Backpack vs. Shoulder vs. Stick Vacuum Cleaners

If you have been on the fence about whether to buy a backpack vacuum, shoulder vacuum, or stick vacuum, then this is the guide for you. Each one of these vacuum cleaners is very useful for certain vacuuming purposes, and you are going to learn what these purposes are, and which vacuum cleaner is right for the vacuuming that you need to do.

Backpack Shoulder Stick

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What Does A Backpack Vacuum Offer?

In essence, a backpack vacuum is a canister vacuum that has been modified in such a way that it is able to sit comfortably on your back. While the vacuum is resting on your back, you are then able to walk throughout a particular space, holding the vacuum hose in one hand, vacuuming up whatever happens to be in your path.

Backpack Vacuum

Most backpack vacuums are designed for commercial usage, rather than residential usage. That isn’t to say that you can’t use a backpack vacuum for your home, but backpack vacuums are more commonly used for vacuuming in office buildings and work sites.

What this means is that backpack vacuums are made of strong, durable materials that allow the vacuum cleaner to last for many years. To go along with that, backpack vacuums also consist of powerful motors that provide a significant amount of suction power, often far more than most commercial vacuums.

With those features and design traits, backpack vacuums give the user a tremendous amount of vacuuming power, making it easy to vacuum on just about any surface and in just about any space. Plus, due to the mobility and flexibility that they offer, backpack vacuums are easy to use and make vacuuming a larger space a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

Backpack Vacuum

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Backpack vs. Shoulder vs. Stick Vacuum Cleaners

What Does A Shoulder Vacuum Offer?

When you take a look at different shoulder vacuums, you’ll notice that they often look just like backpack vacuums. This is because the overall design is nearly identical to that of backpack vacuums, but shoulder vacuums tend to weigh a little less than backpack vacuums, and this allows for greater mobility and flexibility.

While shoulder vacuums do, on average, weigh less than backpack vacuums, they offer the same overall suction power and efficiency. Using a good shoulder vacuum, you are more than capable of vacuuming on a plethora of different surfaces, such as carpets, rugs, hardwood floors, tables, curtains, and ceilings. This is due to the suction power the motor is capable of generating, the mobility that a shoulder vacuum gives you, as well as the different tools and attachments that shoulder vacuums often come with.

Shoulder Vacuum

What sets shoulder vacuums apart from backpack vacuums, though, is the aforementioned lightweight nature of a shoulder vacuum. Most shoulder vacuums weigh a little less than backpack vacuums, and this makes them easier to use for people who are dealing with back problems or who want a more mobile and flexible vacuuming experience. But, other than that, there isn’t much of a difference between the two.

What Does A Stick Vacuum Offer?

A stick vacuum is a very thin and very lightweight vacuum cleaner that is designed to be used just like an upright vacuum. But, unlike the bulk and heft of an upright vacuum, stick vacuums are incredibly thin and lightweight, which makes it easy for you to move them around and to vacuum whatever is in your path.

Stick Vacuum

Most stick vacuums have multiple vacuuming modes. The main vacuuming mode is when you use the stick vacuum with a floor head, which allows you to use the vacuum in the same way that you would an upright vacuum. But, you can also turn most stick vacuums into handheld vacuums, and this allows you to vacuum in tight crevices, on upholstery surfaces, and on very small portions of a surface.

To provide even more versatility, most stick vacuums also come with different vacuuming tools. Many of these vacuuming tools are simple brushes and nozzles, all of which are designed to create more opportunities for what the stick vacuum is able to vacuum.

Unlike the two previous vacuum cleaner types, stick vacuums are often not that powerful. They aren’t ideal for vacuuming on most rugs and carpets, due to their lack of suction power, but they do work well on hard surfaces and soft surfaces that aren’t too dense.

Stick Vacuum


In the end, backpack vacuums are powerful vacuums that you wear on your back, allowing for mobility and flexibility. Shoulder vacuums are quite similar, but they weigh less. Stick vacuums are thin and lightweight vacuums that offer the peak of mobility, but far less power than other vacuum cleaners.

Overall Recommended Backpack Vacuums
Best of the Best!Commercial OptionBudget Pick
Hoover Commercial Lightweight Backpack Vacuum, C2401ProTeam Commercial Backpack Vacuum, Super CoachVac Vacuum Backpack with HEPA Media FiltrationAtrix - VACBP1 HEPA Backpack Vacuum Corded 8 Quart HEPA Bag 4 Level Filtration Attachments
Hoover C2401ProTeam 107109Atrix VACBP1
 • 9.2 lbs
 • 48 ft Power Cord
 • HEPA Filter
 • 66 Decibel
 • 13.2 x 13.2 x 30 in
 • 11 lbs
 • 50 ft Power Cord
 • HEPA Filter
 • 66 Decibel(dBA)
 • 33 x 14 x 14 in
 • 12 lbs
 • 2 ft Power Cord
 • HEPA Filter
 • 72 Decibel
 • 19.5 x 12.5 x 10 in

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