Handheld vs. backpack blower (my review)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by topsites, Apr 15, 2006.

  1. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,652

    Yes I know this has been beat to death but this is my first year I've had a handheld blower, I ran my first 4 years strictly with backpacks. All equipment used is stihl, but it doesn't matter here.

    I bought the handheld mainly to help get leaves out of the nooks and crannies where the backpack's bulk always made it such a pita.
    In that respect, the handheld is very nice and fits in those tight spaces like a dream (like inside fenced-in outdoor a/c units).

    As for day-to-day grass-cutting:
    Start-up procedure:
    - the backpack always starts on the first pull, I can pull and in the same motion start walking and slinging it over my shoulder as it sputters up to a running rpm. So, it isn't faster to use the handheld.
    - the handheld sometimes starts on the first pull but the smaller the engine, the trickier this is. Still, the only time I tend to pull it more than once is first thing in the morning, the machine is new and only time will tell but so far not much complaints.

    The weight factor is the biggest thing, the handheld is so much lighter and easier to deal with. If I have to cut it off or it shuts off I do not have to unstrap myself to start it again, and it's light weight and smaller size makes it an easier tool to deal with on the truck as well.
    Over time such as that which involves continuous blow, the backpack wins.

    The handheld is surprisingly powerful but I'm still a bit leery to leave the backpack at home due to the occasional PILE of leaves that would just take forever with the handheld. So I find myself carrying both and this is where I question the whole decision, thou I suppose once the spring cleanups are mostly over, the backpack can go under the house until October.

    Fuel usage:
    phhht, hard to say for sure but the handheld appears to be WOT or Idle only where the backpack can be controlled more like a car. I dare say the backpack uses no more fuel than the handheld, if it uses as much. The handheld's tank is smaller, I will say the backpack is the only device where I have forgotten to close the fuel cap after refueling (and more than once), perhaps another good point for the handheld.

    I find the handheld lacks the power to make up for the backpack's in versatility, it makes up for this somewhat in being more maneuverable and less bulky, but overall the backpack can still handle a larger range / types of debris.

    Overall I like the handheld but if I had to do it all over again and was faced with the problem of having to buy one or the other (but not both) I'd still buy the backpack first. I still feel a little bit like you don't need a handheld but it is a very nice tool to have because it does have some real advantages.
  2. traman

    traman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    good points ,but i still use my hand held for bed cleaning after hedge trimming ,i find no faster way to do it ,my rake is almost obsolete ,i just blow everything in the yard and then mulch with mower .i find when raking i would take more mulch out of the beds than using the blower . the hand held has just enough power to do the clean up .
  3. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,718

    no question hand helds have their place. i would not be with out one.
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,668

    WE are having so much trouble with getting these big backpacks started in high temp I want our crews to go to handheld after these spring cleanup. For some reason the handheld start hot. And the Stihl is getting up in blow force. In the applications where you blow 4 minutes then shut is off for 10 minutes and then restart the big units are terrible.
  5. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    . . . but we're having the same problems with the Stihl handheld now, too.
    Wish they made it with the 4-mix
  6. CutInEdge Lawn Care

    CutInEdge Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 677

    I am still questioning whether 4-mix was the right thing for me. My echo's start even on the hottest of days no matter how many times started. The echo's usually start with only pulling about 25% of the rope. On the other hand my 4-mix I have to pull and pull and cuss 8 times before it wants to rumble and spit. I dread when helper has the echo and I reach for the 4-mix. Just my .02 stupids
  7. HK45Mark23

    HK45Mark23 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 200

    I have the 4 mix Shindaiwa products.

    I would say that the first start of the day is a one pull scenario at least 80% of the time.

    After that first start of the day no matter how hot or cold it is my Shindaiwa products start on the first try ever time unless I make a mistake.

    Maybe if I did not prime, choke or turn the ignition switch on I will have a two pull start.

    As long as I am not negligent in my setup, my equipment starts perfectly on the first pull every time.

    I have heard others say that they have had a hard time with their 4 mix products, but usually they are not referring to the Shindaiwa C4 Technology.

    Also I had a discussion here in the past about maintenance.

    If you have properly maintained your equipment by, but no limited to, properly gaped and clean spark plugs, as well as clean filters and clean spark arresters then you should have a one pull start every time.

    For those who choose to never maintain your equipment and then complain about how your equipment runs rough, looses power or is hard to star that is your fault.

    If you expect your professional equipment to only last a year or maybe at most a few years, you are either buying the wrong equipment, not maintaining it properly, have abusive employees or a combination of some or all of the above.

    FIRESCOOBY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 986


    Just bought a Stihl 4 mix Kombi system week before last. Only use the edger currently and my seperate trimmer. I am very impressed with the 4 mix so far!! It is quiter, better on gas, and always starts on first pull whether it is the first start of the day or the last.

    I currently only have a handheld Stihl blower and HOPE to upgrade to a 4 mix Stihl Br550 or 600 soon. Like said before...the handheld is GREAT in some situations. BUT, the extra power of the backpack would be awesome on most jobs.
  9. mike lane lawn care

    mike lane lawn care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,707

    i use the handhelds, mostly because the good backpacks are so expensive. but even with a powerfull handheld, i still do a lot of raking. this fall i will get a push blower, oooo, a diferent kind of blower, there will have to be a review on push vs. handheld, vs. backpack
  10. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,698

    Take it back and have it looked at. First start each day with my BR600 might require 2 pulls but it's one pull all day long after that.

    My start up procedure is very simple.

    1: Push primer bulb a few times until I feel resistance
    2: Turn choke to full
    3: Pull starter rope
    4: Immediately turn the choke off

    On a warm engine restart I just set the choke at the halfway position and pull the starter rope. It starts on the first pull every time.

    I've noticed a lot of people who try my BR600 for the first time get a little freaked out and think it's going to die when it idles down from the choke position. Then they start reaching for the throttle or the choke and get all confused because it does idle so low.

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