In the past, background noise (or 'hum') has simply been considered part of playing a vintage Stratocaster. Since the default pickups for the Strat are single-coil, it's always been an expressive instrument that colors its sound with a bit of background noise. While plenty of guitarists are into that effect, maybe you're looking to extract a little extra power and clarity out of your Strat to bring a more modern flavor to its tones. If that’s your goal, humbucking guitar pickups will take you there.
What is a humbucker, exactly? The simple answer is that it's a pickup with two coils per string instead of just one, allowing the two magnets to cancel out background noise while working together to feed even more juice to your amp. That description alone doesn't cover everything you'll find in this selection, however. Some of the pickups featured are actually specialty single-coil designs that use methods other than dual coils to put a stop to interference. Either way, the concept is the same: these are pickups designed to quiet background hum to give you a combination of the Strat's legendary tone and noise-free contemporary sound.
Since the Stratocaster is normally built with single-coil pickups, most of these humbuckers are small enough to fit into the stock slot, even if they use two sets of coils—this means you can install them without having to modify the guitar body. One exception is DiMarzio's Billy Corgan pickup. Since it's neck-mounted, it uses a more classic humbucker layout.
Like any other pickups, these Stratocaster humbuckers come in active and passive varieties. The difference between the two is that active pickups have their own miniature preamp built in, which enables them to give higher distortion without sounding loose or sloppy. Another way to boost distortion is with higher-output pickups. However, if your style is more in line with a clear, controlled sound and you don't need those distortion levels, a moderate-output passive humbucker will suit you just fine.
Pickups, like many other parts of your Stratocaster, are a matter of preference. The only way to know for sure whether you've found the right ones are to give them a listen and let your ear decide. If you're looking to power up your Strat and take a way a bit of the background noise, these humbucking pickups are definitely the place to start your search.