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Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit Vacuum Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Dec 08, 2021 at 11:21 am
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit Picture
8.5
Bare Floor
7.8
Low-Pile Carpet
7.8
High-Pile Carpet
7.6
Pets
8.0
Stairs
6.8
Cars
6.8
Workshop
Vacuum Type
Backpack/Handheld
Bagless
Yes
Cordless
Yes
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
Yes
Wet Compatible
No

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit is a portable vacuum designed for workshop, construction, and woodworking applications, though you can't use it to suck up liquids. It delivers exceptional performance on bare floors and easily cleans pet hair on a variety of surface types. Despite the canister's heavy weight, its cordless design and backpack form factor makes it easy to clean hard-to-reach areas too. Its battery also charges very quickly, though its max battery life isn't quite as long as some other cordless vacuums. Its selection of attachments is also somewhat limited, as it only comes with a crevice tool and a dust extractor attachment to help clear fine debris while drilling.

Our Verdict

8.5 Bare Floor

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is superb for bare floors. It easily cleans pet hair as well as small and bulky debris. It's also well-built and doesn't have many components that need regular cleaning. However, while its backpack configuration does make it easy to carry around, this is still a somewhat heavy vacuum.

Pros
  • Superb bare-floor performance.
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • Fast recharge time.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
  • Not a wet-dry vacuum.
7.8 Low-Pile Carpet

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is decent for vacuuming low-pile carpet. It easily cleans pet hair but has a harder time with fine and large debris on this surface type. It also lacks a surface-type adjustment feature, though it does offer two levels of suction power adjustment. Thankfully, it has a sturdy, easy-to-maintain design and is easy to maneuver despite its heavy canister.

Pros
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • Fast recharge time.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
  • No surface-type adjustment feature.
  • Struggles with fine and large debris.
7.8 High-Pile Carpet

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is very good for cleaning high-pile carpet. It clears pet hair and most fine debris, though you may still need to make another pass to fully clear larger material. Its bagless design incurs minimal recurring costs as long as you regularly clean its HEPA filter. However, it can be hard to push around on high-pile carpets, and its floorhead can get stuck on rug tassels.

Pros
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • Fast recharge time.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
  • Good overall performance on high-pile carpet.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
  • No surface-type adjustment feature.
  • Can be hard to push around on high-pile carpets.
7.6 Pets

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is excellent for dealing with pet hair. It easily cleans pet hair on bare floors as well as low and high-pile carpet. It also has an onboard HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean. In addition, this vacuum feels very sturdily built and isn't very difficult to maintain. However, its selection of attachments is very limited, and it doesn't come with a turbo brush to deal with pet hair on fabric surfaces.

Pros
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • On-board HEPA filter.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
  • No turbo brush attachment.
8.0 Stairs

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is a great option for vacuuming stairs. It has a heavy body, but its padded shoulder and waist straps make it fairly comfortable to carry around. However, you may experience fatigue if you carry around its canister in one hand. Its cordless design ensures that you can climb and descend staircases without a power cable getting in the way. It delivers superb performance on bare floors and does a decent overall job on carpeted surfaces.

Pros
  • Superb bare-floor performance.
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
6.8 Cars

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is a decent option for vacuuming the inside of your car. Its cordless design ensures that you don't need to stay close to an electrical outlet while vacuuming. You can carry around its canister while vacuuming with its wand if you don't want to wear it as a backpack, though be aware that its hose is somewhat short. It also doesn't have a turbo brush, which would make it easier to clear debris on upholstered surfaces.

Pros
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
  • No turbo brush attachment.
6.8 Workshop

Pros
  • Sturdy, easy-to-maintain design.
  • Minimal recurring costs.
Cons
  • Heavy canister body.
  • 8.5 Bare Floor
  • 7.8 Low-Pile Carpet
  • 7.8 High-Pile Carpet
  • 7.6 Pets
  • 8.0 Stairs
  • 6.8 Cars
  • 6.8 Workshop
  1. Updated May 27, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  2. Updated Dec 08, 2021: Review published.
  3. Updated Dec 03, 2021: Early access published.

Check Price

Black/Red Tools Only M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum
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Amazon.com
Black/Red with Battery M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit
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Amazon.com

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL feels amazingly well-built. Its plastic construction is very sturdy, and it has a telescopic wand made of metal. You can see its padded shoulder and waist straps here. The straps can be tightened or loosened to keep the vacuum from bouncing around while carrying it on your back. The attachment points near the carrying handle at the back of the vacuum feel solid, and you can see them here. There are no obvious weak points in its construction, and even its clear plastic dustbin feels quite solid. This vacuum is also quite easy to assemble and disassemble. Its backpack strap is already attached out-of-the-box, but reattaching it after removing it can be a little tricky. You can see its mounting point here.

8.5
Design
User Maintenance

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is impressively easy to maintain.

  • Dirt compartment: The dirt compartment can be removed by pressing the unlock button and sliding it out of its housing using the handle. You can empty it by pressing the release button on the dirt compartment over a trash bin whenever it gets full. If necessary, you can wipe it down with a clean cloth or blow away any stuck-on dust or dirt with compressed air, but you shouldn't wash it under water.
  • Cyclone: The cyclone is located in the dirt compartment but can be pulled from its housing quite easily. You can then shake it over a trash bin to clean it. Still, the dirt compartment's large size makes it easy to clean without removing it.
  • HEPA filter: The HEPA filter is located on top of the dustbin, and you can easily pull it from its housing. You shouldn't wash it with water, but you can tap it against the side of a trash bin or use a can of compressed hair to clear away any stuck-on dust and debris. No specific maintenance interval is given by the manufacturer, but you should clean it regularly to avoid any loss in suction performance.

8.5
Design
Recurring Cost
Bag Part Number No bag
Filter Part Number 49-90-1963
HEPA Filter Part Number 49-90-1963

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL incurs very low recurring costs.

  • HEPA filter: No replacement interval is given by the manufacturer regarding the HEPA filter, but it should be replaced if damaged or if you notice a loss in suction power even after the filter is cleaned. You can purchase a replacement part from the manufacturer.

7.7
Design
Storing
Height
35.43" (90.0 cm)
Width
15.16" (38.5 cm)
Depth
12.60" (32.0 cm)
Cord Storing
Not Needed
On-Board Tool Storage
Yes
Vacuum Rack/Station
No

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is easy to store. It has a fairly compact body that can be stored upright. You can hang its crevice tool and adapter accessory on the waist strap, and the vacuum body itself has a slot for its hose. Still, if you're looking for a shop vacuum that's even easier to store and don't mind its handheld-only form factor, the RYOBI 18V One+ 3 Gal. Project Wet/Dry is a solid option.

8.0
Design
Dirt Compartment
Volume
1.14 gal (4.30 L)
Full Indicator
No
Bag Included
No Bag Needed

This vacuum has a great dirt compartment. It has a larger capacity than even some bagged vacuums, such as the Eureka Mighty Mite. However, while it does have a clear plastic construction, there isn't any max-fill indicator to indicate when you should empty it.

Design
In The Box

  • Vacuum Body
  • Dirt compartment
  • 1x HEPA Filter
  • Telescopic wand
  • Hose
  • Main floorhead
  • Crevice tool
  • Dust Extractor Adapter attachment
  • Dustbin lid
  • 1x M18โ„ข REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT battery
  • Battery Rapid Charger for M18 and M12 batteries
  • Operator manual and guide

10
Design
Range
Cord Length
N/A
Hose Length
4.79 ft (1.46 m)
Minimum Wand Length
2.69 ft (0.82 m)
Maximum Wand Length
4.00 ft (1.22 m)
Total Range
N/A

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is cordless, so its range is limited only by its remaining battery life and the room left in its dustbin. While its hose is somewhat short, the vacuum's backpack form factor does make it easier to clean hard-to-reach areas.

6.8
Design
Portability
Total Weight
20.57 lbs (9.33 kg)
Weight In Hand
1.19 lbs (0.54 kg)
Carrying handle
Yes

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is reasonably portable. It's considerably heavier than even some traditional canister vacuums like the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. However, its backpack design ensures that you shouldn't experience too much fatigue while wearing it in this configuration, especially considering its wand weighs very little in the hand.

Note Without its backpack attachment, this vacuum weighs 15.70 lb (7.12 kg).

8.1
Design
Battery
Minimum Battery Life
24 min
Maximum Battery Life
39 min
Recharge Time
82 min
Recharge Dock
Yes
Battery Life Indicator
Yes
Removable Batteries
Yes

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL has great battery performance. In its 'High' suction power mode with its main hose and wand attached, it provides over 20 minutes of runtime. Using it in its 'Low' suction power mode with only its crevice tool increases its battery life to roughly 40 minutes. Its battery is designed to be removed and charged separately on its charging dock, where it can charge in just over 80 minutes, which is quite fast. The recharging dock has slots for both Milwaukee M18 and M12 batteries to charge simultaneously, though be aware that this vacuum is only compatible with M18 batteries.

Design
Quality Of Life Features
Rotating Head
No
Power Adjustment
Yes
Self-Propelled
No
Headlights
No
Easy On/Off
Yes
Head Surface Type Adjustment
None

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is a fairly basic vacuum. There's a suction power control switch that lets you switch between 'Low' and 'High' power modes or turn the vacuum off. You can see the switch here.

Design
Tools And Brushes
Brushroll
No
Brushroll On/Off
No
Removable Brushroll
No
Turbo Brush
No
Crevice Tool
Yes
Upholstery Tool
No
Soft Bristle Brush
No
Hard Bristle Brush
No
Extension Wand
No
Ceiling Fan Tool
No
Pet Grooming Tool
No

This vacuum doesn't come with many tools. There's a crevice tool to clear messes in tight corners. You can use the 'Dust Extractor Adapter' to clean dust that's being thrown into the air while drilling.

Design
Alternative Configuration
Blower Mode
No

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL can be used as a handheld vacuum by removing its telescopic wand, as seen here. You can also remove its backpack attachment and hang it on a ladder or carry it with its built-in carrying handle.

Performance
10
Performance
Bare Floor Performance (Hardwood, Laminate, Tiles)
Setting Used "High"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 100%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 100%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 100%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 100%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) 100%
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) 100%
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL delivers exceptional performance on bare floors. It easily cleans pet hair and small debris like rice and bulkier material like cereal. Better still, you shouldn't notice a significant loss in suction performance as its dustbin fills up.

6.4
Performance
Low-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used "High"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) 54%
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 54%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 54%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 54%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 54%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) 53%
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is okay for low-pile carpet. It has very little trouble dealing with pet hair, but you may need to make another pass to clear fine debris like baking soda or larger material like sand from this surface type.

7.4
Performance
High-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used "High"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 51%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 51%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 51%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 51%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) 50%
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 69%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 69%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 68%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 67%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) 65%
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL does a good job of cleaning high-pile carpet. It easily sucks up pet hair and clears a relatively impressive amount of finer debris like baking soda. However, it does struggle somewhat with larger material like sand. In addition, it's worth mentioning that this vacuum is quite difficult to push forward on high-pile carpets, so it's best to clean this sort of surface by pulling the floorhead towards you.

9.7
Performance
Pet Hair Floor Performance
Bare Floor
100%
Low-Pile Carpet
97%
High-Pile Carpet
94%
2.7
Performance
Suction
Maximum Suction
0.9 inHโ‚‚O (0.23 kPa)
Setting Used For Maximum "High"
Normal Suction
0.6 inHโ‚‚O (0.16 kPa)
Setting Used For Normal "Low"
Hose Diameter
1.7" (4.4 cm)
8.6
Performance
Noise
Bare Floor
70.1 dBA
Low-Pile Carpet
71.5 dBA
8.0
Performance
Maneuverability

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is impressively maneuverable. Its padded shoulder and waist straps are easily adjustable and allow you to wear the vacuum on your back with minimal fatigue. Its lightweight telescopic wand and floorhead make it easy to maneuver around or over obstacles too. Swapping out attachments is a quick and simple process, and the waist strap has storage slots for its crevice tool and dust extractor attachment that puts them within easy reach. Unfortunately, the floorhead can sometimes get stuck on dense rugs and rug tassels.

7.5
Performance
Pet Hair Furniture Performance
Sofa Pickup Post Test
Performance
Air Quality
8.0
Performance
Cracks
Wood Cracks Post Test
1.0
Performance
Stains
Stain Pickup Post Test
0
Performance
Water
Water Pickup Post Test
Automation
0
Automation
Physical Automation
Automatic Recharging
No
Automatic Bag Emptying
No
Pathing Algorithm
No Pathing Algorithm
Physical Boundary Markers
No
Scheduled Start Buttons
No
Cycle Control Buttons
No
Navigation Control Buttons
No
0
Automation
Companion App Automation
App Name
No App
iOS Availability
No
Android Availability
No
Software Boundary Markers (No Go Zones)
No
App Scheduled Start
No
App Cycle Control
No
Navigation Control within App
No

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is available in two variants, which differ only in terms of accessories included in the box. We tested the 0885-21HD variant, which comes with an additional battery charging kit. You can see our unit's label here.

Model Number

  Included Accessories Notes
0885-20    Dust Extractor Adapter, Floor Tool, Crevice Tool, Telescoping Extension Wand, 6' Flexible Hose  
0885-21HD   Dust Extractor Adapter, Floor Tool, Crevice Tool, Telescoping Extension Wand, 6' Flexible Hose Comes with M18™ REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT™ XC8.0 Starter Kit for charging M18 and M12 batteries

Let us know in the discussions if you come across a different variant of this vacuum, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Vacuums

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is a portable backpack vacuum. It's designed for vacuuming construction and carpentry worksites, though it isn't a wet-dry vacuum, which some may consider somewhat limiting. Still, it delivers exceptional performance on bare floors, similar to the Eureka Mighty Mite. However, unlike the Mighty Mite, it has an onboard HEPA filter and doesn't use dirtbags, resulting in minimal recurring costs.

If you're looking for alternatives, take a look at our list of recommendations of the best cordless vacuums, the best handheld vacuums, and the best bagless vacuums.

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister

The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister and Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit are designed for different use cases. The Dyson is a bagless canister for home vacuuming. Its corded design results in a virtually infinite runtime, though it doesn't have the cordless Milwaukee's go-anywhere range. The Dyson is even easier to maintain, has a surface-type adjustment feature, comes with a wider array of attachments, and is a bit easier to maneuver. However, the Milwaukee feels better-built, has a much larger dustbin, and clears more debris on bare floors and high-pile carpet.

Eureka Mighty Mite

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit and Eureka Mighty Mite are differently-designed vacuums with different strengths, so one may suit you better than the other, depending on your needs. The Milwaukee is a better-built backpack/handheld vacuum with a cordless design, allowing you to clean areas far from an electrical outlet. It also feels better-built, has a bagless design that incurs low recurring costs, and has an onboard HEPA filter. Meanwhile, the Eureka is a much more compact canister vacuum that uses disposable dirtbags. It's even easier to maintain and delivers better performance on low-pile carpet.

NaceCare HVR 200 Henry

The NaceCare HVR 200 Henry and Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit are differently-designed vacuums with different use cases. The NaceCare is a bagged canister vacuum primarily designed for home cleaning. It's easier to maintain, clears more debris on high-pile carpet, and comes with a wider assortment of tools and accessories. Conversely, the Milwaukee is a backpack/handheld vacuum with a cordless design meant for cleaning workshops and construction sites. Its cordless design allows you to clean far from any electrical outlets. It also has a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, incurs lower recurring costs, and clears more debris on bare floors and high-pile carpet.

Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister

The Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister and Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit are differently-designed vacuums for different use cases. The Milwaukee's cordless design and backpack/handheld form factor make it much easier to clean hard-to-reach areas. It feels much better built, has a considerably larger dustbin, and is fitted with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter. However, the Eureka's corded design ensures that you don't need to worry about running out of charge partway through a cleaning session. It also delivers better performance on low-pile carpet and has a floorhead with retractable bristles, allowing you to adapt to different surfaces on the fly.

RYOBI 18V One+ 3 Gal. Project Wet/Dry

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum Kit and RYOBI 18V One+ 3 Gal. Project Wet/Dry are for different kinds of uses. The Milwaukee is a backpack-style cordless vacuum that's better suited for cleaning larger areas thanks to its longer battery life and included floorhead and extension wand. It also has an onboard HEPA filter and feels slightly better built. However, only the RYOBI can be used to clear liquid spills. It also does a better job of cleaning debris on carpeted surfaces, and its more compact size makes it easier to store.

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