For a practical and versatile piece of travel luggage, the best rolling backpacks for travel are made from durable polyester or nylon fabric and have a large enough capacity for your trip. In order to ensure your backpack is made from durable fabric, you’ll need to look at its density, which is typically measured in deniers. If you’re going to use the bag frequently or stress the fabric by loading it up with heavy items, look for fabric with a density between 500 and 2,000 deniers (the higher the rating, the tougher and heavier the fabric). A lower denier rating is fine for smaller bags or ones that won’t take as much of a beating. For added toughness, look for a ripstop weave, which can prevent tears or rips from spreading.
In terms of capacity, travel backpacks are usually measured in liters. For shorter trips or minimalist packers, a capacity of 35 to 50 liters will likely offer plenty of room. For longer trips, opt for 50-plus liters. If you need a carry-on friendly bag, though, check dimensions as well as capacity. In the U.S., carry-on baggage typically can’t be larger than 22 by 14 by 9 inches, but this can vary between airlines so you’ll want to double-check with who you’re flying before you get to the airport.
In addition to durability and capacity, consider wheel design. While most rolling backpacks have in-line skate wheels, you’ll also see some spinner wheels. In-line skate wheels tend to be more durable thanks to their recessed design, but since these wheels can’t spin, the bag won’t be as easy to maneuver. Bags with spinner wheels are designed to rotate 360 degrees so you can push the backpack in any direction. However, because they aren’t recessed into the bag, they’re more vulnerable to damage and more likely to get in the way if you wear it as a backpack.
Finally, consider the extra features that might be useful. If you’re traveling with a laptop, for example, look for a backpack with a padded laptop compartment. If you bring lots of small gadgets or travel-size beauty products, a style with small compartments or pockets to keep items organized might be of interest. And for valuables, there are anti-theft features like lockable zippers or hidden pockets.
Wherever your next trip takes you, these rolling backpacks for travel are durable and spacious enough to bring all your essentials with you.
1. A Water-Resistant Rolling Backpack You Can Use As A Carry-On
- Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 9 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: 38.34 liters
Made from 600-denier polyester paired with an extra water-resistant coating, this J World New York Sundance rolling backpack is a great pick for travelers who don’t want to risk exposing their belongings to bad weather. That extra-thick polyester fabric is also resistant to tears and fraying, so it should stand up to pretty heavy use. A wrap-around bumper on the bottom provides extra tear and fray protection, as well as protecting the rubber spinner wheels even though they aren’t fully recessed. The PU-coated aluminum handle is rust-resistant even if it gets wet and can extend to 34 to 39 inches in height when you want to pull the backpack along.
The bag has a capacity of just under 40 liters, and it should be small enough to meet most carry-on limits so you can take it on any trip. It features a number of helpful pockets, including a padded laptop pocket. When you aren’t using it as a backpack, you can stash the straps in the bag’s back pocket. While solid colors are available, this backpack comes in 34 fun colors and designs so you can find something that matches your style (and is easier to spot if you ever opt to check it at the airport).
According to one reviewer: “Took it on a 2.5 week trip in late Jan / early Feb, where I used it to carry all kinds of extra stuff, wheeled it on all kinds of uneven surfaces and basically put all the zippers, compartments, handle and wheels through a pretty good workout. Everything still looks / works great […] The wheels roll smooth and are very quiet, the zippers seems sturdy and even fully packed, it fit easily underneath the seat in front of me on the plane (American Airlines). I really love the look of it and all of the many compartments, as I like to be organized when traveling.”
2. A Budget-Friendly Rolling Backpack
- Dimensions: 20 x 8 x 12 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: N/A
For a low-cost option, this Rockland rolling backpack is a great pick. The compact, carry-on ready design comes in a bunch of colors and patterns so you’re sure to find the perfect match for your style. With a large main compartment and two external zippered pockets, you can pack everything you need for a short trip and keep essentials like your phone or book stored in the easy-access front pockets. While the manufacturer does not provide a capacity for the bag, one Amazon reviewer noted that “It fits about 3 or 4 days of clothes, hair dryer, toiletry bag.”
The bag is made from thick polyester (though the exact denier rating isn’t specified) with a metal telescoping handle. The backpack’s inline skate wheels are easy to roll, and the bag has plastic bumpers so you can easily set it upright.
According to one reviewer: “This bag was a perfect buy it was stylish and it was perfect for travel especially on airlines that charge you for carryon luggage the dimensions were perfect for my trip. I did not have to pay the $30 bucks each way for bags. I packed two pair of shoes and several changes of clothes. The outside pockets are great to put passport, keys make-up and phone chargers.”
3. An Extra-Large, Durable Rolling Backpack
- Dimensions: 22 x 9 x 14 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: 60 liters
Made from 420 denier nylon with strong ballistic nylon panels, the Osprey Meridian is one of the more durable and versatile pieces of luggage you could ever buy, with the option to be used as a backpack, duffle bag, or rolling luggage. While Osprey doesn’t specify which kind of wheels it has, they’re big and sturdy enough to handle many types of terrain. The lightweight aluminum handle is strong enough to support the generous 60-liter capacity without adding too much weight when you’re carrying it on your back, and a harness system with a sternum strap makes carrying more comfortable. When you’re not using the bag as a backpack, these straps can be stashed away in a rear panel pocket, or you can even remove the suspension system entirely to open up more storage capacity and simply carry it from the top or side handles.
In addition to generous storage capacity and carrying features, the backpack also has compression straps so you can maximize your packing potential, multiple storage compartments and pockets for organization (including a padded laptop sleeve), and a detachable day pack so you won’t have to pack a separate one.
According to one reviewer: “I packed 5 pairs of pants, five polo shirts, an extra pair of shoes, 7 pair of socks and underwear, shaving kit, and other misc items in the main bag. I detach the day pack once on the plane so I can actually store the stuffed main bag in the overhead bin. Things are very tightly rolled and packed, but the main bag holds clothing for a two week trip. The day pack holds magazines, a camera, an iPad, a Kindle reader, and a CPAP breather for use on the plane.”
4. A 40-Liter Backpack With 4 Spinner Wheels
- Dimensions: 19 x 13 x 9.5 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: 40 liters
With a convenient 40-liter capacity (made up of five separate compartments, including three easy-access small compartments with organizational pockets) and four spinner wheels for easy rolling, this MATEIN rolling backpack is the ideal travel companion for anyone who wants to keep all their stuff organized and easy to find without sacrificing maneuverability. Thanks to the four spinner wheels, you can pull this behind it, keep it alongside you, or push it in front of you as needed. The bag also turns corners and weaves through crowded airports with ease. When it’s time to carry it on your back, you can pull out the tuck-away padded straps and wrap the back wheels in the built-in cover so that you can carry it comfortably, without the wheels rubbing against your clothes.
This backpack is made of thick, tear-resistant polyester, though the manufacturer doesn’t provide the specific number of deniers.
According to one reviewer: “The bag is very versatile, go from on your back to holding next to you, then to a roller in seconds. Very sturdy design and it expands and allows you to put a lot in it. Many different compartments to stay organized. I travel and work with 3 laptops, so it handles it with ease. Looks great also!”
5. A Rolling Backpack With Plenty Of Security Features
- Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 12 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: N/A
Already well-known for its high-quality luggage, Samsonite’s rolling backpack is the next in its line of long-lasting, travel-ready bags. With ultra-strong 600 denier nylon fabric, lockable zippers, and a hidden pocket, you can feel confident that your belongings are secure while you travel.
The carry-on-size backpack comes with four spinner wheels for ultimate maneuverability and tuck-away padded straps when you want to carry it on your back. The padded laptop sleeve comes with a side-access zipper so you can get to your laptop without having to open up the main compartment. That should come in handy when you’ve stuffed this bag to the brim and don’t want to risk all your clothes exploding out each time you need your laptop. Samsonite doesn’t provide a capacity for the bag, but Amazon reviewers suggest it has a large “enough capacity to carry whatever needed for 3-4 days trip.”
According to one reviewer: “I bought this bag to use as a carry on, for items I don't wish to check, when I travel to Europe this Fall. Since I already had the bag, I have been able to use it for the short trips we've taken in the U.S.”
6. A Rolling Backpack With A Separate Laptop Compartment
- Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 9 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: 36 liters
The large suitcase-style main compartment provides much more room than a standard backpack compartment in this MATEIN wheeled backpack. It also has a compression strap so you can maximize the space in this roomy compartment even more. The padded laptop compartment is separate from the main compartment so you can still access your gadgets even when you’ve got this packed at maximum capacity. It also comes with lockable zippers and a plastic bumper panel on the bottom to provide added protection to your belongings.
The backpack is made from sturdy polyester (though no specific denier is provided) and has an aluminum telescoping handle. Rubber inline wheels allow you to easily pull the bag behind you, and a waterproof coating at the bottom should keep any puddles from splashing up and drenching your belongings through the bottom of the bag.
According to one reviewer: “I had no issues with the rolling backpack and loved it. The larger pocket was roomy and I was able to get in my essentials, even an extra pair of shoes. For an overnight or two, you should be able to get what you need packed inside. For me, it is a carry on that supplements my checked bag on a week or longer trips. Even if you aren't traveling by train, this is a much more useful bag than the normal carry on.”
7. A Rolling Backpack For All Your Gadgets
- Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.5 x 8 inches (length x width x height)
- Capacity: 34.5 liters
With separate padded pockets for your laptop, tablet, phone, and other gadgets, the High Sierra Freewheel laptop backpack is the must-have carry-on for the techy traveler. The thick 600D ripstop polyester will keep all your tech safe, while the headphone/USB cable port, and front organizer pocket make it easy to access your gadgets without having to unpack everything.
The telescoping handle tucks away into a zipper compartment when you’re ready to carry it as a backpack. Then, the padded straps tuck away into a padded back panel when you want to roll it again. This functionality and comfortable design has made it a popular pick. After more than 3,000 Amazon reviews, it’s earned a 4.5-star overall rating.
According to one reviewer: “I took this bag with me on a recent trip and it certainly met all my expectations. It held my laptop, tablet and related accessories with ease. There was plenty of room left over for a change of clothes and other miscellaneous items. The handle is comfortable and it extends and stores again quickly and easily. The wheels roll straight and make navigating the crowds at the airport extremely easy. It fits into the overhead bin on all but the smallest airplanes or under the seat. When it is stowed, all of the zippers and pockets are still easily accessible when you need them.”