Last updated on December 6th, 2018 by Garrick Dee

Stick vacuums are lightweight alternatives to upright vacuums that’ll allow you to clean high traffic areas with more frequency because you don’t to deal with cords.

The best stick vacuums in my opinion should have the combination of power and versatility. It should have enough power to clean at least surface dirt on carpet to keep it from piling up. Second, it has to be able to clean more than floors.

The good news the latest brands offer lots of versatility but still retains power that’s inching closer towards upright territory.

Minus the hassle of the cord or excess bulk, you can prevent dirt from piling up in areas like the living room and dining area. The lightweight and compact nature of these machines makes it easy to pick up and store away.

These machines will work best inside small homes but really this is usable in any home regardless of size as a complementary cleaning tool for a full size upright.

Related: You can also find the best Dyson deals here to get the best price possible on various Dyson products.

A cordless stick vacuum like the Dyson V7 MotorHead is a great option for cleaning small to medium sized homes. This in my opinion gives you better value than the more expensive Dyson V8 Absolute. It does not have the power of the Dyson V8 or V10 but in cleaning tests, this variant still holds its own.

The number one option right now is the Dyson V7 MotorHead. It combines power and versatility not found in the other brands in this list. The upgraded bin that Dyson put in makes easier to empty than the previous older generation V6 MotorHead.

One other notable feature is the swivel steering that makes this the best maneuvering stick vacuum.

The clincher for us is the price. At just under $250, this is one of the best value Dyson vacuums right now.

The 22-volt lithium ion battery will run as much as 30 minutes. That’s without the motorized tools attached. With the main cleaning head, it will run for around 28 minutes which is plenty for a cordless.

However it lacks the soft roller cleaning head found in the V7 Absolute that does excellent job on bare floor.

The Dyson V8  comes with a little more power than the V7 because of the newer motor. It also offers more versatility because it has more attachments but this will cost more.

In second place is the Dyson V8 Absolute.  It’s a more powerful version of the V7 MotorHead with more tools.

This version comes with a bigger battery that will run about 10 minutes more minus the motorized tools and 6 minutes more with the motorized tools attached.

One big advantage that the V8 Absolute has over the V7 MotorHead, is the addition of the soft roller cleaning head. I like this tool because of its efficiency on bare floor.

The soft cloth-like roller bar, works really well even on large piles of dirt on hard floor.

But all these upgrades come make this more than $100 more expensive than the V7 MotorHead.

Spec comparison

Rank12345
ModelDyson V7 MotorHead

Dyson V7 MotorHead
Dyson V8 Absolute

Dyson V8 Absolute
Shark

Shark IONFlex Duo Clean
Dyson V10 Absolute

Dyson V10 Absolute
Dyson V6 Absolute

Dyson V6 Absolute
Cleaning path
9.8"9.8"10.2"10.1"9.8"
Height49"48"45.9"49.2"47.5"
Weight (pounds)5.35.758.75.95.1
SwivelYesYesYesYesNo
Battery22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion25.2v Li-Ion22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion22.2v Nickel Manganese Cobalt/Li-ion
Charging time3.5 hrs3.5 hrs3.5 jrs3 hours (per battery)3 hours
Run time
(minutes)
30 mins.

6 mins (max)
40 mins.

25 mins. (w/ the motorized tool attached)

7 mins. (max mode)
23 mins.60 minutes (w/o motorized attachments)

35 minutes (w/ motorized tools normal setting)

35 minutes (w/ motorized tools medium setting)

7 minutes (w/ motorized tools max setting)

20 minutes (w/o motorized attachments)

17 minutes (w/ motorized tools normal setting)

6 minutes (w/ motorized tools max setting)
Power100 AW115 AWN/A150 AW100 AW
Washable filterYesYesYesYesYes
BaglessYesYesYesYesYes
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Warranty2 yrs2 yrs5 yrs2 yrs2 yrs

Who should get this?

Before stick vacuums became popular, the default option inside most homes would be an upright vacuum.

These tools work great at picking up dirt and deep cleaning carpet. The downside with these bulky vacuums is the weight and long cord. Imagine yourself unwrapping and wrapping it every time you need to clean something.

Imagine the time and effort it takes if you just need to clean a small portion of your home.

A cordless stick vacuum frees you up from the burden of constantly looking for power outlets and tidying up cords.

Minus the cord that gets in the way, you’re free to clean anywhere inside your home.

This characteristic makes this tool great for cleaning high traffic areas. Modern stick vacuums now have swivel steering and low profile cleaning heads capable of cleaning deep under furniture.

If you’re willing to pay at least $200 for a good performing stick vacuum, it’ll make your life easier. It’ll help keep your home cleaner because you’ll find yourself using this more than the upright.

How to choose the best stick vacuum for your needs?

One search in Amazon reveals more than 100 results. A lot of them look like Dyson knockoffs from China. To help you narrow down options quickly, I’ll share with you some essential and not so essential features to look at.

Must have features

  • 20-minute run time: This represents the absolute bare minimum. Anything less than 15 minutes wouldn’t be worth your while. It will allow you to clean at least a thousand square feet of real estate.
  • Lithium Ion battery: Avoid products that use NiCad batteries because it takes forever to recharge. Another issue would be the power loss at the middle of the power cycle. Lithium ion batteries provide better linear power and better running time.
  • Convertible to a handheld: It’s a handy feature that will allow you to clean upholstery, stairs, vents, curtains, appliances and much more.
  • 2-year warranty: This will give you some peace of mind that just in case your vacuum breaks, you have the option to send it back for repairs at no cost.

Nice to have features

  • More power: It doesn’t hurt to have more power however more power equates to higher cost. So weigh your options accordingly.
  • LED headlights: Helps illuminate the area you’re cleaning. Useful for tracking dust under furniture.
  • Extended run time: 20 minutes is the bare minimum but it will not hurt having something that’ll run longer. It’ll help you clean more areas before having to recharge.
  • Swivel: Makes it easier to maneuver around furniture. If you live in a small home, this is a must have feature.
  • Ergonomics: People who have joint or wrist issues should look for something that’s easy to handle with intuitive controls. Part of it is having a lightweight design that shouldn’t go over 8 pounds. Anything over that defeats the purpose of buying a cordless.
  • Easy to empty bin: Good brands make it easy for you to empty the bin and not get your hands dirty.

Our Pick: Dyson V7 MotorHead


At its current price point, the V7 MotorHead is provides the best value for your money for Dyson vacuums. It may not be as powerful as the V8 but the different isn’t that much.


Pros

  • Versatile stick vacuum that morphs into a handheld thanks to its interchangeable tools
  • V7 digital motor will clean both bare floor and carpet well
  • Very good run time of up to 30 minutes

Cons

  • Expect to pay close to $300 for this
  • Small dirt bin

The Dyson V7 MotorHead represents the best compromise between power, cleaning performance, ease of use and price for a Dyson product.

It isn’t as powerful as the Dyson V8 Absolute but it will hold its own in terms of cleaning performance.

If you live inside a home that has lots of carpet, this is the stick vacuum you want because it’ll do a decent job cleaning carpet.

What makes this a great option?

Outside the Dyson V8 and latest V10, this variant is easily the most powerful of the all the options available here. The main cleaning head will do well on both carpet and bare floor.

It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning fine dust, pet litter, cheerios or chips, this machine will clean it up.

The 28 minute run time is plenty for a small home up of up to 2,000 square feet.

This is also usable in larger homes if you want an in-between cleaner that will clean high traffic areas.

Pound for pound, the V7 MotorHead is about as powerful as any cordless vacuum available.

It’ll do well cleaning bare floor, carpet and even flush rugs. The stiff bristles on the cleaning head make this a capable pet hair cleaner.

Better bin design

One big improvement that this variant has over the older V6 MotorHead is the bin. The old design only uses a trap door design that relies only on gravity. In the V7, you don’t need to get your hands dirt. Pull the lever and the bin itself will push dirt down! It is a genius upgrade by the engineers in Dyson.

This vacuum weighs less than 5 pounds which makes it easy to move around. It also has the best swivel steering that turns as tightly as any variant in this list.

No more add on costs

The V7 comes with a washable filter that will last the lifetime of the vacuum. The cyclonic system actually does a good job at keeping dirt from clogging the filter quickly so you don’t have to clean it as often. Once a month would suffice but it doesn’t hurt to check the filter once in a while.

Easy to clean

Cleaning the V7 or any Dyson cordless won’t be an issue because of the interchangeable parts. Nearly everything comes off – extension wand and tools. This gives you easy access to remove any clog.

The main cleaning head is also easy to clean thanks to the easy to remove roller brush.

One downside to a roller brush would be hair wrapping around it. But the thick diameter of the brush and recessed areas make it easy to cut and clean.

Some potential issues

Biggest issue is the cost. The Dyson V7 cost a lot more than comparable plugin vacuums with a cord. That’s the price you’ll have to pay for the convenience it brings to the table. If you cannot afford this then better opt for something with a cord.

You cannot remove the battery so if power runs out, you’ll have to plug this in and wait for 3-1/2 hours to fully charge. Twenty eight minutes is a long time for a cordless but if you’re expecting this to clean anything bigger than 2,000 square feet, you’ll be disappointed.

Some folks expect this to be as powerful as a fully sized upright because they pay a lot of $$$ for it. But that’s just setting yourself for disappointment.

Limited tools

This machine only comes with two additional attachments outside the main cleaning head – the crevice and combo tool. It does not come with the mini turbo brush that works great at cleaning pet hair on upholstery.

If you want that add-on, you’ll have to spend more for the V8 Absolute or the V7 Animal.

This vacuum will not work on high pile carpet or rugs with loose long fibers because these will just wrap around the brush roll. If you have any of these in your home, don’t buy this.

The top heavy design of this vacuum makes it hard on the wrist. It isn’t self-standing so you’ll have to rest it on the wall or use the wall mount to store this.

When cleaning stuff like cheerios, you’ll notice that the cleaning head will push some of the debris forward like a snow plow. One way around this would be using the crevice tool or getting the V6 Fluffy that comes with the soft roller cleaning head.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a lightweight and cordless vacuum to replace your bulky plug-in cleaner then the Dyson V7 would be more capable of doing the task. It’s got enough power to clean bare floor and carpet. But it will lack power to clean plush rugs or carpet with long fibers.

Upgrade pick: Dyson V8 Absolute


If you want a little bit more power or versatility then the Dyson V8 Absolute its good option but more expensive. It comes with more attachments so it can clean more areas with efficiency.


Pros

  • Has more power than the Dyson V7
  • Run time of up to 40 minutes
  • Specialized tools that will clean bare floor or carpet
  • HEPA filtration

Cons

  • Still very expensive despite the launch of the V10

The Dyson V7 MotorHead was our pick mainly because of the price. But it isn’t the best stick vacuum when it comes to power or features. That title currently belongs to the V10 which is the most powerful, feature-rich and best performing option available.

However, the top of the line V10 will cost close to $600! Well and good if you’re okay spending that type of money for a cordless. For those who cannot but still want more performance then the Dyson V8 Absolute is a good upgrade option for the V7 MotorHead.

What makes this a good option?

It has slightly more power than the V7 and more tools. The V8 Absolute comes with two floor cleaning tools – the direct drive cleaning head and soft roller brush.

The first tool is similar to the V7’s main cleaning head but it has more power so it’ll perform better. If you have a larger home this would be a better option because it will run longer – around 34 minutes with the motorized tools attached.

More tools

Another advantage that the V8 Absolute has over the V7 Motorhead is the sheer number of tools. This variant comes with a total of 5.

One of those tools is the soft roller cleaning head that works extremely well with large debris like cheerios without snowplowing them. It also has the mini turbo brush that works great at cleaning fabric upholstery.

More power and runs longer

The V8 has a slight bump in power, 115 air watts versus 100 air watts in the V7. It’s not a significant leap and you’ll only feel the difference with the max setting on. But this will bring the run time down from 34 minutes to 8 minutes.

This is 2 minutes longer than the V7, still too short for any meaningful cleaning.

Potential issues

The biggest issue like the V7 is price. This variant costs close to $400 in Amazon. Despite the price drop, it’s still a lot of money to spend on a cordless.  You could opt for the cheaper V8 MotorHead if you don’t need the functionality of the soft roller cleaning head.

The bottom line

Buying this would depend on what you need. If you need a versatile cleaner that can clean not just floors but pretty much anything inside your home, this is a great option.

Very FLEX-ible: Shark IONFlex DuoClean


The Duo Clean system in the Shark IONFlex works extremely well on bare floor but not as good on carpet. It’s heavier option of the bunch here at over 7 pounds.


Pros

  • Duo clean head does excellent work on surfaces like hardwood and tile
  • Flex feature allows this to stand on its own without the need for a bracket
  • Long run time
  • Interchangeable tools give it lots of versatility

Cons

  • Heavier than a Dyson V7 or V8
  • No HEPA filtration

Another good stick vacuum option is the Shark IONFlex DuoClean. The DuoClean system is unique in that it has counter rotating brush rolls. It combines a soft roller brush roll and a bristled brush makes this a great option for cleaning large bits of dirt like cheerios.

The soft roller part is similar to the one found in the Dyson V8 and V10 but in a smaller diameter.

DuoClean head makes this a good option

One advantage this has over the V8 because you don’t have to constantly change tools. This tool is capable of cleaning carpet and bare floor. But do not expect it to perform as well as a Dyson because it isn’t as powerful.

However

Since the main cleaning head has two rolling brushes, it requires a bigger motor, larger belt, hence it’ll weigh more. This easily makes the Shark IONFlex heavier than the Dyson V7 or V8.

Swivel steering won’t be as good as the Dyson because of the larger cleaning head.

Versatile tools

Like the Dyson V7, the Shark IONFlex also comes with interchangeable tools namely the combination brush and crevice tool and soft dusting brush for more delicate surfaces. It also comes with the mini pet tool that’s similar to the one found in the V8 Absolute.

LED headlights

One feature that separates the Shark IONFlex and any Dyson cordless would be the LED headlights.

This is a feature that you may or may not find useful. In my opinion, this is a useful feature to help track dust under your bed or dining table. These are areas that are toughest to clean and where the most dust accumulates.

IONFlex

Another unique feature found only in a Shark cordless is the IONFlex. This feature allows you to bend the extension wand near the top. You don’t have to bend as much because the wand will do the bending for you. It also allows you to store this vacuum free-standing.

One issue with the IONFlex is it’s a little bit awkward to move around. You really don’t have much control. Some people like this feature while others don’t.

Potential issues that you should know

Biggest issue for the IONFlex would be the weight. This vacuum is extremely top heavy and if you try to clean areas above your head, it puts a lot of pressure on your hands and wrists. The Dyson V7 is lighter in this regard despite having the top heavy design.

The small dirt bin is another drawback as it only holds around 0.33 liters which is smaller than the Dyson V8 that holds 0.5 liters and the Dyson V6 that holds 0.4 liters.

While it does a good job cleaning carpet, it does tend to leave dirt behind when you pull back the vacuum. This issue is somewhat mitigated when you turn on the max power but run time goes down to 11 minutes.

Lastly all Shark cordless vacuums don’t have HEPA filtration whatsoever. And since filtration isn’t as good, you’ll have to clean the foam filters more often.

The bottom line

This is a good alternative to the Dyson V8 since it’s cheaper but don’t expect the same performance. The large body and make this difficult to using cleaning above-the-head areas with the wand and tool attached. It still provides the similar versatility as a Dyson V7 or V8 at a cheaper cost.

There are two Shark IONFlex options available right now. First would be the 2X IF251 where you’ll get two Li-Ion batteries. Second option is the IF202 that only comes with one lithium ion battery.  The IF251 will obviously be more expensive at over $320 and the IF202 cheaper and can be had for less than $300.

Both of these models are the same, the only difference would be the extra battery in the IF251.

Having the extra battery essentially doubles the run time and lessens the downtime because you can charge the extra battery while still using the vacuum.

Premium option: Dyson V10 Absolute


The Dyson V10 is the latest and most powerful cordless vacuum to date. But boy this machine is quite expensive at close to $600. If price is not an issue then get this but the V8 and V7 are better options because it’s a big price difference.


Pros

  • Most advanced and powerful stick vacuum to date
  • Redesigned bin can almost 2 times more dirt than the V8 or V6
  • V10 motor will produce up to 150 air watts
  • Usable as both a stick and handheld vacuum

Cons

  • Most expensive option in the list
  • Performance difference between this and the V8 isn’t that great

In terms of power, run time and capacity, the Dyson V10 is the best cordless vacuum to date. James Dyson is so confident with the V10 he said that they will stop making plugin vacuums and concentrate on cord-free and air purifiers.

Is he really serious with this statement?

The Dyson V10 Absolute unlike the V8 is complete redesign. This cord-free cleaner has a larger bin, better air flow and more power than any of cordless available right now.

At first glance, you’d think that this cordless is a weapon because of its redesigned bin that’s now aligned horizontally in line with the motor to increase capacity and improve airflow.

What makes this a good option?

This vacuum has a lot of power. At max mode this vacuum will produce around 150 air watts which is half of what their upright vacuum produces.

The increase of power is the result of the new motor and better airflow thanks to the reconfigured bin.

Like the V8 and V7, you’ll get the direct drive and soft roller head that will work on carpet and hard floors respectively.

The 7-cell, nickel-cobalt aluminum battery allows this to run for up to 60 minutes. However, that’s without any of the motorized attachments. If you attach any of the motorized tools, it goes down to around 35 minutes more or less if you use the normal setting. In the medium setting, run time goes down to around 25 minutes and it max, it’s down to a measly 7 minutes.

Having the middle setting is an improvement because it gives you more power without sacrificing too much of the run time. You can clean a 1,500 to 2,000 square foot area in a single charge.

The performance for a cordless is very good. It will do well picking up dust, cookie crumbs, pet hair, cheerios, any typical household dirt.

Potential issues and downsides

Like all Dyson products, the biggest issue for this would be price. The top-of-the-line V10 Absolute will cost close to $600. A cheaper variant is also available called the MotorHead which is less than $450. It has the same features as the Absolute with a smaller bin but minus the soft roller and mini turbo brush.

With such a price premium, you’d expect this to be worlds better than the V8 but in reality it isn’t.

This is main reason why I didn’t rank this any higher.

But this is a huge step in the right direction as Dyson will solely focus their efforts in manufacturing more powerful cordless vacuums in the future.

The bottom line

I don’t see any reason to purchase this cordless vacuum right now. The slight bump in performance does not justify the exorbitant price. Save yourself a few hundred bucks and get the V7 if you don’t need the mini turbo brush or the soft roller head.

Old reliable: Dyson V6 Absolute


Despite being an older variant, the Dyson V6 Absolute is still a good option because of the huge price drop. It almost has the same power as the V7 so this will clean almost as well. But empty the bin will be quite messy.


Pros

  • Cheaper than the V8, and V10
  • Still a great performer regardless if you’re cleaning hardwood or carpet
  • Versatile thanks to the interchangeable tools

Cons

  • Dirt bin is messy to empty

Another Dyson on the list! What gives?

It’s hard not to put the V6 Absolute on this list because it’s still one of the best performing stick vacuums despite its age. This was the Dyson’s first cordless that used the soft roller tool that changed the way stick vacuums cleaned hard surfaces.

What makes this a good option?

In terms of performance, this variant still is a decent option regardless of surface. Whether you’re cleaning fine dust or chunky cheerios, it will do the job.

It may not have the same power as the V8 or V10 but if you want something robust and versatile enough to clean a home that has carpet and bare floor then this is a great option.

Some issues

Still pricey at over $300 but you’ll get a lot for your dollar. Out of the box, it comes with the soft roller and direct drive cleaning heads for bare floor and carpet respectively. Plus it comes with the mini turbo brush for upholstery, and a couple other brush attachments for cleaning other areas of your home.

If the $300 price tag is too high then you can opt for the V6 MotorHead for homes with carpet or the V6 Fluffy for bare floor.

Run time won’t be as long as the newer Dysons in this list. This will run for 20 minutes max and that’s without the motorized tools. With the motorized tools, that number goes down to around 17 minutes or so.

The bottom line:

If you don’t mind old tech, trap door style bin, save yourself some $$$ and get the Dyson V6 Absolute. It still performs decent and will work well inside small homes that require versatility than power.

Other options

There are a bunch of other options in Amazon. Let me go through the more popular ones in this section.

If you need large debris cleaning capabilities of the soft roller head but don’t want to spend close to $400 then the V7 Absolute is a good option. Right now it’s only available in Dyson.com.

If the Shark IONFlex is too expensive…

The Shark IONFlex has a plug-in option (they call this the Shark Flex HV391) if you don’t mind tidying up cords.

Our previous pick in the top five, the Hoover Linx is another option. It’s a long time bestseller in Amazon despite its old age because of it cleans quite well. Unfortunately it’s strictly a floor cleaner and the run time with the brush roll on is only 10 minutes.

The Dyson V6 is another good option if you want something that will clean but not as expensive as the newer Dysons. If you need a basic stick vacuum then go with the Dyson V6 Cord-Free. There are also other options like the MotorHead, Fluffy, Animal, and much more. Choosing one will depend on what your needs are.

Take note that you cannot use attachments of newer variants on older ones and vice versa.

Xiaomi has also entered the stick vacuum market with their Roidmi F8. In terms of performance, this product looks promising with the same soft roller attachment found in the V6 but there are some quirks that hold this back. Biggest issue for me would be design. The main body of the F8 is very bulky making this very top heavy. Also the other attachments like the brush tool should improve.

Reach is very limited. An extension house will really help but right now that is still not available. Lastly, dirt bin is very clunky, it easily falls apart if you don’t know what you’re doing leaving you with a big mess in your hands. Lastly, the price does not justify the overall quality. You can a V7 for the money you’d pay for the Roidmi and have some change left.

Hoover Cruise is another Dyson-clone only in looks but not performance. This product simply lacks power, agitation or tools to compete even with the Dyson V6.

AirRam is good however…

The Bissell AirRam is a Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping favorite but like the Hoover Linx, this is strictly a floor cleaner. You can’t use this to clean surfaces above floors. And for the same price you can already buy a decent Dyson cordless that will perform as well and clean more areas.

Oreck POD is another option from one of the largest manufacturers of bagged vacuums – Oreck. A bagged cordless bagged vacuum is a novel idea but it’s way too expensive at close to $600.

There are also a bunch of other options that come from China these include the Dibea C17, Dibea F6, Deik, and Tineko A10 but one big issue with these products is build-quality.

To be fair to these brands, it’s been improving but it still lags behind established brands like Dyson and Shark. Filtration is another issue as most of these still use foam filters that soil quickly.

To wrap up

There you go, I’ve given you most if not all of the stick vacuum options available right now.

For now, Dyson and Shark still are kings of the hill. It’s hard to recommend other brands right now because none can come close to the overall quality, ergonomics and performance.

If you’ve tried any of the vacuums above, please share your experience in the comments section below.

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