What's it like to carry a hurricane on your shoulders? Putting on any of the best backpack leaf blowers will give you an up close performance. With air speeds in excess of 200 MPH and CFM in the four digits, these massive air movers make short work of foliage and mower shrapnel.
Many manufacturers make leaf blowers. These include handheld, backpack, two-stroke, four-stroke, petrol and battery powered (also known as electric or cordless). However, when it comes to backpack bragging rights, the list quickly narrows down. We've spent a lot of time working with some of the top performers, from high-end professionals to the homeowner level, and our recommendations are the ones we're confident will get the job done for you.
Editor's note: This article is part of PTR's "Best of 2022" series and was originally published on February 7, 2022. Our recommendations haven't been updated…yet. Keep an eye out for our 2023 update!
Overall Best Gas Backpack Leaf Blower
STIHL BR 800 CE Magnum
We ranked the Stihl BR 700 at or near the top of our list of best backpack leaf blowers a few years ago. The Stihl BR 800 CE Magnum Backpack Blower improves on this model in two very important ways. First, it blows 20% harder. In fact, it can generate approximately 41 Newtons of force and blow out an impressive average wind speed of 239 MPH at 912 CFM.
You may find the second improvement even more impressive. Stihl has integrated the Easy2Start system. Instead of taking the blower off your back and pulling the power cord, a quick pull on the side handle overcomes the pressure from the engine and starts the blower. Yes, you heard that right – you can start the blower while wearing it. Take my money!
This is probably the only downside of this blower. While it starts easy, blows hard, and runs forever on a 2000cc (over 1/2 gallon) tank, it retails for about $659. Even so, we still think this is the best backpack leaf blower for commercial use, and it has a huge network of aftermarket dealers.
Most Powerful Backpack Leaf Blower
Echo PB-9010T Backpack Hair Dryer
Echo's X-series devices pack a punch, and the Echo PB9010T is the most powerful backpack blower out there. It has a maximum airspeed of 220 MPH and airflow of 1110 CFM with its 79.9cc engine. The Echo rates the blower at 48 Newtons, but we've actually seen a higher number — 52 Newtons — in testing. No other blower we've tested can match it.
In addition to the "T" model with a tube-mounted throttle, there is also an "H" model with a hip-mounted throttle if you prefer.
Makita EB7660TH Backpack Blower
The best four-stroke backpack blower is the EB7660TH from the Makita MM4 series. In a very small field of competitors, it gets the job done and sounds quieter than your typical leaf blower.
This 75.6cc Makita 4-stroke backpack blower has a softer sound. It is very different from a screaming 2-stroke at high revs. In addition to exhibiting excellent blowing performance, the Makita also has the best active cooling we've experienced to date. At wide open throttle (WOT), you will feel a strong wind moving between your back and the blower body.
We also thank Makita for claiming the real number the blower actually hit. Not only were we able to hit their claimed CFM and MPH with the same nozzle/tip, but we actually exceeded one of their specifications. We measured a respectable 33.9 Newtons of force from this beast.
While we enjoy Makita's MM4 lawn care equipment, get it while you can. They plan to pull gasoline from their lineup in April 2022, becoming a completely gasoline-free brand. Still, we can't wait to see what they have in store for professional-grade battery-operated devices.
Best Lightweight Backpack Leaf Blower
RedMax EBZ6500RH Backpack Leaf Blower
We didn’t want to completely sacrifice performance when looking for the best lightweight backpack leaf blower. Most professional brands have a dry weight blower under 23 lbs that balances weight and blow power, but drops blow power in the mid 20s to mid 20s. Our top pick is the Redmax EBZ6500RH. With 232 MPH and 631 CFM, it is capable of producing an impressive 30 Newtons.
A big reason the RedMax outperforms its competition in the weight class is its engine choice. Most other Pro brands have something closer to 50cc to save weight, but Redmax's is 65.6cc.
The best backpacking leaf blower for the money
Echo PB-580T Backpack Leaf Blower
The 50cc class is a great option when you're shopping on a budget. You can often find professional-grade blowers for less than $400 and get more than 20 Newtons of blowing power out of them.
After considering what professional brands have to offer, we chose the Echo PB-580T as the best value for money backpack leaf blower. Value doesn't always equate to "cheapest," but the Echo PB-580T ends up giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
Its 58.2cc engine is capable of 216 MPH and 517 CFM, which combine to produce a blowing force of up to 22 Newtons. A dry weight of 22.7 pounds is still reasonable.
The price is $329.99, well below the $400 mark. For an added blow in the mid 20s, expect to pay over $400. That's a huge price increase for a few Newtons more force.
Best Battery Backpack Leaf Blowers
Stihl BGA 200 Battery Operated Blower
Choosing the best battery backpack blower isn't as specific as other categories. You can basically make one out of a handheld blower by shifting the weight of the battery to your back or by making a high capacity battery on a backpack strap. Of course, there are also more traditional backpack blower form factors that swap out the gas motor for a battery port and brushless motor.
Given the two ways to get a backpack, our top pick is Stihl's BGA 200, a handheld blower that attaches to a backpack battery. The choice came for several key reasons. The first is performance. It's rated at 21 Newtons and reached 21.3 N in our tests, making it one of the strongest we've tested to date. Then there is capacity. With the 1148 Wh Li-Ion battery, it's like carrying five of Stihl's 6.3Ah AP300 batteries.
The best ones don't come cheap, and the total price is something you need to consider.
Price: $409 (blower), $1219 (AP3000 battery), $99.99 (battery harness), $89.99 – $129.99 (charger)
The Best Backpack Leaf Blowers for Homeowners
Troy-Bilt TB15BP Backpack Leaf Blower
Most specialty brands also make home-grade gas backpack blowers with the full support of their dealer network. They're great tools, but you can shop around for better performance for a similar price.
When you just need to take care of your own property, consider Troy-Bilt's TB15BP as the best backpack leaf blower for homeowners. While other brands use engines under 30cc, the Troy-Bilt has a 51cc engine capable of 220 MPH and 600 CFM. The result is a much higher blow force than some brands offer.
Best Backpack Leaf Blower Brands
If you ask a team of professional lawn workers who's the best backpacking leaf blower brand, get ready for punches and kicks among the Echo and Stihl loyalists. Both are excellent backpack blowers and are two of the top brands we've seen on pro tows so far. Echo tends to lead in performance, while Stihl tends to lead in feature development.
Is this better than that? We'll just step aside and let you guys figure it out in the comments below.
Best Backpack Leaf Blower Buying Guide | What We Looked For
Most people turn to backpack blowers for higher performance, and that's our top priority. Large MPH and CFM numbers are nice, but Newtonian forces are more telling. Check out this article for a discussion of airspeed, air volume, and blow force.
weight and padding
Padded straps make a difference when you're strapping a hairdryer to your back, but let's face it, it's mostly about weight. The longer you have to wear the blower, the heavier it will be. It's not just the weight of the blower, though. Larger capacity fuel tanks provide longer run time, but at the expense of greater fuel weight.
When Using a Backpack Blower – Cover Your Ears! All of these great features found in our backpack leaf blower review come at a price. Pneumatic leaf blowers are noisy no matter how you slice them! The ANSI test requires measurements to be taken from a distance of 50 feet, but you're not a bystander, and the noise to your ears is much higher — over 100 decibels in most cases. In other words, you need hearing protection.
Except for battery powered models. Some are able to keep noise levels below OSHA's hearing protection thresholds. In addition to lower overall noise, it also allows you to hear more of what's going on around you.
Notes on OSHA Sound Level Exposure Limits
OSHA allows a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 90 dB (A-weighted) for an 8-hour workday. Later, the OSHA standard has an "exchange rate" of 5 dB. This means that when the noise level increases by 5 decibels, the time OSHA allows a person to be exposed to is divided by two. Using this calculation, at 100 dB SPL, you can only work for two hours without hearing protection. Therefore, the hearing protection goal for an 8-hour workday is to reduce the volume in the ear by at least 20 dB SPL.
One interesting thing to note, the Makita 4 stroke blower sounds much quieter than its SPL measurement. The pitch seems to be much lower, giving the illusion of less noise output. More info can be found in our Makita MM4 4-Stroke Tech Article.
Value is all about getting the best backpacking leaf blower for your budget, not just the cheapest you can buy. When you're considering the value of a blower, weigh what you're getting versus the price, and make your highest priority the most important.
Got $400 to spend and value performance? Find the highest Newton force that fits your budget. More concerned about weight? Start there.
Work efficiency, not just fuel efficiency or tank size
Fuel efficiency directly impacts your bottom line and it's an important part of the equation. But so is productivity. Find the sweet spot between fuel efficiency and uptime. The more your crew stops to refuel and refuel, the more time you can spend on the property. A larger fuel tank combines with an efficient engine to make your team more efficient.
features to look for
So far, all we've been talking about is meat and potatoes. Now, let's switch gears for a better operator experience. Here are some key features we looked for:
- Drawstring design actively pulls air across your back to cool you down
- Hip belt that takes the weight of the blower off your shoulders
- chest strap
- effective filling
- Reduced Emissions Engine Design
- Shock absorbing design
- throttle lock
- Side recoil start (the Stihl BR 800 Magnum CE was the only blower we tested with this feature)
- Hip and Tube Throttle Options
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