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A backpack sprayer is an awesome tool for applying products to turf, trees and gardens to help kill insects, enrich your soil and feed your plants.
There are 2 basic types of backpack sprayers, manual and battery powered. Further down in this article I talk about which one I recommend for most homeowners.
Newer backpack sprayers allow for safer and more precise applications. They typically have better controls, leak-proof designs, longer lasting batteries, and more comfortable straps. So if you are using a model that is few years old, it may be time to upgrade.
Quick Look: Best backpack sprayers in 2019:
- My 4 Sons: my choice for the best battery powered backpack sprayer, tons of accessories included, very high-quality product
- Chapin 63985: good choice for many homeowners, less expensive than similar competitors
- Jacto PJB-16: very high end commercial product with lots of added features, built like a tank, but comfortable and easy to use
- Strom QA101: pro series sprayer, very long lasting, heavy duty hose and pressure regulator
- Sprayers Plus 105Ex: very popular brand, comfortable and easy to use
- Field King 190328: the best budget friendly pump powered model from a reputable company
My Pick for the Best Backpack Sprayer
My 4 Sons M4 Sprayer
The M4 is my go-to everyday backpack sprayer. I love all the accessories it comes with, especially all of the nozzles. The translucent container makes it easy to see exactly how much you are mixing and the battery lasts a long time, despite it being a little heavy. I do with the opening was bigger though.
What Is a Backpack Sprayer Used For?
There are a variety of uses for your backpack sprayer. It’s essential to know what you can and can’t do with each type to maximize your performance and to be safe at all times.
The primary use of a backpack weed sprayer is for spraying herbicides in your yard, garden, or around your house. Sprayers are extremely effective in applying targeted herbicide applications (like Roundup) for vegetation and weed control.
Other uses include spreading pesticides, formulations for trees, plants, and shrub protection, soil enhancers, and fertilizers. There are backpack sprayers available that can also be used for concrete or wood finishing and treatments, and for preventing ice build-up.
Backpack sprayers are generally inexpensive to buy, easy to maintain and operate and are extremely portable. They can get at places where a tow behind sprayer can’t.
Lightweight backpack sprayers usually weight between 15 and 20 pounds, depending on their tank size. The most popular size on the market is a 4-gallon. If you need additional capacity, you might be better off with a tow-behind model.
The decision of what size to purchase depends mostly on the size of the area you will be spraying. They are ideal for spot spraying hard-to-reach areas, small acreages, and for those jobs when larger sprayer units like tractors can’t access.
How To Use a Backpack Sprayer
A backpack sprayer is similar to a handheld model in its use and function, but it has the added advantage of a larger capacity.
It also has the added convenience of being able to comfortably carry the application on your back, as opposed to dragging around a very heavy container.
Make sure to calibrate your sprayer correctly. Here is a great video from Pete at GCI Turf:
The actual sprayer usage instructions are the same regardless of what liquid you’re using (herbicides, pesticides, spraying water, or liquid nutrients).
Read the product label carefully, and wear the recommended safety gear whenever you are spraying chemicals.
I strongly advise to not use the same backpack sprayer to apply a non-selective herbicide (RoundUp) and any other product. You do not want to risk killing what you are spraying.
Step 1: Put together the sprayer if necessary – insert the pump handle into its proper location, attach the spray wand onto your spray gun, and fasten the shoulder straps appropriately.
Step 2: In a separate container, prepare the liquid mix that you’ll be using (bucket test). Most commonly you will be mixing the pesticide, herbicide, or insecticide with water. Be certain to read all label instructions when mixing any chemicals.
Step 3: Unscrew the sprayer cap and slowly pour the prepared application inside. Make sure not to drip any chemicals on yourself or onto the ground when pouring.
Step 4: Screw the sprayer lid on, place the sprayer onto your back, and tighten all straps so that they are secure and fit snugly.
Step 5: Pump the handle of the sprayer to pump it 10 to 15 times. Continue pumping every 5 seconds or so in order to keep constant pressure inside the backpack tank. If you don’t do this step, you’ll have to completely prime your sprayer every time the pressure goes out. OR If you have a powered model, make sure the battery is fully charged.
Step 6: You’re ready to go! Simply point your wand wherever you need to spray and pull the trigger for liquid application. There are many more steps involved in how to spray, but I’m not going to get into that in this article.
Step 7: When you’re done spraying, make sure to clean the sprayer thoroughly, outside as well as inside, and don’t forget to disassemble it and thoroughly clean each part. Finally, reassemble the backpack sprayer and store it or recharge the battery. Never leave plastic sprayers outside in the sunshine, since they can be damaged by ultra-violet radiation.
Type of Backpack Sprayers
There are 2 basic styles of backpack sprayers, the diaphragm pump, and the piston pump. The diaphragm pump is more durable and easier to use than a piston pump, but it doesn’t produce as much pressure.
This pump works by an up and down pumping motion inside a chemical tank. On the other hand, a piston pump sprayer typically produces much more pressure, but it is a very sensitive mechanism and should only be used with non-abrasive solutions.
Battery backpack sprayers are available in a wide variety of styles, materials, and sizes to suit any capacity or function. They are increasingly more popular for use on golf courses, by pest control operations, lawn care companies, as well as by homeowners.
I highly recommend getting the best battery powered backpack sprayer that you can afford for a number of reasons.
First, a battery-powered, electric backpack sprayer eliminate the need for hand pumping, which can become very tiring. More importantly, though, a battery-powered sprayer puts out a consistent amount of product.
This allows you to get a better application because you don’t have to worry about the PSI. PSI will determine how much product is sent out the sprayer – so if your PSI varies, you will have an inconsistent application.
Second, battery-powered units have become less expensive in recent years. With the advancement of battery technology, they last longer and are lighter as well.
Third, manufacturers have started to design battery sprayers from scratch, instead of converting a manually powered sprayer. The newest electric-powered sprayers have better microprocessor control technology and better-designed pumps.
Microprocessors now monitor the battery and can tell when levels are getting too low, and will automatically shut down the unit.
Manual sprayers are still used by many turf management professionals. They are generally cheaper and require less maintenance.
Also, since you don’t need to worry about losing a charge, they last all day long – which is good for professionals that don’t have the ability to recharge a battery.
Depending on the model, they can be more durable since they don’t contain any electronics.
How to Determine The Best Backpack Sprayer To Buy
With so many different backpack sprayers on the market, how do you determine which one is the best for you?
- What are backpack sprayers best suited for?
- What are some of their main advantages?
- What is your budget?
- Do you want a manual or a battery sprayer?
- What is your biggest concern?
- How durable a sprayer do you need?
- Will you be using it for commercial applications?
This section will discuss some of the needs mentioned above and will help you to decide which is the best backpack sprayer for you.
What are backpack sprayers most suited for? If your property has many impediments (fences, steep slopes, uneven terrain, and trees) as well as an oddly shaped area (think triangular), then a backpack sprayer will be the right choice for you. These sprayers are good for smaller acres (less than an acre), or areas that need spot treatments or directed spraying.
A backpack sprayer can help with fatigue and stress a user may experience vs a handheld sprayer. In particular, if you are carrying a large canister in one arm, you will feel it in your arms and shoulders. A backpack sprayer will take away much of the fatigue and strain.
Another advantage is capacity. A large capacity backpack sprayer will reduce the number of times you need to refill it and thus shorten the time it takes to spray your yard.
A rechargeable battery sprayer speeds up application times since the user doesn’t have to stop and pump the sprayer. Newer models can last hours without having to be recharged.
What is your budget? Based upon retail costs, battery sprayers run about twice as much as hand-powered sprayers (but the difference is diminishing), and gas powered models cost 3-5 times as much as a pump backpack sprayer.
If you plan on using your sprayer for commercial applications, than a hand pump backpack sprayer may be your best option as they are easier to maintain and you don’t have to worry about charging a battery.
How To Maintain Your Sprayer
You’ve done your research and found what you consider to be the best backpack sprayer.
You want to maintain your sprayer and keep it working like new.
- First and foremost, read the owner’s manual from cover to cover before operation.
- Always use gloves, goggles, and protective clothing (PPE) when using your sprayer.
- Never use caustics, acids, hot water, or flammable liquids inside the tank.
- When not in use, never leave your sprayer out in the sun, since ultraviolet damage can occur.
- Don’t use your sprayer near an open flame. Inspect all hoses and connections before every use.
Carry your backpack sprayer by the handle only, and never lift it by the wand extension, shut-off valve, or the hose. Don’t pressurize with an air compressor, since this may create a very dangerous pressure level and parts can even burst, resulting in injury.
Never store any kind of chemicals in the tank – always clean it out after each use.
Release all pressure before doing any maintenance, and when the sprayer’s not in use. Do not attempt to alter your sprayer from its original condition. Make sure always to use the correct replacement parts from the original manufacturer.
Always keep your sprayer and any chemicals far away from children’s reach.
Always empty, dry, and clean tank, pump system, extensions, and hose after each use. If you fail to do this, sprayer components may become weakened and could rupture when pressurized. Serious injury may occur from the forcible ejection of parts or a high-pressure discharge of any liquids. Avoid using any flammable material in your backpack sprayer. Finally, test the sprayer with water before attempting to fill with chemicals.
Backpack Sprayer Reviews
1) My 4 Sons M4 Sprayer
- Pressure dial pump
- Quality testing and final assembly is done in the US
- Direct phone number for technical assistance on label includes very important usage instructions
- Straps come undone
- Small hole opening
The My 4 Sons 4-Gallon Battery Sprayer has a 0 to 60 PSI pressure-dial pump featuring adjustable output, an adjustable brass nozzle, long adjustable wand, long lasting batter, and so much more.
This unit can spray approximately 30 feet in a variable pattern, changing from a fine mist to an extra-long distance jet, dependent upon trigger pressure.
This 4 gallon backpack sprayer can spray for eight hours with only one battery charge (it gets a complete AC charge in 8 hours, and features battery-life indicator lights).
The manufacturer says it has a wide mouth opening, but I actually find it a bit small for my liking. It does have a screen filter that keeps all debris and dirt out of the tank which is nice.
This machine has a locking trigger which improves ergonomics, and an adjustable curved tip steel wand that’s perfect for on-target spraying. Strong shoulder straps are bolted to the sprayer to prevent any dropping or disconnection.
This product uses soldered battery terminals instead of screws, and swaged hose connections instead of hose clamps, which allows improved reliability and less leaking. It has a voltage output meter and includes 4 nozzles – flat tee jet, adjustable brass, double, and fine mist.
I own this sprayer and it is my go to product for most applications.
2) Chapin 63985 Lithium Ion Powered Sprayer
- Lightweight and comfortable to use
- Large opening makes filling very easy
- Good price when compared to competitors with similar features
- Battery could last longer
- Straps could have more padding.
I have owned and used the Chapin backpack sprayer (63985) for a few years now and still go back to it quite often. It is lightweight and does a good job putting down a consistent application.
The large opening and translucent tank makes filling a breeze. It also makes cleaning the tank easy.
The battery is decent, but doesn’t last as long as some more expensive models. Also, the straps could use more padding.
3) Jacto PJB-16 Backpack Sprayer
- Extremely high quality materials
- Battery is very easy to remove and charge
- Puts down a consistent spray
- Tank is not translucent which makes filling tricky
- Walking speed indicator could be easier to use
The PJB-16 has a very high quality fit and finish component to it. In fact, it feel like the most solid product out of all the ones that I reviewed. I can tell that it will last years and years of heavy use.
There are many things that I really like about this sprayer, but the real selling point for me was the audible walking speed indicator. I thought this would help me put down a consistent application by keeping my walking speed steady. The indication does work well, but I found it to be a little tricky to use and wish that it was louder.
The other drawback to this model is the blue container is hard to see through, so it makes mixing applications tricky. You can’t see the levels as easily as you can with the My 4 Sons.
This is a great choice if you do a lot of heavy duty spraying and need something of commercial quality.
4) Strom QA101 Electric Sprayer
- Pressure regulator for consistent spray
- Brass connections
- Long lasting charge – up to 30 tanks on one charge
- Small opening
*I am waiting to test this product personally, so I can’t comment too much about it.*
I really like the idea of a pressure regulator and am excited to see how it performs.
I can tell without even using the unit that the opening may be a bit too small for my liking, but that should not hold you back from trying this product out for yourself.
I have many friends that own one and really like it which is why I added it to my list prior to fully testing.
5) Sprayers Plus 105Ex
- Electronic components are enclosed to better protect them
- Battery strength indication on the battery so you know when to charge it
- Some customers have complained of leaking issues – although I have not experienced problems
- Bit on the expensive side for the features included
The Sprayers Plus 105EX is one of the more popular sprayers used by DIY lawn care enthusiasts. It is simple to use and helps you to put down an even application. It is translucent so seeing liquid levels is easy.
The opening is fairly wide which makes pouring, mixing and cleaning simple.
It has a 20V battery which provides 40 PSI with a long reach to help sprayer trees and taller bushes.
6) Field King Professional 190328 Sprayer
- Patented pump design has 60% less high-wear parts, and can be repaired quickly without tools
- Leak proof pump design
- Metal nozzles last much longer than plastic ones
- Not powered
- Smallish tank opening
The Field King Professional 190328 has a safer Internal No-Leak Pump, so that chemicals won’t drip down your back. A strong 21″ poly wand featuring top quality Viton seals and gaskets providing chemical resistance. It also has a lockable shut-off valve with in-line filter and brass components.
Its filtration basket helps to keep larger debris free of the tank while filling, and its easy-access pump allows the user to change the seals in minutes (without using any tools).
This unit accepts TeeJet nozzles, in addition to 4 included nozzles – 2 flat fans, a brass adjustable, and a foaming nozzle. It has an internal pressure chamber which can reach 150 PSI (which is 65% greater than other diaphragm pump backpacks).
A built-in agitator mixes powders, liquids, and water-soluble solutions – which is very convenient. Its internal internal paddles keeps all chemicals mixed and ready for spraying.
The Field King Professional pump backpack sprayer has a reversible handle for either right or left-handed use, a one-way valve that prevents spillage if the tank’s inverted, and a threaded bolt that provides a more secure no-slack handle attachment (which is greatly superior to traditional cotter pins used by competing products). Finally, its wand storage and carry handle are integrated.
All of the above backpack sprayers are quality products, so it is hard for me to say which one is “best”.
From the models I have tested, my favorite is the M4 from My 4 Sonsbecause of all the features you get for the price.
I also really like the Jacto, but it is a bit expensive.
If you are looking for a budget friendly, manual model, be sure to check out the Field King 190328.
Spraying your lawn is addicting and lots of fun if you have the right equipment.