Last Updated on March 10, 2023 by Christine Kaaloa
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There is an ongoing debate about what is better to travel with: backpacks or wheeled luggage. Good news~ you can have both! In this complete guide to wheeled backpacks, I’m going to share tips on finding the right bag for you and the six best-wheeled backpack carryons of 2022!
Between suffering plantar fasciitis, back, shoulder, and neck pains, I realized I no longer wanted to be a sherpa or snail carrying all my travel gear on my back. So I’ve used a trusty Eagle Creek Doubleback 22 convertible backpack for the past decade. Sadly during the pandemic, Eagle Creek went out of business and my backpack has now started to show signs of wear and tear. So I’ve been researching a replacement. I asked for luggage suggestions from my followers, which I have included here.
Complete Guide to Wheeled Backpacks
What is a Wheeled Backpack or a Convertible backpack?
“Wheeled backpacks”, “Convertible carryon luggage”, “convertible backpack carry on”, “rolling backpack”, “backpack with wheels” … it goes by several search names. But a wheeled backpack is a type of luggage that has wheels and can be converted into a backpack. Wheeled backpacks are perfect for travelers who want the ability to wear a backpack when navigating rugged and rocky terrain, but also have the ease and convenience of rolling their luggage.
Wheeled backpacks are also great for travelers, who have trouble lifting heavy objects or those who have chronic pain in their shoulders, neck, or back. Wheeled backpacks can be used as carry-on luggage on airplanes (provided they fit the airlines measurements) and they are also easy to store in overhead compartments.
Wheeled backpacks come in many different styles and sizes so there is one that will work for everyone. They range from small-wheeled duffel bags to large wheeled suitcases with multiple compartments.
The Benefits of Wheeled Backpack carryons
Great for short trips and traveling a variety of transportation (some which lack space!)). They alleviate your shoulders and backs and are ergonomically healthy.
Read Essential Packing Tips for Carry ons
The Cons of Wheeled Backpacks
As wheeled backpacks fulfill dual conveniences of both, wheeled luggage and backpack, they can be a worthwhile but often pricy investment. Also, wheels can make them a teenie bit heavier and bulkier if not in-set; however, you likely won’t notice it unless you’re wearing it as a backpack to avoid rocky or weathered terrain.
I’ve researched a lot of wheeled backpacks and the big problem is that although they are quite popular and ideal to use as luggage, manufacturers are reluctant to make many of them. Each time I find a prospective wheeled backpack, there is a limited supply on Amazon or the manufacturer’s site… or outright unavailable!
Note: Some of the wheeled backpacks I’ve listed below may already be in limited supply or unavailable as we speak!
How to Choose the Perfect Wheeled Backpack?
Although are many variables to contemplate when finding the perfect wheeled backpack, can boil down to these simple questions about your travel style and what can accommodate you best.
- Do you prefer to travel with carry-on luggage or checked luggage?
If you check in your luggage a lot, you’ll be more concerned with damage to your wheels. While many backpacks with wheels have durable wheels, looking for inset wheels or wheel covers for wheel protection (like the Hynes Eagle Travel Lite) will be of value to you.
- Do you travel heavy or light?
Weighted luggage you definitely want a wheeled backpack. Travelers who pack light won’t have to worry about impaling their back with a backpack.
- Do you use public transportation to get around or do you rent cars and hire Uber?
If you use public transportation a lot, the ability to maneuver in compact spaces is key. You best buy a carry-on-sized backpack with rolling wheels. Also, durable and water-resistant fabric as well as, a sternum strap and hip belt for your backpack are top things to consider if your transportation gets as rugged as your luggage being thrown on the roof of a bus or if you are continually running to catch buses and trains.
- Do you travel in under-developed countries or first-world countries?
If traveling in a developing country with poor walkways you’ll be using a backpack often to hurdle terrain and durable, water-resistant fabric will be important to you. You’ll also want a hip belt and sternum strap to distribute the weight of your luggage. In a first-world country, the ergonomic support may not be as high of importance as you’ll be using the wheels more often.
- How much do you normally pack?
Seasons can play a factor. Traveling during winter, you’ll need extra room for bulky sweaters, jackets, and snow boots!)
Download a free packing list with my Ultimate Packing List tool
Compression straps help compress your bag’s expanse so it doesn’t get poofy and is able to fit into an overhead compartment. Think of how you might tighten a belt over loose clothes; same concept.
Hip and chest straps
Ever stood started to feel your backpack get heavy as your neck, shoulders and back got progressively more tired, irritable and crankier as you stood in a long immigration queue? This is when hip and chest straps really come in handy and show their value, as they provide extra back support while balancing the weight of your backpack more evenly.
Like a snail carrying its house on its back, similarly, you’re carrying a lot of your trip’s weight and clothing choices on your back, like a sherpa. Ergonomic design to fit the form of your back so you’re not tweaking your alignment is something to look at.
Ripstop, YKK zippers, zipper locks, and durable fabric are all good things. My convertible carry-on backpack has taken many knocks and has had to fit in tiny spaces.
Being water-resistant proof is handy for light rain or to combat small spills. Note, however, that water-resistant does not mean that it is water-proof, but there is still peace of mind that your bag’s contents have some protection from the unpredictability of the weather.
Top Layer Pockets
Having a top layer pocket accessible to you on the outside comes in handy when storing items you’d like quick access to, like compression straps or flip-flops.
Standard Carry-on dimensions
The standard maximum dimensions of a carry-on is 9 x 14 x 22 (this is counting wheels and handle). However, you’ll find the weight change in different regions. For instance, in Southeast Asia, baggage limits are 20 kilos instead of the 50 lbs that most international carriers allow. Furthermore, you only get 7 kilos for the carry-on, too. Carriers do not always check weight, but when they do, they can ding you hard. Make sure your carry-on is within the limits. For Turkish Airlines, your carry-on limit is 55 x 40 x 23 and 8 kilos.
Grab handles provide a third conversion of the rolling backpack to carry-on. They are ideal to have so that if you’re running late for your train, you can just grab and go!
Does your convertible carry-on rolling luggage have 360 wheels or grab handles? These can make a small but giant difference in the comfort of your travels.
6 Best wheeled backpacks of 2022
1. Osprey Ozone Convertible 22″/50L Wheeled Luggage
Osprey is a favorite brand for backpackers and the Osprey Ozone Convertible 22″ is a convertible wheeled backpack, with an aluminum frame to support its large wheels. It has a backpack harness, hip belt, and back panel for ultimate carry comfort. You can remove the backpack harness and hip belt for extra comfort when you’re not using them! It has a top pocket for easy and quick access to items you want access to and a detachable daypack. It sports grab handles for convenient grab-and-go.
Compression jacket to keep everything compressed. It’s more of a framed suspension pack with wheels.
Dimensions: 22H X 14W X 9D inches
2. Hynes Eagle 42 L Travel Lite Rolling Backpack
As rolling backpacks seem to become unavailable as soon as they are mentioned I scour the internet for new ones. The Hynes Eagle 42L Travel Lite Rolling Backpack is a new find for me. I just bought it and while it is does not feel as rugged as my last convertible backpack carryon, I love the extra features: a laptop compartment with several compartments and a detachable laptop sleeve. The hideaway backpack straps come with a sternum strap and hip belt so your back isn’t bearing the weight of your pack. One of my favorite features is the hideaway wheel cover that wraps around the base of your bag to protect your wheels from getting whacked at. Lastly, the price is unbeatably under $100. Oh yeah, and it’s water-repellent too!
Although this bag only has 327 reviews on Amazon, it has a rating of 4.5 and the purchasers are happy.
2. Hideo Wakamatsu carry-on
Reader Jennifer H, says ” Water-resistant, dust-proof zippers, I’ve had the Hideo Wakumatsu carry-on for 10+ years and it has never broken or failed. It’s been through most of Europe, African deserts, and Central American rainstorms, and has always protected everything inside. Converts to a backpack!”
The stylish Hideo Wakamatsu carry-on is a water-repellent nylon convertible backpack carry-on with wheels, a retractable handle, and side compression straps. The backpack straps are concealed in a zip-up pocket so they are not dangling.
- Dimensions: 19.5″ x 14″ x 9″
3. Osprey Fairview 40 Women’s Wheeled Backpack
One follower said, “The Osprey Fairview 40 wheeled backpack gives you the best of both worlds. It is a softshell bag that has a retractable handle and wheels for mobility and includes a full backpack harness for the times you need to luge your things around, but a roller bag won’t work. The backpack harness is tucked away in a zippered cover so you never have to worry about catching the harness straps on seats in the airplane cabin or the turnstile in the baggage carousel. It has zipper pockets for items that make it very easy to access. It has enough room for a 7 days trip.” -Craig T.
Note: The reviewer spoke about the Osprey Fairview 65 (substituted for Osprey Fairview 36, which is just a different volume and size but its features are the same.
The Fairview 40 has a rating of 1,500 positives on Amazon with many female reviews listing how conducive it was to anywhere from one month to 16 weeks of continuous travel, making its small volume and size capable of meeting long-term travel needs for women. The backpack has two mesh water bottle holders.
Volume 40 L
4. Osprey Farpoint 36L Men’s Wheeled Backpack
The Osprey Men’s Farpoint 36L is sister to the Osprey Women’s Fairview 40L. Both are carry-on compatible bags and light-weight wheeled convertible backpacks with storable mesh backpack straps and hip belts for breathability. Hip belts are wonderful!
There are top and side grab handles for an easy go and two front mesh easy access pockets. Compression straps outside and inside to keep everything compressed and snug to your body. Gear loops and lash loops for a yoga mat. Zip up top and front pocket for quick access to travel documents, a jacket, or anything you want access to.
Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9
5. Gonex Rolling Duffel bag
Okay, it’s not a backpack but quite a good rolling duffle. The Gonex Rolling Duffel bag is made with high-quality PVC. It has compression straps on the outside and outside zipper pockets. There are grab handles, so you can grab it as you run for your flight!
Read Advice on Solo travel Safety for Women
6. Matein Travel Rolling Backpack for Women
The Matein Travel Rolling Backpack was made for two types of people- college students and for female traveler, who wants practical easy access pockets on their backpacks. Durable material, locking zippers, and four multi-directional rolling wheels, so your bag doesn’t crazy roll on you. There are two front compartment pockets and one side mesh pocket for a water bottle. One of the more inexpensive wheeled backpacks yet!
It has 582 reviews on Amazon with an overall rating of 4.5, which is good. Many people loved that they could fit a lot into this backpack; meanwhile, one of the complaints is that the bag can tip over when front-loaded too much.
Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 8 inches
7. Think Tank Photo Airport International V3.0 Carry On
For the photographer and videographer packing equipment such as camera bodies, lenses and tripods, the
Think Tank Photo Airport International V3.0 Carry On is solid insurance for your gear’s protection. It stores quite a bit of camera equipment and chunky lenses. What you’ll love is that the wheels and many other parts of the bag are replaceable so you can ensure the longevity of your investment. There is a padded compartment that holds your laptop or tablet secure. It is a great field kit bag when you want to carry as much equipment as you need.
Although this will fit in an overhead bin, dimensions are a little large for carry-ons at some airlines, so you might want to consider that before buying: 17.72 x 21.65 x 29.53
What would you add to this list of best-wheeled backpack carry-on luggage?