Could Anything Be Faster Than the New Bissell Bolt? Our Hands-On Review of the ION XRT Stick Vac

Written by Martin Regtien on . Posted in Appliances


I am a firm believer in always having the right tool for the job. This applies not only to my workshop or office desk but also in my household, particularly for those chores no one likes to do. 
Vacuuming is one of these dreadful duties, especially for blokes.

Can the Bissell Bolt which is a 2-in-1 cordless vacuum, bring any relief here?
In other words: is it the right tool for all the basic vacuuming jobs around the house?

The answer is a resounding Yes but let's find out why.


Cordless vacuums have suffered from a major flaw ever since their introduction and that is lack of power. It is obvious that they cannot compete with the corded siblings when it comes to suction power. And for that matter staying power. Cordless devices have a limited endurance which diminishes over time even more. Case in point: we've had a couple of Electrolux Ergorapido units which gave up the ghost when their nonreplaceable batteries died a slow death.

So for any stick vac to be really useful it needs to have at least 18 V batteries which can run 30 minutes or more.
When news came that Bissell was coming out with a new stick vac, better battery power was at the top of my requirements and with a 25.2 ion battery it is did not disappoint! Ion battery technology is the latest for these types of appliances and the XRT model can run for a whopping 40 minutes.

Another major requirement for usefulness is the two in one feature, in other words it should have a removable hand vacuum to get into the really small spaces.
Both boxes ticked for the Bissell Bolt.
You can't go wrong if you base your choice on these two criteria alone.
There are a couple of stick vacs that fit the bill: the Bosch Athlet is one of them but if you really want to get into usefulness you need to check out these features on the Bolt ION XRT:

There are too many so I'll just number the most important ones.

The Bolt has a folding handle that will ensure compact storage as well is fold out the other way to reach underneath furniture. Neat. In fact, really neat! Once I discovered that the trigger for that is underneath the handle and that this operation is literally an on-the-fly one finger affair, I was sold!


Bolt pics

The suction foot can swivel through 180° which helps tremendously in manoeuvring around objects.
The Bolt will stand on its own without falling over.

It has EdgeReach technology which is a fancy way of saying that the suction can be diverted to the sides for better cleaning along edges and it has blue LED lights along the sides to let you know it is switched on. It might not do much for seeing the dirt along the edges better, but hey, it looks good!

To switch on the EdgeReach suction there is a button near the on/off switch.
There is also a button for the roller brush but I like to have it on all the time, just as the power setting. Just keep it on high because the noise is quite bearable.

Finally, the Bolt looks cool with some accents of lime green, sharing its heritage with the Bissell Vac and Steam, which we reviewed here.


Bolt edge

Seeing the Bolt in Action

There is something pleasantly gross about seeing that clear plastic dust canister fill up with the detritus of day-to-day living....
At least you know that the Bolt is doing a great job but also that you should be vacuuming much more often! And since it is a drag to pull out that heavy corded vacuum out of the cupboard, these stick vacs make life a lot easier. And FASTER! You might get away with just having one of these in your house, particularly if you don't have too many deep pile carpets.

The ladies on our team could not be held back in giving the Bolt Ion XRT a good run.

They praised its manoeuvrability and being lightweight. That last comment is to be taken literally. This Bissell is no lightweight when it comes to performance and endurance.
We didn't time it exactly but the 40 minutes promised would be pretty close.

Where it really shines is in cleaning up after our Labrador: it has a special rubber paddle brush to take care of pet hair. It has a couple of other brushes as well and changing them out is quite easy too.
The XRT has a range of other wand attachments which makes it easy to reach every corner.

We reviewed (courtesy of Bissell Australia) the deluxe model, priced at a reasonable $299. The standard one, available in blue and orange, is listed at $249. My money is on the deluxe model with the 25 V battery, rather than the 18 V battery of the standard one. That way you have a little bit more runtime and a few more accessories.
The Bolt is available from all the major retailers with a two year warranty.


The Bissell Bolt Ion XRT is probably the best cordless vacuum you can buy on the market today.

It is very well designed, with great and useful features. The only improvement I can suggest is to put some bright LEDs on the front. That really makes a difference when you're trying to reach underneath furniture or generally as it highlights the dust particles from a low angle.

Other than that, the Bolt Ion continues to deliver with that big 25V battery and can be highly recommended.

This link you might find useful too: 

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