The 5 Best Carry-On Backpacks With Wheels in 2020
Do you want an easily transportable, flexible piece of luggage for your carry-on bag? Consider getting one of the best carry-on backpacks with wheels.
Carry-on backpacks with wheels can be one of the best luggage options. Users can carry the luggage like a backpack or roll it. Several of these bags also come with a detachable daypack for additional storage and freedom while traveling.
Wherever you travel, the ability to switch between rolling and carrying your belongings in a durable, lightweight pack can be a lifesaver and a back saver.
Here are our top 5 best carry-on backpacks with wheels and everything you need to know about them.
#1 Hypath 2-in-1 Convertible Travel Bag
They Hypath 2-in-1 Convertible Travel Bag sits at number one on our list for the best balance of quality, aesthetics, interior space, functionality and price. Features include:
- Affordable price
- Most Interior Space
- Best Daypack functionality
#2 High Sierra AT7 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack
The High Sierra AT7 Wheeled Carry-On Backpack is a simple, affordable option for the budget-conscious traveler. The design features, aesthetics and quality are not as high as the other brand, but this is still a great bag for the price. Features include:
- Affordable price
- Basic but spacious design
- Decent quality for the price
#3 Osprey Ozone Convertible Wheeled Luggage
If you want the highest quality for a small wheeled carry-on with a detachable daypack and don’t mind paying the high price, the Osprey Ozone Convertible Wheeled Luggage is perfect. Features include:
- Highest design and material quality in wheeled carry-on backpacks
- Lightweight design
- Limited space for trips of more than a few days
#4 Eagle Creek Doubleback Carry-On
The Eagle Creek Doubleback has a very nice aesthetic and is top of the line in quality. It’s great if you don’t mind paying top price for top quality and don’t need a lot of space. Features include:
- Beautiful colors
- Limited storage space
- Top quality
#5 High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack
The High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack offers a basic design with simple functionality. The features are limited and the quality is only decent instead of great, but this is reflected in the lower price. Features include:
- Affordable price
- Basic design and functionality
- Simple and limited daypack
Best Overall Value: Hypath Travel Bag
The Hypath 2-in-1 Convertible Travel Bag offers the best overall value when factoring in price, quality, functionality, storage space and aesthetics.
This lightweight backpack is the best option if you are looking for the best overall value.
Read our Hypath 2-in-1 review to learn more.
Hypath Travel Bag Pros
- Functionality: The Hypath Travel Bag is the most functional for a day-to-day trip, primarily because of the detachable daypack. While other options offer detachable daypacks, the Hypath’s has more storage, more interior pockets, a laptop sleeve, a tablet sleeve, and a chest support strap.
- Price: The price puts this bag among the most affordable options, and its functionality makes it higher quality than other options in the same price range.
- Storage: The Hypath Travel Bag also has more combined storage space between the wheeled backpack and the detachable daypack than other comparable options, all while still staying within the size restrictions of most major airlines. It also has water bottle holders and additional pockets that are helpful during travel.
Hypath Travel Bag Cons
- Quality: While the quality is high for the price, other brands use higher quality materials.
Best Quality: Osprey Ozone Convertible
The Osprey is the highest quality wheeled carry-on backpack and comes with a detachable daypack.
All of the materials, from the zippers to the straps to the interior lining, are high-quality and durable.
Our Osprey Ozone review can tell you more.
Osprey Ozone Pros
- Quality: The exterior has a sleek, modern design. The material is durable and water-resistant. The interior lining is also water resistant in some places to protect electronics.
- Weight: The Osprey Ozone Convertable uses high-level custom design in areas like the retractable handle and the wheels to be as lightweight as possible without sacrificing strength or durability.
- Zippers: This bag has the best zippers out of our top picks for carry-on backpacks with wheels. The zippers are durable and smooth.
Osprey Ozone Cons
- Price: The high quality of the Osprey Ozone Convertable comes at a cost. This bag is the most expensive on our list.
- Space: This bag is designed to be lightweight and compact. It’s fine for smaller trips of a few days, but it is likely too small for trips of a week or more.
Best Aesthetic: Eagle Creek Doubleback
The exterior look of the Eagle Creek Doubleback is modern and sleek. The material is both high quality and durable with a reflective and water-resistant coating.
The custom design paired with the blue accent color gives the Doubleback the best overall appearance. It looks both professional and adventurous.
Read our Eagle Creek Doubleback review for more details.
Eagle Creek Doubleback Pros
- Quality: Eagle Creek luggage is all of the highest quality. The materials, design, zippers, handles, and interior linings are all thought through. Eagle Creek didn’t cut any corners.
Eagle Creek Doubleback Cons
- Daypack: The daypack is tiny and is only good for a small day hike. If you are looking for a daypack that is good for general day-to-day use (such as being able to carry a laptop and plenty of additional items), you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Best Affordability: High Sierra AT7 Wheeled Carry-On with Detachable Daypack
At the time of this article, the High Sierra AT7 is the most affordable option.
Although the design is simple, the High Sierra AT7 offers a nice amount of space and a decent level of quality and durability.
Read our detailed High Sierra review for more information.
High Sierra AT7 Pros
- Price: The current price is one of the most affordable on our list.
- Space: The AT7 offers one of the highest amounts of carrying space in the main wheeled backpack.
High Sierra AT7 Cons
- Design: The interior layout and overall design are basic. The AT7 takes a no-frills approach, especially with the detachable daypack. There are limited additional features such as extra interior organization pockets or pouches.
Best Availability: High Sierra AT3
If you don’t have a lot of time to shop and need a carry-on option sooner than later, the High Sierra AT3 may be a good choice.
It is the most widely available because it’s for sale in big-box retail stores and online.
Read our High Sierra AT3 review to learn more.
High Sierra AT3 Pros
- Price: The AT3 is among the lowest in price and still offers decent functionality and quality.
- Storage: The carry-on portion of the AT3 has the max amount of space allowed by most airlines.
High Sierra AT3 Cons
- Features: The AT3 is a simple, no-frills option. It’s still a decent option if you need a simple piece of luggage for an affordable price, but you won’t get all the bells and whistles of other bags.
The most important thing to consider when choosing your luggage size is the amount of space you’ll need for your trip.
Do you frequently fly to your travel destinations?
If so, the size of your wheeled backpack will determine whether it’s considered a legal carry-on or checked luggage.
Most American and European airlines have a maximum size requirement of 22 x 14 x 9 inches for a carry-on bag, but some airlines have smaller or larger limits.
The standard size equates to approximately 45.4 liters of storage volume.
Some people prefer to travel with no checked baggage so that they don’t have to pay high luggage fees, wait to retrieve their bags, or risk having their possessions damaged or lost.
If that’s you, make sure your bag fits within the maximum carry-on dimensions for the airline you’ll be flying on.
Many wheeled carry-on backpacks come with a detachable daypack, which is excellent for additional storage space. The daypacks can fit beneath the airplane seat. You can still avoid checking your luggage but get the benefit of extra luggage space.
Wheeled backpacks are available in many different sizes.
Some small ones have less than 38 liters while the big ones can hold 90 liters or more.
If you want to use a wheeled backpack to hold a lot of clothing and other items, or if you’re taking it on a backpacking expedition and expect it to carry everything you’ll need to live on for a week or more in the wilderness, a large backpack might make sense.
A large backpack filled to the brim will be heavy, harder on your back, and more challenging to navigate. Therefore, avoid a bigger bag than you need.
On the other hand, if you will wear your bag on your back or carry it by hand frequently throughout your travels, a smaller, more maneuverable bag is better.
Smaller bags will have a bit less space because the wheel mechanism and backpack straps take up space that would otherwise be free for your things. However, they are more likely to meet carry-on size requirements.
If you’re traveling light, a small bag is an excellent option.
Weigh your needs to determine what size is best for you and your travels.
Features and Functions
Manufacturers of wheeled backpacks often compete to offer a selection of features that will make them stand out from the others.
See the common features below to determine which is the best solution for your needs. Not every backpack will have every feature, so pay attention to the features you find most important.
Some features help you keep your things where you want them in your bag.
Here are some to consider:
- Easy-access top pocket: This is an excellent pocket to store travel documents, a wallet, or other things you may need quickly.
- Full zipper opening: Some bags open all the way instead of just the top opening). Some people like this option so they don’t have to dig to the bottom of the bag to find what they need.
- Mesh and zipper interior pockets: Several carry-on backpacks with wheels offer pockets of different sizes and types. These allow you to organize your belongings better.
- Padded electronic pouches: These pouches keep tablets, laptops, phones, and other electronics safe while you’re out and about.
- Side pockets: These are excellent if you like to keep water bottles, umbrellas, or snacks within easy reach.
- Storage Space: Make sure your total storage space is enough for your needs.
- Water bottle compartments: If you like to stay hydrated, a pocket for your water bottle is helpful.
If the bag you like doesn’t have all the organizational features you want, consider packing cubes to help make the bag more suitable for your needs.
Carrying and Movability Features
Some features are to make the bag more comfortable to carry:
- Adjustable compression straps: These straps help keep items in place if your bag isn’t full.
- Chest straps, shoulder straps, and hip straps: Some bags have straps, a shoulder harness, or a hip support belt to stabilize the bag when you’re wearing it on your back. The waist/hip belt helps prevent injury to your shoulders and back while the chest strap helps prevent you from being pulled backward by the backpack by keeping it close to your body.
- Conversion options. Do you want your bag to convert between backpack functionality and a wheeled carry-on? Many luggage brands offer options to hide backpack straps unless you’re using them.
- Low-profile handles: The low profile helps make sure the bag doesn’t catch on things.
- Retractable handle: Retractable handles come with either a single pole or dual pole design. The single pole design is helpful because it saves weight, but the double pole adds strength to the handle and gives a broader base to stack additional luggage on top of the main carry-on if needed.
- Wheel size and clearance: There are different wheel sizes and different heights of wheel clearance. A higher wheel clearance can prevent the base of the luggage from contacting the ground and can add longevity to your luggage, but too much can make it harder for the bag to fit in the overhead compartment when you choose air travel.
Choose what features you need from this list based on how you plan to carry your bag.
Some features help your bag last longer:
- Durable wheels: The wheels should be on sealed bearings to keep them from breaking off easily.
- Light and sturdy aluminum frame: Aluminum frames will make your bag last longer.
- Rip and water resistant: These features will let you take your backpack on adventurous hikes or long airplane rides without you needing to worry about your bag and its contents.
- Strong interior lining: You want the lining to be tough so that you can take things in and out of your bag without damaging it.
- Sturdy zippers, zipper pulls, and lockable loops: Many people report that these are the first things to break when backpacks get heavy use.
These features are some of the most important if you want a bag that will last a long time.
Finally, some additions help make the bag more useful:
- Attachable daypack: Some of the best travel backpacks include a detachable, stackable carry-on daypack that will fit underneath an airline seat to keep your electronics, valuables, and fragile items close at hand.
- Built-in whistle: This is an additional safety feature you can use to call for help if you need it.
- Built-in reflector: This is another safety feature some travel backpacks have. This reflector will help your bag reflect lights so that you’re more visible.
While these features aren’t necessary, they are nice to have.
While you’re looking for a carry-on backpack with wheels for your travels, consider a brand that offers an additional daypack that zips or clips onto the main bag.
Detachable backpacks give you a smaller, lighter pack for day-to-day use on your trip.
The standard wheeled backpacks are often too large for convenient use daily. If you only have the wheeled bag, you are forced to carry around the extra weight of the wheels and retractable handle.
Larger wheeled backpacks also don’t always have convenient features such as a laptop sleeve, water bottle pocket, and smaller pockets and pouches to carry items such as keys, phone, camera, chargers, and passports.
If you enjoy frequent travel, a detachable daypack can add more flexibility to your trips and give you additional travel resources.
The detachable daypack can offer additional storage while still not needing to check your luggage.
The wheeled backpack can fit above you on the plane, and the smaller daypack can be detached and stored beneath the airplane seat.
Between the two bags, you can carry as much as 65 liters worth of luggage.
Travel Factors to Consider
The best bag for travel is compatible with your itinerary, planned activities, and modes of transportation:
- If you’re staying in one place for a while and don’t need to keep your backpack with you, a larger bag is convenient for keeping all of your belongings together while still being mobile.
- If you do need everything with you at all times, a carry-on size wheeled pack will be easier on your shoulders and back, especially if it has a daypack that you can detach from a larger bag.
- If you like active trips, such as excursions that involve a lot of hiking, biking, or motorcycling, get a smaller pack that has padded straps and a design that prevents the wheel mechanism from digging into your back. Padding throughout the bag and rip-resistant materials on the exterior will help your backpack survive rough treatment.
- If you have long packing lists, you may want to get a bigger back to bring everything you need.
- If you are a digital nomad or traveling the world, get a bag that is high-quality. You don’t want to have to replace your bag halfway through an adventure because the first one fell apart.
- If you are going to a wet place, get a bag with a rain cover or with water-resistance materials.
Your backpack’s wheels also deserve careful consideration. If you are only rolling your bag through airports and train stations, almost any type of wheels will work fine.
However, if you’ll be on uneven or bumpy surfaces like cobblestone streets and unpaved roads, get wheels that are durable with sealed bearings and treads (not spinners). Pay attention to the clearance too.
Every traveler and every trip is different. Take these things into consideration to find the best bag for your needs.
Now that you have a better idea of the size and features you want in your wheeled backpack, consider the price.
Many factors can change the price, including:
- Bag size: Larger bags are generally more expensive than smaller ones.
- Detachable daypacks: Bags that include detachable daypacks may be more expensive than those without them.
- Materials: Some brands use better, stronger materials and are more durably constructed than others, often increasing the price. Some well-known brands carry premium prices but offer a lifetime warranty for repairs and replacement.
Smaller wheeled backpacks are available from approximately $100 to $350. Larger varieties range from roughly $200 to $600.
Many of these bags are available from Amazon, other online retailers, and outdoor gear stores.
If you are on a budget, prioritize your most important features so that you can still get the best option for your needs without exceeding your price limit.
If you’re looking for a convenient way to keep your belongings close to you and safe, you’ll benefit from a carry-on backpack with wheels.
Once you consider the features, size, and weight requirements you need, you’ll be able to pick the best carry-on backpack with wheels for you.
If you’re still not sure which bag to buy, read our reviews of our top picks for carry-on backpacks with wheels.Read More