What Is The Best Rolling Backpack? 

 April 29, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Rolling backpacks are a great way to bring your things around, especially if you want the option of carrying your backpack as wheeled luggage. They enable you to have the best of both worlds: backpacks and wheeled luggage.

There are many excellent rolling backpacks out there, but how do you pick the best one?

Before buying a rolling backpack, check that it has the right capacity for its intended use. A good rolling backpack should be durable, have comfortable shoulder straps, and have enough pockets for your belongings. It should also be designed appropriately for its purpose. 

There is a rolling backpack for every need. The article below discusses everything you need to know to choose the best rolling backpack.

Features Of The Best Rolling Backpacks

Rolling backpacks are one of the most versatile bag styles out there. No other bag offers as much flexibility: use it as a backpack, and convert it to handheld wheeled luggage whenever you need to give your back a rest.

There are many circumstances when rolling backpacks can come in handy. However, it’s most popularly used among students, since preschool kids all the way to nursing school students can benefit from giving their backs a break by using the backpack as a trolley. After all, school supplies – especially books - are notoriously heavy.

In addition, certain rolling backpacks are versatile enough to be used for travel. If you choose one of a good design and durable quality, it can withstand school use and still last you many years of traveling.

That said, check out the features you should think about before you buy a rolling backpack:

Size & Capacity

The right capacity for any backpack will vary from one person to another. Its intended use should have the biggest influence on the capacity you choose because a rolling backpack should always have enough space to fit everything you need comfortably without overpacking it.

The best rolling backpacks for school come in an array of sizes. Use the general guidelines below as suggestions for backpack sizes based on different education levels:

  • Preschool: 15-20 liters
  • Elementary: 20-25 liters
  • Middle School: 20-30 liters
  • High School: 25-30 liters
  • College: 30-35 liters
  • Postsecondary education, such as nursing or medical school: 30-40 liters

These suggested capacities should be able to hold the needs of most students at each level. These usually include books, notebooks, a laptop or tablets, and some electronics – the amount of which will vary depending on the student’s age.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the total backpack weight shouldn’t exceed 15% of a child’s body weight. For adults, the total backpack weight should not exceed 20% of their body weight. This helps prevent discomfort and pain, which quickly occur when carrying extremely heavy backpacks for long periods of time.

Kids, most especially, should be careful not to carry extremely heavy loads. Not only will it strain their backs, but it can also affect their posture in the long run.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the size of your rolling backpack. What matters is that you are realistic about what you are bringing to your destination.


A rolling backpack should be durable enough to carry even large, heavy textbooks without breaking. Imagine strolling on the street with your pack on wheels, only to have one of the wheels detach and break off.

There is never a good time for a backpack to break down, especially if you’re using it for school. Students are busy enough as it is; the last thing you need is for your trusted bag to fall apart outside of your home. Where would you put your school supplies and valuables then?

That’s why it’s important to invest in a durable, quality backpack.

Here’s what you should consider when shopping around for the best-quality rolling backpacks:


The quality of wheels used in a rolling backpack plays an important role in how durable it is. The primary role of wheels is to help you transport your backpack efficiently on streets, campuses, and everywhere else in between.

It’s common to see many types of rolling backpacks built with plastic wheels, since they are inexpensive, though they definitely don’t last long. Plastic wheels are prone to damage and can break down rather easily. On the other hand, rubber wheels are durable and thus, pricier. Rubber wheels can withstand more wear and tear, making them worth the investment.

If you only intend to use a wheeled backpack inside school campuses, which have smooth and tiled flooring, then you can opt for a cheaper design with plastic wheels. However, if you want to get more bang for your buck and use the backpack outside, then rubber wheels are recommended.


One can have a good idea about a backpack’s durability by examining the fabric used. When it comes to school or college backpacks, nylon or polyester are the best options. Both are renowned for their longevity and strong nature.

There are many variations of nylon and polyester materials in the market today. Ripstop fabrics are ideal because they are designed specifically to prevent rips and tears, ensuring your backpack is strong enough to carry even the heaviest textbooks without breaking.

Comfortable shoulder straps

When you do decide to wear your rolling backpack on your back, it should be comfortable. Shoulder straps that are wide and designed with thick padding are always ideal for school use. Wide straps help distribute the load across the shoulders, while the padding prevents the fabrics from digging into your skin.

Shoulder straps should also come with adjustable buckles. These enable you to adjust how close the pack is to your body, or how loose it is.


The best rolling backpack for college, or just about any kind of school use, should have adequate pockets. Students should be able to find what they need on time. Given the many school supplies that students often need to carry to and from campus, staying organized is essential so you can focus on your tasks without losing time looking for your belongings.

Generally, school bags should have a number of pockets and compartments for pencils, pens, a calculator, a water bottle, and other small accessories and electronics you need daily. You can also further organize your stuff by using pouches or a pencil case, while compression packs will come in handy for travelers.

A padded laptop sleeve or tablet compartment is also important for protecting your electronics. It’s ideal for a school bag to have exterior side pockets for water bottles; even if you aren’t using two water bottles, the extra pocket can come in handy for keeping other small items.

Handle Height

When using your rolling backpack as a trolley, the grab handle should be tall enough so that you don’t need to bend down. Handles must always be at a good height for comfortably maneuvering the bag as a wheeled suitcase. When walking, the luggage should tip to a corner or a pair of wheels, allowing you to get around with ease.

The good news is that most rolling backpack handles have a telescope design, which enables you to adjust its height to align with yours. 


Rolling backpacks come in an array of styles, colors, and designs. Pick a style that’s appropriate for the user’s age and for its intended use. For example, preschool and elementary school children will enjoy using a bag with bright patterns and popular characters. On the other hand, middle school students and older students may prefer more toned-down prints or neutral colors to go with their wardrobe.

Professionals and business travelers may prefer simplistic designs and beautiful colors. These are versatile enough to be taken to work and on trips just about anywhere when you need them as a travel backpack.

Other Features To Consider

Now that you know the essential features to look for in the best rolling backpack for kids and adults, you may want to consider others that are nice to have as well:

  • Hip and chest straps: This helps distribute the pack’s weight evenly while providing support
  • Zippers: Quality metal zippers that open and close easily are a must for any kind of luggage. YKK is a trusted name for zippers, and these are widely used by many of the biggest backpack brands.
  • Harness adjustability: Being able to adjust the fit of the bag’s suspension system and harness, including the load lifters, shoulder straps, and hip belt makes a big difference, especially for carrying heavy loads.

Our Recommendations For The Best Rolling Backpack

Whether you’re looking for the best rolling backpacks for school or traveling the world, the buying guide below can help you narrow down your picks. Read about them in detail, and carefully review their pros and cons to make an informed decision on which bag is best for you.

Best Rolling Backpack For Middle School

Jansport Driver 8 Rolling Backpack: Middle school students can rely on the quality and top-notch features of the Jansport Driver 8. It’s one of the most popular bags in middle school campuses because this bag is tough, helps you stay organized, and is stylish too!

Jansport Driver 8

Students who need to bring laptops, a change of clothes, books, and devices will find that there’s a lot of storage in this 36L rolling backpack. The padded laptop compartment will ensure your computer is secure even when you’re on the go. Meanwhile, 2 spacious main compartments, a front organizer pocket, and a side water bottle pocket keep everything neatly in place.

The Jansport Driver 8 is made with ultra-durable 600D polyester fabric. It’s strong enough for daily school use, yet versatile and compact enough to take on a trip. This bag can even double as a carry-on since its dimensions can be accepted by many airlines.

It also has a convenient top handle, ideal for lifting the bag when going up or down stairs. However, take note that the zipper may be difficult to glide, so be sure not to overpack it.

Best Rolling Backpack For College

Kipling New Zea Laptop Rolling Backpack: Kipling’s famous Zea got an upgrade! The New Zea Laptop Rolling Backpack has many of the well-loved features found in its predecessor, with lots of improvements.

Kipling New Zea

This backpack is designed with a lined bottom, ensuring that the bag is more stable and sturdy when upright. It also makes cleaning the pack’s interior so much simpler. The 26L capacity is ideal for busy college students who need to bring a few books, notebooks, and a laptop.

The Kipling New Zea Laptop Rolling Backpack has four 360-degree spinning wheels for maximum ease of use. It can be used by customers of various heights: the retractable handle extends up to 40” at its longest, and 27.5” at its shortest.

This bag is quite pricey, though. But given Kipling’s track record, investing in this bag will last you a lifetime.

Best Primary School Rolling Backpack

IvyH Kids Rolling Backpack: Primary school students will love showing off their IvyH Kids Rolling Backpack in and out of school. It comes in adorable designs, such as dinosaurs, unicorns, and dogs.

IvyH Kids Rolling Backpack

This affordable set already comes with a matching pencil case and lunch bag. Inside the main school bag, there’s ample space to fit A4 documents, a tablet, a laptop, stationary, and water bottles. This set isn’t just cute: it’s durable too, made from water-resistant nylon.

The IvyH Kids Rolling Backpack features a tough aluminum alloy trolley handle, to ensure that it can withstand the abuse of primary school and children’s activities. Parents can have peace of mind that this bag won’t stunt growth or affect posture; kids can easily switch over to the trolley from a backpack whenever they need it.

Best Kids Rolling Backpack

J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack: Elementary school kids, as well as children who need a travel bag, will appreciate the vibrant prints and comfort of the J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack. Both girls and boys will definitely find patterns or prints they love from this collection.

K World Rolling Backpack

This wheeled backpack is equipped with all the features kids need to support them with all their activities. It’s made with durable ripstop polyester, and the wheels have been strengthened with water resistance. In addition, the bag’s reinforced edges and metal frame help keep it strong and sturdy.  

The J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack can even be used by adults who are looking for a compact travel backpack. This will help you stay organized too, thanks to the front organizer pocket, 2 mesh side pockets, and a spacious main compartment.

It also has several practical features, including reflective tape, which increases visibility at night. The ergonomic S-shaped shoulder straps are adjustable, while the back panel is built of air mesh for added breathability and convenience. Each shoulder strap is also made more comfortable with the use of air mesh.

Best Rolling Backpack For Business Travelers

Matein Business Travel Rolling Backpack:  If you need a professional laptop backpack for frequent business trips, the Matein Business Travel Rolling Backpack is recommended. It comes in a fuss-free yet neutral black color, which you can’t go wrong with – plus a lot of excellent features.

Matein Business Travel Rolling Backpack

This versatile and multifunctional rolling backpack can be used by both men and women. Inside, the main compartment can fit clothing, laptops, and other travel accessories. It has other compartments including a large pocket for books, a small quick-access pocket for your passport and cables, a front organizer pocket, and a water bottle pocket on the side.

The Matein Business Travel Rolling Backpack is renowned for superior comfort because of padded and adjustable shoulder straps. The aluminum double telescoping handle makes for easy maneuvering even in crowded places. The top-quality spinner wheels are also ultra-convenient.

The only downside is that this bag tends to easily fall forward, so be sure you hold it in place when it’s upright.

Nomatic Carry-On Pro: The Nomatic Carry-On Pro has a loyal fan base among digital nomads and business travelers alike. It has a sleek, elegant, and professional look with its all-black exterior which you can take from the plane straight to a meeting.

Nomatic Carry-On Pro

Constructed out of polycarbonate, one of the strongest materials in the industry, this wheeled backpack is sure to last many years. Silent Hinomoto wheels can work well on many surfaces while being strong enough to hold heavy weights.

The Nomatic Carry-On Pro was definitely made with busy professionals in mind. It has a patent-pending tech pocket for storing a tech case, which is a detachable bag that can safely keep all your devices. Not to mention, this makes passing through TSA checkpoints easy too. As a bonus, the tech case can be removed and used as a day pack.

It does have a high price point, though this bag is ideal for anyone who sees the value in superior-quality rolling luggage.

Best Rolling Backpack For Nursing Students

High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Backpack: The High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Backpack is affordable, durable, big in organization, and spacious: everything that a busy med school student needs.

High Sierra Powerglide

The tuck-away shoulder straps are equipped with built-in foam and air mesh for maximum comfort. Taking this bag with you anywhere is a breeze: the all-terrain wheels have been corner mounted to provide stability, while the molded kick plate protects it from scratches.

The High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Backpack has several pockets for all your devices and media. Bring along your USB stick, cables, chargers, and more – and never have to worry about looking for them again. The fully-padded laptop compartment can keep computers up to 17” secure.

Other superior features include inline skate wheels, padded S-shaped ergonomic straps, and multi-compartment design. This is great for college, though it’s too big to use as a carry-on.

Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack: The Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack is another terrific affordable choice for nursing school students. Getting from your dorm to the lab, classroom, and cafeteria is easier than ever with this bag in tow.

Granite Gear Haulsted

The rugged wheels are equipped to handle busy campus life. Meanwhile, the bag’s exterior is made from a durable fabric with a reinforced bottom to protect it from abrasion. Keep your valuables safe inside the tricot-lined pocket, while the laptop compartment keeps your tablets safe.

The Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack is comfortable to wear as a pack too. The back panel is fully padded, while the compression straps let you cinch the bag down when necessary.

Best Rolling Backpack For Travel

Osprey Sojourn: For international travel, it doesn’t get better than the Osprey Sojourn. Seasoned travelers know that the secret to convenient and hassle-free traveling is a good wheeled backpack. And for many of them, the Osprey Sojourn is the preferred choice.

Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Backpack

With 45L of space, there’s more than enough capacity for long trips. It was designed to be used as a carry-on, so it’s compliant with most airlines’ carry-on size restrictions. Traveling and navigating airports or crowded places is made simpler because of the molded and padded handles.

The Osprey Sojourn features a top-zippered pocket, which is perfect for packing your liquids. It also has fabric zips, padded sidewalls, and four zippered compartments, so all your travel essentials are neatly organized. Use the StraightJacket compression straps to efficiently cinch the bag down when it isn’t packed to full capacity.

Overall, this bag is a traveler’s dream. Travel far and wide with a bag that supports your adventures the way the Sojourn does.


With the great variety of rolling backpacks out there, it can be challenging to make a choice. However, with this guide, you can make a well-informed decision on the best rolling backpack for your needs.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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