Handheld vs. Backpack Blowers

When I started mowing lawns in 1987 the was no such thing as a leaf blower (or at least I never saw one). I operated for my first 10 years or so without one. I was able to blow grass of drives and paths by turning my line trimmer on its side and holding it above the concrete. This actually works well but the area you can blow is limited to the edges of a driveway and you can’t do any serious work with it just a quick tidy up when the job is done. On the very rear occasion where I have a blower break down in the middle of a day, I will still use the line trimmer.

Those days are long gone and if I saw a lawn care contractor out without a blower these days I would assume that they would have a lot of unhappy customers. A good blower is a must.

When choosing a blower the choice is pretty simple. There are only two types of machines that are generally used in the lawn mowing industry handheld and backpack.

A Handheld vs a Backpack Blower 



  • Easy to use on small jobs.
  • Light.
  • Can get into tight areas.
  • Good for cleaning up after hedge work etc.
  • Easy to store.


  • Lack of power for big jobs.
  • Becomes heavy and hard to carry when used for more than 10 minutes.
  • Hard to use on large driveways. The area the blower covers is too small.
  • Hard to use effectively in an enclosed doorway.



  • Easy to use on large jobs.
  • More power for moving large piles of leaves.
  • Less time spent on larger jobs.


  • If the machine stalls you need to take it off to restart it.
  • Heaver.
  • Harder to store.

I will run through a few more thing below but as long as your not doing large jobs either one will do.

They will both under perform on wet days.


Handheld blowers are great. I have never really had any problems with my machines. They are always easy to start and hardly ever break down. I have a blower that I bought in 2011 and I still use it. The benefits of a handheld are that they are easy and quick to use and they can get to areas that you just can’t access with a backpack. They are light and easy to use and if you are going to be using the machine for 10 minutes or less they are great.  I have four Shindaiwa EB252s and as far a maintenance goes I hardly ever touch them. They start first pull on a Monday morning and I gas them up every few days.

Shindaiwa Blower EB252


A lot of lawn mowing contractors carry both handhelds and backpacks. The area that backpacks really do well is when you have large jobs to do. If you use a handheld for any great period of time you are going to start feeling like your arm is going to drop off. Backpacks are easy to carry and they are far better if you have a lot of leaves to clean up. Because my business specializes in small domestic yards we use mostly handhelds but if you were just going to buy one unit and you wanted a backpack then I would suggest something like a Shindaiwa EB600RT.

Shindaiwa Blower EB600RT

Leaf & Litter Vacuum

There are blowers around that also double as vacuums as shredders. The is a vacuum switch and you can attach a bag and go. This is great for areas like inside doorways etc but the bags can be a bit unwieldy. However, you do have another option. If you decide that you would rather vacuum up leaves in fall and are prepared to buy a specialized piece of equipment you do have another option. There are vacuums that are a lot like mowers and you can literally start them up and mow a drive full of leaves or a car park. I would only ever think about getting something like this if you have enough work to justify the purchase. There is a company called Billy Goat that make a leaf vacuum.

Billy Goat Leaf & Litter Vacuum

Four Stroke Blowers.

Due to emissions concerns, the major brands are starting to make four-stroke machines. However, it is still early days and I have not tried any of these machines yet so I will not be covering them here. I will come back and write a bit more on this topic when I start seeing a few more of these machines around

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