I’ve seen somewhere around 35 autumns so far, and let me tell you: raking leaves by hand doesn’t build that much character. So screw all that noise and make some louder noise with one of these leaf blowers.
I love autumn sounds: the gusty winds, the crush of dead leaves, the constant, mechanical howl of leaf blowers. I like to think of them as robot wolves. I also used to pretend the highway I lived next to was a machine river. I’m a weird dude.
The point is: fall looks pretty amazing, as the summer greenery turns from yellow to orange to shocks of red. Then all of those colors hit the ground and become brown, noisome trash. It’s nature’s garbage salad—sent to whet our appetites for the oncoming dirty-snow entree.
Anyway, you could spend a lot of your time with rake in hand, like one of our dumb ancestors, or you could be a wild future human with a Ghost Busters backpack who banishes leaf ghosts to your neighbor’s yard by harnessing the power of mechanical wind. That choice is yours.
My aim is to make that choice at least a bit easier by suggesting four leaf blowers, each of which does the job differently, for different people, for different amounts of money.
What to Look for in a Leaf Blower
As with loads of other motorized gear, you’re going to be looking either at electric or gas-powered blowers, and each has its pros and cons. Gas-powered blowers give you more power paired with portability, but you, like, also have to buy gas and generally perform more regular maintenance on the motor. Also, the blower’s going to smell like gas, which isn’t a big deal if you’re keeping it in the garage, but if it’s something you’re keeping inside a truck, or tucked away in the house somewhere, that’s going to make some smells, or possibly leak onto upholstery. Gas blowers also require you to fight a pull cord to get it started, meaning you might get pissed off before you even begin your leaf blowing in earnest.
Electric blowers, on the other hand, are lower maintenance, easier to start, and don’t smell like gas. The downside is, if you want them to have comparable power, then they generally need to be plugged into a power source. Portable electric blowers are going to be more limited in terms of power output, and you’ll get diminishing returns as the battery loses its charge.
As for output, two main factors determine how much it can blow: airspeed and volume (in cubic feet per minute, or CPM). Some blowers blow a huge volume of air, but at a relatively lower airspeed, and that’s still pretty good. Others blow at high speeds, but with a lesser volume, and that can be the result of a smaller tube diameter. Think of it like a garden hose: put your finger in it, and less water will come out at a faster speed. Take your finger out, and a higher volume of water comes out, albeit at a lower speed. If you’re covering a vast area, you might want a blower with decent airspeed, but a ton of volume output. If you’re blasting out the corners of your garage, that volume might be less critical than airspeed.
Best Overall: Hitachi RB24EAP
I hope you like model names that look like automatically generated passwords because four out of four leaf blowers have alphanumeric model designations. Instead of calling this blower the “Hitachi Frond-Bomber” or whatever, it’s the Hitachi RB24EAP. Hey, that’s fine. I don’t care.
The point is, the Hitachi R-whatever totally blows (that’s a good thing for this list), but without being hard to use or a significant cash investment. It’ll spit out air at up to 170 mph at 441 CFM, weighs only 8.6 lbs, and is notably easy to start. For a gas-powered blower, this is important, especially if you’re old enough to hurt yourself getting mad at a pull-cord and yanking it angrily, over and over, and your shoulder doesn’t work so well anymore. In my experience, that age comes immediately after your peak, right around the early 30s.
In short, this is an easy-to-start, easy-to-use, handheld gas blower that still delivers on power and volume without being super expensive. Notably, 83 percent of the over 3,000 Amazon customers who’ve reviewed the Hitachi R-etc. gave it four or five stars, and I won’t argue with those numbers.
Hitachi RB24EAP Gas Powered Leaf Blower, Handheld, Lightweight, 23.9cc 2 Cycle Engine, Class Leading 441 CFM, 170 MPH, Commercial Grade, 7 Year Warranty
Gas-powered, easy to use, and powerful, the Hitachi RB24EAP is one of the most popular blowers out there, and will probably suit most jobs for most people, most of the time.
Best Premium: Husqvarna 965877502 350BT
Man, if you thought IKEA was the most Swedish company with the least comprehensible product names, then you thought wrong. The Husqvarna 965877502 350BT‘s name makes about as much sense to me as a European phone number. That’s OK—I doubt I’d be able to say whatever name they would’ve given it in Svenska.
Take a look at the above photo: this here Husqvarna is a gas-powered backpack model—objectively, the most self-empowering sort of leaf blower there is. You will feel Njord’s (Norse god who rules over wind) power in your hands (and on your back), as you absolutely shred your dead leaves with 180 mph winds and an air volume of 494.41 CFM. That’s enough wind to blow the will to reanimate right out of a draugr’s husk. Yes, I played a lot of Skyrim in 2011.
This is, of course, a more commercial/professional model, compared to the others on this list. That means it may not be super necessary or accessible for more casual users. For instance, the integrated pack is nice, but it also tells you something else: that this thing weighs 22.5 lbs because it’s bigger than the handhelds. It also costs the most. So, it’s not for everybody, but if you’ve got real big leaf problems, this might be your real big solution.
A nice bonus: this blower uses an X-torque engine, which can reduce exhaust emissions by up to 60 percent, and increase fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent. Perhaps even nicer: it has vibration dampeners, so you don’t feel like you just stuck your finger in an electrical socket after a serious leaf-blowin’ session.
Husqvarna 965877502 350BT 2-Cycle Gas Backpack Blower, Orange
The Husqvarna 965877502 350BT is an efficient, gas-powered, backpack blower that'll move your messes around with ease, without giving you a bad case of shaky-arm.
Best Budget: Sun Joe SBJ597E
Are you skeptical about a leaf blower that might cost you less than $20? Hey, I hear you. I also can’t ignore the fact that the Sun Joe SBJ597E has been pretty well received by Amazon users—about 95 percent of its over 1,000 reviewers have decided it’s a four-to-five-star blower.
I’m sure there are higher-quality “budget” blowers on the market. But, man, if you’ve got the sort of trivial leaf or dust problem that you need to fix—like a dirty garage or a patio behind your condo, and your leaf-problem budget is low as hell—the Sun Joe actually delivers a decent amount of power for the smaller jobs. You’ll need an extension cord (it’s a plug-in electric model), but that’s not a big deal since you won’t be using this guy for clearing acres of property on your estate. Spot-keeping a modest urban property, though, seems like this blower’s sweet zone.
It’s also more powerful than you’d think and is capable of blowing air at 155 mph. It won’t push the same volume of air as the others on this list (though, 260 CFM is better than you’d think), but that’s to be expected.
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Blower, Brushless, 5-Ah Battery (DCBL720P1)
If the previous backpack model is like an industrial wet/dry vac, think of the Sun Joe SBJ597E as like the dustbuster of this list: it'll clean up smaller spaces just fine. With corded electric power and an unnervingly low price point, this is the leaf blower for people who don't want to have a leaf blower but need one some of the time.
Best Electric: DeWalt DCBL720P1
Let’s say you don’t want your leaf blower gas-powered or electric with a cord. Why? Perhaps for religious purposes, or maybe you’re one of those DeWalt guys who has all the tools and battery pack and chargers, and you want to keep it up with that.
The DeWalt DCBL720P1 is a brushless blower that makes use of that lithium-ion battery pack system to blow up to 400 CFM at up to 90 mph. That’s less speed than the other blowers on this list, which I suppose comes with the “battery-powered” territory, but a respectable air volume.
The bright side (as with all electric blowers) is way less maintenance, you don’t need gas, and no yanking on a pull cord. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who’s already bought into the DeWalt gear, as you’ll probably have 20V MAX 8Ah batteries and chargers kicking around. It seems like a good, easy way to blow away some of the mess you just made with your other DeWalt power tools, all using the same modular power source.
Plus, DeWalt is a pretty well-trusted name for industrious gadgetry. That name, by the way, means “of Walt” in French.
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Blower, Brushless, 5-Ah Battery (DCBL720P1)
There are loads of electric leaf blowers, but the DeWalt DCBL720P1 stands apart as a high-quality cordless model that'll use the same modular batteries you might already have if you've got other DeWalt products. Airspeed is relatively low, but still about 20 mph faster than a tropical storm wind. Air volume is also pretty good, at 400 CFM.