12 Best Rolling Backpacks: Reviews of Wheeled Bag Brands
Students may resist them, but professionals may insist on them. The aesthetic of the rolling backpack is up for debate. What is clear, however, is that they offer many physical benefits.
While many non-rolling backpack users are fine, some are not. The back conditions fostered by heavy backpack loads can last into adulthood, even when backpack use has stopped. Also, a surprising
If you feel that this could potentially be you, you must consider a rolling backpack. There are drawbacks, but the rolling backpack is definitely worth a try whether you are a student, professional, or traveller.
Rolling Backpacks Compared
Osprey Ozone Convertible
Wenger Luggage Synergy
11.8 X 15.4 X 20.9 ’’ (~45L)
J World New York Sunrise
18 X 13 X 9 ’’
Tilami Rolling Backpack
18 X 8 X 13 ’’
8.5 X 18 X 16.2 ’’ (~30L)
JanSport Driver 8 Core Series
13.8 X 20.9 X 10.2 ’’ (~30L)
11.8 X 7.1 X 17.9 ’’ (24L)
No, But Tablet Sleeve (9.5’’)
15.3 X 21.8 X 10 ’’ (~45 Liters)
Tilami Luggage & Lunch Bag
18.9 X 8.3 X 12.9 ’’ (~25L)
Disney Mickey Mouse & Friends
16 X 12 X 5’’ (~10L)
28 X 14 X 14 ’’ (80L)
Kipling Women’s Sanaa
12.5 X 18.5 X 10.8 ’’ (23L)
What to Look For In a Good Roller Backpack
Generally, rolling backpacks are not as comfortable to wear as non-rolling, because their shoulder straps are thinner, their back panels are less padded, and their frames are more rigid.
That said, all of the packs on this list have features to make them as comfortable as possible. There are two types of roller handle: a single telescoping rod with a handle at the top (often called a T-handle) and double telescoping rods that meet at a large top handle.
Most users probably don’t feel strongly, but some might like the easier grip of the double-rod handle system. Others might prefer the simplicity of the single rod handle system
Rolling backpacks come in the same range of sizes as non-rolling. The smallest on this list is 10L and the largest is 80L. Generally, you probably wouldn’t want to carry on your back more than 80L with a rolling backpack, no matter how big a person you are.
Many rolling backpacks are suitable size for carry-on, but keep in mind that the roller system makes the pack more rigid and so you cannot squeeze it into a small space as easily, even if you put very little inside.
There are rolling backpacks that are more like suitcases—with one big main compartment—and those that are more like school or work packs—with multiple interior compartments, exterior pouches, laptop sleeve, etc.
Rolling backpacks always weigh more than their non-rolling counterparts. Therefore, where the average medium non-rolling pack might be 2 lbs, the average medium rolling backpack is 4 lbs.
A 2-lb addition because of the rolling system is normal. Rolling backpacks can carry as much weight as non-rolling: a medium pack can tolerate 20 to 30 lbs. Whether or not this fills the pack’s volume depends on what you’re carrying.
The key characteristics of materials used in rolling backpacks are strength and lightness. Generally, for adult-size packs, the ideal combination is high-quality plastic in the base and lightweight aluminum in the frame. Packs for children are small enough that plastic is suitable for both frame and base.
The bodies of most of these backpacks are nylon—a water-resistant material. A few are crinkled nylon, which is no less functional but gives a slightly different texture that might be desirable to some.
All of the backpacks reviewed are 2-wheeled rolling backpacks with straight wheels. In some instances, the wheels are similar to rollerblade (a.k.a. in-line) wheels. Most of them have relatively large wheels (3-4 inches, depending on the pack’s size), which are helpful when going over uneven terrain.
While swivelling wheels might seem to be an improvement over straight wheels, this may not be the case; swivelling creates more unwanted movement, both while rolling the pack and while rummaging to get belongings.
It’s possible to get a rolling backpack for a person of almost any age, gender, or personality. There are themed rolling backpacks (Disney, for example). There are children’s rolling backpacks shaped like animated animals.
There are professional, playful, subtle, or bold looks. Some backpacks reviewed in this article only come in one color on Amazon, but the company website offers more options.
Most rolling (and non-rolling) backpacks are water resistant; they will keep water out up to a point. Some are essentially waterproof—they’re made of waterproof material, but water would leak in if the bag were submerged.
Sometimes, a rain cover is included (or you can get one separately) to make the pack essentially waterproof.
Rolling backpacks that are designed to be luggage (they have a large interior compartment with internal compression straps) usually don’t have laptop compartments, while smaller everyday carry rolling backpacks often have padded sleeves intended for the purpose.
It’s important to look at the sleeve size and consider whether your laptop will fit before purchasing a backpack. Fortunately, even if there’s no sleeve, many packs have compartments that will fit and protect a laptop just fine. Also, many are water resistant, which is important when carrying electronic devices.
With very few exceptions, most warranties are limited—that is, they apply only to clear cases of flawed manufacture. If anything goes wrong due to misuse, neglect, or accident, the company won’t replace or repair the product.
Many companies give a lifetime limited warranty; lifetime means that the warranty applies to the product’s entire useful life. However, a limited warranty won’t cover reasonable wear and tear.
Some very high-quality (and usually more expensive) brands offer unlimited warranties, which means that for the duration of the warranty, all damages to the product will be fixed or the product will be replaced without cost to the customer.
12 Best Rolling Backpacks Reviewed
1. Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L Wheeled Luggage
Best Rolling Backpack For Travel
The Osprey Ozone Convertible is, as its name suggests, convertible—it has a detachable smaller day backpack that zips off of the front and can be used as a small-medium backpack in its own right. This, along with the backpack suspension and harness system of the main body, makes it versatile for a variety of travel situations.
Other features that make it great for trips are the internal luggage compression straps, and its side and top handles. Also, it’s a good carry-on size for most airlines. Furthermore, it has a sturdy, high clearance base and large wheels—suitable for uneven terrain.
The main drawback to this pack is that it’s barely water resistant, so without a rain cover, belongings will probably get wet in the rain. Also, some users report that the pack tends to fall backwards when the entire unit (including daypack) is full.
However, a massive plus is “Osprey’s All-Mighty Guarantee”—Osprey will repair any defective or broken element of the product for free, no matter the age. If it cannot do so, it will replace the product.
2. Wenger Luggage Synergy Wheeled 16" Laptop Backpack Bag
Best Rolling Laptop Backpack
Along with its specially protected 16-inch laptop sleeve, the Wenger Luggage Synergy also has a 12.9-inch tablet sleeve. Also, it’s excellently compartmentalized, so it’s ideal for the student, commuter, or traveller who needs to bring several devices.
It’s a good size for carry-on, even under the seat in many instances. Along with the backpack harness system and the T-shaped handle, this rolling backpack has a thick top handle to make quick transfer easy.
Generally, users report that the wheels create a normal level of noise for a rolling backpack—generally fairly quiet except on rough surfaces. The entire unit is about 6.4 lbs. when empty—a reasonable weight for a rolling backpack of this size.
Wenger (a Swiss Gear-owned company) gives a 3-year, limited warranty for product defects. The lack of chest or hip belt on the harness system could be a negative; however, the back panel and shoulder straps are well-padded and well-shaped.
Some users complained that, when they went to zip out the harness system, the flap just hung down awkwardly. However, one user pointed out that there’s Velcro to attach the flaps to the bottom (covering the wheels).
3. J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack
Best Rolling Backpack For School Students
The J World New York Sunrise is a good size for students ranging from late elementary to high school. It’s quite light at 4.5 lbs. The extensive color options allow a student of any age, gender, or personality to choose the perfect color pattern.
Convenient for students, it’s easy to insert or remove the shoulder straps from the mesh back. There are no chest or hip straps, but the fact is, many students wouldn’t want to put these on, anyway. Also, the back and straps are well-designed for comfort.
A massive plus: according to users, the base, handle, and wheel system of the pack can endure rough surfaces and abusive treatment. Another plus is the reflective tape across the front. Kids of all ages take risks, often without knowing it, walking in twilight or dark. This is a great feature to make them safer.
Another nice feature for students (or anybody, for that matter) is the large top handle. Students will also appreciate the mesh side pockets to put drink bottles in. A serious drawback for many students would be that, despite being perfectly compartmentalized for a student otherwise, it doesn’t have a laptop sleeve.
4. Tilami Rolling Backpack - 18 Inch for School & Travel
Best Rolling Backpack For College Students
The Tilami Rolling Backpack is the perfect size and has excellent compartmentalization for college students. It can bear a maximum of 33 lbs, but is fairly light itself at 4.85 lbs.
It’s suitable for carry-on and other travel situations. This is probably more than sufficient for most college students, who actually carry less than they did in high school. Students will like the mesh side pockets for umbrellas or drink bottles.
The sizable top handle is great for quick transfer of the pack. The shoulder straps are especially easy to insert or remove from the subtly designed concealing pockets. Users normally find this to be durable backpack.
It has the Tilami Armor Protection System on the bottom, which comprises a sturdy front bumper and base supports to keep the bag stable when not moving. Tilami gives a 30-day return and refund period for unused products and a 3-month limited warranty.
While this pack is large enough for most college students, keep in mind: Some very large laptops (17’’) won’t fit into the pack.
5. Kipling Alcatraz Solid Laptop Wheeled Backpack
Best Rolling Backpack For Nursing Students
The Kipling Alcatraz is made of stylish crinkle nylon, which also makes the pack water resistant. A functional element of style is the monkey keychain on every bag—characteristic of the brand. The laptop sleeve is allegedly for 15-inch laptops, but many users comment that this pack is spacious and sometimes a larger laptop can fit.
This backpack is versatile: it could be used as carry-on and has a good size and build for students and commuters of all ages. In fact, many people love to use it for air travel. Some might prefer open side pockets, rather than zipped pockets.
Also, this backpack is smaller-medium in capacity, so some might find it deficient in interior space. However, most users seem to find compartments for everything, including water bottles.
Also, most are surprised how much they can fit into the bag. Some people complain that the telescoping handle doesn’t come up high enough. However, shorter users tend to be okay with this. Kipling gives a 1-year limited warranty.
6. JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack
Best Lightweight Rolling Backpack
The JanSport Driver 8 Core Series is light for a rolling backpack its size: 5 lbs. In this way, it’s perfect for the student who struggles to carry a heavy load but still needs a backpack with fairly high capacity. A large top handle makes quick transfer less cumbersome.
It has a side pocket—a real asset to most students, though many might wish the other side had a pocket too. There’s a small zippered front pocket and 3 interior compartments. Most people like this, but if you want one big compartment, this isn’t the bag for you.
The shoulder straps tuck away so thoroughly that one can barely tell there’s a backpack harness at all when it’s not in use. The wheels are large (3.2 inches) and quiet, so they’re quiet and durable, even on uneven terrain.
Users remark that this pack is fairly resistant to falling forward, even when full. A few people remark that there’s not a lot of padding, even in the laptop compartment. However, the effective water resistance of the pack is a plus if you’re carrying electronics.
JanSport gives a lifetime limited warranty for this and other products, and most users find the customer service to be accommodating.
7. Yodo Kids Rolling Luggage Backpack with Wheels
Best Rolling Backpack For Kids
The Yodo Zoo 3-Way Toddler Backpack is perfect for small children (over 3-years-old). The packs are designed to look like brightly colored characters (a dinosaur, shark, owl, or unicorn) and the large size (featured here) weighs a child-friendly 2.4 lbs.
Kids of all ages will appreciate the mesh pouches on each side, the easy-to-reach front pouch, the ergonomic telescoping roller handle, and big soft top handle. Unlike many packs on this list, this one has a double-rod telescoping roller handle system.
A perk of this is that the handle system is generally larger and easier to grip—ideal for children who may struggle to pull the handle up or fail to roll the pack in a coordinated fashion.
Increasingly, children are regularly using electronic devices, so to keep up with the times, these backpacks have 19.5-inch tablet sleeves in their main compartments. Another perk for children is the name tag at the back.
On the negative side, kids might fail to remove the wheel cover before rolling, so that the cover dirties and wears out quickly. Fortunately, customers are consistently very positive about the customer service.
8. AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack
Best Rolling Camera Backpack
The AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack not only has the critical traits of a camera bag. It’s also excellent for travel, including airplane carry-on. The main compartment has a total of 11 Velcro-adjustable compartments and can hold a DSLR camera with a lens attached. It also has a large, padded laptop sleeve.
Also good for traveling photographers, it has tripod straps on the exterior, side pockets that are properly sized for memory cards, and an ID card slot on one side. Because this pack is potentially holding a lot of sensitive devices and equipment, it’s good that it comes with a rain cover to make it essentially waterproof.
It has a double-rod telescoping roller handle, which many would prefer to the T-shaped, and it has a good-sized top handle. The wheels are essentially like rollerblade wheels, so they’re durable and quiet as they roll.
This pack is on the heavy side, even for a rolling backpack: 9.4 lbs. Therefore, it’s not ideal for those who don’t plan to use it as a rolling pack most of the time. However, a plus is that the straps are removable, which gives you another pouch for belongings. AmazonBasics gives a 1-year limited warranty for all products.
9. Tilami Wheeled Rolling Backpack Luggage & Lunch Bag
Best Rolling Backpack For Girls
The Tilami New Antifouling Design rolling backpack comes with a matching insulated lunch bag, which makes this purchase a great deal. While this pack does come in more masculine-looking camouflage, the two other patterns available and the general shape of the backpack are feminine.
The shoulder straps can be inserted and removed easily from a back pocket. Unfortunately, kids might not be careful about tucking the straps back in, and exposed straps can get caught on objects, including the pack’s wheels. Fortunately, most parents don’t report their children having much of a problem with this.
The roller handle is a sleekly designed T-shaped and there is a good-sized top handle. Girls of all ages (including adults) will appreciate the side mesh pouches and the three main compartments, including the largest which has a laptop sleeve.
Also desirable to girls, there’s a wheel cover to keep any wheel dirt from contacting clothing during backpack wear. At about 4.3 lbs., this pack is light enough for girls about 7 years of age and up. Tilami gives a lifetime limited warranty for all products.
10. Mickey Mouse Large Rolling Backpack
Best Disney Rolling Backpack
The Mickey Mouse Rolling backpack in Disney blue is the perfect size and design for the young Disney enthusiast. It weighs only about 2 lbs. but has space for everything: a top and bottom front pocket, a Velcro-closed pocket on one side and an open mesh pocket on the other, and a main compartment.
The roller handle is double-rod and has an ergonomic shape on the hand grip, both of which make it easier for children to work with. The entire backpack is decked with Disney colors and designs.
Mickey Mouse is boldly featured on the bottom front pocket and Pluto on the side Velcro pocket. Body of the pack is spangled with small Disney iconic designs and the shoulder straps and zippers are lined with bright red and blue.
Even though this particular Disney backpack is for boys, it arguably has a gender-neutral quality to it. Parents praise the pack’s durability and its carry-on size. On the negative side, it has only a small loop as a top handle, so adults might have a slightly harder time quickly transferring it.
11. Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, 28-Inch/80-Liter
Best Large Rolling Backpack
The Osprey Sojourn Wheeled backpack is the largest on this list. As a pack this size should, it has both chest and hip straps in addition to shoulder straps. The back panel is unusually well-ventilated for a rolling backpack, and the suspension system includes torso adjustment.
However, if you want to have a small back pocket, the harness system can be removed completely to create space. The Sojourn has straight jacket-style external compression straps—a great feature in such a large pack.
The wheels are quite large (4.25 inches); it has the strong but lightweight HighRoad™ chassis; and it has a double rod telescoping roller handle. These features make the pack easy to roll over uneven surfaces. This backpack has good-sized top and side handle, so it is less cumbersome to pick up.
It’s fairly minimalistic on the interior, but it does have interior compression straps for luggage. Also, even though it lacks side and front pockets, it does have an easy-access top pocket for similar items, and it has daisy chain attachments to clip items to the exterior.
All Osprey packs are covered by Osprey’s All-Mighty Guarantee: They will repair a backpack free of charge, no matter the age, and if they cannot, they will replace it. Most users are really impressed by the durability of these packs, though.
12. Kipling Women’s Sanaa Black Rolling Backpack
Best Small Rolling Backpack
The Kipling Women’s Sanaa rolling backpack is a versatile small rolling backpack, weighing it at about 4 lbs. It does have a relatively feminine build, but a few of the available colors are gender-neutral. That said, it’s perfect for small females, whether adults or youth.
The pack is ideally designed and sized for students and travellers (including carry-on). It has the characteristic Kipling monkey keychain. It has a substantial top handle and a double-rod telescoping roller handle.
There’s an open mesh side pouch on only one side, which some might see as a deficiency. The pack might make up for this by having 3 small outer pockets of different sizes in the front before the main compartment.
However, some users find the compartmentalization unhelpful; one user noted that the 3 outer compartments are an “odd size,” and another found that, not only was there no laptop compartment, but she could not even fit her laptop into the main compartment.
Therefore, this is probably not the ideal bag for laptop users, unless the laptop is relatively small. Kipling gives a 1-year limited warranty.
Common Uses of Rolling Backpacks
Rolling luggage is a common sight in airports, but adding a backpack harness gives greater versatility to a traveller. If you encounter a series of stairs or a large patch of highly uneven terrain, you can pull out the harness, put the pack on your back, and keep going.
If you’re on a trip where you doubt the backpack harness is necessary, you can usually remove it to give you a nice pocket on the back of the pack to put small belongings. Therefore, a rolling backpack is a must-have for the frequent traveller.
Just like non-rolling backpacks, many rolling backpacks have padded laptop sleeves and spaces specially designed for tablets or smartphones.
Also like many non-rolling packs, rolling packs are frequently water resistant and/or come with a rain cover to make the pack essentially waterproof—a nice feature if you’re carrying electronic devices.
In a way, rolling backpacks are ideal for carrying devices: they have a frame that keeps them on the rolling system, and so they’re resistant to collapsing or falling to one side.
For many students, a rolling backpack is best. Students who have back, shoulder, or neck pain from perpetually lifting and carrying an overly heavy backpack will find relief.
Students with leg, foot, or even hand injuries/conditions might find relief with a rolling backpack, too, since most of the time there is no need to lift the full weight of the backpack.
Advantages of Rolling Backpacks
The rolling feature of a backpack allows you to move with your pack without actually lifting it. Therefore, more weight can be carried along with little to no strain.
This may allow you to walk with your equipment to a work location, where before you needed a vehicle. It might make you a more self-sufficient and versatile traveller, since you’ll likely be able to carry more in one bag without assistance.
Rolling backpacks usually have a frame that holds them onto the roller system; therefore, they tend to stand on their own, even when empty.
Therefore, to insert or remove a belonging, one has only to reach down and open the appropriate pouch. There’s no pulling the bag closer and yanking it up to get an item that’s not even that far into the interior.
Rolling backpacks are the ergonomic choice for many. The pain and strain of hoisting a backpack up onto one’s back and the tedium of adjusting one’s clothing after the hoisting process is eliminated completely.
One has only to pull the roller handle to the desired height (which is easy with a good quality system) and just go.
Backpacks worn on the back tend to look more casual, as though you’re a student or a camper. Backpacks on wheels tend to look more professional. It’s not clear why this is.
Perhaps, the rolling backpack sends a message that you are practical enough to use a backpack but have come far enough to be standing up straight and rolling it behind you rather than carrying it on your back like a pack animal.
It could also be that the rolling backpack sends a message that the cargo is too special to be hoisted on one’s back.
Drawbacks of Rolling Backpacks
In general, rolling backpacks weigh more than their non-rolling counterparts, because the wheels, base, frame, and rolling handle system all add weight. Fortunately, these are usually made of lightweight material, so the added weight is no more than a few pounds.
The bad news is that this added weight does somewhat counteract the benefit of a rolling backpack. Therefore, a rolling backpack is a poor choice for anyone who expects to wear the pack most of the time.
Comfort (to wear)
Generally, rolling backpacks are not as comfortable to wear as non-rolling backpacks. This is not just because of the added weight; it’s also the rigidity of the frame and the fact that the harness system has to be minimal enough to be tucked away.
Therefore, even in a best-case scenario, there’s less padding on the back and straps, and the pack will usually feel more awkward to wear.
Some users, young students especially, might worry that a rolling backpack will be uncool. However, as knowledge of the physical dangers of heavy backpacks becomes more prevalent, wheeled backpack stigma might lift.
Furthermore, choosing a subtle or age-appropriate design can offset embarrassment. Alternatively, older users (such as adult commuters and photographers) might find a rolling backpack to be more professional looking.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What size wheeled backpack should I buy?
Very small wheeled backpacks (under 20L, under 18’’ high) are ideal for children under age 9. Slightly larger wheeled packs (under 30L, under 20’’ high) are great for older children and middle schoolers up to graduate school students, as long as they don’t need a lot of storage capacity. Students in middle and high school may really want more volume; this is where a rolling backpack can really help.
Adults who are looking for rolling luggage that can, in a pinch, be worn as a backpack can tolerate large sizes (up to 80L, up to 28’’high). However, petite people might need to consider how much they expect to wear the pack on their back; a small woman probably won’t want to wear a pack over 50L.
Do college students use rolling backpacks?
Yes, sometimes. College students often are traveling on uneven terrain—campus grounds, stairs, etc. which makes a rolling backpack less practical. However, a durable rolling backpack with large wheels and a strong base and frame can usually tolerate this.
Also helpful is that college students will generally care for their packs better than grade school kids. Some college students might have an injury or condition that makes the rolling pack ideal.
Will wheels on a backpack make loud noises?
Generally, no. All of the packs on the list above are fairly quiet. All packs will be noisier on uneven or highly textured terrain, and so, as many users point out, you couldn’t sneak up on somebody while rolling your pack. However, for all practical purposes, these are all quiet.
Are wheeled backpacks a good choice for back pain sufferers?
Yes. Many people find that a rolling backpack solves their physical problems from carrying a backpack. However, there are still potential issues. Rolling backpacks are inevitably heavier than non-rolling.
Also, rolling packs are rather rigid, and so despite excellent comfort design, a rolling backpack will not fit on the back as comfortably as a non-rolling. Furthermore, they’re heavier when you pick them up by the top handle (if there is a top handle—this makes a pack less cumbersome to move, so make sure there is).
Therefore, if you have back trouble, you have to be sure that you’re working in an environment where you can roll the pack most of the time.
Will these rolling bags be more likely to break?
A word of advice from users and manufacturers is to consistently tuck the harness system away when rolling the pack. This may be inconvenient, but if you do not, the straps could get caught on something and/or be ripped off.
This appears to the leading cause of damage in otherwise indestructible rolling backpacks. It’s also not unusual to have wheels break; the good news is that warranties will often cover this.
Where’s a good place to buy backpacks with wheels?
Amazon offers somewhat lower prices than most company websites and its prices are competitive with retail sites (Walmart, eBay, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, etc.). However, company websites often offer more color pattern and size selections than Amazon and online retailers do.
Rolling backpacks come in all shapes and sizes: cheap and expensive builds, child and adult sizes, feminine and masculine colors, subtle and cutesy. There are rolling camera backpacks, rolling Disney-themed backpacks for toddlers, rolling laptop backpacks, and more.
There’s truly something for everybody. Furthermore, most are highly versatile—your rolling school backpack could later double as a carry-on/travel or business backpack. Therefore, a good-quality rolling backpack that you like is one of the best possible investments.