Why buy a rolling backpack?
Backpacks are the go-to bags since they’re simple and casual but effective and versatile. You can sling them over your shoulders and take them everywhere you go. They’re great for carrying and stashing many different daily or travel items—books, laptops, clothes, sneakers, etc. A rolling backpack offers all the convenience and storage space of a normal backpack, just on wheels. You can switch between carrying them and rolling them as needed. The rolling feature minimizes the weight you have to carry and puts much, much less strain on your back, shoulders, and neck. This is especially useful when you have items inside that weigh more than a couple of pounds and is great for kids who might struggle to carry all their textbooks to school on their shoulders.
Rolling backpacks are usually equipped with multiple pockets and extendable handles to effortlessly carry all of your things on vacation, work, school, and wherever else life takes you. Some may even have organization pockets and pouches specifically meant for items like IDs, passports, laptops, or pens.
What should you look for in a rolling backpack?
- Size: If you plan to use the backpack for a short trip or as your school bag, you probably don’t need a very large one. Just make sure there are enough pockets to comfortably fit all your things, such as laptops, documents, and clothing. If you want it to be your carry-on item for airplanes, ensure its dimensions fit within airline guidelines. If you’re planning on using the backpack as an extended vacation bag, you’ll probably want to opt for one with more space.
- Wheels: The last thing you want is “bad shopping-cart wheels” that drift, get stuck, or make annoying noises. Make sure the wheels are securely mounted and can handle a variety of terrains. You’ll also want wheels that are highly maneuverable and swivel in all directions; if your backpack’s wheels don’t turn and change direction with you, you may end up hurting your wrist. Roller skate wheels are often the best.
- Handle: While it’s not completely necessary to have an extendable or telescopic handle, it can be helpful for storage and travel if the handle can easily be tucked away. Be sure to consider your own height; you don’t want to be constantly hunched over to reach the backpack’s handle or the bag bumping up against your feet as you walk. Single handles will be more maneuverable, but a double handle is easier to grip.
What are some other factors to look for in rolling backpacks?
Be sure to consider the material the backpack is made from. Even if you don’t plan to use your new rolling backpack every day, the more durable the material is, the better. Breathable materials and fabrics are generally a good choice for when you will be carrying the backpack on your shoulders. You may also want to ensure that your rolling backpack is waterproof or water-resistant.
Also think about the backpack’s accessibility. If you plan to use it for train or airplane travel quite often, a front or top compartment with easy access to your driver’s license, passport, or other forms of ID will be invaluable. If you intend to use it as your work or school bag, look for a rolling backpack with a laptop compartment that isn’t buried at the bottom, so you don’t have to go digging for your device.
The number and type of compartments are worth considering, too. Plenty of rolling backpacks have smaller compartments and pouches on the interior and exterior of the pack, some that zipper or snap shut, some that don’t. There are specialty compartments for IDs, laptops, pens, notebooks, water bottles, and more. While not strictly necessary, these types of compartments can be handy for keeping your backpack more organized, so you’re not digging around looking for various items.
AMBOR Compact Wheeled Backpack
Anti-rip, water-resistant polyester and a strong steel frame make this a durable rolling backpack that can easily be carried and slid under airplane seats.
Pros: There’s a lot to love about this rolling backpack. The outside is made of anti-rip polyester fabric on a steel frame and has a water-resistant coating to boot. There are two different sizes to choose from, both featuring large main compartments and plenty of additional pockets to help keep everything well-organized. This includes a padded laptop pocket (suitable for laptops up to 15.6 inches in size), a tablet compartment, a quick access compartment for keeping key items close at hand, and side pockets for drinks and snacks. Overall, this is a great rolling backpack for travel and daily use.
Cons: Note that there aren’t any straps or nets on the interior sides of the central compartment, so if you open it while it’s propped up vertically, the contents may spill out. And while the backpack itself is quite durable, the zippers are a bit less so.
Bottom Line: This convertible wheeled backpack is great for adults, teens, and even kids. It’s designed to hold a lot: big textbooks, a laptop, a tablet, and a bunch of smaller items. The smaller size even fits underneath airplane seats if you’re looking to use it as carry-on luggage during a flight.
J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack
Great for both daily use and travel, this rolling backpack is every bit as eye-catching as it is practical.
Pros: Many rolling backpacks are plain black in color. While this may suit some people just fine, others may want something brighter or more eye-catching. This rolling backpack is perfect for those looking for a more colorful or vibrant model. It’s available in a whopping 34 different patterns, each with its own multicolored hues. Colors range from vibrant to understated to neutral and more. That’s not the only benefit this backpack offers, either. The back panel is made of breathable mesh for better airflow whenever you carry it on your back, as there are safety reflectors sewn on it to keep you safer when walking at night. There are also some handy durability factors, from the ripstop, water-resistant fabric to the reinforced edges and molded rubber bottom that both protect your items and prevent the backpack from ripping as it gets wheeling along pavement or gravel.
Cons: Be prepared to lift this backpack over curbs and stairs; the wheels aren’t very effective for rolling up and over these surfaces. Also be sure to carefully tuck away the straps when you’re wheeling this backpack around, as they’re quite long and may get caught in the wheels otherwise.
Bottom Line: There’s no rule that says rolling backpacks have to be one solid, neutral color. If you or your little one is looking for a distinctive, colorful rolling backpack or one with a design that matches your or their style, this model offers a variety of colors and designs to suit pretty much any taste.
Yodo 3-Way Kids Rolling Backpack
Young kids can enjoy having a little rolling backpack they can manage themselves while traveling.
Pros: This is an ideal rolling backpack for toddlers and young kids. There are five possible animal designs to choose from, and the backpack actually resembles the animal—googly eyes, arms, wings, fins, and all. Toddlers and young kids will love the adorable designs and having their own little bag to imitate adults and older children. It’s available in two sizes and is incredibly easy to convert between a standard backpack and a rolling one. The straps tuck away completely when rolling so as not to get caught and tangled in the wheels, and there’s a wheel cover for the standard backpack mode. There are also plenty of useful side pockets for water bottles, snacks, and other similar items. And despite the unique, adorable design, this is a highly affordable rolling backpack.
Cons: Even the medium-sized version of this backpack has a smaller-than-average capacity, which isn’t surprising since this backpack is aimed at young kids, but if you go on a longer vacation, you’ll probably still have to pack some of your child’s clothes and necessities in your own bags. The wheel cover may also pop off or wear down over time as it’s not the sturdiest part of the backpack.
Bottom Line: Young kids will adore this rolling backpack available in multiple fun animal designs and colors. Whether you want it for your little one for school or vacations, this model is the perfect blend of cute, affordable, and practical.
YH&GS Rolling Backpack with Laptop Compartment
Get tons of storage and organizational space in this rolling backpack with large wheels that roll over most terrains and up the stairs with ease.
Pros: This premium rolling backpack has a lot to offer for travel and everyday use. It features a large main compartment, a padded laptop compartment, a second front compartment with pockets for phones and wallets, a front exterior slot, and a large side mesh pocket for water bottles and umbrellas. Keeping your belongings organized will be a snap in this rolling backpack. The entire backpack is water-resistant to protect against accidental spills and splashes, and the strap and handles are reinforced for when it’s slung across your back and shoulders rather than rolling. There’s also an elastic wheel cover for when you convert it into carrying mode. The wheels are larger than average, making them better at load-bearing and rolling up curbs and stairs without hassle. Their design also prevents them from ever turning sideways and veering off course.
Cons: Rolling backpacks tend to be a fairly pricey investment as is, and this premium model comes with the premium price tag; it costs about twice as much as most similar rolling backpacks. The larger size may also be too big to serve as carry-on luggage on airplanes.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a high-quality, premium rolling backpack, this is the model for you. It features pretty much every useful, convenient feature you could look for in a rolling backpack, and you’ll be amazed at what a difference its specialty, extra-large wheels make when maneuvering or going upstairs.
Rockland Double Handle Rolling Backpack
A rolling backpack with a double telescopic handle, lots of storage space, and a sturdy, durable design.
Pros: Available in multiple colors and prints, this rolling backpack features double inline skate wheels, two zipped front pockets, and a built-in organizer. The main compartment opens for large storage, and there are two additional mesh pockets on the sides. The pull handle is telescopic, so you can adjust it to the height you find most comfortable. The bag itself is made of durable polyester with a heavy-duty plastic stand on the bottom to keep the bag upright.
Cons: While the 17-inch size should be ideal for most rolling backpacks, it’s the only size available. Also note that there are small gaps between the double wheels, which may pick up pebbles and other bits of debris, causing them to get stuck or jammed.
Bottom Line: This quintessential rolling backpack makes for an ideal piece of carry-on luggage. The size ensures that it’ll pass through even strict baggage size checks and is able to fit underneath your seat while still holding plenty of items.
Much like rolling suitcases, rolling backpacks are an updated, modern version of the original, making them more convenient and versatile. They’re the perfect way to give your shoulders and spine a break, so check out our recommendations.