For many people the whole point of caravan holidays is to get away from it all and  enjoy a wide range of activities in the great outdoors. But we don’t want that great outdoors to sneak its way inside our caravans and stay there! Clearing up bits of grass, sand, mud and spilt food in the caravan is a necessary part of the holiday, but it doesn’t have to be too much of a chore these days.

Portable vacuum cleaners are no longer the gutless wonders they used to be – they’ve undergone a cyclonic revolution! James Dyson started the trend, when he invented his full-size domestic cyclone vacuum cleaners. This challenged other manufacturers to come up with new, improved designs as well. 

Meanwhile battery technology has also improved. Put the two together, and you have a whole new world of manufacturing advancement. now possible to buy cordless vacuums that almost make mains models redundant. In fact, many of today’s cordless units easily usurp the performance of pre-cyclone era mains vacuum cleaners.

Now, the biggest issue is to work out what type of cordless model to buy. Some weak and disappointing compact models do still exist at the budget end of the market. The good news is that plenty of dearer portable vacs boast powerful motors and beefy internal batteries – making them more than good enough for a spring clean of a typical caravan, yet small enough to take away as part of your kit. 

Power tool manufacturers have now entered the vacuum cleaner market, too. They certainly know how to wring the maximum duration and power out of battery packs, and many of their vacs have extremely impressive suction. Since they tend to use their own brands of power-tool battery packs – you can buy the vacs on their own, which is brilliant value for money if you already have tools and chargers of the same brand and voltage.   

In this test, our main two criteria are suction and battery life. But we also factor in whether the cleaning attachments are supplied, whether wet usage is possible, how frequently the unit needs emptying during use, and whether the filter can be washed or needs replacing once choked. As usual, value for money remains high on our judging agenda.  

Practical Caravan’s expert tests nine portable vacuum cleaners at once here to compare them all and find out which of the new generation of mini machines are worth their weight in your caravan payload calculations. 

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. 

Draper 75033

On paper, this little blue portable vacuum cleaner is a brilliant idea. The Draper 75033 is a cordless model with a 12V adapter. So why are we being so mean, by giving it the lacklustre score of just two stars?

Suction is around half that of the Halfords model, and less than a third of the Sealey’s.

However, it’s relatively cheap and handles both wet and dry chores.