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What is a Backpack Vacuum and Who Should Use Them?

Written by James Hall |

what is a backpack vacuum

Are you considering a backpack vacuum for your business? Keep reading to learn more about backpack vacs and their advantages.

Backpack vacuums have become popular in recent years. While they aren’t a new invention, businesses are starting to realise how much more effective they can be for certain cleaning tasks.

In this article, we’ll go through the basics of a backpack vacuum, along with their advantages, disadvantages, and cleaning tasks that could be made more efficient by using one.

What is a Backpack Vacuum?

Backpack vacuums are wearable devices with the dust canister worn as a backpack. A hose attached to the backpack is used for cleaning floors, stairs, corners, furniture, and other equipment.

Most backpack vacuums are simple to use. They typically have a single on/off switch and a bagged design. Many also come with standard vacuum tools, such as a dusting brush, upholstery brush, combination floorhead, and crevice tool.

Why Buy a Backpack Vacuum Cleaner?

Attaching the canister to the user makes backpack vacuums more mobile and improves range of motion. The vacuum floorhead is easier to control and less likely to be blocked by an awkward cable.

They are also more comfortable for long cleaning sessions, as the weight is evenly distributed across the back. Unlike upright vacuums, the user isn’t forced into a stooped position, which is vital when cleaning large areas.

Who Should Use a Backpack Vacuum?

Backpack vacuums are designed to make commercial cleaning more efficient. In fact, many people estimate that a backpack vac is around 3-4 times more productive than a regular upright.

There are several reasons for this, including longer power cords, better weight distribution, and improved mobility. As they require less physical energy to move, backpack vacuums are also easier for cleaners and could prevent injury.

Who Shouldn’t Use a Backpack Vacuum?

Backpack vacuums aren’t the best choice if you’re a cleaning company that services lots of small locations. In this situation, needing to constantly take the cleaner on and off might make backpack vacs impractical.

We also don’t recommend backpack vacuums for domestic cleaning. These units excel at cleaning big areas, but are unnecessary for homes. Wearing a backpack in a home could also risk bumping a mirror or ornament, causing it to break.

Consider Each Individual Cleaner’s Needs

It’s important to consider the health of a cleaner when choosing a vacuum. Backpack vacuums probably aren’t a good choice for anyone who is prone to back issues, for example. Proper fitting is also vital, as the wrong fit can cause unnecessary strain on the back.

What Types of Cleaning Jobs Can Backpack Vacuums Perform?

Almost any commercial cleaning in a large location can be more effective with a high-quality backpack vacuum. They aren’t the best choice for small areas, but are definitely an option to consider for cleaning large buildings, vehicles, and other big cleaning jobs.

These vacs make cleaning offices much easier, for example, as there’s no bulky unit to push and pull around furniture. They are also much more practical for cleaning buses or coaches, as you can access all the tight locations without pushing a heavy upright around.

Staircases are another area where backpack vacuums have a big advantage over uprights or cylinder vacuums. As the vacuum body is worn by the cleaner, they don’t need to worry about balancing a bulky vacuum on steps.

Where Are Backpack Vacuums Useful?

Some examples of locations where a backpack vacuum could be useful include:

  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Coaches and buses
  • Large stairwells
  • Public transport
  • Medium or large offices

What Are the Advantages of a Backpack Vacuum Cleaner?

There are many advantages to backpack vacs for commercial cleaning. These include:

  • Backpack vacuums are more mobile than an upright vacuum cleaner.
  • Backpack vacuums often have long power cords to increase efficiency. There are also cordless models for extra freedom, although these have a limited battery run-time.
  • It’s easier to use a backpack vacuum when cleaning in tight locations, as you don’t need to push the entire vacuum body into the space.
  • Most backpack vacuums come with long wands for cleaning vents, blinds, and other above-floor locations.
  • Backpack vacs increase the productivity of cleaners.
  • Most backpack vacuums are designed for commercial cleaning, so they are durable and long-lasting.
  • Backpack vacuums have improved ergonomics compared with upright vacuums, as the harness allows for a neutral spine (if properly fitted.) This reduces the chance of an injury while cleaning.
  • Many modern backpack vacuums have quiet motors and designs, which can be important in a commercial environment.

A downside is that backpack vacuums are more expensive to buy. For commercial cleaning, however, this cost is often quickly recouped by saving time.

How Do You Use One?

Before you put on a backpack vacuum, it’s important to get a proper fit. Backpack vacuums are designed to be worn for long periods without discomfort, so the wrong fit can cause fatigue and even pain.

As everyone has different body dimensions, a backpack vacuum should be adjusted for each individual. This includes adjusting the shoulder straps, waist belt, and sternum straps.

Once the vacuum has been properly fitted, you can use it like any other vacuum. Switch it on then use the hose with the floorhead (or attachments) to clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Companies Produce Backpack Vacuums?

Many companies manufacture backpack vacuum cleaners, but a few of the top brands are Numatic, Karcher, ProTeam, Hoover, and PacVac.

Are Backpack Vacuums Good on Carpets?

Backpack vacuums can be just as good on carpets as other vacuum cleaners, but performance varies depending on the model. It’s worth noting that most backpack vacs don’t have a motorised brush roll, however, which may make them less effective at agitating carpet fibres.


Many businesses could benefit from replacing their upright vacuum with a backpack vacuum. While they cost more upfront, they make cleaners more efficient and reduce the chance of workplace injuries – but only if they are properly fitted.

Do you have any questions about backpack vacuums? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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