Is It Worth Upgrading to the M18 FUEL™ PACKOUT™ 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum?

Welcome back to Feature Friday, MacMor’s video and blog series where we discuss products and services related to industry, answer questions that are frequently asked by our customers and provide insight on the latest safety standards and best practices. This week, we’re exploring the third generation Milwaukee™ wet/dry vacuum, comparing it to its predecessor, and discussing whether it is worth the upgrade if you own one of the previous generations of Milwaukee’s compact jobsite vacuums.


The M18 FUEL™ PACKOUT™ 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum (0970-20) features an effective POWERSTATE™ brushless motor that provides 50 Ft3/min (CFM) of suction and 47" of water lift, allowing it to pick up both wet and dry debris with ease.

The vacuum delivers up to 30 minutes of run time on a HIGH OUTPUT™ 8.0 Battery Pack in high mode, and approximately 50+ minutes of run time in low mode, allowing users to tackle larger jobs with less frequent battery swapping.

For reference, the general rule of thumb is that you can expect roughly 4 minutes of run-time per amp/hour on the high setting, while on the low setting you can get up to 6 minutes per amp/hour. Looking to quickly clean up a small mess but all you’ve got nearby is a compact 2.0-amp battery? No problem, especially if the low mode gives you enough power to get the job done.


The PACKOUT™ vacuum is literally ‘packed’ with features that make it a highly versatile and convenient tool to have around. One of its most noteworthy features is that it is fully compatible with all Milwaukee PACKOUT™ storage system solutions, making it easier than ever to transport and store in comparison to previous models, which as we know had an affinity for sliding around the truck bed if not tied down or braced properly.

On-board accessories and hose storage help keep everything organized and within reach. The built-in blower port on the side makes it easy to switch between vacuuming and blowing. Accessories that come with the unit include a Crevice Tool, a Utility Nozzle and a handy Power Tool Adapter that allows you to connect your vacuum directly to the dust port on sanders, saws, etc.

Finally, the vacuum comes with a replaceable, washable HEPA filter that is certified to capture 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 microns, making it excellent for picking up even the finest dust particles.

Noise Pollution

In comparison to traditional jobsite shop vacs, Milwaukee claims their PACKOUT™ vacuum is nearly 2x quieter. While we didn’t explicitly compare our unit against other brands, we did take the opportunity to compare it against the previous generation unit (0880-20). Using a couple different decibel checkers, we confirmed the 0970-20 vacuum produced the advertised 87 dB(A) on the high setting, and only 80 dB(A) on its low setting. This might not look like a significant difference, but you’ll feel differently about it the next time you turn on your vacuum in a small space.

In comparison, the previous generation M18™ Wet/Dry Vacuum (0880-20) produced a whopping 97 dB(A) in our in-house testing. This means that the new PACKOUT™ vacuum not only works harder, it also puts less strain on your hearing while doing so.

MacMor's in-house volume test results between M18 FUEL™ PACKOUT™ 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum (0970-20) and M18™ Wet/Dry Vacuum
Milwaukee® Jobsite Vacuum in-house volume test results (view enlarged image)

For more information on noise pollution as well as some essential material on hearing protection, check out this blog article where we discuss noise exposure risks and present important considerations for choosing your hearing protection.

Is it Worth the Upgrade?

Scenario 1: You already own PACKOUT™ gear

If you are in the market for a shop vac and have an existing PACKOUT™ system, the 0970-20 vacuum is a no-brainer. Its compatibility with the PACKOUT™ ecosystem means you can easily integrate it into your existing storage and transportation system. Plus, with its increased power and noise reduction, it's a clear upgrade from previous models.

Scenario 2: You own a previous generation Milwaukee wet/dry vacuum

If you already have the 0780-20 or 0880-20 vacuum and are considering upgrading to the new PACKOUT™ vacuum, you'll enjoy a significant increase in suction power while simultaneously reducing noise on the jobsite. The PACKOUT™ compatibility also makes it easier to transport and store your vacuum alongside your other tools and components (if you already own any PACKOUT™ equipment).

Another handy feature the 0970-20 has is the ability to switch between high and low modes depending on the task. This can come in handy if you’re looking to minimize noise or get the most out of your battery. Additionally, if your previous 0880-20 vacuum is still working properly, you can always consider turning that unit into a dedicated wet vacuum and installing a foam wet filter to make it more efficient. Similarly, if you decide to primarily use your 0970-20 unit for dry applications, you can invest in some fleece dust bags to keep your collection tank cleaner and get the most out of your HEPA filter.

Scenario 3: You are buying a new shop vac

If you're in the market for a new shop vac and are debating between the 0880-20 and the 0970-20, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, there is a price difference of about $100 CAD between the two models which is not insignificant. The PACKOUT™ unit does include the power tool adapter, but since that adapter is fairly inexpensive, I wouldn’t say that alone justifies the price gap.

If you’re on a tight budget, the previous generation vacuum may be the more appealing option for you. However, if you need a vacuum with more power and versatility, and you appreciate the quieter performance and PACKOUT™ compatibility, the 0970-20 is the clear winner and well worth the price of admission. It all comes down to your needs and budget.

Final Comparison

Specification comparison between M18 FUEL™ PACKOUT™ 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum (0970-20) and M18™ Wet/Dry Vacuum
Milwaukee® Jobsite Vacuum Comparison (view enlarged image)

Contact Us

MacMor Industries is your one-stop shop for all things Milwaukee Tools. If you or your crew are looking to get outfitted with power tools, hand tools, lighting, or the latest PACKOUT™ items, please don’t hesitate to contact us or reach out to your rep directly.