Top critical review
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Review for household buyers (note comments about cut-pile carpets)
on July 21, 2014
IN THE BOX
The backpack vacuum with its attached straps, and installed dome filter with foam media, plus two HEPA filters, 50-foot cord
Flexible black hose
Two-part aluminum wand
Hard floor attachment with nylon bristles
Carpeted floor attachment with plastic scallops
Micro (cloth) filter bag installed and one extra
Intercept Micro (paper) filter bag installed, plus 11 extras (10 in a bag, one separate)
Quick start guide
There are simple and clear instructions on how to assemble the unit. You first pop off the top of the backpack to ensure that the dome filter, cloth filter bag and paper filter bags are in proper place. Next, you flip down two small external doors on the unit to be sure the HEPA filters are in place.
Next, having popped the top of the backpack back on, you insert one end of the flexible black hose. Then you put together the 2-piece aluminum wand, which has a simple button lock. Slide the indicated end of the aluminum into the other end of the flexible black hose. Attachments to on the other end of the aluminum wand by your loosening a plastic ring, sliding on the attachment and tightening the ring.
I was unsure whether there might be a problem when I put on my first attachment. Though I had the ring tightened all the way, the attachment could rotate. I quickly realized this is intentional. If you take a look at the picture, you'll see that the aluminum wand curves. The rotational ability on the attachment allows you to rotate the wand and lower it, so that you can get way under things like chairs, couches and beds and have the floor attachment still in full contact with the floor.
It's easy to slide into the backpack straps and adjust the sternum and waist belts. There are mesh-covered pads at your shoulders and back, which make the contact more comfortable. They, along with the metal braces, keep the canister from coming into contact with your body, which ensures that you don't feel any heat from the unit against your body.
The unit must be plugged into a 3-point plug. The 50-foot cord is heavy duty and plenty long. I was able to vacuum all but a tiny bit of my large, two-story house without changing where I had plugged it in.
I have a mix of tile, hardwood, carpet and rug; a real test of the versatility of this unit. I started by vacuuming the hard surfaces with the hard floor attachment with nylon bristles. The suction was strong and everything picked up nicely. I also appreciated that I was able to get all the way under my chairs, couches and beds. The rotational ability of the attachment and the wand meant I could get right into corners easily.
Next, I switched to the carpeted floor attachment. This is a 14" wide plastic attachment with scallops that rub against pile to help bring embedded dirt to the surface. Here's where things got interesting. This is not a powered head and there is no beater bar. That means that it is you providing however much pressure you want to the carpeted surface.
What I found is that on cut-pile carpet, I could not push the wand; I had to pull it toward me. Though my cut-pile carpets are low pile, I would say the job this did on them was just OK. When I was done, I could still see a few dog hairs when I looked up close.
When I moved on to looped-pile carpets and waterhog carpets, though, I was able to both push and pull the wand (because those carpets provide less resistance) and pickup was very good.
For the residential user, there are definite pros and cons with this choice. Here's where I come out:
Gets under low furniture
Long cord allows you to do a very large area without having to unplug and move the cord
Backpack design makes it easy to do stairs
Lack of a powered head and beater bar mean it doesn't do a great job on cut-pile carpet
Uses paper filters, which may get to be expensive, especially for pet owners
If you have cut pile carpets and/or you have pets, but you do want to be able to get under furniture, do some comparison shopping between this and a canister vacuum with a powered beater bar attachment.