Now that many of us are hopelessly deep into leaf season, any resentment toward a leaf blower that’s more noise than breath has surely surfaced. If you’re ready to upgrade from a handheld blower to a backpack, the $250 Husqvarna 130BT is worth considering. Granted, you can find newer models. But you won’t even stumble across this dealer-sold model if you do all your shopping at your local home center.
One obvious attraction to the 130BT is its light weight. At about 15 1/3 pounds fueled up, the 130BT weighs much less than the beefiest backpack leaf blowers, including Husqvarna’s own 150BT, $300, which is seven pounds more before you add gas. Both models have two-stroke engines. While lighter than four-stroke, they require that you mix a specific oil with the gasoline at a 50:1 gas/oil ratio. For easier starting time after time, we recommend you use ethanol-free 50:1 fuel, which would address the concerns of most people who’ve posted user reviews online about the 130BT.
Testing the Husqvarna 130BT
Setting the blower up was a snap, with clear directions for piecing together the blow pipe and attaching the operating handle. You won’t find electric start or automatic choke here, but setting the choke and priming took mere seconds before the couple of pulls the 130BT needed for it to come alive.
The adjustable harness is padded, making for a comfy fit, and vibration dampening kept us from feeling any trace of discomfort even after a few long periods of use. We also liked the throttle-lock lever, which won’t clear its setting as some button-style speed locks do should you inadvertently press the throttle trigger. This lever also lets you lock in speeds less than full-throttle, which saves fuel and might annoy the neighbors less.
Husqvarna claims the 130BT blows air at 130 mph out its round nozzle, with 425 cubic feet per minute of airflow in the pipe. But specs matter far less than what you see as you’re clearing actual leaves. If not as powerful as some backpack blowers could be, such as the 150BT, it nevertheless had ample muscle for blowing oak and maple leaves out of dense pachysandra groundcover.
And in a comparison with several handheld leaf blowers from Stihl, Toro and Worx, the 130BT completed a test course over grass in under six minutes. The best any of those did was 10 minutes, though it’s no knock against those brands; a decent gas-powered backpack blower should outclass any handheld on the market.
If all you want is to carry blowing power on your back to keep yourself from reaching out with a handheld, the Husqvarna 130BT might offer more oomph than you need. This backpack blower, however, also shortens blowing time to help you finish the job and get back to enjoying the fall. Take care of it, with no fuel left in it for long periods, and you should get several years of fine performance.