Best Wheeled Backpack for Travel

What are the Best Wheeled Backpacks for Travel

best backpack for travel

Best Wheeled Backpack for Travel

If you’ve ever traveled, you know one of the following scenes all too well.

You are wheeling your luggage over the cobblestoned pavements of Europe but every time you hit a new stone, your wheels get stuck. Or worse, one pops right off as it hit an edge juuuust right.

 best travel backpack

Of course, there is also the dreaded moment as you see the train waiting and suddenly hear the whistles blowing…as you are still making your way to the platform.

And then there are also the days that you have been traveling all day long and your back is aching, your feet and body tired.

 best wheeled backpack travel

For the longest time, there have been two camps of travelers when it came to luggage:

The Backpackers vs the Suitcase Carriers.

One symbolizes adventure, the pride of packing light and an “I can take on the world” mentality.
The other allows for more packing options and looks more polished and professional.
It seemed like, for ages, there was some secret contest of which was better.

Not anymore. Now, we have the amazing marriage of a small suitcase with wheels and a rucksack giving us the best wheeled backpack for travel.

 backpack with wheels

Maybe you are just starting to dabble in the world of travel backpacks and wonder what features are important in a backpack for international travel.

Or, possibly, you’ve been a backpacker but are now trying to remember what important features to consider for rolling luggage.

 best wheeled backpack travel

Luckily, I’ve got you covered and will show you exactly what you need to find the best wheeled backpack for travel.

Who Needs A Backpack With Wheels

Backpackers Who Aren’t Getting Any Younger

A travel backpack with wheels still gives us proud backpackers everything we still love about traveling with a backpack. It allows for the ease of maneuverability of a quality backpack but is a little gentler to those of us who are not getting any younger and are finding lugging a backpack around all day taxing on our back and bodies.

Travelers Needing To Maneuver Luggage Easier Depending on Destinations

There are some locations that just aren’t very friendly to roller luggage, such as the above cobblestoned lined European streets or locations with plenty of steps. However, maybe you don’t like wearing a backpack all the time and really just want something that can make those few moments easier to get around.

travel bag with wheels

People Who Do a Variety of Accommodations

We’ve all seen the “broke backpacker” look and sometimes (take it from me) if you walk into a nice hotel looking like you should be staying at a hostel, you may get a lot of questions. If this sort of thing bothers you, having a backpack that can take you from treetop beach bungalow to seaside resort in a cinch is truly having it as best of both worlds.

What To Look For In Rolling Backpack Luggage

What Backpacks are good for Travelling?

Not all backpacks are created equal, at least not ones made to last trips, both domestically and internationally.

A “normal” rolling backpacks, for example, the Jansport Rolling Backpack, is a fantastic option for lighter use (such as someone wanting more of a rolling book bag for school or work), but choose something like an Osprey wheeled backpack, and you are guaranteed to get the best backpack on wheels for travel.

You want something that is going to stand the tests of travel, be that getting tossed around by airport handlers, getting shoved into overhead bins, rolling over tough terrains, and being packed to the max!

Here are a few of the top things you are going to want to look for in the best backpack on wheels for travel.

best rolling backpacks for adults

Ergonomics

If you are going to be carrying around any weight on your back, it’s important to look for a backpack that has good ergonomics.

Is there are shoulder and a waist strap?

Are the shoulder straps wide? Padded?

Does the bag adjust for varying torso sizes, giving it complete customization, like the Osprey Sojourn

Comfort

You are hopefully going to be wearing this wheeled backpack, even if just momentarily here and there. Therefore, it’s essential that it is comfortable for you. Look and consider things like:

  • Weight of the bag (before packing)
  • Padded Straps
  • Wide Width Shoulder Straps
  • Belt and Hip Pads/ Strap
  • Breathable material

What is comfortable for one person is not for another. As soon as you receive the bag, try to load it up with some weight (jugs of water are a great, quick option) and walk around the house, up your stairs, and maybe even around the block to see how it feels. Is the distribution comfortable? Are the straps digging in?)

Size

If you are going to be willing to wear this as a backpack, you’ll need to remember to pack accordingly in order to still wear it.

Size is another concern if you are wanting a carry on only option, as not all of the best wheeled backpacks fit into an overhead bin.

Note: When choosing a travel wheeled backpack, know that if you are used to backpacks only, that by adding the handle to help convert it to the wheeled version, this WILL take up internal space. This is simply a compromise needing to be made in order to get the best of both worlds of luggage and backpacks together.

Durability and Materials

There are a lot of models out there that will convert a roller suitcase to a trolley backpack. However, if you are looking for the best backpack for travel, then you know that quality material and build will go a long way. Look for bags made of nylon and/or cordura, as these are typically some of the most rugged materials that will hold up well.

Likewise, you can’t have wheels coming off on tough to manage terrains. You’ll want to make sure that it can handle any pavements you might try it on. Look for descriptions of things like “large wheels,” “encased wheels”, “high chassis.” These are all common characteristics in wheels that will hold up to travel.

Internal Frames

If you are looking at a framed bag, avoid cheap materials such as plastic or even steel. Instead, aluminum is a great option for weight and durability.

Packing Compartments

One of the nice things about a lot of rolling luggage is that they often have better internal packing organization. Multiple zippered compartments, space separators and more can be really handy when organizing your belongings instead of just one main compartment. Here’s everything you need to know about Check out Nomatic backpacks if you like lots of pockets and compartments for organization.

Best Wheeled Travel Backpack Reviews

Best Rolling Backpack For Travel: Osprey Meridian

 

When it comes to travel backpacks, you know you have a winner with the Osprey brand. Like usual, they put out superior products and stand behind them with their lifetime warranties, and the Meridian Roller Backpack is no exception.

Made from the highest quality of nylon (1680 D ballistic nylon and a 3420D nylon Oxford accent), you can’t get any tougher than this. Feel free to load down this pack with much as you can without fear of rips or tears.

When wanting to use as a backpack, the straps to the Meridian are wide and comfortable. The biggest downside to the suspension system though is that there is no hip straps to help distribute the carrying load.

When ready to use as a wheeled roller bag, the wheels are as tough as they come. Made of polyurethane with sealed bearings and made with a High Chassis, you can take these wheels over anything without fear of damage or breaking.

This travel bag with wheels opens up like a traditional suitcase and has plenty of space in it’s one main compartment and has several other pockets to stow away smaller items.

The detachable bag is also a favorite feature of the Meridian. Coming in at 16 liters, it is great to use as a laptop bag and/or as a day pack. Easy access compartments even allow you to get into the main back without having to detach the day bag!

Pros:

  • Made of the some of the toughest material
  • Extremely durable wheels
  • Detachable daypack included

Cons:

  • Not a carry on size
  • 9 Pounds when empty
  • No Hip Strap

Click Here To See Other Amazon Reviews For the Osprey Meridian

Best Carry On Backpack with Wheels: Osprey Ozone

 

Not surprisingly, another Osprey bag makes the list, this time as a fantastic 50 liter carry on option.

You can expect the great quality nylon to make this a durable bag just like the other Osprey bags and having handles on 3 sides makes it incredibly easy to pick up from just about any angle.

As a backpack, the suspension to this bag is superb with both comfortable shoulder straps as well as a nice hip belt on the main bag.

When using as a roller bag, the Ozone also has the High Road Chassis and large wheels with sealed bearings, meaning it can handle just about any terrain you might be traveling on.

The detachable bag is fantastic to use for day trips, to pack additional belongings in, as well as to use for a laptop bag. Many people love that you can wear this “kangaroo pouch style” and actually clip it onto the main pack to secure the front to the back. Having access to the front is convenient if you are traveling with important documents, like IDs and passports or money and want to keep an eye on them.

The bag has nice organizational pockets but is truly meant to be a carry on only type of bag. Therefore, if you are not the best at packing light, you might find it difficult to fit all your belongings into this one bag for longer trips. Also, if packed completely full and with the detachable bag clipped on, it is prone to tipping.

Pros:

  • Made of the some of the toughest material
  • Extremely durable wheels
  • Detachable daypack included

Cons:

  • Tips if packed too full when both bags are connected
  • The telescoping handle does take up decent space inside, making it only ideal for the best or lightest of packers
  • The daypack does not have a hip strap

Click Here To See the Osprey Ozone On Amazon Now

Carry On Runner Up: Eagle Creek Load Warrior


 

The reason why the Eagle Creek Load Warrior doesn’t just win outright in the carry on category is because of its lack of back straps to make it into a completely convertible wearable backpack, which is kind of weird because it looks and functions like a backpack in pretty much every other regard! However, everything else about this bag is so well thought out that it is worth a mention.

This 36 liter backpack is made of ripstop water-resistant nylon and high wear and tear areas come with extra reinforcement, making it a tough and durable pack. Use the expandable zippers and get an additional three liters of packing space! The treaded wheels are also a good size and come in a protective wheel housing, making it possible to wheel over even the toughest of travel terrains.

With a plethora of pockets, it is easy to stay organized with this bag. The inside compartment is a good size that has both a compression strap as well as another mesh compartment, making packing a breeze and the lockable zippers give you added security to your luggage.

Then, there are all of the little things that Eagle Creek has added to this bag that really give it some creativity, such as the bottle opener (yes…bottle opener!), expandable straps on the outside allowing for extra gear to be strapped on, and even comes with a great lifetime warranty.

While it doesn’t come with a detachable day pack, you can easily use this as a day bag if needed once the inside contents are removed, or you can even McGiver a small day pack onto the front using all of the handy straps already included.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable
  • Tough wheels
  • Fantastic organization
  • Lots of creative and useful touches

Cons:

  • Does not have straps to convert to a full wearable backpack

Click Here To See Current Prices For the Eagle Creek Load Warrior

Best Wheeled Duffle Backpack Combo: High Sierra At7

 

This bag shines most with its duffle bag features, making it an ideal bag for people traveling with big or bulkier gear or items. For example, the drop-down compartment, as well as expandable main compartment, gives a lot of variation for packing abilities.

If you are looking for something a little more budget friendly, this wheeled backpack duffle bag is a great consideration, but also won’t come with the comforts and durability as some of its competitors. For example, the shoulder straps are fine for a quick carry up a flight of steps but won’t be comfortable enough for long distances.

Pros:

  • More budget friendly compared to other competition
  • Holds bigger or bulkier gear inside due to its duffle bag design

Cons:

  • Quality doesn’t hold up as much as the more expensive brands

Click Here To See More User Reviews of the Sierra AT7 On Amazon

Best Camera Backpack For Travel: Neewer 2-in-1 Convertible Wheeled Camera Backpack 

This amazing camera backpack gives most of it’s higher priced competitors a run for its money. This incredibly strong and durable bag keeps its structure well, protecting your valuable cameras and camera gear and even can fit a small laptop.

Being able to pack multiple cameras and extra gear into this travel camera bag means that you have the right gear for that perfect shot on any adventure. It’s incredibly diverse for all types of travel since you can either carry it from the top handle, wear it as a backpack, or wheel it with the telescoping handle, all while fitting MOST carry on size requirements (double check your airline to be sure).

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Fits a ton of gear
  • Multiple carrying modes
  • Can also hold a small laptop

Cons:

  • Could be slightly too big for individual airlines

Click Here To See More User Reviews of the Neweer 2 in 1 On Amazon

Conclusion – Best Wheeled Backpack Travel – For Comfort

When it comes to travel, having luggage that doesn’t fit your needs can be a real inconvenience. I love that there are now so many great options for multipurpose and functional bags.
Have you used a wheeled backpack before? What did you love about it? Was there anything that you wish could be modified? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “Best Wheeled Backpack for Travel

  1. I’m not sure I would do a wheeled backpack. I get the idea of having an option to wheel it instead of carry it, but it seems like it would add to the weight of a backpack or take space from a regular suitcase, as you mentioned. I tend to travel light, but like having a suitcase and a smaller bag or pack for my things like computer, books, etc. I might be too old for this. Maybe I’m stuck in my ways. Hum.

  2. Fantastic review and guide to all these wheeled back packs for those light focused travelers that also want to save your back from excessive weight on your shoulders. I definitely would travel this way.

  3. Great article! I’m still in search of the perfect wheeler backpack and this is super useful. I more and more enjoy traveling with a good backpack because I never stay in the same place for long and a backpack is more user friendly for me. Besides, with the airlines charging more and more for luggage transportation, is nice to have a good cabin friendly backpack.

  4. Great in-depth review of the backpacks and has got me thinking a little but my concern is, how much weight does the wheel add on? I mean for flights it could be a totally disaster if I am over the weight allowance for carry ons. What are your thoughts on this?

  5. I love these backpacks – I never thought of buying a backpack with wheels, which is a shame because I travel regularly to visit my family and I always carry a backpack. It’s good to see that it’s also perfect for travelling with a bulky camera and camera equipment – I always have to carry mine in a separate bag.

  6. We have hard sided luggage that we usually take with us. But we have done some smaller group tours that require us to have soft sided luggage. We borrowed for the last trip. But this guide might help us find our own set. A backpack with wheels is a good compromise. A good carrying system is essential since there are times when we would want to be a turtle and carry it on our backs. Wheels that take on cobble stone streets would be essential! You have given me a good list to look for in the store!

  7. Awesome reviews and round-ups of wheeled backpacks! I have a backpack and and rolling luggage. I never considered to combine both. This seems like a good compromise between the two. A hybrid that will solve most issues when traveling. As a photographer, I’m taking a look at the Neweer. Thanks for the list!

  8. I like the idea of a wheeled backpack to take the load off my back but it seems it would be just as easy to have a carryon. If I were to choose one I’d go with one that offers a detachable daypack.

  9. I have the Osprey Meridian and love it. Worked like a champ on my 2018 trips … 2 weeks in Hungary / Romania, and 2 weeks on the New Zealand south island … and am expecting nothing less on my 2+ week trip around Portugal in September. Wheel and handle assemblies certainly add to the overall weight but this bag is not meant to be used as a backpack for long hikes so it shouldn’t be a problem for short treks. I have not yet had the need to use as a backpack but I like knowing I can if that need arises. But I must disagree with your Con that it is not a carry-on size … just detach the daypack and problem solved. I have never had a problem using as a carry-on and it fits nicely in the overhead … but obviously too large to go under the seat. It is costly so try to catch it on sale … I got mine at an REI garage sale. Basically brand new (used once), no issues, scratches or marks … at half the price.

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