavy, wet leaves and other hard-to-move landscape debris. The price is very competitive for this amount of power. The kit includes two different blower tube extensions, one with a round outlet and the other with a flat outlet, and a carburetor tool for fine-tuning.
The Advantages of Owning a Backpack Leaf Blower
To clean up leaves, grass clippings, dust, and other yard debris, it’s hard to beat the functionality of a backpack leaf blower. They clean up leaves and grass in a fraction of the time it takes to rake, plus they move fine particles like dust and powdery snow with ease. They keep all outdoor areas clean and tidy, including lawns, landscape beds, driveways, porches, patios, and decks.
Backpack blowers are more powerful and versatile than handheld blowers. They easily remove matted, wet leaves from hard-to-reach areas like foundation plantings and fence corners. They can also be used to keep rain gutters clean.
- Backpack blowers are less fatiguing than handheld blowers because the weight of the blower is carried on the user’s back and hips, rather than on his or her arms.
- They deliver plenty of air power for moving heavy debris.
- The added power of a backpack blower gets the work done much faster than either raking or using a handheld blower.
FAQs About Backpack Leaf Blowers
If you’re still unsure about whether a backpack leaf blower is right for you, please continue reading. Ahead you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions about using backpack leaf blowers.
Q. How do you use a backpack leaf blower?
To pile up debris such as fallen leaves, start by determining where the pile should be. Then walk to the distant edge of the area and use a low, steady, sweeping motion to move the leaves toward the pile. Aiming the air tube across the top of the debris keeps it low to the ground. To dislodge matted, wet leaves, aim the tube low and force air beneath it.
Q. Do backpack leaf blowers work on wet leaves?
Yes. The higher the CFM rating, the more effectively the blower moves wet leaves.
Q. Are backpack leaf blowers better than handheld ones?
On average, backpack leaf blowers are more powerful than handheld blowers. They also have the advantage of reducing operator fatigue by transferring the weight of the machine to larger core muscles in the body.
Q. Which is more important for a leaf blower, CFM or MPH?
CFM is more important, as it measures the volume of air that moves through the machine. Think of it this way: Tornadoes have faster wind speeds, but hurricanes do more damage.