We bought three of the best-selling, ultra-light, and extremely cheap stick vacuums and put them through a series of tests to see which one was the best. Included in the test are the Bissell Featherweight, the Eureka Blaze, and the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik vacuums.
Though prices change all the time, these particular stick vacuums generally range from about $20 to $30. They call these stick vacuums 3-in-1s because, besides being a standard stick vacuum, they can convert to a dust buster type hand vacuum and what they call a stair vacuum which is basically just the handheld unit plus the floor head.
None of the three have any kind of spinning brush roll on the floor head so they’re all best suited for hard floors and picking up debris on the surface of carpet and rugs. On hard floors with fine debris, we found that they all did better than average, even picking up the much heavier sand with no trouble, which is not something every vacuum can do. We’ll discuss this more when we get to the airflow and suction tests.
When we move to larger debris on hard floors, we notice that the Bissell Featherweight and the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik really could not pick up larger debris without picking up the vacuum. The Eureka Blaze did much better with larger debris, though I still had to pick it up to get some of the larger pieces. The reason the Eureka does better than the other two with larger debris is because it has a much larger gate on the front of the floor head. In fact, Eureka calls the floor head a capture nozzle and say in their promotional material that it’s designed to be able to pick up larger debris.
We tested them on low pile carpet and found that, even though they don’t have a brush roll to agitate the carpet, they do a fairly good job of picking up the pet hair and other debris from the surface of the carpet. Here again, the Eureka did better than the other two by picking up all the debris without having to lift up the vacuum to get to it.
In handheld mode, they had much less trouble with larger debris, with the Dirt Devil and the Eureka performing equally well. The Bissell Featherweight, however, kept getting clogged with our big mess test and it took three tries to pick up all the debris.
Moving on to ease-of-use: all three of these are light and I mean super light, and though they range from 2.6 to 4.4 pounds, with the Bissell being the lightest and the Dirt Devil the heaviest, none of them seem the slightest bit on the arm when vacuuming. There was a clear winner with the handling and accuracy, though, because the Eureka was the only one with swivel steering while the others had fixed position floor heads. This meant that with the Bissell and the Dirt Devil, you have to either shift your arm angle or body to change directions or just slide it sideways. So the swivel steering on the Eureka really did seem like an important feature to have.
The cord lengths ranged from 15 to 18 feet with the Eureka Blaze having the longest cord. But it should be noted that generally speaking, this is about half the length of a traditional upright vacuum cord, so if you’re planning on vacuuming a really large area with these, you may find that you have to unplug it several times.
Moving on to suction and airflow. Airflow is probably the most important performance metric with vacuums of this type and all three had quite a bit. We measured the airflow from the floor head sealed to a box with an anemometer attached. Here are the numbers. The Eureka scored just a little higher than the rest. For context, the brand new $700-ish Dyson V10 has less airflow on both low and medium power, only surpassing these stick vacuums in its high power setting.
This amount of airflow usually translates into a great performance on the crevice pickup test, which is the Achilles heel of many vacuums. Indeed we saw that both the Dirt Devil and the Bissell picked up the crevice debris in one pass, which is a rare feat, and even though the Eureka has the highest airflow, it struggled a bit here because of the so-called capture nozzle. Basically the larger gate on the front of the floor head, allows more air to escape making it less effective in this kind of test.
Despite the last test, we would have to say that the Eureka Blaze stick vacuum is the clear winner. It has the best pickup ability, the best ease-of-use scores, and the highest airflow. The only reason not to choose the Eureka over the others is that it’s about $10 more on average than the Dirt Devil, which is our second-place winner.