Echo PB-265ESL

The PB-265ESL is designed for domestic and private landscape use. But it would also be handy for commercial contractors needing, say, to blow grass clippings into a verge after mowing.

This is the smallest, lightest and most compact backpack blower we've come across. It's positively dinky - some might even call it "cute" - and we reckon if you try it, like us you will think "must get one of these". It may be small, but it's got power.

The PB-265ESL is designed for domestic and private landscape use. But it would also be handy for commercial contractors needing, say, to blow grass clippings into a verge after mowing.

Put this blower on your back and you can forget about vibrations. It is powered by a 25.4cc two-stroke engine and it is a smooth runner. It is also capable of giving an air blast up to 62m/s - ample for a lot of jobs - and shifts 710cu m/h. Yet it weights just 6.2kg and has very easy-to-use controls. Fitted with the ES Easy Start system, pulling the starter cord is reduced to a minimum compared with a lot of machines, and it also means it is possible to start the engine while the blower is on your back - though some users might find it easier than others. "I think I need to go to more yoga classes," jokes Hasell. But he manages it and there is no kickback effect in cranking.

The lack of weight is the real bonus. "I could use it all day. I hardly know it is on my back," says Gardner. "It looks a little domestic, but it's got enough power for grounds maintenance operations and would be perfect for the female grounds staff we have here, or anyone who struggles with heavier backpack blowers."

The harness is well-padded, though we wonder if a tummy strap would help further. The fuel tank is small, but is in scale with the machine. The air filter and sparkplug are easy to access. The electrics and fuel line are a little exposed and might snag if the operator were to take a short cut through the shrubbery or if the blower were to become tangled with other tools in the back of the van.

But what surprises us most about this backpack blower is the price - £259 ex VAT. Hasell again: "It is so much easier than using a handheld machine and it's not a huge increase in cost."

The review panel

Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Steve Hasell, machinery lecturer, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Hugh Murray, head greenkeeper, Cannington Golf Club
Ashley Hale, apprentice groundsman, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater
College
Mark Ekin, horticulture area manager, College of West Anglia, Wisbech
John Tangye, instructor and NPTC assessor, Littlefield Manor Training
Centre, Guildford


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