Chic meets function. That is what comes to mind when I think of backpacks with wheels. You can have the best of mobility as well as the functionality of a backpack. But only if you know how to choose a good wheelie pack.
But it is just a matter of ordering one online! You say. It is not. In fact, ordering a product randomly without knowing what it can and cannot do is not very smart. Your main intention is to get enough value for your money.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
If you are like me, you want a pack that can last a looooong time. You want a one-off buy, a compressible pack, a wheeled pack that will serve you faithfully. Who wants a backpack that bursts at the seams spilling all your underwear in front of everyone in the airport lounge?
So you go to a luggage store, and you look around. Vaguely, at the back of your mind, you know you want to buy a travel backpack. However, this being your first time, you do not know what is best for you. And the sales clerk does not seem to help much. And so you wonder whether to go big or small, wide or narrow, or just forego the whole thing altogether.
Listen. It need not be that hard. The benefits of the backpack with wheels are unbeatable.
But first things first, do you really need a backpack on wheels?
Do you really need backpacks with wheels?
If you are reading this, I believe you do really need a backpack that is wheeled. It is a good choice, depending on the circumstances.
Here are a few crucial questions to ask before you write that check:
- Are you going to be on paved streets and roads for most of the time you will be traveling?
- Do you have back trouble? Would you like to give your back a rest?
- Do you have neck trouble?
- Are you going to be hopping trains a lot?
- Are you going to be hopping planes a lot?
Benefits of wheeled backpacks
There are many benefits of rolling backpacks. This is what should convince you to buy this kind of backpack.
Here are a few of them:
- It is great if you have a bad back
Chronic back pain need not prevent you from traveling. The rolling backpack will be easy to maneuver around in the airports, bus and train stations.
Note that this does not mean that there will be no exertion at all. When you are lifting the pack out and into the trunk of the cab, you will need to be careful about your back. So do watch out for yourself.If you work in an office, you are hunched over your computer every day, you know you are at serious risk of back and neck pain. In fact, you may already be suffering from the same. This could be an indication that in future, you will suffer chronic back pain or neck pain.
You have been breaking your back for over ten months in the office. Do not punish yourself when traveling. A wheeled backpack can help you relieve your back.
If you travel a lot, using a regular backpack all the time may not be harmful to you when you are young, agile and energetic. However, in future, it will cause some serious repercussions. It is better to use backpacks on wheels more than you use a regular pack. Protect your back for the future.
A backpack like High Sierra Freewheel shown above will be a good investment for you.
- Travel in style – be fly!
As an executive traveler, you need a wheeled back pack to travel in style. You have been to a train station or airport arrival hall when the packs start clicking as the retractable handles come out or go in.
A wheeled pack ensures that business items are protected from abuse like wrinkling and creases.
Books can get heavy. If you are traveling with your hard copy documents and books, carry them in a wheeled backpack.
A backpack like the one below can really carry a lot of weight. The good thing is; it does not have to go on your back. The Everest Deluxe Backpack shown here is a good pack with straps, towing handle and everything.
- Backpacks on wheels are easy to use
If you buy a backpack that has a retractable handle, you will find it easy to use. Just pull it out to your preferred height. It will click and lock right into place.
However, do note that some packs come without this handle. This could cause a wee bit of a problem to tall people.
Just make sure you buy a wheeled pack that has good handles. That should save you the trouble of stooping over to haul your pack along.
When buying a pack like the JWorld New York Sunrise shown here, make sure that your pack has a retractable handle.
4. Choice of carriage
This is something that most other luggage options do not offer. For example, you can carry the pack on your back when you want to move faster. You can also carry it on your back when you are tired of pulling it behind you.
When you have a bad back, you can just pull the backpack behind you. Usually, the wheels are big enough, thus offering enough ground clearance.
When going on rough terrain, hoist it on your back. When you are taking a flight of stairs, you can carry it on your back and put it down on even floors and grounds.
If all else fails, you can even push the pack ahead of you. I have seen many people do that although I have never considered the wisdom of that.
- They come in all sizes and styles
Seriously. They do. No matter how stylish or choosy you think you are, you are going to find a wheeled travel backpack to suit your needs perfectly.
Some are made for children, some for women and some for men. Some are unisex. Yet others are big and can carry quite a lot. Some come with towing handles and some come without. To get the best one, it is paramount that you read a few travel backpack reviews.
Some of the backpacks with wheels, for example, the JanSport Driver 8 Wheeled Pack, are made for school going children. These are small and they are made to suit children of different ages.
6. It has features of a suitcase
One benefit of using the wheeled backpacks is that they open and close like suitcases. That makes packing and accessing your items easy.
- You can find very secure backpacks on wheels
Look for a backpack with lockable compartments. Strong metallic anti-corrosion zips, secure, dialed security locks and so many features make this backpack a good investment.
However, note that for these extra features, the backpack may cost more money. But it is better to pay more and get more features than pay less and get fewer features.
- Might have a removable day pack
This is like buying a two in one case for the price of one, a very good bonus indeed. You can use the daypack for personal items while you check the larger backpack. However, please note that not all packs on wheels come with this, so you will have to look for the one that has this.
- Some have the usability and features of a regular backpack
Waist strap, sternum strap and even the side compression straps are available in the best wheeled backpacks. These will help you to reduce the size of the pack and make it more manageable when you are not carrying a lot of stuff. In that case, you may even use the said backpack for hiking.
The most recent backpacks on wheelers also have padded backs for ventilation and comfort. This means carrying them on your back is easier and friendlier. Though still heavier because of the towing handle and the wheels, you can go hiking with one.
The disadvantages of wheeled backpacks
Firstly, let me tell you that a backpack with wheels has a few disadvantages that you need to consider very carefully. For example, it comes with more paraphernalia than the regular hiking and backpacking backpack.
Secondly, a rolling backpack is heavy, even when you have not packed your stuff. The extra weight comes from the frame and the retractable handle, as well as the wheels. Time comes to hoist the pack onto your back, you will have to lug all that weight. Are you game?
Thirdly, the fixed nature of this backpack and the extra weight do not make it good for hiking or trekking. However, lately, the manufacturers have upped their game, making products like the Wheeled Everest Deluxe Backpack that has a very comfortable back panel.
Fourthly, the back system is usually fixed for most of the rolling backpacks. This means that you cannot adjust it depending on the size of your torso. However, if you like, you can look around for the pack that has an adjustable back system.
Features that a rolling backpack must have
The first and the foremost of them all is the wheels. Since you have decided to go with the extra weight of the wheels, then it must have good ones. By this, I mean enough ground clearance so that you can pull it nicely on rough paving.
The pack wheels should be full swivel if possible. I say “if possible” because I have not substantiated whether there are some that meet this need. I will find out and update this section later. Fixed wheels make turning corners hard. However, swivel ensures that you swing the backpack faster on its wheels, more like a semi-truck.
Straps, just like a regular backpack
I can estimate that halfway in your sojourns, this travel backpack will be on your back and the rest half (if you are lucky), will be on its wheels. Therefore, it had better have good wheels for the ground, and great straps for the back.
By great straps, I mean they should be padded. Remember what we said about the pack packing more weight than a regular backpack or rucksack? Yes, that is why you need padded shoulder straps, breathable too for comfort, lest they slice into your shoulder.
Other straps that your travel backpack with wheels should have include the compression straps. These can be used to make the size of a backpack smaller and more compact. Great when you are not carrying a lot of stuff on your travel.
Look for sternum and waist straps too. If you intend to go hiking and backpacking, these straps will help keep the bag stable on your back. This is very important, for example, when going up steep trails. It will help keep your feet in your hiking boots stable.
You do not want the pack to sway you out of balance, do you now?
The waist strap also keeps the weight pulled closer to your body. You do not want your backpack swinging loose like a parachute. This strap will help keep the weight very well balanced on your back.
A good travel back pack is endowed with handles. This is not the towing handle only, but side and top handles as well. Believe it or not, when swinging the pack into the trunk of a cab, or into the train luggage rack, the handles are much handier. You will use more brain, and less brawn.
You may also have to use the side handles to carry your travel pack like a suitcase, but only for short distances.
The Lowe Alpine Wheeled Pack has compression straps, top and side handles for the utmost maneuverability. It is a joy to have such a traveling companion, although it is a bit bulky.
Is it waterproof?
The weather always catches us unawares. Grrrh! Sometimes, we wish we had the time to sue the weatherman. But it is much better to protect your items, by buying a waterproof backpack like the . In fact, water resistance is the deal-maker or breaker when buying one.
On your travels, many times, an unexpected shower has caught you sitting duck. You were soaked to the skin, but with a good bag, your items, including electronics, will be safe. Buy a nice, waterproof pair of hiking boots too for the trails. They will keep your feet dry.
If the pack is not waterproof, find out whether you can buy a pack cover for it. Extra cost sure, but well worth it.
We did look at this in the earlier segments of this post. Strong, metallic, anti-corrosive and lockable is what you will be looking for. Every exterior pocket should be secured with a good zip.
The backpack should unzip open widely to allow you the easiest access to your items.
Finally, how many pockets and compartments? Enough, but not too many to be ridiculous. You would like to keep dirty clothes away from the clean ones though. A lockable compartment for your smartphone, jewelry, and other personal items is important.
For your money, keep it in a money belt on your person. You can also talk to your bank so you can access funds at your destination, instead of carrying a lot of cash on your person.
Warranty shows the confidence of the manufacturer in their product. Most of these backpacks come with limited warranty of one, two or more years. However, warranty is governed by the set terms and conditions. Be sure to read them to be on the safe side.
In your search for the best backpacks with wheels, you have seen the benefits, features and disadvantages. If you buy a good one, you will get great value for your money. The next thing is to know how to pack your backpack. It is not different from packing a regular pack. You can refer to my article on 8 Tips for How To Pack A Backpack For Beginners.