If you’re planning a trip to a destination where you intend to carry your luggage a lot but prefer to roll it along when you can, you may want to check out one of these best wheeled backpacks for travel. These are not your everyday school or work backpacks, as those are not built for rough use.
Not all destinations have smooth pavements to roll your luggage along, nor do they always have plenty of elevators and escalators about. If you’re city backpacking, that’s a good time to carry your travel bag on your back to make things faster, not to mention ease damage on your bag if it is wheeled.
However, if you’re not a light packer, it can be impossible to carry a heavy load on your back throughout. If the pavements are smooth enough, you should shift to rolling the bag with you.
While looking for the best rolling backpack for travel, you should ensure that the pack has features that make carrying it comfortable even though it has wheeling apparatus. Look for hip or waist straps that take off most of the weight from your shoulders and ventilated panels for a comfortable haul. If you’re going to wheel it over cobblestones or curbs, look for some sort of bumper or guard at the bottom and make sure the telescopic handle is strong.
So let’s look at the features, pros and cons of five of the highest rated travel backpacks on wheels. Note that while some of these fall within the maximum carry on size, the others will need to be checked in as they are more than 22″ in height. We’ll categorize them into carry on and checked size. If you’re specifically looking for carry on sized backpacks but don’t need the wheels, take a look here. If you’re a bit of a tech warrior and are always traveling with a laptop and other gadgets, take a look at some great laptop travel backpacks.
- 1 Best Carry On Backpack with Wheels
- 2 Large Rolling Backpack – Check in Sized
Best Carry On Backpack with Wheels
High Sierra Powerglide Rolling Laptop Backpack
The High Sierra Powerglide Rolling Laptop Backpack can be used for just about any need – travel, work or college, making it one of the most versatile packs you can buy. Best of all, it’s inexpensive. It’s the highest rated of all the wheeled High Sierra backpacks too.
The padded computer compartment is meant to hold a laptop of up to 16″. It is double zippered and it is easy to quickly load and unload the laptop from here during X-ray screening. The main compartment is behind that and is also double zippered. This is where you can pack your clothes for a 2 day trip or your college books or work files.
Right in front is a well designed organizer compartment featuring a removable key fob, pen loops and several open and zipped pockets to keep your phones, media cables, cards and a notepad. The exterior of this compartment features a metal triangular loop to which you can clip any accessory. On top of this compartment is a zippered accessory compartment sized perfectly for a pair of headphones. A headphone port lets you keep the set stored while listening to music. Two side zippered pockets are meant for a skinny water bottle and travel sized umbrella.
You can transport this pack in three ways. The first is by the double-tube telescopic handle that recedes back into its own zipped pocket when not in use. The second is by adjustable mesh and padded shoulder straps that are hidden behind a zippered pane at the back. When you need to carry the pack by these straps, the panel folds back under the pack and secures by Velcro, covering the wheels so as they don’t dirty your clothes while you carry the bag on your back. You don’t have to completely unzip the panel if you only want to use one strap to quickly sling the bag over your shoulder for a short time. The third way is by the fabric top carry handle but this should only be used sparingly when you have to lift the bag into an overhead bin or out of a car boot.
The corner-mounted inline skate wheels are connected by a bridge to keep them balanced while rolling straight. Corner guards and a bottom kick plate protect the bottom of the bag if rolling it over rough terrain or over curbs.
This wheeled backpack measures 9 x 21 x 14 inches and weighs 6.8 pounds.
Pros: This is a very versatile bag for travel, work or college.
Plenty of storage space and can fit a 15″ laptop in the laptop compartment or even a 17″ one in the main compartment.
Cons: The fabric top carry handle is a bit weak.
The media pocket on top slopes and opens downwards so whatever is in there will fall out if you’re not careful.
There is no sternum strap to secure the shoulder straps and stabilize the pack when carrying it as a backpack.
JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack
Lots of travelers have a hard time finding a good wheeled carry on that can hold their laptop as well as some clothes and personal items. Either the wheels and telescopic handle usually take the bag over the carry on dimensions limit, or the packing space and weight limit are taken over by the wheeling apparatus so there’s almost nothing left for a laptop and clothes. The JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack can take that dilemma out of the equation.
This backpack is a true wheeled carry on pack because it can be wheeled over rough terrain due to its corner mounted high traction inline skate wheels and protective kick plate in between, and its two-stage monopole extending handle works smoothly. When you don’t want to use the wheels, untuck the padded adjustable shoulder straps that are hidden inside the back panel pocket and clip them to their bottom d-rings. A grab handle on the top provides the third carry option.
There are two main compartments that open via dual zippers, one of which features a padded 15.1″ laptop sleeve. There’s plenty of space in both these compartments for packing clothes, toiletries, etc. The zipped compartment in front of the main ones is the organizer with multiple pockets for your phone, charging cords, pens, cards, etc., and a key fob. The last pocket right on the front is a small zipped one that’s just right for last minute items. There is a vertical mesh pocket on one side to accommodate a water bottle or umbrella.
This bag weighs 4 lbs 3 oz and measures 21 x 10 x 14 inches with a capacity of 34L. You can get this in quite a few colors.
Pros: Roomy and durable.
Allowed as carry on and fits perfectly in all overhead bins.
Good organizational features.
Comfortable enough for carrying on your back for short periods.
Good as a school backpack as well.
Affordable for the features.
Cons: Won’t fit under your plane seat when fully packed.
No hip belt for load balancing.
Kipling Alcatraz Solid Laptop Wheeled Backpack
Kipling is a very popular women’s luggage brand and the Kipling Alcatraz Solid Laptop Wheeled Backpack is no different. It sports its signature crinkle nylon shell and detachable monkey key-hanger mascot so you can spot your bag from a distance.
The retractable multistage monopole handle extends to 3 levels and pulls the backpacks along on two wheels. When you need to use it as a backpack, the adjustable straps are hidden at the back behind a zippered panel that also houses the retractable handle. If you want, the panel can be folded down under the wheels and secured by Velcro underneath. This prevents the wheels from soiling your clothes while you wear the pack on your back. You clip the bottom of the straps to the d-rings located right above each wheel. A top carry handle provides a quick way to grab the bag and go.
There are plenty of external single zippered pockets to stash items – two side ones, one front one and one one on top of the flap that covers the main compartment opening. The flap secures to the front via a snap buckle. The main compartment opens via dual zippers and the space is simple with just a laptop sleeve with velcro tab that can accommodate a 15″ laptop. The rest of the space is roomy and good for packing clothes.
This pack weighs just 5.5 lbs and measures 16.2 x 18 x 8.5 inches. Choose from a few fun as well as sober colors.
Pros: Lots of external pockets.
Will fit in all overhead bins and under the seat if pushed in top first.
It is water resistant.
Cons: Wheels are a bit small so they’re better suited for smooth terrain.
Telescopic handle may feel too short for very tall people.
Osprey Ozone Convertible 22″/50L Wheeled Luggage
The nylon Osprey Ozone Convertible 22″/50L Wheeled Backpack features a main pack with a very light ABS back plate and aluminum frame for strength, and large wheels housed in sealed bearings with a high-clearance molded base so you can wheel this pack using its monopole telescopic handle over the most rugged terrain. When you want to carry it as a backpack, there’s a full suspension system hidden at the back, including padded adjustable shoulder straps, sternum straps and hip belt strap to make it easy to do. Three low profile padded carry handles on all three sides make it easy to hoist the pack.
The main pack has a back panel pocket with drainage hole in case you carry damp clothes. A zippered pouch compartment is there on top for quick access items. The main compartment is lockable with your own luggage lock via the dual zippers. Inside you’ll find dual restraining straps for your clothes and several zippered pockets for organization of accessories.
A daypack easily attaches and detaches to the front of the main pack via buckles. This pack can be used at your destination and carried by its own backpack straps. This daypack can be used to carry a 15″ laptop, tablet and a few extra clothes and accessories. Its main compartment can be locked via the zippers using your own luggage lock. There’s also a front zippered organizer pocket and a small zippered stash pocket on the top for a pair of sunglasses or snacks.
The main backpack measures 22″ x 14″ x 9″ with a 32L capacity and the daypack being 18L and 18″ x 11″ x 7″.
Pros: Lifetime warranty for any damage.
Extremely comfortable to carry, even for women.
Very versatile to use both packs together or separately in cities or countryside.
You can use the main backpack as your carry on bag and the daypack as your personal item.
Cons: When both packs are full and attached together, the whole unit tends to tip forward unless you pack the daypack only with light things.
If you’d like to see the other pieces in the Ozone collection, read our full review here.
High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack
The High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack has a similar design as the Osprey Ozone but costs a lot less and is not as suitable for very rugged terrain or very long stints as a backpack. This is a good choice of you have more smooth pavements and airport navigation.
The dimensions of the main bag are 22 x 13.5 x 9 inches, while the day pack’s are 16.5 x 12 x 5.75 inches. Together they 9.5 lbs and provide a total capacity of 52 L.
The zippered back panel on the main bag hides a pair of adjustable padded backpack straps. When not in use, just tuck it back in and instead use the telescopic handle to wheel the set around on its inline skate wheels. There’s a padded top carry handle as well as one on one side. The main compartment opens book style like a regular wheeled carry on suitcase and features restraining straps inside.
The daypack has its own backpack straps with an integrated cellphone pocket, as well as a back panel that fits over the main packs telescopic handle if you want to piggyback it instead of attaching it via the single zipper to the front of the pack. There’s a nylon grab handle on top too. It has a top zippered accessories pocket, front zippered organizer pocket and two mesh side pockets for water bottles. A headphone port lets you listen to music while on the go.
Pros: Functional and well made.
Does not have hip or sternum belt for the main pack’s suspension system.
Large Rolling Backpack – Check in Sized
These rolling backpacks for travel are not carry on size so you have to check them in if you’re flying.
Osprey Packs Sojourn 25 Wheeled Convertible Backpack (60 litres)
If you’re looking for a more gear intensive backpack, the Osprey Sojourn 25 wheeled backpack is a good bet. There is no removable backpack, so the entire packing capacity is in one large bag.
It measures 14 by 25 by 13 inches with a 60-liter capacity, and weighs 7 lbs 13 oz. It is made of moisture, tear and abrasion resistant ballistic nylon.
The updated adjustable suspension can fit a torso range of 16 to 22 inches. The high clearance Highroad chassis lets you roll the bag over any terrain.
A separately available day pack can be attached if needed, as can an extra bag using the provided daisy chain.
Smaller items can be organized in zippered pockets inside the main compartment, while large items are well protected in the padded foam walls. A Straightjacket compression system also keeps your bag secure.
The main compartment can be accessed through a zippered front panel with lockable sliders, so you don’t have to open the bag fully and spill all its contents. There are fabric winged restraining straps to keep things in place. There’s a top panel zippered pocket for toiletries and a rear panel pocket for a magazines.
The trampoline mesh back panel, spacer mesh hip belt, and padded shoulder straps help support and cushion the load. Added ventilation also helps for carrying comfort.
In addition to the retracting handle, there is a top and side grab handle.
The mesh back panel features a second slot to enable adjustment to varying torso lengths.
You can remove the suspension system completely to increase packing space.
Pros: Limited lifetime warranty against defects and workmanship.
Large and durable wheels.
Can fit even short torsos.
Very large main compartment is ideal for carrying large and bulky items.
Cons: The telescopic handle is a little hard to extend.
Not carry on size.
Osprey Meridian Wheeled Pack – 28 Inch/75 Liter
The Osprey Meridian 75L/28IN is a large backpack with wheels and comes with a detachable day pack for day use. The bag is made of ballistic polyester and nylon.
The dimensions are: 28″ x 14″ x 13″. Weight: 9.26 lbs.
The removable day pack clips on and off and features a padded laptop sleeve for laptops up to 15 inches, a padded tablet sleeve, organizational pockets and pen holders and two external mesh pockets for water bottles. It’s great to use as your carry on bag while you check in the main pack when flying.
The high clearance chassis is lightweight and designed to allow you to roll the pack almost everywhere. There’s a zip away backpack suspension that’s ventilated and highly adjustable for any torso for carrying comfort. When not in use, it can be removed completely, which also increases packing capacity.
A hip belt and fully padded spacer mesh for the lumbar region transfers load evenly and away from the shoulders.
The retractable handle locks in two positions and there are padded top and side carry handles for more carrying flexibility.
The main backpack features a lockable zippered main compartment with 4 zippered pockets and fabric wing restraining straps. There is an external top zippered pocket that’s good for toiletries, etc., and a rear panel pocket for a magazine or two.
If you need to access the main compartment while the day pack is attached, you can do so without removing the day pack, as there are lockable sliders to prevent all the contents from falling out.
Pros: Very durable, functional and lightweight.
The day pack is easy and fast to clip on or off the main bag.
Will fit a wide range of torso lengths.
Nice and sleek looking.
Cons: The harness system does not have a hip belt to stabilize the pack.
I hope you have been able to make your pick from these best wheeled backpacks for travel. If not, let us know why in the comments section below.