There’s no question that backpacks are one of the handiest ways to carry your stuff around. They have lots of compartments for your things, there are tons of models to choose from, they come in all shapes and sizes and they help you evenly distribute weight across your back, shoulders and chest.
There are also plenty of specialty backpacks with specific functions out there. Think backpack coolers, stylish leather models, anti-theft bags and even backpacking tents. However, when it comes to daily commuting — whether to work or school — we’re fans of rolling backpacks.
The Benefits of Rolling Backpacks
Rolling backpacks have come a long way in recent years, with stylish and versatile models aimed at all ages and functions. They can also be a lifesaver on your back. Backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly can injure muscles and joints, leading to back, neck and shoulder pain.
Heavy backpacks worn over a long period of time can also cause posture problems, especially in children and teens. These days, with adults and kids alike using backpacks to commute and travel, rolling backpacks help alleviate a lot of that pressure and prevent potential injuries. Many models also offer a two-in-one function: Use a backpack with wheels when there’s a lot to lug around, then convert it to a standard pack for lighter loads.
What to Look for in the Best Rolling Backpacks
Comfort: All backpacks should feature wide, adjustable straps for the most ergonomically comfortable fit. Look for thick, padded straps and a padded back if you’ll be using it as a traditional backpack just as much as you will a rolling backpack.
The Wheels: Consider the wheel design when selecting your model. Inline wheels have more maneuverability if you plan on rolling your gear through a high-traffic area. In contrast, all-terrain wheels may be more practical if you plan on traveling.
The Handle: Sure, most rolling backpacks have a telescoping handle, which will easily tuck out of the way when not in use. But is it padded? Does it easily slide up and down? And how adjustable is it? These are all valid questions to ask before purchase.
Compartments: Many backpacks with wheels offer sweet compartment options just as regular old packs do. They’re a great way to stay organized while separating more sensitive items (laptops) from the durable ones (water bottles). Consider your organizational needs and pick a pack accordingly.
Durability: Odds are you’re looking into rolling backpacks because you have a ton of things to carry around, so you’ll want to consider how durable the bag in question actually is. Opt for sturdier materials, like nylon, and ask whether the pack is scratch-resistant, waterproof or reinforced.
Size: When it comes to backpacks on wheels, size matters. Figure out precisely what you plan on toting around and work backward to determine what model and size are best for you (or your kids).
1. Matein Rolling Backpack
BEST FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
Even in today’s digital world, textbooks remain an essential tool for many college students. So why should their backs suffer as a result? That’s where this stylish, rolling backpack is ideal for those looking for extra credit. It’s got a laptop compartment, tons of room for those textbooks, an accessible front pouch and corner guards to add that extra layer of protection. The pack comes in two sizes and four different colors. We especially love how you can roll or carry it like a traditional backpack, customizing it depending on which courses you happen to be studying that day.
2. Jansport Driver 8 Backpack
BEST FOR HIGH SCHOOL KIDS
As long as there’s been high school, there’s been Jansport to get kids to and from classes. This classic backpack is now available as a rolling backpack to ease commutes everywhere. We love the classic look and design, but we also appreciate the padded grab handle and laptop sleeve, not to mention the tuck-away backpack straps for two-in-one use. Meanwhile, the inline skate wheels are ideal since they easily maneuver when you’re in between classes and trying to beat that bell.
3. York Backpack With Wheels
BEST FOR TRAVEL
This model is ideal whether you need to sling this backpack with wheels over your shoulders to catch a flight or pull out the telescoping handle to maneuver through customs. The sleek design holds up to 39 liters of stuff separated out into the large and multi-compartments, keeping you organized while on the road. We love the inline design of the wheels, which hold up in all kinds of high-traffic areas, and the water-resistant coating, which protects precious items within. Because you never know when that person in front of you at check-in is going to spill their coffee reaching for their passport.
4. J World New York Sundance Rolling Backpack
BEST FOR OLDER KIDS
As kids enter higher grades, they’ll probably want something personalized more to their tastes than yours. Enter this line of rolling backpacks in a wide assortment of colors and patterns. There’s a main compartment for books, gym clothes and lunch bags, plus a handy front pocket for pens and other small items. It’s also got a padded laptop case and a bonus front compartment for notepads or a tablet. That makes it a well-rounded and practical pick for the grade-school kids in your life.
5. Mackenzie Navy Pink Multi Hearts Backpack
BEST FOR SMALL CHILDREN
Sometimes it seems like the smaller the child, the more items they actually need to carry (a change of clothes, snacks, wipes, lunch boxes, thermoses, shoes and more). If your little one is lugging a lot back and forth and it seems like a heavy load, this customizable rolling backpack from Pottery Barn Kids comes in handy. It’s made from water-resistant fabric and features extra straps on the front to hold jackets, sweaters or snow pants. The front and main compartments also help add organization to your kid’s life. Children can easily roll it; otherwise, a fabric overlay covers the wheels when they want to carry it instead.
6. Rockland Double Handle Rolling Backpack
When you’ve got a bad back or a long way to go, lugging even the smallest amount of stuff around really takes a toll. That’s why we’re into this budget-friendly backpack with wheels, which is smaller than most on this list but is just as effective in getting from Point A to Point B. The telescoping handle makes it easy to use as a rolling backpack or as a regular old sac, plus it comes in multiple colors for all styles. There are zippered pockets and a built-in organizer, making this one handy backpack for kids or adults.
7. Targus Compact Rolling Backpack
BEST FOR COMMUTERS
Suppose you’re in the market for a small but functional backpack with wheels to get you to and from the office as easily as possible. In that case, this rolling backpack has you covered. It has multiple compartments to keep all of those work documents, your laptop and even commuting essentials (tablet, e-reader, headphones) organized. The compartments are also padded, which is always a protection bonus when you’re on a train, bus, subway or in any other high-traffic areas. We particularly love that, despite its small size and weight (four pounds), it handles MacBook Pros up to 17 inches, which is larger than many other similar packs.
8. High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Backpack
FAVORITE FOR ADVENTURERS
If you want a rolling backpack to take out into the great outdoors, this backpack has rugged, all-terrain wheels that stand up to more than smooth school hallways or an escalator. They’re corner-mounted with molded kick plates for extra stability and protection, so you know they’ll hold up. Meanwhile, the laptop compartment comes with extra padding and there are several secure, smaller pockets for other items, so all your things should stay safe and intact no matter what kind of road you travel.
9. Movsou Rolling Backpack Waterproof
If you need a waterproof pack with a lot of space, there is definitely tons in this rolling backpack. It’s large enough to fit textbooks and a large-screen laptop, plus there are deep mesh pockets on the sides to hold even the biggest of water bottles. If you like to stay organized, several compartments keep your things secure and dry.