The Best Knapsack Sprayers For Gardeners
Our Top 3 Picks & Expert Advice
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Knapsack sprayers are perfect for treating large areas and over the last 20 years, I’ve used them professionally and also at home in my garden.
I have used them to:
- Apply moss-killer products.
- Treat weeds on lawns and hard surfaces.
- Apply pesticides.
- Apply liquid-based fertilisers.
In 2022, I researched and tested the best knapsack sprayers. Let me help you choose the best sprayer for your garden.
In a hurry?
I recommend the Hozelock Plus 12 or 16 litre, both are available from Amazon.
But keep reading to find out why I think Hozelock is the best of the bunch.
Best All-Rounder: Hozelock Pulsar Plus
I first started using Hozelock knapsack sprayers around 15 years ago when I worked in the construction industry. Our professional sprayer broke, so we purchased Hozelock from a local store as a temporary solution only to find that it was of better quality than the “pro” products, which cost three times as much.
The latest Hozelock knapsack sprayer is the “Pulsar Plus” and comes in 12 or 16-litre capacities.
The manufacturer offers a 3-year warranty.
8 Reasons Why You Should Buy This Sprayer
- Choose an optional long lance (at extra cost).
- Padded straps.
- Left or right-handed setup.
- I found it easy to pump the ergonomic handle.
- The sprayer range was very good.
- Spare parts are readily available – I checked.
- The newer version has a nozzle with three spray patterns.
- It felt well built during my testing.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy This knapsack Sprayer
- If you have limited strength, I suggest the 12-litre version as I found the 16-litre very heavy.
- If you’re over 6ft2, you may find the straps are a little short and dig into the skin around the armpit area (I’m 6ft2 and found it borderline).
- It’s not the cheapest sprayer and costs double that of competing sprayers that are very similar.
How This Sprayer Could Be Improved
I didn’t experience any issues assembling the sprayer as I’ve put together about a dozen over the last 20 years, and they are all very similar, but the instructions were terrible. I can see why some may find it a challenge to put together.
While this sprayer has padded straps, thicker padding would be better, especially on the 16-litre version.
The padding doesn’t protect the armpits of taller persons (I’m 6ft2 and found the strap was rubbing on my skin in this area).
The “Old” Version v The “New” Version
In this review, I tested the old version of this product which I’ve had unopened in the box for a few years.
The two versions are identical except for the spray nozzle.
The newer version has three options on the spray nozzle; wide, normal and narrow. Changing from one to the other is easy; just rotate the nozzle. This newer version also has a pressure regulator, which prevents over-pressurisation. The old version has a standard nozzle and no regulator.
Hozelock is phasing out the old version in favour of the newer one, but they are both similar.
I found that once pressurised by pumping the arm, I only had to pump it two to three times every twenty to twenty-five seconds to keep it pressurised.
With the nozzle set to narrow, I was able to reach 7 metres during my test on a windless day. I was unable to test the new nozzle on the latest version of this product.
I weighed the Hozelock 16-litre knapsack sprayer and it came in at 19kg when full of water.
I give this knapsack sprayer an overall rating of 8/10, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best out there. I’ve deducted points because many users would prefer more padding, especially on the 16-litre version. The price is also a bit high and perhaps too high for the occasional user.
My other scores:
Ease of assembly: 7/10.
Comfort: 8/10 (5/10 for taller persons).
Build quality: 9/10.
Spare part availability: 9/10.
Highest Rated: Oregon 16 or 20 Litre Knapsack Sprayer
With over 1900 reviews on Amazon, the Oregon Knapsack sprayer was worth investigating.
Online Ratings and Reviews
Ratings across all the sellers I could find online were very good with:
- 86% of reviewers in the UK rated it 4 or 5 stars out of 5.
- Just under 5% of reviewers gave it a score of 1 star.
Customers who liked this sprayer mentioned the build quality and price while those that left a negative review often had issues with parts damaged in the post and the poor assembly instructions.
There are several sellers on Amazon but the typical warranty is 1 year (please check before you buy).
What I Liked About This Knapsack Sprayer From Oregon
I was impressed by the price of this sprayer; it was one of the cheapest I reviewed and also had lots of good comments online.
I couldn’t find a cheaper 20-litre knapsack anywhere and they also sell a 16-litre version too.
The sprayer comes with two nozzles; the first is a flat fan, while the second is an adjustable nozzle.
The product felt sturdy and was made from thick plastic; the device’s rear is also curved, allowing airflow between it and the user’s back.
What I Didn’t Like
The assembly instructions were awful and several online reviewers left scathing reviews of this.
The straps were only partially padded and for taller persons, the padding might not cover enough of the user to offer much protection from rubbing.
I feel the 20-litre knapsack sprayer is too big and should come with better strap padding and also a waist strap for better stability.
The warranty isn’t very long – only 1 year.
I rate this knapsack sprayer 7/10. I would rate it higher but the lack of support and padding on the 20-litre version is an issue as is the availability of spare parts – I checked and some had to be imported from the US.
Best Battery Powered: Ryobi One+
This battery-powered knapsack sprayer is a great way to spray with minimal effort – the battery keeps the tank at constant pressure and delivers a consistent flow rate.
Who I Think Should Buy This Knapsack Sprayer.
If comfort is important to you and you intend to use the sprayer for long periods, consider the Ryobi One+. The padding on the wide straps and back piece is perfect and has clearly been designed for professional use. It feels more like a comfortable hiking rucksack than a sprayer.
It also has a steel back plate and a waist strap which combine to keep it rigid.
As this knapsack sprayer is battery-powered, you don’t have an arm to pump, so it’s easier to use.
The consistent flow rate will also benefit users who need to apply chemicals precisely.
This Sprayer Isn’t Ideal For
Obviously, a battery-powered sprayer will cost much more than a standard sprayer, so those on a budget may be put off.
If you don’t own any Ryobi tools, you’ll need to buy the battery and charger, which increases the cost (existing Ryobi product owners can buy a “bare unit” and use their existing 18v batteries with this product).
Heavy users may wish to buy a separate battery with extended life, but this adds even more to the cost.
How This Ryobi Product Could Be Improved
The spray nozzle, which includes a tap, is very plasticky and feels flimsy. A metal trigger and other parts here would make a big difference, especially for professional/frequent users.
Battery Life and Charge Time
The standard 2Ah battery lasts long enough for the user to empty around 4 tanks’ worth of liquid. The 5Ah battery, which must be purchased separately, will deliver around 8 tanks’ worth of liquid before recharging.
The 2Ah battery charges in around 50 minutes.
2 years upgraded to 3 years if registered online.
A Quote From Our Tester
Paul Farley used the Ryobi One+ knapsack sprayer back in February 2022, and our review of this sprayer is based on his experience and feedback.
We asked Paul to summerise this sprayer for us:
I was impressed by how well built the sprayer was, the back plate is solid and the straps held it secure to my body. I covered the same area in much less time as I didn’t need to stop to pump up the tank. For professional users or those with huge gardens, this sprayer will save so much time and effort.
Looking at Online Reviews
I found over 250 online reviews for this knapsack sprayer.
91% of the reviewers left either a positive review or a rating of 4-5 stars out of 5.
I explored the negative reviews; some were from customers who mistakenly purchased a “bare unit” without a battery or charger. There were a few complaints about damage in transit and the flimsy wand/sprayer.
For light tasks such as applying weed killer to a small lawn, consider a handheld sprayer with a 5-litre capacity.
I’ve owned a Spear & Jackson sprayer for over years and it’s never let me down.
I use it exclusively for weed killing so I don’t contaminate my main watering can with chemicals.
5 Things You Must Check Before You Buy a Knapsack Sprayer
I’ve used knapsack sprayers for years in both a domestic and professional capacity. Before you buy a knapsack sprayer, check my five expert tips:
1) Does it Have Adequate Strap Padding?
I’ve tested sprayers and in my opinion, any water tank over 12 litres will be heavy, and without good strap padding, it will rub on the skin around the armpit area – an issue I’ve had with several sprayers in the past.
2) Does it Have a Waist Strap?
If the tank holds more than 16 litres of water, I feel a waist strap will help to stabilise the knapsack.
3) Choose the Correct Size
20-litre knapsack sprayers are notorious for being too heavy and cumbersome, and most users I’ve worked with find 12-16 is more bearable. Don’t forget that the tank is never filled to the top, and most require 1 or 2 litres of air to pressurise.
4) Are Spare Parts Readily Available?
Knapsack sprayers have lots of moving parts under pressure, so the availability of spare parts should be considered – hence why I rate Hozelock so highly, as I’ve found getting hold of a new lance, hose or strap etc., is easy and quick.
5) Do You Already Own Batteries and a Charger From Another Tool?
If you already own batteries and a charger for another professional or DIY tool, you might be able to use them with a battery-powered knapsack sprayer from the same manufacturer.
“Bare unit” knapsack sprayers are much cheaper than those that come with batteries and a charger.
DIY Gardening’s Testing and Review Methodology
The products shown on this page were reviewed and tested by the team at DIY Gardening.
Daniel Woodley tested the Hozelock knapsack sprayer in September 2022 and has used sprayers from this brand for nearly 20 years.
The Oregon sprayer is our number one choice based on online reviews from retailers and from feedback from one of our contractors who owns one.
The Ryobi One+ battery knapsack sprayer was used by Paul Farley in February 2022. He tested it over a 4-hour period, treating weeds on hard surfaces such as tennis courts, a driveway and patio areas.
Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
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