Let’s be honest, leaves are annoying. They make a big mess of everything. Choosing the best walk-behind leaf blower will make your life a little easier. Yes, there are much more important things to worry about in life but a powerful leaf blower is certainly worth the peace of mind it gives you.
Intro | Best Walk-Behind Leaf Blower
Walk-behind leaf blowers are, as the name suggests, leaf blowers that you walk behind and push it by hand. They range from entry-level machines to commercial leaf blowers. The true leaf blower does one thing, it generates a mighty stream of air to blow leaves and other debris. Variations on the theme can vacuum debris and collect it in a bag or sweep it to one side.
Entry level walk behind leaf blowers have more power than backpack leaf blowers, but not that much. As you move up the ranks to commercial blowers, the power increases and more features may be added. The primary goal though is to deliver more thrust and to have a more robust machine. The result is a machine on wheels that weigh twice as much as and blows up to five times stronger than a backpack leaf blower.
We selected three entry-level products, two gas powered walk behind leaf blowers, and a gas powered walk behind Vacuum-Blower-Chipper. Entry level walk behind leaf blowers are priced about the same as commercial backpack leaf blowers. The obvious benefit is that you do not have to pick it up and carry it on your back, which may be something you’re unable to do. The way you use it also differs from the backpack leaf blower. We will discuss the differences and point out how walk behind leaf blowers compare to other blowers and backpack leaf blowers.
Commercial Grade Walk-Behind Blower | Billy Goat F902H
Without the luxury of testing the blowers, the only way is to compare them is by their specifications. The only numbers most blower manufacturers supply are CFM and MPH figures. Interpreting the two numbers is not always that easy. Especially when you do not know how it will influence your choice of the best blower. While working on our review of the best backpack leaf blowers, I found that it’s best to compare the blowers’ force in Newton. Unfortunately, the Newton force specification is not available for any of the blowers we review here. However, I believe it is the best means of comparing them to other blowers, including the backpack leaf blowers that we reviewed previously.
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) introduced the new Newton force measurement method for blowers using the ANSI B175.2 standard. It measures the real force generated by the actual air-stream produced by the blower. This differs from the MPH and CFM figures currently used, these two numbers are not measured, but are calculated numbers. In calculating these figures, the manufacturers can choose to use different points in the blower air stream. The blower’s power decreases as it exits the blower and any point in the air stream can be used for these calculations. The problem with comparing the calculated numbers is that it is unknown how the manufacturer calculated them, making comparisons inaccurate.
Despite the standard, most leaf blower manufacturers still use the old CFM and MPH figures. So I converted these figures and calculate the Newton force for each leaf blower. The figures I used for my calculations are not tested to ANSI B175.2 methods, but calculated from the available information. I realize that these figures could be a bit optimistic because calculating the value is not 100% accurate. I think it is still a better way of comparing the various blowers because a single number is more comparable than two unrelated values.
In our buying guide to backpack leaf blowers, the Husqvarna 360BT was the most powerful of the seven we compared. Therefore it is the one I use when comparing them to the walk behind leaf blowers. Husqvarna uses the ANSI method of measuring the force. It delivers 631 CFM air with a wind speed of 232 MPH, and it’s tested blowing force is 30 Newton. I searched the internet for commercial walk behind blowers to find the most powerful units. Then I calculated the blowing force and found that it is 5.57 times (557%) more powerful than the Husqvarna 360BT.
The Husqvarna is a formidable machine, but a blower that is 5.5 times more powerful must be spectacular. That specific commercial blower is not under review. Instead, we will review three entry-level gas powered walk behind wheeled products. First in line are two three-wheeler leaf blowers:
- Southland SWB163150E : Walk-Behind Leaf Blower — 163cc,1200 CFM, 50 MPH
- Troy-Bilt TB672 : Walk-Behind Jet Sweep Blower — 208cc, 1000 CFM, 150 MPH
Followed by a four-wheeled machine that can vacuum or blow leaves, and chip branches, all in one unit:
- Patriot Products CVB-2465B : Walk-Behind Leaf Blower, 24” path,190cc, Briggs & Stratton engine, 3-In-1 Vacuum/Chipper/Blower
The Patriot is not a typical walk behind leaf blower, it has some additional features. It can vacuum the leaves from the grass rather than blow them, or you can use it as a blower and blow the pathways, driveway and flower beds. It can also be used to chip and bag small branches that you encounter on your way.
Southland SWB163150E | Best Walk behind leaf blower
- Manual recoil start
- 1200 CFM air volume : Up to 4 Times More Air Volume than Backpack Blowers
- 150 MPH air speed
- 3-4x more power than backpacks
- Balanced fan for reduced vibration
- Tapered crankshaft
- Adjustable chute wind vane
- 12″ rear wheels
- 2 year limited warranty
- EPA certified
- Tapered Crankshaft and Steel Fan Housing Providing Increased Durability
- 15-Degree Adjustable Chute for More Directed Blowing
- Features a 163-CC Engine
- Offering 6.5-Foot/Pounds of Torque
The Southland walk behind leaf blower is one sure way of getting rid of all the fallen leaves in the garden. The blower weighs 88 pounds, so it is not the easiest machine to push around. It is therefore not the type of blower you want to use in a garden with lots of flower beds and terraces. For the bigger garden with lots of trees, pathways and open space it is perfect.
This blower is delivered pre-assembled and equipped with a 163cc, 6.5-foot pound torque, OHV engine. The 14 inches diameter, four-blade fan is well balanced to reduce vibration levels and increase bearing life. It has welded steel blades that serve to reduce noise levels. The noise level is still high though – 78dBA. When you consider that it is in close vicinity to you, I highly recommend using ear protection when using this walk behind blower.
VIDEO | Southland SWB163150E Walk Behind Leaf Blower
The calculated blowing force of the Southland SWB163150E walk behind leaf blower is 40.2 Newton. It is therefore roughly 30% more powerful than the Husqvarna 360BT backpack leaf blower. Nowhere near the “4-times better than backpack leaf blowers” claims that I saw in the media, but still remarkably better. In comparison, the Troy-Bilt TB672 Jet Sweep walk behind leaf blower delivers 1,000 CFM air at 150 MPH. Its calculated blowing force is 33.5, only 10% more effective than the Husqvarna 360BT backpack leaf blower. The powerful airflow is adjustable by an attachment which directs the air straight out, up or down. It provides additional control over the direction of the air flow. Making it possible to direct the air flow to the bottom of the pile or where it’s most beneficial.
The walk behind blower is easy to maneuver thanks to the two 12 inch rear wheels and a front swivel wheel. Unlike the Troy-Bilt, the front wheel can swivel to allow effortless direction changes without the need to tilt the machine back. There is no user-friendly interface panel. You have to read the manual to determine where the controls are. To start the engine the ON/OFF switch must be turned to “ON”, and then you use a manual recoil starter. You yank the rope to start the engine. When starting a cold engine, the primer bulb must be pushed a few times to prime the carburetor. Turning the switch to “OFF” will stop the engine.
To ensure an optimal fit of the fan center to the engine, they use a perfectly matched tapered crankshaft and steel fan hub. The taper-fit bonds the two components and eliminates play, thereby extending the unit’s useful life.
A front flow attachment is included that redirects the air flow. The prevalent airflow is to one side of the machine, and the attachment redirects it to blow to the front of the blower. To use the attachment, you attach it to the blower outlet. When not in use, the front flow attachment stores under the frame at the rear of the unit.
The SWB163150E engine complies with the emissions regulations set out by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“U.S. EPA”). The SWB163150 (no E) engine is compliant to the EPA and the State of California (CARB certified).
If you have a large property with lots of leaves or a parking lot full of debris, I recommend the cost-efficient Southland walk behind blower.
Troy-Bilt TB672 | Jet Sweep Blower
One of the Best Walk-Behind Leaf Blowers for homeowners — 208cc, 1000 CFM, 150 MPH
- Powered by a strong 208cc OHV engine
- 150 mph air stream
- Semi-pneumatic ball-bearing wheels
- Rubberized grip handle
- 14-inch high output impeller
- 1000 CFM airflow volume capacity allowance
- 3 quart fuel capacity
- 90 degree front discharge chute
- Backed by a 2-year limited warranty
The Troy-Bilt TB672 walk behind leaf blower is similar to the Southland. It weighs 10 pounds less and does not have a swiveling front wheel. The missing swivel accounts for some of the weight loss, but with the biggest engine, some additional savings are obvious. To steer the blower, you press down on the handles to lift the front end and maneuver it on the back wheels. An advantage of a fixed front wheel is that you can steer the blower with less effort against an incline. It does not tend to veer off to one side like the one with a swivel wheel.
The 208 cc is significantly more powerful, when compared to the 163 and 190 cc of the other two. The blower is the same size as the Southland, but the airflow volume is 1,000 CFM at the same 150 MPH. Its blowing force is roughly 17% lower than the Southland walk behind leaf blower.
The manual informs us not to operate the blower without the discharge chute in place. The manual only indicates one type of discharge chute that will direct the airflow to the front of the machine. I could not determine if more than one chute is provided. Like the Southland, it has an up/down directional chute feature which indicates that it can be used to blow sideways. When used like this, the airflow force can be directed to the top or bottom of the pile of leaves.
A comfortable rubberized grip is fitted to the handle to improve your grip and reduce vibrations. The stationary mounted front wheel is 8″ in diameter, and the rear wheels are 12″ in diameter. All wheels are fitted with sealed ball bearings.
This gas-powered walk behind leaf blower will quickly get rid of leaves and other debris in your yard, driveway or patio. The TB672 rolls easily on its semi-pneumatic wheels, and it is not too inconvenient to steer it on the rear wheels.
The fuel tank does not have a fuel gauge. It is a feature that I missed on the Southland as well. To know how much fuel is available, you have to stop the engine, open the tank and peek inside. The 3-quart fuel capacity is in line with the other two blowers, but the fuel consumption is not provided. None of the engine controls are marked, you have to consult the engine operator’s manual to find the controls for starting and stopping the engine.
Troy-Bilt offers a 2-year limited warranty on this product.
3-in-1 blower, vacuum and chipper. Excellent value. The best bang for your money, including one of the best Walk behind Leaf blowers.
- Lawn vacuum, leaf blower, and chipper!
- Superior chipping capabilities with heat treated, high quality steel chipping knives. Will chip thick 2 inch freshly pruned branches.The feed chute opening is 5 inches in diameter and shrinks down to 2 inches at the bottom of the chute, making 2 inches the maximum size for branches being inserted.
- Clear a 24 inch wide path. Vacuums up leaves and lawn debris. The snout of the CBV-2465B can be adjusted from 1” up to 6” of ground clearance. Use on smooth hard surfaces and rough terrain (sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, etc)
- Sturdy Leaf Collection Bag : Special Y-flail blades reduce the debris and blow it into the 4 bushel leaf collection bag. If you prefer, you can direct the mulch back onto the lawn instead. Collection bag features a hooded vent which directs dust down and away from the operator. Easy to empty and can also be emptied while the bag is still attached to the machine. Perfect for spreading chipped material over your garden.
- Powerful Lawn Vacuum and Leaf Blower. When this 6.5 hp gas leaf vacuum blower is in vacuum mode, you can chip branches without changing the setup. Converts on the fly into a powerful leaf blower.
- Powered by a 6.5 hp Briggs & Stratton 675 series engine. Quiet, powerful, and easy to start.
- Satisfaction Guaranteed : Backed by a 2-year warranty for homeowners and 180 days for commercial users. If you are not satisfied, it can be returned for a full refund within 90 days of purchase.
The CVB-2465B leaf vacuum blower has all the functions you may desire for your yard cleaner. It is not the same type of machine as the Troy-Bilt and Southland blowers. It is a lawn vacuum, leaf blower, and chipper all in one device. The blower has four wheels like a strange type of lawnmower, and the debris is collected into a bag when vacuuming.
VIDEO | See it in Action : Patriot Products CVB-2465B
The Patriot is a versatile 3-in-1 machine, ideally suited for property owners who need more than a conventional leaf blower. This versatile machine can be used to vacuum open areas, or it can be used to blow the leaves onto a pile with its powerful blower. When the leaves are gathered, the vacuum can be applied to suck it up. It can also chip smaller branches of up to 2″ diameter and deliver the chips to the litter bag. The material collected in the bag can be used to make compost.
You can clear a 24-inch wide path in one pass with the vacuum intake snout at the front of the machine. The CVB-2465B vacuum snout can be adjusted up and down, providing 1” up to 6” ground clearance. The adjustments allow you to optimize the suction over smooth hard surfaces and rough terrain, or when the leaves are piled up. The Patriot walk behind vacuum is excellent for cleaning debris like acorns and cigarette butts from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. It is also equally capable of vacuuming the lawn to remove grass clippings, leaves, etc.
The Patriot has a tapered chipping cone that’s used to chip and bag branches and sunflower or corn stalks. At the top of the tapered cone, the opening is about 5″ square. The opening at the base of the cone limits the diameter of materials you can chip to 2″. The chipping function is active whenever the engine is running. It requires no changes in the setup. There is no need to prune debris to perfectly straight pieces. While vacuuming, you can stop and pick up fallen branches and feed it into the chipping cone, stem first.
The vacuum impeller weighs just over 14 pounds and measures roughly 12″ in diameter. It is driven directly off the engine, so there are no belts or drive gears. On top of the rotor, are two replaceable chipping knives. The chipping knives are made of high-quality tool steel and are heat treated for wear resistance. The chipping knifes spin past the end of the chipping cone to carve small branches into coin-sized chips that make excellent mulch. To sharpen the knives, you remove them and use a wet stone or high-quality file to sharpen the cutting edge.
A wood chipper with chipping knives is designed to process freshly cut branches. The chipping knives can slice through this fresh material, but the occasional fallen dead branch can also be chipped. However, do not use it to chip away at dry branches that are piled up in the backyard. It is not what it is intended for, the chipping blades will wear rapidly. At the bottom of the rotor, are the two flail blades that are stamped from thin steel sheet and then hardened. The flail blades provide a volume reduction of about 4:1 for leaves as they pass through the rotor. The rotor is fitted with eight steel fan blades that create the high air flow of the suction and blower unit.
The CBV-2465B is powered by a robust 6.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 675 Series engine. The high-performance muffler ensures that a quieter more subdued sound is emitted. A large diameter recoil starter requires less pull power to start the engine. The carburetor is also a specialized unit that ensures one or two pull starts will fire up the engine.
The Patriot CBV-2465B walk behind leaf blower/Vacuum/Chipper will most commonly work as a walk behind vacuum machine. It will accumulate the processed yard waste in a sizeable 4-bushel collection bag hanging from the handles. A dust flap on the bag directs the discharge air away from the operator. The back of the bag unzips so you can empty it whilst attached to the machine. It is also possible to disconnect the bag using the quick release clamp located on the blower’s deck. Then you remove the bag and empty it onto a compost pile, wheelbarrow, or dumpster.
The unit converts to a powerful walk behind blower that discharges air at approximately 140 mph with a simple flip of a lever. I could not determine the thru-put in CFM, so I have no way of comparing it to the other blowers. However, you will be able to clear off a patio, driveway, or the lawn. What is less obvious is that it can be used to alter the way we usually clear an area with a blower. It will save a lot of time and effort in piling and picking up the leaves.
Instead of starting from the outside and working the leaves to a pile in the center, you do the opposite. You start with the Patriot from the center of the area and use it in the blowing mode. When you make one pass across the work area, you will have shredded, and discharged a 2-foot wide path with the vacuum component. However, in the “blowing” mode you will have also cleared an area to the left of the machine of about 3 feet wide.
Therefore, in one pass, you would have cleared a 5-foot wide area, with all leaves collected to the left. To continue, you turn around and do the same thing. In two passes, you’ve cleared a 10-foot wide path. When you have collected enough leaves, you use the Patriot in the normal vacuum mode and suck the leaves into the bag. Then you dump the bag onto the compost heap. It’s a real time saver.
A 2-year warranty for homeowners backs the Patriot chipper, and 180 days for commercial users. Patriot has an excellent reputation for making well-made products that get the job done.
This combination offers excellent versatility and may be the best solution for those who have pine trees that dump lots of needles and small seeds like the Eastern Hemlock.
Buying Advice | Walk Behind Leaf Blower
How do you decide if you should buy a backpack leaf blower or a walk behind leaf blower? You should consider the size of the area that you are clearing. A vast lawn, driveway, or open parking lot needs a machine that will blow the most debris over the longest distance. Backpack leaf blowers are smaller than walk-behind leaf blowers and weigh a lot less. For relatively small clean-up jobs (an area of about one acre), a backpack leaf blower is best. Any area that’s larger, or with more leaves to move around, a walk behind blower is the best.
They are powerful enough to clear up a lot of debris and leaves and, being on wheels, the weight is not such an essential factor. These blowers have more powerful engines, and some of them can suck up leaves and debris to quickly clear a wide area.
One thing about the walk behind machines is the proximity of the air intake to the storm of leaves and debris blown up by the blower. A lot more dirt collects on the filters than on your mower’s air filter. It needs regular attention, it’s important to clean it as often as the supplier recommends.
Walk behind leaf blowers should be used according to safe operating practices. These machines can easily amputate fingers, even hands, and toes. It can throw debris with considerable force that can seriously harm an onlooker. Great care must be taken when using the blower, and you should be aware to the direction you aim the air stream. Keep pets away from the area that you are cleaning.
I do not recommend that children under 15 years of age operate the walk behind blowers. The person using the blower must be observant, careful, and physically capable of controlling the machine.
Leaf blowers work best with dry leaves. Therefore it is best to use the blower during dry, warmer times of day. The noise it generates may be offensive to your neighbors, so it’s best to observe quiet time restrictions.
Always wear safety glasses or safety goggles when you use one of these blowers. You must protect your eyes from debris or foreign objects that may be thrown from the machine.