Planning a trip can both an exciting and stressful experience. With things like figuring out a budget to mapping out an ideal route to planning exactly what to pack and researching the best travel insurance to cover your trip, there are a seemingly endless amount of things to do before you leave on your amazing adventure. One other such important thing to do before you go is to make sure you have the optimal luggage for your travels.
We have already written an article outlining why we like to travel with backpacks and which one to choose, but there is another option — wheeled backpacks! This pieces of luggage give you the best of both worlds but with so many available on the market, it can be hard to figure out what the best wheeled backpack for travel actually is!
If you’re wondering if a wheeled travel backpack is the right option for you or are looking to buy one, then look no further! We are here to help.
Why choose a wheeled travel backpack?
You might be asking why you should bother with a wheeled backpack for travel at all? Well, as I mentioned earlier, they really do offer the best of both worlds. Let me line that out for you.
If you plan on moving to more than one destination while you’re travelling, having a backpack can be incredibly convenient. If you’re navigating narrow streets, running for a plane or a bus, or need to hike up some steep stairs to get to your accommodation, travelling with a backpack makes life astronomically easier.
That being said, sometimes backpacks can be heavy and get uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Perhaps you have a long way to walk to the train station or are standing in line to get a bus ticket and you don’t want to carry 15+ kilos on your back…well, that’s when the wheeled part can make a difference.
Another benefit to opting for a wheeled travel backpack rather than a traditional rucksack is that they can more seamlessly transition into different accommodations. There have been a couple of times where we have splurged and spent a night or two in a hotel and we always feel a little bit awkward walking into the lobby with a tattered rucksack strapped to our backs. While backpacks are the general luggage of choice for the hostel crowd, they don’t necessarily fit in at a nicer establishment.
A wheeled backpack, however, is just as appropriate in a 12-bed dorm at a hostel as it is in a nice hotel. In just a simple switch, you can zip away the straps and extend the handle and you will look like a broke backpacker no longer! So, if your travel budget is allowing for both hostel and hotel stays, a wheeled backpack can be a great option.
One thing to consider, however, when purchasing a wheeled backpack is that they do not have as advanced support as a traditional travel backpack and can be quite uncomfortable to wear for a long period of time. This can be combatted by simply rolling it for some time, but that can be inconvenient if you are walking around cobbled streets or unpaved country roads.
Honestly, we would recommend choosing a typical rucksack over a wheeled backpack if you are travelling on a tight budget and don’t plan to stay in any traditional hotels during your trip.
The Best Wheeled Backpack for Travel
When selecting the best-wheeled backpack for travel, you need to keep an eye out for a few different things. First off, you want it to be durable and able to withstand a considerable amount of wear and tear. Travelling is hard on luggage, and you don’t want to spend $100+ on a backpack just to have it fall apart a year after purchasing.
Another thing you need to consider is the comfort and suspension of the harness. As mentioned earlier, no wheeled backpack is going to be as comfortable to wear for extended periods of time as a traditional travel rucksack, however, there are certainly some that are better than others.
The last thing to look for is a wheeled backpack that opens like a suitcase. Most rolling travel backpacks on the market today open like this, and it can mean saving a lot of time when it comes to packing and organising your things. It is much easier to find the thing that you’re looking for when you can completely zip open your backpack rather than needing to take everything out to find the one thing you need…which is almost always, inevitably, on the very bottom of your bag.
Best Overall Choice: Osprey Meridian
If you’re searching for the best wheeled backpack for travel, then you really can’t go wrong with the Osprey Meridian. Osprey is one of the best brands for travel backpacks because they are durable, well-made, comfortable to wear, and they have a lifetime warranty so you really can’t go wrong with any of their wheeled backpack options.
The Meridian stands out, however, because it combines the best features from Osprey’s most popular travel backpacks (like the Farpoint or Fairview series) but includes wheels, which are can definitely be an added convenience.
They come in two different sizes, a 60-litre version and a 75-litre version. They have a panel opening like a traditional suitcase with two mesh compartments attached, a large main compartment, a padded laptop sleeve, and convenient grab handles.
The one thing that makes this backpack really stand out, though, is the detachable 16-litre daypack. This can either be snapped onto the main pack or worn on your back while you are wheeling the bigger bag. The Meridian also has a comfortable harness, making it comfortable to wear on your back for an extended period time. If you choose to roll the backpack, you will be happy to know that the wheels are strong and durable and can withstand all kinds of terrain.
The Meridian also comes with lockable zippers to add extra security, internal compression straps in order to keep your items packed down and organised, and a retractable grab handle which makes pulling it off of luggage carousels and baggage holds easier.
The only drawback is that neither size of the Osprey Meridian is suitable for carry-on for airlines, however, there are no outside straps and the harness can be zipped away so you should have no trouble checking it in on a plane. All in all, the Osprey Meridian might well be the best wheeled backpack for Europe travel, or anywhere else in the world.
Alternative Choice: Osprey Sojourn
Osprey is generally our go-to brand for our travel luggage and they have a number of different options on offer. The Osprey Sojourn, for instance, is one of the best wheeled backpacks for travel.
It comes in two sizes –60 litres and 80 litres — yet neither size will fit an airline’s carry-on requirements, which means it might not be a great option if you are trying to save some money while travelling.
The frame is made from an ultra light aluminium and the body is soft and water resistant. The backpack also has lockable zippers, which is great for some added security especially if you’re going to be staying in hostels.
The Sojourn is also equipped with Osprey’s anti-gravity suspension system, meaning that it is quite comfortable to wear on your back for a long period of time. The wheels are also incredibly durable so they can withstand a number of terrains, from asphalt to cobblestones to unpaved dirt roads. These durable wheels make it one of the best wheeled backpacks for Europe travel because the propensity of cobblestones streets can do a number of lesser-quality rolling luggage.
One of the benefits to choosing an Osprey bag is that they also come with a lifetime warranty, so if something breaks or stops working (besides just usual wear and tear) you can get it replaced free of charge. All in all, the Osprey Sojourn is one of the best wheeled backpacks for travel.
Best Carry On Backpack With Wheels: Eagle Creek Load Warrior
If you’re looking for the best carry-on backpack with wheels, then you really can’t go wrong with the Eagle Creek Load Warrior. Eagle Creek is another fantastic travel brand that makes very durable and lightweight products with active travellers in mind — in fact, we absolutely swear by their packing cubes, which can make organising your things in your wheeled travel backpack a breeze!
The Load Warrior is a durable wheeled travel backpack that fits even the strictest of airline’s carry-on requirements. The 36-litre pack is made to withstand years of wear and tear and comes with Eagle Creek’s “No Matter What” warranty, which is similar to the warranty for Osprey. The exterior is water resistant, which is paramount to keeping your things clean and dry, and there are padded grab handles which add to the ease of manoeuvring the backpack while travelling.
The main compartment had a panel opening with compression straps inside and a mesh compartment in order to keep smaller items organised and secure. There are also compression straps on the exterior and convenient lockable zippers for added security. There is also an expansion zipper that, when unzipped, ads three litres to the capacity of the bag in order to maximise your packing space.
If you are going on a short trip, are a minimalist packer, or want to travel carry-on only when traversing the globe, then the Eagle Creek Load Warrior is a fantastic carry-on backpack with wheels to choose!
Best Wheeled Duffel For Longer Trips: High Sierra Ultimate Access
If you prefer a duffel-style bag to a traditional suitcase but get frustrated with always having to sling it over one shoulder, then the High Sierra Ultimate Access is a great option for you. As one of the best wheeled duffel bags available on the market, the High Sierra also offers the convenience of being able to use it as a traditional backpack or a rolling suitcase.
With a whopping 107-litre capacity, this bag is also a good option for those who like to bring everything but the kitchen sink with them while travelling, though the size does make it incompatible with carry-on requirements for airlines.
The main compartment opens like a traditional duffel bag, rather than a panel opening like the wheeled travel backpacks listed above. There are also two smaller compartments on either end of the bag. There is an easy place to store the handle and a zip-away harness if you feel like rolling the backpack.
There are exterior compression straps to reduce the size of your pack and traditional duffel-style grab handles over the main compartment. Because of the multitude of compartments, this bag is also very easy to organise. However, because of its capacity and weight, it might not be the most comfortable bag to wear on your back for a long period of time.
The cons aside, however, the High Sierra Ultimate Access is a great contender for the best-wheeled backpack for travel!
Best Wheeled Duffel For Carry On: Osprey Rolling Transporter
If the prospect of finding the best wheeled duffel for travel that also fits airline carry-on requirements appeals to you, then look no further than the Osprey Rolling Transporter. Not only is this bag one of the best wheeled backpack for travel, it is also arguably one of the best carry-on backpacks with wheels.
The Rolling Transporter is incredibly durable and comes with Osprey’s lifetime warranty. The exterior is completely water resistant which will ensure that your interior items stay warm and dry. It has a panel-opening which means that you can easily access your items, lockable zippers for added security, mesh pockets inside for keeping smaller items organised, and internal compression straps to maximise the capacity.
The bag comes in three sizes: 40-litre, 90-litre, and 120-litre. However, only the smallest size fits carry-on requirements for airlines so make sure to keep that in mind if you don’t want to pay checked luggage fees!
In summation, if you’re looking for the best wheeled duffel for travel, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the Osprey Rolling Transporter!
With so many options for the best wheeled backpack for travel, it can be hard to choose which one is right for you. Take the time to think about what you need from a wheeled travel bag in order to make the best decision for your travel style!
Are you looking for the best wheeled backpack for travel? Do you travel with a wheeled travel backpack? Let us know in the comments!