12 Best Wheeled Backpacks in 2017
When it comes to transporting heavy loads from subway station to office; from parking lot to lecture hall; wheeled backpacks can be so much more convenient than the strap-only versions.
While they may be a bit noisier compared to the standard backpack, we’d take the loud hum of the wheels over back and shoulder pain any old day!
Since there are quite a few brands and models to choose from, we wanted to highlight our 12 favorite backpacks for you here in this handy guide.
Find out what features you should pay attention to in order to find the best wheeled backpack for your needs and read our detailed reviews of the top five products.
Let’s get rolling!
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Wheeled Backpacks Ultimate Table
- Buying Information
- Consider These Factors
- Material & Hardware
- Storage Space
- Top 5 Best Wheeled Backpack Reviews
Top 12 Wheeled Backpacks Ultimate Table
|Design||Name||Laptop Sleeve?||Most Useful For…||Rating (1-5)|
|1. J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack||No||School||4.3|
|2. High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Backpack||Yes||School||4.3|
|3. JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack||Yes||School, Travel||4.3|
|4. High Sierra AT7 Carry-on Spinner duffel with backpack straps||No||Travel||4.3|
|5. Targus Compact Rolling Backpack for Laptops||Yes||School, Work||4.2|
|6. Olympia Gen-X 19 Inch Rolling Backpack||No||School, Travel||4.2|
|7. Outdoor Products Sea-Tac Rolling Backpack||No||School, Work, Travel||4.2|
|8. Samsonite Wheeled Backpack||Yes||School||4.0|
|9. OxGord® Dog Pet Carrier Rolling Backpack Cat Easy Walk Travel Tote Premium Quality Airline Approved||No||Pet Transportation||4.0|
|10. CalPak Winder 18-Inch Rolling Laptop Backpack||Yes||School, Work||3.9|
|11. Everest Deluxe Wheeled Backpack||No||Travel, School||3.8|
|12. Olympia Luggage 18″ Rolling Backpack||No||School, Travel||3.7|
Finding the best rolling backpack for your needs is so much easier when you understand what to look for when you shop, which is exactly what we’ll be discussing in this section!
Remember these small details and tips as you shop and you’ll have no problem finding the right one for your needs and budget.
Consider These Factors
Here are a few initial things to take into consideration as you begin your search.
- Do the Straps Tuck Away? – Even the best wheeled backpack in the world is going to lose major points if it doesn’t have a way for you to tuck in the straps when they’re not in use!
The last thing you want is for them to drag along the ground as you wheel it around or for the straps to be caught in conveyor belts at security checkpoints.
- Water Resistance Level? – This is especially important if you use the backpack for school since it is more likely that you’ll be exposed to the elements as you go from class to class.
Standing at the bus stop without an umbrella and in the middle of a rainstorm is bad enough, but when the water leaks into your backpack, then you’re really in trouble!
If your backpack isn’t very water resistant, we suggest that you purchase a waterproof cover like this one from OUTAD. For less than 10 bucks, your problem is solved!
- Would It Work as a Carry-On? – If you’re specifically shopping for a wheeled backpack that you can use for travel, be sure to double check the dimensions to make sure that it will work as a carry-on.
We realize that each airline has different sizing limitations, but in general, it’s probably the height of the backpack that you need to pay attention to most.
Material & Hardware
The key to a good backpack is solid construction, quality materials and durable hardware.
- Material – Backpacks are most often made out of polyester or nylon. Occasionally you will also find backpacks made out of canvas, but these are usually duffle bags or light travel bags and not the rolling ones.
One area of the bag that you should pay close attention to is the bottom panel. What material did the manufacturer use here?
If it is leather or hide, then you should be careful about wheeling it through puddles and grass (it will soak up moisture like a sponge). Some, such as number one in our table, have a rubber panel that help strengthen this area of the bag. This is definitely a bonus feature!
- Hardware – Since zippers are usually one of the first things to go on a bag, we suggest that you start by looking here: the larger, the better.
While you’re taking a closer look at the hardware, be sure to check the quality of construction, too. Check the seams to make sure there aren’t any unraveled threads hanging loose and tug on them to get an idea of their strength level.
The final thing to scrutinize as you compare and contrast backpacks is the amount of storage space it offers.
As you can see in our table above, we have listed whether or not the backpack is equipped with a laptop sleeve.
Make sure you double check that your laptop will, indeed, fit in the sleeve before you choose and remember that even though some bags may not have a specially designed sleeve, that doesn’t mean they won’t fit!
If you already use a protective sleeve around your laptop or tablet, then it should be quite safe inside a large backpack that doesn’t have a laptop sleeve built in.
Also, be sure to check the number of compartments and separate storage pockets it offers; it’s better to have too much space rather than not enough!
Top 5 Best Wheeled Backpack Reviews
This simple wheeled backpack is awesome in so many ways and it definitely earns the title of best wheeled backpack on our list, especially for students!
The shell is made from a sturdy 600D polyester and features a hard mold on the bottom panel in order to offer a higher level of protection.
The handle has three different locking positions so you can adjust it to your preferred height, the back panel and the shoulder straps both feature mesh lining to keep you cool when you’re wearing it on your back and it offers you a decent amount of storage space thanks to the main storage compartment plus front zip pocket. Did we mention that it has two mesh water bottle pouches on the outside?
This would make a great bag for high school students or college students with a light load, and although it doesn’t have a laptop sleeve, it will fit a small laptop in the main compartment!
We found the Freewheel backpack from High Sierra to be another great choice for students and really appreciated the fact that it does accommodate up to 15-inch laptops.
It comes complete with headphone port, handy corner guards to protect the material underneath, a fully padded laptop compartment followed by a second compartment with a zippered pouch on the front and mesh padded shoulder straps that will keep you cool and comfortable when you need to wear it.
We liked the wheels on this backpack: they had a nice tread pattern and were a bit more rugged than some of the flat wheels we’ve seen. As you’ll see in the picture below, it also has two snaps on the back that allow you to stow the straps safely out of the way when they’re not in use.
Overall, this was a top competitor with the J World backpack and we were pleased with the construction and level of comfort!
If you’re in need of a backpack for school and you carry around quite a few books and materials from class to class, then this just might be the perfect choice for you.
While it is quite thick due to the numerous compartments, it is ideal for helping to keep all of your belongings separate and organized.
The handle only adjusts to two different levels (some of the others we tried adjusted to three), but it does have a nice padded laptop sleeve that will fit up to 15-inch laptops. It also has a padded back panel and rugged wheels just like the High Sierra model we just discussed.
We can’t say much for the corners in terms of protection (they only used a small fabric panel to reinforce them rather than rub guards), but if you’re looking for something with ample storage space, then it doesn’t get any better than this one from JanSport.
Moving from school halls to airport terminals, this wheeled backpack from High Sierra is ideal for the traveler who is looking for a piece of carry-on luggage that can be wheeled or worn as a regular backpack.
This features four swivel wheels that make it easy to maneuver around train stations, airports, metro stations or anywhere else your travel adventures may take you.
We love that it is made out of a super durable 1680D Ballistic Nylon because the more you travel, the rougher you’ll treat the bag!
This has everything a traveler needs: a padded back panel to make it comfortable when you wear it on your back, handles that you can connect on the top of the bag when you need to carry it as a duffle and a telescope handle that allows you to wheel it around as needed.
The construction is excellent, with reinforced corners and a handy zip-away panel that allows you to stow the straps away completely when you’re not using them, and it only weighs just over 7 pounds!
This backpack/carry-on is worth every penny. We would even consider it over the eBags Motherload wheeled duffel since the latter can’t be worn as a backpack!
Last, but not least, we have this rolling backpack from Targus.
It is super spacious inside the main compartment and we love that you can stow away the backpack straps thanks to the pocket on the back panel. One other nice feature on the back was the fact that you can cover the wheels when you’re carrying it, preventing the dirt and grime from rubbing off on your clothing! Not as comfortable when you wear it, but if you wheel it around most of the time, this won’t be an issue.
Unlike most backpacks that only accommodate 15-inch laptops, this will accommodate up to 16-inch laptops; giving it a slight advantage to some of the other models. We also liked the reinforcement on the back corners but would have also liked to see the same type of protection on the front of the bag, as well.
We highly recommend this for school and work use; avoid if you’re traveling since it isn’t as durable for this purpose.