I was fortunate enough to try out this Rigid NXT 14 gallon 6 horsepower wet dry vac. I was extremely impressed with it. I have used a lot of Rigid shop vacs, and I have to say this is the best performing one that I've tried.
Opening the box the vacuum came completely disassembled so the first thing you have to do is assemble it - you have to put all of the wheels on, put all the attachments, put the little hose guides on, screw the handle into the top of the thing. It came in like a whole bunch of pieces, which is a little bit annoying but okay, that's just a personal preference.
As far as performance, 6 horsepower is a lot - that's a really powerful motor inside of this thing, so it will both push a lot of air out if your using it as a blower, and suck a lot of air in if you’re using it as a vacuum. It does come with a larger than normal filter, and if you’re not using it for wet stuff, the filter is amazing. It doesn’t let anything get through. You do want to make sure that you take the filter out if you’re vacuuming up a pile of water so it doesn’t get destroyed. You also don't want to leave this thing out in the rain because water can get inside of it and still ruin the filter. But this is an extremely stout vacuum.
As an electrician I use this to pull jet line through conduit that’s underground - that way I can pull a mule tape or rope in and pull all my underground wires. Normally I will keep what we call a small “stinger” vacuum (3 or 4 gallon) with a small hose on it so when you have a 4” pipe and you a hose that's like 1”, a lot of time it’s is not powerful enough over 300’ to pull a string through. And it’s hard to seal around the remaining air gap on a large diameter conduit. So with a vacuum like this, although it’s very large and kind of cumbersome to bring around in vehicles, it is super powerful and almost a dead guarantee that you're going to be able to pull anything through the conduit. A lot of times too the underground conduit gets filled with water (because somebody may not have sealed the ends properly), so you need a vacuum to and push all that water out or try to suck it in before you're able to pull your jet line through.
There are tons of attachments and it's not the largest vacuum that Rigid makes. They do have a 16 gallon which is way huge - I couldn’t possibly see trying to bring that on job sites with me because it just takes up way too much space in the truck. The 14 gallon one does as well, though it's not quite as large, but with the fact that the wheels are external it take sup a lot of room. When you attach the wheels they stick out 4 or 5 extra inches, so it makes this thing more cumbersome. They snap in place at first, but you have to screw the wheels in - kind of a pain in the ass to try and take all the wheels off every time you want to stick this in your truck. When I went to New York City I talke dot the Ridgid guys about the design, and asked them what the deal is with all of their external wheels. It’s really difficult to try to fit these oddly-shaped vacuum cleaners in vehicales with wheel sticking out in every direction. They said that that's just their design, but I let them know that I personally, and probably most electricians, are going to want something that's a little bit more compact. Still powerful, but it needs to save as much space as possible. A lot of us have smaller vans or have boxes of materials and tools in the backs of our trucks. I just see that those wheels have a possibility of getting snagged and breaking off. Trying to fit an odd-shaped object like in between boxes and bags and other tools is a little ridiculous. I do see the configuration of the wheels as a positive because it allows the vacuum to stand up and not tip over very easily.
There are some attachments that go on the side that are basically two little wings that are meant to hold the hose in place if you wanted to wrap the hose around the top of it. I see these as a pain in the ass - I think they're going to break off, they don't hold the hose very well, you can only get the hose to wrap around one time. They don’t do a very good job of holding the entire length of the hose, there’s still parts that hang off and it's again just an extra cheap little piece of plastic that is probably going to break off when somebody throws this into the back of a truck, or throws materials on top of it, or it's going to end up getting warped because it's not a full metal clip. To me this is a wasted design effort but I do see them putting these wings on most of their NXT vacuums. I just roll the hose up and stick it inside the vacuum as for transport, so I think these clips are kind of silly idea. Another thing I thought was poorly designed is the handle that you carry the vacuum by. It has two little pieces of plastic on either side that extend out for you to wrap the cord around. Being that the cord on this 14 gallon vacuum is so long, you can't wrap the entire length around the handle and have it stay there securely. You run out of room on the handle, and have to over wrap it and tuck it in underneath. It's just piss poor and I think they need to design it a little bit better to be able to hold the entire cord that they have. I got probably three-quarters of the way through wrapping that cord around and around and around and around and then I was like holy shit there's more cord and I'm out of room, I don't have anywhere else, so I kind of had to be clever with how I was doing it. So I think that's kind of silly, if you’re going to take the time to design something like that, make it flawless.
Each one of the wheels/feet has a little round slot that each one of the hose accessories or adapters can slide into so they all stand up vertically. I just I don't like this. It doesn't matter what brand of vacuum it is, I'm not going to use those and I don't see many tradesmen that actually do. Most tradesmen throw the attachments away and don’t use them because they’ll just end up falling off in the truck, blowing out of the truck when you're going down a highway, or get broken easily. We don't need 37 different attachments on these things, and I think it would make much more sense if there was something more permanent that doesn't protrude so much from the tool for you to store these things in. Maybe even just storing a couple that you need inside, but no one I know is going to use five or six different attachments on this thing and roll it around all the time. If you’re only using this shop vac in your garage and not lugging it all over the place, keeping up with all the accessories isn’t a big deal. But I think it’s more of a marketing ploy to have all these bells and whistles. Most guys are just using the hose and maybe one or two extensions. It’s just silly to make stuff hanging off the sides a major design. I think if they worried about half the amount of attachments and put more effort into how they're going to store them better, or making them smaller, half the size and telescope out, this vacuum would be a game changer.
I'm going to give this vacuum a 4.5/5 stars. I want to give it a 5 because it's super bad ass, it’s the best vacuum I’ve had by far. The only shit side of it is that I can't fit it anywhere and still fit materials in my van. I have a Dodge Ram ProMaster City so I have a relatively small van. With the amount of materials and tools I have to fit in there already, I don't have room for a vacuum this large. I have room for a small stinger but when I have a job where I'm pulling underground wires or anything like that, I will definitely grab this and bring it with me and just deal with the fact that is so damn huge. But for the rest of the time I'm just going to leave it in the shop. The reason I dock it .5 stars is because, while the shape and size are kind of minor things, the cheap gimmicky plastic side wings for the hose are poorly designed, and the handle can’t fully house the entire cord that comes with it. There's a plastic piece on the back that you have to attach so you can put more attachments and more little adapters and hardware and just more shit to stick on the outside. All that extra stuff will rip off in the back of your truck. It’s still outstanding, great power and great idea, it just needs a little bit of perfecting to the core idea, and less flashy “extras” in my opinion.