If you’re one of our regulars and you’ve somehow missed the fact that we’ve gone crazy for backpack blowers in the last couple months, let us get you up to speed with our Best Backpack Blower Shootout. In it, we’ve taken a look at some of the top brands in the OPE world to compare and contrast some of their strengths and weaknesses. Eventually, we intended to sort out which blower was the best overall performer in terms of power, efficiency, features, and value. This review covers the Stihl BR700 backpack blower, which actually did quite well in our testing.
As it turns out, testing backpack blowers is way easier said than done. Out of the seven models we tested, six finished so closely together that they were almost interchangeable. However, we did come up with a clear-cut winner through our super scientific, objective series of tests. The Stihl BR700 Backpack Blower wasn’t it. But, it did come in at a very close second. This blower from Stihl does a lot of things really, really well, and we’re looking forward to singing Stihl’s praises with this product release.
What The Stihl BR700 Does Right
Comfort And Accessibility Features
There are enough things going right for this blower that it’s almost tough to know where to start. The BR700 finished first in our ergonomics testing. For one thing, the Stihl blower was easily the lightest one we tested at 23.4 lbs. On a longer job, the lighter weight could prove to be one of the absolute best features of the BR700, although this lighter weight requires a tradeoff, which we’ll get into later.
We also really appreciated the anti-vibration system that comes with the Stihl BR700. It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that strapping an engine to your back can cause at least some mild discomfort through vibration. It’s probably more surprising when you can’t really feel the vibration from your backpack blower. Well, color us surprised, because the anti-vibration system was pretty effective.
We also found the Stihl to be the easiest starting blower of all the ones we looked at. Plus, Stihl almost makes cranking up their blower idiot-proof. They’ve included a throttle lockout for the choke. If the throttle is not in the lowest position, then you can’t fully apply the choke. This helps to ensure that you have the correct starting procedure.
The Stihl BR700 also includes a few other interesting features that make the whole lawn blowing experience a bit more hassle-free. The nozzle includes a locking ring, whereby the user can turn the ring to the right to unlock the extension, slide out the extension, and lock it back in place. As well, the pistol grip can be adjusted without needing to use tools to do it.
Power and Performance
So, if you’ve been keeping up with our blower articles, you probably know our routine as it stands with how we look at force, airspeed, and volume measurements. If you have the time and interest, check out our articles on Blower MPH and CFM Ratings and CFM and Airspeed Discrepancies. In the meantime, suffice it to say that all three figures factor into a blower’s power.
A Newton is the amount of force required to accelerate 1 kg of mass at the rate of 1 m/sec2. In our testing, the Stihl BR700 could generate 36.7 Newtons worth of force, which locked it into a third-place spot behind the blowers from Husqvarna and Redmax.
Of course, that isn’t the whole story, and there’s still MPH and CFM to consider. Think of these two measurements as being similar to what horsepower and torque are for tools that aren’t blowers. While the Stihl backpack blower produced an underwhelming 173 MPH airspeed, it also finished in the top 3 for volume production with 903 Cubic Feet per Meter.
All of this makes the results of our real-world testing a bit unexpected. We measured the swath that each blower cut out of a uniform patch of wet playground sand on porous asphalt. Given the way the Stihl BR700 performed in the other tests – which was not bad, but also not topping every chart either – we were a little surprised that it placed first in this test. With a swath measuring 888 square inches, the Stihl finished considerably higher than all the other blowers in this real-world application.
Runtime, Sort Of
There is no doubt that, in a straightforward test of fuel efficiency, the Stihl BR700 backpack blower wins. In our 6 oz test, the Stihl ran for 6 minutes and 50 seconds. The Makita EB7650TH picked up an honorable mention here, with a runtime of 6:43. At this point, you might be wondering why Makita’s results are relevant in an article about Stihl. Here’s why: Makita’s results stayed consistent in the full-tank runtime test, whereas, Stihl dropped all the way to the bottom. At Full Throttle, the Stihl BR700 only ran for 53:52, while the Makita ran for almost 20 minutes longer. This actually provides a pretty nice segue into…
…Where The Stihl BR700 Could Improve
Stihl has engineered a very fuel efficient blower. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to the BR700 revolves around its tiny tank. The tank has a 47.3 fl. oz. capacity. This, undoubtedly, contributes to the BR700’s light weight, but the tradeoff for that lighter weight comes at the expense of runtime. Every other blower in the shootout had a tank capacity of at least 20 fl. oz. more than the Stihl. And, while Stihl ran the longest ounce for ounce, the smaller tank really limited its overall runtime.
We also missed an active cooling feature from the Stihl BR700 backpack blower. Every model except for the Shindaiwa and the Stihl had this feature, which helps keep the user cool by pulling air to the intake across the user’s back. Curiously, Stihl left this feature off of this blower.
On a very minor and subjective note, we felt like a few tweaks could be made to increase the overall user experience. For one thing, we found the back pad to be less comfortable than we’d hoped. And, while the padded straps are nice and thick, the strap adjustments are located in a kind of weird, hard-to-access spot on the strap.
Stihl has a loyal and rabid fanbase, and for good reason. It seems like they really take their time and put forth a lot of effort in the engineering department, and their hard work shows in the quality of their products. If you could sum up Stihl products in a few words, “efficient performance” comes to mind. Of course, it’s no surprise that the Stihl BR700 fits into this paradigm as well. In our shootout, the Stihl blower finished 1st in the weight category, 1st in ergonomics, 1st in the swath test, and 1st for 6 fl. oz. fuel efficiency. It also started up the easiest and had the most user-friendly controls. There is no doubt that this is a great blower.
However, for us, the Stihl BR700 backpack blower lost a few points just based on the size of the tank. It’s a shame that this blower excels at fuel efficiency, yet a user will still only get just over 50 minutes of runtime on a full tank. Sure, you’ll save a little bit of money on fuel costs, but will those savings offset the time and annoyance of refilling the tank a few times over the shift? You might decide that it’s not that big of a deal, at which point, you’ll almost definitely be pleased with every other aspect of this blower. But, we would have liked to see a bigger tank on this blower.
Stihl BR700 Blower Features
- A simplified starting procedure and semi-automatic choke offer smooth, easy starts with a reduced chance of flooding.
- A one-touch stop switch allows the user to turn off the engine with the simple press of a button. When the engine is off, the one-touch stop switch automatically returns the blower to the start position, saving users time and reducing the chance of flooding the engine when restarting.
- The control handle adjusts without the need for tools to the operator’s most comfortable position.
- Two blower tube lengths allow the user to quickly adjust the length for a variety of user heights and cleanup applications.
- Standard comfort elements include an adjustable support harness, rubberized handle grips, anti-vibration system, extra-wide straps and backpack pad.
Stihl BR700 Backpack Blower Specs
- Model: BR 700
- Displacement: 64.8 cc
- Weight: 23.4 lbs
- Fuel Capacity: 47.3 oz
- dB(A) @ ear: 103
- Max Air Volume: 903 CFM
- Max Air Speed: 173 MPH
- Force: 36.7 Newtons
- Tank Runtime: 1 hr 08 min
- MSRP: $549.99
For more information about this product, or the rest of the Stihl lineup, visit them online at www.stihlusa.com .