While the Shark Navigator Freestyle finished lower in our lineup, it still offers good performance for significantly less than most of the models that beat it. It does well at cleaning all types of floors, though concessions were made to its convenience and ease of use to keep the cost down. But for those searching for a solid stick vacuum and who don't want to break the bank, this well-priced vacuum is certainly one to consider.Editor's Note: This gear review includes an update from January 11, 2022, which provides more information on the products we'd choose and why.
Shark Navigator Freestyle Review
Pros: Great value, good at cleaning hard floors
Cons: Not terribly convenient, more difficult to use
Compare to Similar Products
Shark Navigator Freestyle
$159.99 at Amazon
|$115 List||$170 List|
$154.99 at Amazon
$39.99 at Amazon
$28.37 at Amazon
|Pros||Great value, good at cleaning hard floors||Great value, convenient, does well with hard floors||Inexpensive, convenient||Decent at cleaning hard surfaces, inexpensive||Inexpensive|
|Cons||Not terribly convenient, more difficult to use||Could be better at carpet||Lackluster carpet cleaning, struggles with edges||Harder to use, loud||Poor carpet cleaning ability, harder to use, less convenient|
|Bottom Line||This vacuum provides excellent value, offering a solid performance at a fraction of the price of the top models||If you are shopping for a stick vacuum and don't want to break the bank, then we think this is a great option||This vacuum delivered a middle-of-the-road performance that failed to make much of an impression||This inexpensive model cleans decently, especially when it comes to hard surfaces||This lightweight vacuum may be super cheap, but don't expect much in terms of performance|
|Rating Categories||Shark Navigator Fre...||Moosoo XL-618A||Eureka RapidClean Pro||VonHaus 600W 2-in-1||Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik|
|Hard Surface Cleaning (30%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Carpet Cleaning (15%)|
|Specs||Shark Navigator Fre...||Moosoo XL-618A||Eureka RapidClean Pro||VonHaus 600W 2-in-1||Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik|
|Weight||7.1 lbs||5.1 lbs||5.1 lbs||4.5 lbs||3.4 lbs|
|Cordless Battery Life||13:53 min:sec||22:40 min:sec||23:12 min:sec||n/a||n/a|
|Maximum Corded Reach||n/a||n/a||n/a||21 ft||17.5 ft|
|Measured Charge Time||355 min||340 min||270 min||n/a||n/a|
|Noise Level||75 dBa||67 dBa||64.5 dBa||77 dBa||73.5 dBa|
|Measured Cleaning Path Width||9.75"||7.75"||9.75"||8.75"||9"|
|Variable Suction Control||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Brush On/Off Switch?||Slows the brush for hard floor||No||No||n/a||n/a|
|Storage||Stands up||Wall mount only||Wall mount only||Stands up; falls over easily||Stands up; falls over easily|
|Swivel Head?||Yes; very limited||Yes||Yes||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
While this vacuum isn't quite as versatile and convenient as some of its siblings, the Navigator Freestyle didn't disappoint throughout our testing. It's a solid performer and an excellent overall value, with no significant drawbacks. If you want a stick vacuum for cleaning up small messes in between deep cleans of your home and don't want to spend a ton of cash, this is a clear contender.
Earning the highest weight of all our test metrics, convenience is paramount for stick vacuums compared to traditional vacuums. We compared the weight, storage method, whether or not the vacuum was corded or cordless, its maximum reach or battery life, and how adept each product was at cleaning non-floor surfaces. The Navigator gave us an average performance for its efforts.
The Navigator fell a little short when it came to cleaning anywhere off the floor, lacking the attachments or the versatility of other models. This vacuum can only be used as an upright model and doesn't transform into a handheld vacuum cleaner like others in our review. It is an average weight compared to other cordless models and has decent battery life. It lasted just shy of 14 minutes on its carpet cleaning mode and took about 6 hours to recharge fully. On the plus side, it's stable enough to stand on its own rather than relying solely on a wall mount for storage, an often overlooked feature of these products that is exceptionally convenient.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Moving on to our second group of tests, the ability of each product to clean hard surfaces. This made up 30% of the total score for each stick vacuum. We assessed the performance of each model by spreading out oatmeal, flour, rice, pet hair, and Cheerios on a section of hardwood floor. We then rated each vacuum on how much residual debris was leftover and the number of passes it took to get the floor visually clean. The Navigator scored very well in this metric.
This vacuum did an excellent job cleaning up rice, only taking a single pass to clean everything up thoroughly. This model didn't fling rice to the side using the bare floor mode, even when the brush was spinning. Performance dropped a little when it came to cleaning up flour, though. It took 2-4 passes to get the area visually clean, with additional passes needed to get residual flour out of the cracks between boards. The Navigator would also collect a bunch of flour on its roller wheels, which would usually fall off later in an inconvenient location.
The Navigator improved a bit in our cereal test, doing a slightly above-average job collecting Cheerios. Its performance continued to improve in our final two tests of this metric: oats and pet hair. It took about 1.5 passes to collect the oats, though a few stragglers were left behind. However, it did collect all of the pet hair we laid out, tying with about half of the group for a perfect score.
Ease of Use
To compare these products for this metric, we evaluated how easy it was for each vacuum to clean under furniture and close to edges, the different cleaning power levels provided, and the level of noise produced by each vacuum while in operation. The Navigator Freestyle did a decent job cleaning up debris along the edge of a wall, collecting all of the material that we laid out, though it took a few more passes to achieve this than the top-performing models in our test.
Performance dropped when it came to cleaning under furniture, with this model finishing in the lower half of the pack. The Navigator only reached just shy of 11" under our test sofa. To compare, some models had more than three times the reach.
This model has a high and low power cleaning mode, with a footswitch to swap between hard floor and carpet mode. This doesn't totally stop the brush from rotating; it just slows it down. The Navigator Freestyle is about average in terms of noise level and has a swivel steering head, but it is somewhat limited — substantially less agile than others we reviewed.
For the final metric of our testing process, we evaluated how well each stick vacuum did at cleaning carpeted floors. Once again, we broke out the flour, oats, rice, cereal, and donated pet hair, spreading them out on both low-pile, flat carpet, and medium-pile, fluffy carpet and based our scores on how well each type of debris was cleaned and how many cleaning passes it took.
The Navigator started with a strong showing in this test, doing a good job collecting rice on both types of carpet. It took about two passes on both types to get them visually clean. Unfortunately, the Navigator couldn't maintain its performance when we moved on to the flour test. This model took a few passes and failed to impress, performing among the worst of our tested vacuums.
Some redemption was found when we got to the Cheerio collection. This stick vacuum got all the cereal on the flat carpet without effort. However, on the fluffy carpet version of this test, the Navigator truly shined. This model scooped up the cereal without any difficulties, only pushing a few of them around before promptly picking them up. Continuing its upward trend, the Navigator tied for the top score when collecting pet hair and delivered a decent showing at collecting oats.
Should You Buy the Navigator Freestyle?
This vacuum is good at cleaning hard surfaces and has a reasonable price. It impressed in our testing on the fluffy carpet and sucked up the Cheerios better than some of the competition. However, several products showed better performance in our tests with similar or lower prices, making the Navigator not our first choice or even the Shark of choice in this review.
What Other Stick Vacuum Should You Consider?
If you like the Shark brand, we think you'll be happier with the Shark Rocket Pet Pro, which is one of the highest-scoring options in the review with great results for cleaning hard surfaces and carpet. Depending on your goals, the Shark IONFlex has one of the highest test results for cleaning on hard surfaces. If your budget does allow for the competition Shark options, you might consider the Moosoo XL-618A, which is easier to use, more convenient, and less expensive with similar cleaning test results.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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