Backpack vacuum cleaner?
October 26, 2009 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Backpack vacuum cleaners - any experience or tips? I'm considering a backpack vacuum cleaner (ProTeam), but I'm unsure how comparable these are to consumer vacuums. It doesn't appear there are any carpet attachments with beaters (that are driven by a motor). Any have any experience with these? Or insights on which kind?
posted by sgarst to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used backback vacuums for about 2 years at a large cafetaeria in college for nightly cleaning, and there a few pros and cons (with the caveat that these were commercial grade- I have no idea of the brand)
-They never clogged. Ever.
-If it fit into the fairly-large mouth, it was vacuumed. No churning around wondering if it broke anything
-Using only them for 2 years to clean the carpet, the carpet was still very clean when I left. They did a great job of cleaning.
-Much easier to clean hard-to-get spots, and I think faster overall. With my regular vacuum, I have to more stuff or get the extension. With the backpack, I just vacuumed around everything or only move the tables a little to get the floor.

-Their cleaning power is purely depending on the suction power. Ours didn't have any kind of that sweeping action with that spinny thing standup vacuums do. I suppose this could compromise getting embedded crap out of the carpet.
-Can get heavy if don't empty the bags often.
posted by jmd82 at 12:35 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Recognize that backpack vacuums are designed for a cleaning person that needs mobility and speed above many, if not most, other considerations. For example, someone cleaning an office can't easily move furniture around and needs to get the nozzle into all kinds of small spaces as quickly as possible so they can move to the next job. And they'd need to have this mobility every day.

Do you really need this kind of mobility to vacuum, say, your apartment once a week?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:47 PM on October 26, 2009

I have a ProTeam backpack, although I bought it 2 years ago, so it's not exactly like any shown - mine looks much less commerical or industrial than any of's really the size and shape of a large school backpack. I LOVE IT. Seriously love it so much. I have a 3 story house, and I just whip through it like nothing. It never gets heavy or hard to lug around (I'm a 5'5" female). It's clean, quiet, efficient, and fun. The straps are lined with faux sheepskin so it's pretty comfortable on, too. I buy all of the filters online, they're cheap. The only drawback I've ever found is that since the motor gives off heat, sometimes my back gets sweaty after 20 minutes or so.

Since you mentioned carpet specifically, I have to add that all of our floors are hardwood or quarry tile, so I keep a brush attachment on all the time, and the floors are a breeze. The exception is my inside basement stairs, which are carpeted. Any attachment with a brush works really well at agitating up whatever junk is in the carpet, so it gets sucked right up. Good on upholstery too. If you have any other questions or want to see a pic of mine, ask here or memail me.
posted by iconomy at 12:54 PM on October 26, 2009

We have the ProVac BP at our office. It has no powered carpet beater attachments available, and it really only works for low-pile (commercial) carpets. The mobility is nice, it's quiet enough to use around customers, and so far it has held up well to daily use in a 10,000 SF store.

I will say that I am less than thrilled with its cleaning performance, even with new filters. The carpets appear to be clean, but I noticed that when I'd kneel down on even just-vacuumed carpet, the knees on my black slacks would come up dirty. So, I thoroughly vacuumed a section of carpet with our ProVac and a new filter, and then went over that same area a second time with my consumer-grade Hoover WindTunnel upright, which picked up a surprising (and kind of disturbing) amount of dirt that the ProVac missed. So it seems the ProVac gets the stuff on top, but doesn't deep-clean the carpets.

So as others have said, the mobility is great and it's quiet and comfortable to use, but if you're concerned about getting your carpets really clean, the ProTeam models probably aren't for you.
posted by xedrik at 12:57 PM on October 26, 2009

I was considering one of these a while back and ended up getting an Oreck that has a shoulder strap and a long wand connected to the body by a flexible hose. It was quite a bit cheaper (though still not inexpensive; not the one they give away free with the purchase of an upright) and does a fine job on hard floors. I wouldn't count on it to vacuum anything but the very firmest, lowest-pile carpet. Just in case you're looking for a lower-priced data point.
posted by lakeroon at 5:55 PM on October 26, 2009

Update: Got the backpack, and it is awesome. Much more suction, and much quieter than I anticipated. It is very light and easy to walk through our row house and vacuum, much easier than a canister or an upright model; but wearing a backpack will take some getting used to. Added bonus, my kids are intrigued, and were having a blast vacuuming up the floor!
posted by sgarst at 5:58 AM on November 4, 2009

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