As you already now, we are big advocates for traveling light. For 5 years and counting we have been traveling mostly with a carry on only. And mostly with a carry on size backpack, rather than a suitcase. Surely traveling with a backpack has its benefits and there are no doubts about it. But still there have been quite a few times, when I have thought – how cool it would be if my backpack had also wheels. It would make things so much easier…
In case you too have had thoughts like this, I have very good new for you. There are backpacks like this! There are backpacks with wheels.
What else – all of the best wheeled backpacks are both good backpacks and they share the benefits of a suitcase all at the same time. Scroll down to learn more about the best roller backpacks, what to pay attention to when buying one for yourself. And to read rolling backpack reviews!
Best Wheeled Backpacks 2018
Here they are – 7 of the best wheeled backpacks available on the market right now.
To read more about every one of them scroll down! Most of these backpacks are available in several colors. For more photos, latest price and user reviews check them out on Amazon – just click on the name or image of the backpack! I have also included a link to Amazon under every wheeled backpack review.
|NAME||IMAGE||DIMENSIONS||WEIGHT||PRICE ON AMAZON|
|Osprey Ozone Convertible||22” x 14” x 9”|
(55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm)
|6 lbs (2.7 kg)||Check the price!|
|JanSport Driver 8 Core||19.5" x 13" x 8" |
(49.53 x 33 x 20.32 cm)
|4.2 lbs (1.9 kg)||Check the price!|
|Kipling Alcatraz||18” x 16.2” x 8.5” |
(45.72 x 41.15 x 21.59 cm)
|5.3 lbs (2.4 kg)||Check the price!|
|High Sierra Freewheel||20.5” x 13.5” x 8”|
(52.1 x 34.3 x 20.3 cm)
|5.3 lbs (2.4 kg)||Check the price!|
|J World New York Sunrise||19” x 13” x 9”|
(48.26 x 33 x 22.86 cm)
|4 lbs (1.8 kg)||Check the price!|
|S-ZONE||20.4” x 13.8” x 7.8”|
(51.82 x 35.05 x 19.81 cm)
|4.5 lbs (2 kg)||Check the price!|
|Kenneth Cole Reaction||22” x 14” x 9”|
(55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm)
|6 lbs (2.72 kg)||Check the price!|
Wheeled Backpack Basics
A wheeled backpack is a regular-looking backpack with some features of the suitcase, such as wheels and a retractable handle.
It can be used either as a suitcase, or carried around on your back as a backpack. Usually the bottom part of the shoulder straps is detachable, so they can be tucked in a special compartment at the back of the backpack, when you want to use it as a suitcase.
These backpacks usually aren’t too large. The capacity of most of them is around 35 liters, and they meet carry-on size requirements. However, you need to find out what are the luggage allowance and restrictions of your preferred airline before booking a flight. Some airlines allow to carry on board only a small personal item free of charge, and the rolling backpack might be too large for that.
Traveling with a wheeled backpack is easy. It can be rolled around on the pavement and around the airport. And carried on your back when rolling is not possible – through dirt, on uneven tarmac, etc. For example, Osprey Ozone Convertible 22″/50L is especially good for traveling. It features also a small detachable day bag for either extra capacity or a day sightseeing trip, when the rest of the stuff can stay in a hotel room.
However, I would definitely not recommend taking a wheeled backpack on a serious hiking trip (such as Annapurna Circuit in Nepal). Even if it’s one of the top wheeled backpacks. Most of them are too small. And also the back’s padding of these bags is not designed for a hiking trip, and many rolling backpacks don’t have a hip belt that is a necessity on a trip like that. As well as a handle and wheels are not only completely unnecessary on a trip like that, but also take up space and add weight to the pack.
Otherwise – if you aren’t planning to go hiking with this bag – then it’s worth to check out wheeled backpacks. Also if you are traveling long-term. If you pack like a pro and are used to live with less, then a wheeled backpack might be exactly what you need.
Medium-sized rolling backpack can be used as a school bag as well. Lugging kilos of heavy text books is not an easy task, especially for a young child. Wheels and a retractable handle are nice features that will help to save back.
Usually wheeled backpacks have at least one large main compartment, a smaller front organizational compartment for small items, like pens, pencils and cables, and small zippered front pocket. At least one side mesh pocket for a water bottle or umbrella is usually there, too. Most of the best backpacks with wheels have a built-in laptop sleeve, usually in the roomy main compartment.
The main compartment of a backpack can be either front-loading or top-loading. I prefer front-loading when I travel. It makes it easier to locate your things, as everyting is visible when the main compartment of the backpack has been opened.
If the backpack is front-loading, most probably there will be inner compression straps, just like in a suitcase.
2. Handle, Wheels and Shoulder Straps
A wheeled backpack is versatile. It can be carried around like a backpack, or it can be rolled, just like a suitcase.
It mostly has hide-away shoulder straps, a retractable handle and at least two wheels.
Most of the backpacks I have reviewed have detachable straps. The bottom part of the straps is connected to a D-ring, and it can be unclipped, then tucked in the special compartment on the back panel.
Actually it’s very important to remember, that you should unclip and tuck in shoulder straps when they’re not in use (the backpack is rolled). This will protect them from damage, because they won’t get caught in wheels when the backpack is rolled. Easier also for you to move around with the bag.
Usually rolling backpacks have single telescopic handle with at least one position that it can be locked to. When you are shopping for a new wheeled backpack, pay attention to how many locking positions the handle has. If you are short, it might be uncomfortable to roll a backpack with a long handle.
Most of the best wheeled backpacks have durable 2 inline wheels that aren’t 360 degree spinner wheels. However, some feature 4 multi-directional spinner wheels. For example, Kenneth Cole Reaction Double Gusset 4-wheel rolling backpack. Spinner wheels will allow you to roll the wheeled backpack upright in any direction. There will be no strain on your shoulders and arms, whatsoever.
If there’s 2 two inline wheels, then there will be 2 feet for stability at the bottom. So, the backpack will stand on its own.
3. Size and Weight of a Rolling Backpack
Rolling backpacks often are carry-on friendly. The height of the body of a backpack mostly is 18” to 22” (45.72 to 55.88 cm).
You should pay attention to the overall dimensions, including the wheels. And check airline luggage size restrictions, because the rules vary. While you’ll be allowed to take your rolling backpack on board free of charge on some airlines, you won’t be allowed to do so on the other.
Pay attention to the weight of the suitcase! If you are taking it on board of a plane, take into account that there is weight restrictions, too. The heavier the bag itself, the less you will be able to pack in, due to weight restrictions!
Most of the international airlines only allow to carry a carry on luggage of a weight between 15 – 22 lbs (7 – 10 kg).
Lightest of the rolling backpacks weight around 4 lbs (1.8 kg).
Usually the weight is around 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg).
7 Top Wheeled Backpack Reviews
1. Osprey Ozone Convertible 22”/50L Review
The Osprey Ozone Convertible is one of the best rolling carry on backpack! It’s very functional and made of durable materials. And it has a couple of really cool features that a frequent traveler will appreciate.
First of all, I want to mention that the bag is versatile. The shouder straps and the hipbelt can be hidden in a special zippered compartment at the back of the backpack. So, not only it can be carried as a backpack, but also used as a suitcase as it has a retractable handle. To take out the straps, unzip the back compartment. Take out the straps and buckle them into place. Now it’s ready to be carried as a backpack!
Then there’s the detachable small backpack with tuck-away shoulder straps! Perfect for your day trips. Just pack the essentials and go to explore the city or go on a day hike while the rest of the stuff stays at the hotel or hostel!
By adding it to your large Osprey Ozone convertible backpack you get more storage! But be aware that it makes the Ozone convertible backpack thicker – so it won’t be a carry on friendly luggage piece anymore! Depending on the airline – you might still be allowed to take them both on board. The large one as a carry on, the detachabe daypack – as a personal item.
Frequent travelers will be delighted to see that both bags (the main pack and the detachable bag) have easy access pockets at the top. Passports, phones, chargers and other small items can be stored there.
The Osprey Ozone Convertible is a bag that is going to last! It is made of sturdy materials, and features a lightweight yet very durable frame. Metal framing enables the bag to stand on its own. The convertible backpack has 2 large durable lightweight wheels and a retractable handle. There are 2 durable grab handles – one on the top of the backpack, the second one – on the side.
Let’s look inside the Osprey Ozone Convertible!
Unclip the external compression straps of the main luggage in order to open the large main compartment. The Osprey Ozone Convertible is a front loading pack, and has 2 adjustable internal compression straps. There are 2 large zippered pockets on either side of the main compartment and a large mesh pocket on the inside of the front panel. As I have already mentioned before, the straps and the hip belt of the large backpack can be stored away in a zippered compartment at the back of the pack.
The small detachable daypack has a front compartment with small pockets for organization. There’s a large main compartment with plenty of space. There’s a zippered tablet sleeve and a padded laptop sleeve at the back of the daypack.
The daypack has minimal padding on its shoulder straps, but it’s enough for a pack of this size. It has a sternum strap as well. Behind the straps there’s a gap large enough to fit it over the handle of the main luggage piece.
Both backpacks have easy access pockets at the top.
The big backpack will fit in an overhead compartment, but the daypack – under the seat in front of you. In total, you will have 50 liter of capacity.
Dimensions of the main bag (not including the wheels): 22” x 14” x 9” (55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm)
Dimensions of the daypack: 18” x 11” x 7” (45.72 x 27.94 x 17.78 cm).
Size of the main bag: 32 liters.
Size of the daypack: is 18 liters.
Weight: around 6 lbs (2.7 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
2. JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack Review
The JanSport Driver 8 Core wheeled backpack with tuck-away shoulder straps is perfect for short trips or carrying heavy books around campus area. It features a padded laptop compartment large enough to carry a 15″ laptop.
The rolling backpack is made of 600D polyester and 420D velocity nylon. It features 2 large durable wheels with traction and stability control, and an aluminum two stage handle. There are protection pads around the wheels and at the bottom to protect the bag from abrasion.
The JanSport wheeled backpack is simple, yet it’s made to last!
Let’s look inside the backpack!
The bag has 2 large compartments. The one at the back of the pack features a padded laptop sleeve. There’s a front compartment with a key clip and 2 pockets with a flap closure. There’s a small zippered front pocket which will be perfect for small items, such as cables, sunglasses, tickets, etc. There’s side mesh pocket for a water bottle or umbrella.
The back panel is fully padded and has a special compartment for storing shoulder straps. The bottom part of the shoulder straps is attached to a D-Ring, and it’s detachable.
There’s a padded grab handle on the top of the bag. But there’s no side handle.
It will fit in the overhead compartments of most aircrafts.
In my opinion, this JanSport backpack looks pretty bulky, when fully loaded (as it expands). It might be the only drawback. Bag is available in several colors.
Dimensions: 19.5” x 13” x 8” (49.53 x 33 x 20.32 cm).
Size: 34 liters.
Weight: 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
3. Kipling Alcatraz Laptop Wheeled Backpack Review
This backpack is quite roomy. It can accommodate a few days worth of clothes and some electronics. And it can be used as a school bag, as well.
There’s a large zippered, front loading, main compartment that is covered with a flap and secured with a buckle for extra security. There’s a small zippered pocket on the flap, too.
Bag’s interior padded pouch accommodates a 15” laptop. The laptop section is secured with a Velcro closure. There’s a roomy front zippered pocket with mesh-lined interior pouch pocket and a couple of other small pockets for small items, such as pens and pencils. There are 2 zippered side pockets.
The backpack has a retractable handle with blocking button and 2 durable wheels with wheel guards.
Hide-away padded straps for comfortable carrying can be hidden away in a zippered compartment at the back of the backpack.
The Kipling Alcatraz backpack is carry on friendly and even will fit under some seats if the bag is not being packed completely full. Available in several colors, including bright pink and orange! Lovely!
Dimensions: 18” x 16.2” x 8.5” (45.72 x 41.15 x 21.59 cm).
Weight: 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
4. High Sierra Freewheel Review
The High Sierra Freewheel wheeled backpack features smooth rolling, corner-mounted wheels with corner guards, and a single-tube telescopic handle that can be completely hidden in a special zippered compartment at the top of the backpack. It is made of Duralite® Ripstop nylon. The bag is sturdy, and doesn’t tip over.
Adjustable Vapel™ mesh padded shoulder straps can be tucked away inside the padded back panel when not in use.
There are several compartments, including fully-padded computer sleeve that fits most 15” laptops. There’s a front zippered media pocket with a headphone port and a zippered front compartment with an organizational panel that has several slip pockets and a key attachment point. There’s a deep mesh side pocket perfect for storing an umbrella or a water bottle, even a tall one!
The only drawback is the telescoping handle – it has only one extension so it can not be made shorter. So the High Sierra Freewheel might not be the best option for a short person.
Dimensions: 20.5” x 13.5” x 8” (52.1 x 34.3 x 20.3 cm).
Weight: 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
5. J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack Review
Beautiful affordable rolling backpack! And so many colors to choose from – more than 30! Whether you are a college girl who likes pink or a frequent traveler, you are going to like this durable wheeled backpack!
The J World New York Sunrise rolling backpack has plenty of space for your books or a few days worth of clothes and some electronics. It has a roomy main compartment and a zippered front compartment with an organizational panel with pencil holders, a key fob, card holders and a small zippered pocket. There’s another zippered pocket on the outside of the front zippered compartment. There are 2 side mesh pockets for water bottles / umbrella.
Unfortunately, there’s no laptop compartment. So, you’ll need to put your laptop in a protective case before putting it in this backpack.
The J World New York Sunrise rolling backpack features a color matching bottom mold for protection and wheel guards. The bottom feet are quite large and sturdy. The plastic bottom also prevents things from getting wet when bag is rolled over puddles.
The bottom part of the shoulder straps is detachable, so the straps can be tucked in a special compartment at the back of the backpack. The shoulder straps and back panel are cushioned for extra comfort. The stable wheels of the backpack are soft and noiseless. The handle can be extended to 2 different heights. The backpack features a sturdy grab handle as well.
Please note, that you must unclip and tuck the straps in when they are not in use. It will prevent damage – the straps won’t get caught in wheels.
This J World New York Sunrise backpack meets carry-on size requirements with most of the airlines globally.
Dimensions: 19” x 13” x 9” (48.26 x 33 x 22.86 cm).
Weight: around 4 lbs (1.8 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
6. S-ZONE Wheeled Backpack Review
This S-ZONE bag is a great wheeled laptop backpack for those who are traveling for work! It looks smart and elegant, and is made of durable materials – sturdy oxford fabric on the outside, high quality cotton lining and aluminium alloy handle. And, good news is, it’s not too expensive!
This backpacks is perfect for weekend travel, short business trip, or as an overnight bag. There’s enough room for a few days worth of clothes and other travel necessities. The bag will hold most 15.6” laptops in the dedicated padded laptop sleeve.
Let’s look inside the S-ZONE rolling backpack!
The main compartment features a laptop sleeve with a Velcro closure, and inner compression straps at the back of the main compartment.
Then there’s smaller middle section and zippered front comparment. The latter has a few slip pockets, a detachable key fob point, a few pen holders, and a mesh pocket on the inside of the lid. There’s a zippered front pocket at the front of the bag.
There is 1 zippered side mesh pocket and elastic mesh pocket on the other side of the backpack.
The retractable handle can be hidden completely under a zippered flap at the top of the bag.
Just like the other backpacks, the S-ZONE wheeled backpack features shoulder straps that can be tuked away in a designated pocket at the back of the backpack. The bottom part of the shoulder straps is detachable. And you must unclip and tuck the shoulder straps in when you’re rolling the bag. It will prevent damaging of the straps!
The wheels can be hidden away under a flap that can be unzipped all the way down. The wheels will be wrapped in it and will not touch your clothes when carrying the bag as a backpack.
Unfortunately, the handle only has one locking position. And there’s another, minor, drawback – the front compartment has 1 zipper pull instead of 2, unlike the rest of the compartments.
Dimensions: 20.4” x 13.8” x 7.8” (51.82 x 35.05 x 19.81 cm).
Size: approx. 35 liters.
Weight: around 4.5 lbs (2 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
7. Kenneth Cole Reaction Double Gusset 4-Wheel Backpack Review
Not only it looks good but it’s also sturdy and well-built. It is made of high quality durable materials – 1680D polyester and coated polyester.
It has enough space for a 15.6” computer, some clothes and other travel essentials. There’s a roomy main comparment with inner compression straps. The middle compartment has a padded laptop sleeve, that will hold most 15.6” laptops. There’s zippered front compartment, that features organizer pockets for smarthone, glasses, cables or other small items. There’s 1 zippered front pocket at the front, and 2 side mesh pockets for water bottles / umbrella.
Unlike other rolling backpacks I have reviewed, the Kenneth Cole Reaction wheeled backpack has 4 spinner (360 degree) wheels! The bag is very easy to maneuver, and the spinner wheels will allow you to roll the rolling backpack upright in any direction!
The handle has 2 lock positions, and it can be hidden under a zippered flap. There’s a padded grab handle at the top of the bag.
Just like the other backpacks, the Kenneth Cole Reaction wheeled backpack features shoulder straps that can be hidden in a special compartment at the back of the backpack.
Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 9” (55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm).
Weight: 6 lbs (2.72 kg).Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!
If you have any more questions about travel gear, check out our other gear guides! Or contact us!
Author: Una Baufala
Una is a traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. Apart from traveling and exploring new places she loves to read books. And she adores cats. Together with Kaspars they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since October 2013. WeAreFromLatvia.com is where she shares her travel experiences.