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Henry HVR 160-11 vacuum cleaner review

Does Britain's smiling vac still cut the mustard in 2022?

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
Henry HVR 160-11 hoover vacuum cleaner on wooden floor

Our review

Simple but effective, the HVR 160-11 is a marvellous choice for domestic cleaning
Pros: Agile and easy to guide around the home; Lengthy hose and power cable; clever manual wind cable management; stellar suction; Easy to change its large volume bags; plenty of tools included; superb reliability and support
Cons: Interference fit of tools can be a little frustrating; cleaning head not the most sophisticated when it comes to articulation; a touch on the weighty side; you’ll have to be careful with stairs

Henry Hoover must be the world’s most recognisable vacuum and it turns out the latest HRV 160-11 model is also one of the best all-round vacuums you can buy.


When Henry’s parent firm Numatic personified its canister hoover back in the 1980s it was a stroke of marketing genius, but glance at the design of that original vacuum and realise how faithful it remains to the Henry of today and you realise Numatic aced more than just marketing.

Why is the Henry Hoover so popular?

Henry vacuums are known for their rugged durability, ease of use and affordable pricing. Look for customer reviews under any Henry product listing on the internet and you’ll find tales of Henrys outlasting far more expensive and complex machinery.

Although professional cleaners are well catered for by Numatic’s commercial line of vacuums, it’s not unusual to find professionals in all sorts of trades sporting Henry hoovers.

How easy is it to use Henry the hoover?

Henry couldn’t be easier to operate; this version of the machine has one motor speed, an on/off flick switch and a light which illuminates when the machine has power.

The HVR 160-11 has a short wheelbase and four free rolling wheels, which makes it a fairly agile machine to move around when guided by its hose. That short wheelbase makes it possible to balance the Henry on certain deeper stairs but this is a sketchy activity that we’d advise against.

Four wheels and a short wheelbase mean the Henry is easily led around the home.
Oli Woodman / Our Media

Thankfully Henry’s integrated grab handle means temporarily lifting the machine isn’t too bad for those in good physical shape but it’s fair to say that vacuuming staircases is not Henry’s forte.

At 7.5kg including its kit, the Henry is far from the lightest vacuum to lift but the HVR 160-11 itself doesn’t take up much cupboard space, though those with a tight storage area may have to disassemble the hoover’s wand though and the tight fitting components can be a little frustrating to take apart once assembled.

The power cable is a generous 10 metres in length and the genius rotary dial at the top of Henry makes retrieving the cord a doddle – which is just the sort of convenience we appreciate after undertaking a good vacuuming session.

The Henry HVR 160-11 features an integrated grab handle and a clever wind-up reel to retreive the machine’s 10-metre power cable.

We don’t think anyone will have a hard time when it comes to installing or changing bags with the Henry. Two simple clips have to be released before the entire motor assembly lifts from the machine’s tub. Then it’s just a case of lifting out the circular filter element and you’ll have access to the bag which simply presses onto the reverse side of the suction hose.

The Henry HVR 160-11 disasembles in seconds making bag changes really simple.

Henry bags even come with a neat closing tab that can be closed the moment they’re removed, minimising the chance of any dusty spills during bag changes. The Henry uses bags that are inexpensive and readily available, though it’s worth keeping your Henry to original Numatic bags in order to guarantee performance.

Closing tabs on Henry’s bags make bag swaps a mess-free affair.
Oli Woodman / Our Media

Can I use Henry without bags?

It is possible to use a Henry vacuum cleaner without a bag and instead fill its tub directly though this is something that is hard on the vacuum’s filter and ultimately its motor and should be avoided.

Without a bag you can see just how simple the Henry’s design is.
Oli Woodman / Our Media

How good at cleaning is the Henry HVR 160-11?

It’d be easy to underestimate a cleaner with such charming looks, but rest assured the Henry HVR 160-11 offers serious suction. The 620w motor might not sound like a lot, but this vacuum offers suction that’s up there with the best in its class.

It doesn’t matter which tool combination you have on the end of the Henry, you’ll always get impressive suction providing you’ve not filled its bag. Talking of bag filling, our machine typically gets at least a month of regular use in our large family home before it needs changing.

The combination brush head is wheeled and features an adjustable brush section.
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The combination floor tool is what most Henry users will use most of the time and it’s a fine if slightly crude piece of kit. A lever at the base of the tool can be flicked with your foot to adjust the position of the brushes at the faceplate; raise the brushes for use on carpets or drop them down for effective cleaning on hard floors. There is also something really satisfying about the metallic sound that Henry makes when debris travels down its stainless tube set.

The standard hose fits to the stainless steel wand with an interference fit.
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In certain situations the slightly limited articulation of the tool can mean you may need to move yourself a little more than with an upright cleaner but in general it’s a capable bit of equipment that has been built to last. Dialling down the suction can sometimes be necessary and providing you’re using the stainless tubes it’s something that is easy to do thanks to a bypass valve that drops up to 30% of suction power.

A filtered release valve on the stainless steel wand reduces suction power by up to 30%.
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If your home does feature vast expanses of carpet then the ergonomics of a canister machine such as this might prove inferior to that of an upright but the versatility that Henry offers makes it far better for a range of tasks. Take car cleaning, which the Henry makes light work of thanks to its lengthy hose, strong suction and supplied crevice tool.

Henry can also carry up two of his own tools thanks to mouldings at the back of the machine and there’s also an area to park the wand should you want to neatly pause your cleaning effort.

The Henry HVR 1601-11 can hold two of its own tools and has a centre section to park the hoover’s wand.
Oli Woodman / Our Media

How Reliable is the Henry HVR 160-11?

Numatic boasts of having produced over 10 million vacuums over the years and insists that most of them are still in service.

We’ve got every reason to believe them and have personal experience of Henry vacuums going on for decades.

Spares are readily available and it’s possible to buy all manner of tool kits to either replenish or kit out Henry for more specific cleaning duties.

How quiet is the Henry HVR 160-11?

The Henry HVR 160-11 is relatively quiet in its operation. Of course you’ll realise that the Hoover is in use but its motor’s drone doesn’t drown out all ambient noise, something that noise sensitive people and pets will be thankful for.

What tools and equipment are supplied with the Henry HVR 160-11?

The Henry HVR 1601-11 tool kit is comprehensive and features tools that make more specific cleaning jobs far easier.
Oli Woodman / Our Media

The included tool kit is thorough and packs a 2.2-metre hose, a stainless steel tube set and multiple interference fit tools for a variety of tasks. We mostly used Henry with the supplied combination floor tool which switches between carpet and hard floor modes

Is there a better Henry vacuum for me in the range?

Those seeking ultimate mobility and freedom when cleaning may be interested in the Henry Cordless. It’s a lighter model that runs on a battery pack rather than taking mains power with the trade off coming in the form of outright suction and a heftier price tag.

The Henry HVR 160-11 can not be used for wet vacuuming. If cleaning up spills is your priority then you should take a look at either the Henry George, Henry Wash or Charles hoovers.

The 6-litre capacity of Henry HVR 160-11 is large enough for most domestic uses but if you’re dealing with a particularly large space or just need a large capacity cleaner then the 9L Henry Xtra may be a better fit.

Those dealing with pet hair regularly will likely appreciate the pet-specific and odour reducing features of the Henry Pet.

Confused about the vast selection of Henry vacuum cleaners? Our guide to the Henry hoover range will help clear that up.


How we tested the Henry HVR 160-11 vacuum cleaner

This review has been compiled after hours of real-world testing and many more with Henry’s predecessor and sibling vacuum cleaners. The product used in this review was purchased privately.