When packing for a caravan holiday, it pays to travel light. So the last thing you need on board is a hefty domestic vacuum cleaner. In the past, this meant spending a lot of time bent double, sweeping up with a dustpan and brush. Portable vacuum cleaners have been around for years, but their performance has often left a lot to be desired.

The good news is that manufacturers have improved their products immensely recently. It’s a competitive market and prices for portable vacuum cleaners vary widely, so we wanted to know which model now offers the best value for money for caravanners. We asked James Stanbury to test nine portable vacs, taking into consideration suction power, battery life, what attachments come with it, whether it can cope with wet debris as well as dry dust, how often youy’ll have to empty the vac during use and whether the filter is washable or needs a stack of replacements. 

Each of the vacuum cleaners in our group test is listed as a separate accessory review: Hitachi Koki R18DSL, Sealey CPV144, Hoover Jovis Turbo Power SJ120CB, Argos 406/4815, Dyson DC44, Ryobi CHV182M, Halfords 12v Car Vacuum Cleaner, Makita BCL180Z, Draper 75033. 

Here’s our test report on a budget portable vac. 

Argos 406/4815

Two points is obviously not a great score, but it becomes even more damning when we factor in this vac’s low cost.

Normally a competitive price will carry a reasonably performing item through the points, on a value-for-money basis. But that’s not the case here.

While this package has some good features – like wet and dry operation, a washable filter, and a decent crevice tool and squeegee – the suction is abysmal, some might say asthmatic, but we’ll be a little more scientific: this vac’s suction power is less than a quarter of that in the two Draper models, which were far from impressive themselves.