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Wheeled Backpacks for Travel

The concept of a wheeled backpack may seem a contradiction in terms. After all, a backpack is supposed to go on your, well, back. But the truth is — particularly when you’re traveling — you don’t always need to carry your pack. There are going to be enough semi-smooth surfaces, paved and unpaved, to roll your backpack much of the time while traveling. But because your travel adventure will likely includes some remote areas and long hikes, you also want to make sure that your bag is a proper backpack.

Luckily, technology has kept up with backpacks that now include over-sized and all-terrain wheels. But before taking a look at specific wheeled backpacks, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of going wheeled.

Pros and Cons
The biggest advantages of wheeled backpacks, also known as rolling backpacks, are speed and comfort. If you have a four-mile walk from a bus depot to a remote village along a semi-smooth road, it’s just must easier to roll your backpack than to carry it that distance. And because the ground and not your back is carrying the load, you can move much faster than when you are shouldering the weight.

The greatest disadvantage of wheeled backpacks would be weight. The addition of wheels usually adds between 2.5 and 3 pounds to a backpack. So you trade a little more weight while it’s on your back, for the freedom and ease of taking it off your back. But unless you’re climbing Mount Everest or other severe, remote backcountry challenge, the addition of a few pounds will not significantly slow you down.

When choosing between a wheeled and non-wheeled backpack, you want to look at the type of travel you be doing. If it’s a combination of urban travel, such as Prague or Amsterdam, along with semi-developed travel, such as small South American villages, then a wheeled backpack is the right choice. If you’re going to be volunteering deep in the Amazon and will be moving from place to place exclusively in the jungle, then you’d be better off with a backpack without the added weight of wheels.

So let’s take a look at a few of the best wheeled travel backpacks on the market. All of the wheeled backpacks mentioned here are meant for rugged adventure travel across a variety of surfaces:

Caribee Fast Track 75 and 85 Liter Wheeled Backpacks: The Caribee Fast Track series are among the most versatile, full-sized wheeled backpacks available. At 75 and 85 liters, the Fast Track backpacks offer enough storage for clothing and gear for nearly any trip. But what makes these wheeled backpacks so unique, is that they also offer full, thickly-padded hip belts that allow you to carry your pack properly when it is on your back.

High Sierra AT6 Series Wheeled Backpacks: High Sierra’s AT605 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack and larger AT606 are perfect for slightly more urban or developed adventure travel. When combined with their removable day packs, the AT605 carry-on offers 50 liters of storage in the AT606 offers 68 liters of storage. Both are full-size backpacks, but contained in more compact designs.

Lowe Alpine TT Roll On 40 Carry On Wheeled Backpack: And finally, one of the lightest wheeled backpacks available is the 40-liter Lowe Alpine TT Roll On 40. This pack weighs only 5.8 pounds, but offers a large, easily accessible main compartment with enough storage for extended travel. So if you’re looking for a lightweight, wheeled backpack that is large enough for long-term travel, but small enough to be a carry on, the Roll On 40 is a great choice.

So take a load off and let the ground do the work with a quality, versatile wheeled backpack.