Sure, it’s the peak of summer and the sun is shining, trees are blooming, and dogs are in heat, but that is soon to change. Given the schizophrenic nature of the weather thanks to climate change, autumn could hit at any moment. When it does, you have to ask yourself if you’re truly prepared.
Before the leaves hit the ground, clog up your driveway, and make your yard look a mess, you need to get yourself a leaf blower or yard vacuum. When it comes to these versatile machines you have to decide if you want one just to blow or those that can also mulch. You must pick between gas and electric power depending on how much you want to annoy your neighbors. You need to decide between hand-held, walk-behind, and a backpack model that looks like you ain’t afraid of no ghosts. If you aren’t sure, then that is why we’re here. To give you the 5 best leaf blowers and yard vacuums in the biz.
Hand-Held Gas: Problems with handheld gas models have caused them to fall out of style in recent years as savvy buyers go elsewhere with their dollars. This Hitachi is one of the last great ones offering portable gas power without the need to resort to a cumbersome – and expensive – backpack. It starts up like a champ every time and pushes out gusts of 170 mph from its 10cc commercial-grade 2-stroke motor. It’s a power player, yet only tips the scales at just under 9 lbs. The engine is low emission so it isn’t noxious and the decibel rating is only 107. Reasonable for a gas leaf blower.
The issues that come along with the Hitachi are the same as those of other hand blowers, though they are markedly less common in this model. If you aren’t careful with what you wear, the air intakes will tug at your clothes and the fuel lines can easily end up rotting if you don’t store it properly. The good news is it has limited vibrations so fatigue is reduced. It’s best if you prefer a shorter nozzle for blasting away wide areas rather than working with precision. [Purchase: $139]
Backpack Power: Admittedly, this isn’t going to blow your socks off…or away for that matter, but this offers more than just a lot of wind power. It is also one of the quietest backpack blowers available. That isn’t to say that it won’t move some serious flotsam once you kick it on. It will give you 177 mph of blowing power generated from the E-TECH II 2-stroke engine. It is intended to maintain lower emissions, reduce the need for cleaning, and keep the noise output down to a whisper-quiet 64 decibels.
Not only is it quiet and clean, the fit is also remarkably comfortable for long-term wear either professionally or for personal use. If you have a bad back or twitchy knees, this won’t hurt you since it is only 23 lbs. and the harness distributes the weight evenly between your back and shoulders. The centrifugal air system keeps debris from getting into the air filter which reduces cleanings and encourages improved engine life. The only trouble is this doesn’t have the option of vacuuming or mulching. [Purchase: $480]
Toro 51609 Ultra
Flyweight Champion: There is only one issue with the Ultra and that is the cord trailing out of its back. Otherwise, it is perfect in nearly every possible way. It opens up like a blustery day with 235 mph wind speed that cleans leaves off of driveways whether it is yours or across the street. The variable speed trigger allows you to use only as much power as you need for every job. It’s only 7 and a half pounds which makes lugging it around the yard easy as carrying a briefcase. This is a 12 amp tool that can compete with the meanest gas-powered hombres on the block.
It is also worth noting that this is more than just a great blower, it handles all your vacuuming and mulching as well. The interior steel impeller reduces dry and wet leaves down to their most component parts to minimize waste and give you very find, densely packed, nutrient-rich mulch for your lawn or garden. The one problem with the vacuum style is the bag is a little awkward, especially when it gets heavy. A small price to pay, but be prepared to use a few colorful words as you go around your yard. [Purchase: $75]
GreenWorks DigiPro G-MAX
Cordless Powerhouse: Just last year, the hope of being able to get real power out of a cordless blower was a dream. Now, the energy revolution has managed to make a model that can really blast away without needing either fossil fuels or a cord to make it work. The G-MAX has as much push power as you’re going to get out of a cordless. It can generate up to 185 mph of wind speed that can clean up piles be they wet or damp. It uses a 40-volt battery that has both sustained life and impressive output. Even with the battery, the G-MAX only weighs in at 7.8 lbs and since the motor isn’t combustion, it has less vibration than even the most sedate gas-powered beast available.
The G-MAX includes the vacuum and mulching power to consolidated your yards leftovers into sweet, succulent nutrient pulp with a 10:1 mulch ratio. The power ratio depends heavily on which of the variable speeds you are using and whether or not you are mulching. Generally you can count on around 70 minutes for blowing, with mulch time closer to 45 minutes, though the numbers vary widely. The one thing that can be said is the G-MAX charges fast and doesn’t die quickly, though that term is relative to your needs. [Purchase: $220]
Patriot Products CVB-2465B
Leaf Man Walking: Now it’s serious. This isn’t for a the gentleman looking to quietly clear away the wretched detritus from the grounds. This is for someone who is serious about their yard and ready to fight any bastard that comes too close to it. This Patriot is more than a leaf blower. It’s a yard vacuum with the option of being able to blow. It even has a funnel where branches and other large fallen items can be chipped up into mulch. The 6-and-a-half horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine isn’t playing around. This is for people who live in wooded areas that still want to keep their land clean.
The deck of this model is larger than most lawnmowers at 24 inches to help reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning up twigs and debris. You can suck, blow, or even redirect the mulch right back onto the ground to help keep your yard healthy. It is as simple as flipping a switch to change between modes so if you find yourself moving on to clean off the driveway or sidewalk you don’t even need to break stride. At 81 lbs this can be a little cumbersome to move and to store so make sure you require this much bang for your buck. [Purchase: $869]