The Bottom Line
Gas leaf blower vacuums cost more, weigh more and pollute more than their electric counterparts but may be indispensable for big yards or if you have so many trees that maneuvering a cord around them all would be next to impossible.
Those who decide in favor of gas leaf blower vacuums can at least take solace in the lower emissions put out by this Craftsman's 4-cycle engine (as opposed to 2-cycle types). But the advantages over 2-cycle gas models go beyond the environmental, beginning with the fact that their 2-year warranty indicates these gas leaf blower vacuums' engines should be more durable.
- Assembly not as difficult as manual implies.
- Incredi-PULL™ starting system for easier start-up.
- Built to vibrate less and make less noise, with no need to mix gas and oil.
- Variable speed to protect your plants, mulch.
- 2-year warranty indicates engine durability.
- Being gas-powered, you have to clean this equipment frequently.
- Need to insert flat-head screwdriver under vacuum door's locking clip to switch to vacuum mode.
- Said locking clip also hard to see (should be painted a bright color).
- Less powerful (200 mph vs. 230) than "Leaf Hog" models.
- As of this writing (8/14/13), Sears.com may not carry this exact same product.
- The Craftsman (it's Sears item# 07179498000) is not as noisy as some gas leaf blowers.
- The assembly of Black & Decker's "Leaf Hog" is more intuitive than that for Craftsman's gas leaf blower vacuums.
- Mulching ratio of these gas leaf blower vacuums is advertised as 10:1, but ....
- I was unimpressed with their mulching ability. However, I was vacuuming oak leaves, which are tougher than maple leaves.
- Speaking of ratios: no gas/oil mix to worry about -- these gas leaf blower vacuums take pure gas.
- Craftsman's gas leaf blower vacuums boast ergonomically-designed handles.
- Read my article on how to use leaf blower/vacs to learn how to get the most out of your equipment.
Guide Review - Craftsman Gas Leaf Blower Vacuums: 4-Cycle Leaf Blower Vacuums
Since I prefer electric, I inevitably compare any gas product to its electric counterpart. Electric's greatest advantage over gas is, arguably, easy start-up. Well, with their 4-cycle gas leaf blower vacuums, Craftsman at least puts gas back in the game -- not "ahead," mind you, just "back in the game."
A prominent feature of these gas leaf blower vacuums is their Incredi-PULL™ starting system, which at least addresses the issue of difficult start-up for gas devices. And I have to give Craftsman their just dues: in testing their gas leaf blower vacuums, I did not find myself tugging away at the pull-cord endlessly to get the machine to start. So far, so good.
Compared to electric, of course, the "easy" start-up still comes at a price: no "plug in and go." The start-up procedure given in the manual raises a red flag of complexity (although it might become automatic, after a while):
- Prime 10 times
- Set throttle control to Fast
- Set choke to position 1
- Pull cord
- Set choke to position 2
- Pull cord
- Set choke to position 3
More Comparisons: Gas Leaf Blower Vacuums vs. Leaf Hogs
The BV4000 "Leaf Hog" (electric) offers 230 MPH of power; the Craftsman, 200. And I found Craftsman's assembly less intuitive than the Leaf Hog's:
- On the Leaf Hog, blower tube and vacuum tube insert in the same place; not so for the Craftsman
- You need to insert a flat-head screwdriver under the vacuum door's locking clip to switch to vacuum mode, which is inconvenient
- It's hard to see this locking clip, too
Switching modes on the fly is more difficult on the Craftsman: I definitely have to set it down. On the Leaf Hog, I can switch while it's still strapped to my shoulder, using one hand.
Lastly, I even prefer the Leaf Hog's vac bag, both in terms of:
- How it clips on
- Shaking the leaves out: the leaves seem to get stuck more in the Craftsman.