So you’ve decided to leave your big, heavy domestic vacuum cleaner at home, but what will you use to clean your caravan on holiday?

Cordless vacs used to be pretty low-powered items, but luckily things have changed dramatically. James Dyson’s cyclones, and rivals’ versions, have improved all vacuum cleaners much more efficient. Couple that with significant leaps forward in battery technology, and it’s now possible to buy cordless vacuums that almost make mains models redundant. In fact, many of today’s cordless units perform better than pre-cyclone era mains vacuum cleaners.

So, which cordless model will you buy? Some of the budget portable vacs are still a bit gutless, but plenty of dearer versions 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. 

Check out portable vacs made by major power tool manufacturers, too. They are good at getting the maximum duration and power out of battery packs, and many of their vacs are seriously impressive. These vacs tend to use existing power-tool battery packs – so if you already have tools and chargers of the same brand and voltage, you can add a powerful little cordless vac at a bargain price.   

We tested nine portable vacs, checking suction and battery life first of all. We also considered cleaning attachments supplied, whether wet usage is possible, how often the unit needs emptying during use, and whether the filter can be washed or needs replacing once choked.

Value for money is high on our judging agenda. 

Each vacuum cleaner 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.

Ryobi CHV182M 

This is the only vac to beat the Dyson in the suction test when it was switched out of its turbo mode.

The Ryobi portable vac is a well-made product, supplied with a crevice and brush tool. However, it doesn’t clean wet surfaces and the paper-style filter will need replacing.

Getting just over 7.5 minutes-worth of cleaning power from a 1.5 Ah lithium-ion battery pack is poor.