For those gardeners who can’t exist without a power tool to do the menial tasks, I’m guessing that a vacuum blower takes pride of place in the tool shed? And “Yes”, I’m just as guilty. Yet compared to the alternatives – sweeping with a broom or wasting water washing your paths and driveway – it’s a no-brainer to have one on hand.
Apart from the noise, and they are noisy, blowers have one major fault – they’re heavy. Especially blower vacs which collect the rubbish at the same time. After a few minutes trying to graciously balance one of these machines at the end of your arm while fighting the G-Forces that it produces certainly takes a toll on the old muscle structure. Which makes sense for manufacturers to develop the backpack blower.
Backpack blowers aren’t anything radically new except that they shift the bulk of the weight from your arms and lets it rest upon your back – much like a hiking backpack. Instead of ending up with one lopsided ‘Pop-eye’ forearm the weight is better distributed over your whole body allowing you to achieve even more of those garden cleaning chores.
Another advantage of the backpack blower over the standard model is that it enables vertically-challenged gardeners use of this tool as well. Often I’ve tried to encourage my children to use the blower – the next step in laziness from having every tool automated – only to discover that due to their limited height they can’t get the blower at the correct height to actually blow.
If you’re planning to buy a backpack blower then you need to know that not all blowers are created equal. A home backpack blower usually retails for between $150 – $250 and offers an engine with a capacity between 25-35cc’s. You can buy reconditioned models for under $100 but they are usually at the budget end of the range with very few options.
For the home gardener who feels that 35cc’s just isn’t going to cut it you can opt for a commercial grade blower which range from 40-75cc engines and costing anywhere between $300 – 1300. Obviously the more grunt you get the more gas it chews through and in most cases the higher the decibels it produces – but it should get the job done a lot quicker.
My one objection to the backpack blower is that it doesn’t seem that manufacturers have created, nor will they, a blower/vac backpack. While blowing rubbish around the yard is useful it would be far more practical if they could collect this at the same time. The refuse could be added to the compost heap if mainly organic matter or discarded into the waste bin if not. Otherwise it seems that the rubbish is merely being pushed around rather than managed.
Yet, regardless of this one drawback when the backpack blower is compared to its predecessor it really stacks up. Power, weight distribution, price – it all amounts to one very useful tool to hang in the garden shed.