How to Buy the Best Carry on Backpacks with Wheels

Plane taking off at an airport

If you love carrying around a backpack on a regular basis, you will probably look for something similar to take with you as carry on luggage. The good news is that there are actually quite a few options available to you. At the same time, you need to be aware of all of the features that need to be included in such a bag.

In this guide, we inform you of all that you need to know when choosing a carry on backpack. This way, you will be fully equipped to make this decision by yourself. Not to mention, there is a higher chance of you doing it the right way, too. Here are all of the factors that you need to consider.

Tips for Choosing a Carry On Backpack

In some ways, choosing a carry on backpack is a lot like choosing a traditional backpack. At the same time, there are also a lot of features that you need to think about, that you may not have considered before. Considering that there is quite a lot of information to process regarding this decision, it is fairly easy to get confused. In this article, however, you will find all of the information that you need to guide you through this process:

Types of Carry On Backpacks

There isn’t a huge variation for you to choose from when it comes to carry on backpacks. It is, however, important for you to understand the distinction so that you are able to choose the one that is most suitable for your journey:

Travel Pack

There are actually a few versions of travel packs. In terms of carry on backpacks, though, these travel packs are fairly small, typically no longer than 22 inches. These are suitable for more adventurous vacations where you will be spending a lot of time outdoors or carrying much of your belongings on your back.

Wheeled Backpacks

These are a good option if you want to carry a greater number of items but don’t want to have to shoulder all that weight. In many cases, you can actually detach the backpack from the wheel-and-handle system and use it as a daypack. This type of backpack is quite versatile.

Carry On Duffel Bags

These duffel bags tend to be a bit smaller than most backpacks although they do retain the barrel-like shape of the original design. This type of bag is very useful when you are only traveling with carry on luggage and want to pack in as much as possible. These can be usually distinguished from backpacks by the placement of the handles which is on the center of the bag.

Laptop Backpacks

These are one of the most common types of carry on bags since it is quite common to find people carrying their laptops with them. While the main component of this bag is to have a place for your laptop, there is usually enough room for a few other items as well.

Size and Dimensions of Carry On Backpacks

When choosing a carry on backpack, size becomes very important. This is because both domestic and international airlines have specific rules as to the size of the bags that they will allow on board. Now, this does tend to change, depending on the airline and where you are flying to. Typically, however, you should be able to take any backpack that has a length less than 22 inches, a width that is 14 inches, and a height less than 9 inches.

As you can imagine, due to the size restrictions, there is also some limitation to the capacities of these bags. If you want a backpack for an overnight or day trip, you will find ones that have a capacity between 20 and 35 liters. If you are looking for bags that can carry enough clothes for a weekend stay, you may want to consider one that can hold up to 50 liters.

Remember, there are weight limitations that you have to adhere to as well with carry on backpacks. So, always check with the airline that you are traveling on, just how much weight you are allowed to carry in one bag.

Carry On Backpack Material

Carry on backpacks can be made of several materials. To decide which one is right for you, you must first think about what you need your backpack for. If you will not be making much use of your backpack and are simply using it as a means to carry some clothes or documents, then you should be fine with one that is made of good quality polyester.

If you will be taking your backpack with you wherever you go and are bound to be in some rough terrain at some point, you are going to need one made of sturdier material. Here you should look for one that is made from nylon or even rip-stop nylon. These materials are tougher and have greater abrasion resistance, meaning that they are less likely to tear.

Now, depending on where you are going and where you are taking your backpack, you may require one that is weatherproof. If you don’t expect to encounter much moisture, you will be able to make do with a backpack that is simply water resistant. If you want a bag that can withstand downpours, however, you will be better off with a fully waterproof backpack, perhaps one with a polyurethane coating.

If you don’t want to spend money on a waterproof backpack but still want to be prepared for all kinds of weather, consider backpacks that come with rain covers. These can also be purchased separately and are quite good at keeping moisture away from the contents of your bag.

Typically, sturdier fabrics or materials are usually quite heavy. You will need to remember to take this into consideration when making your choice. After all, the heavier that your backpack is when it is empty, the less that you will be able to pack into it.

Organizational Features

Unless you are taking your backpack on an extended camping trip, you will need one with compartments – both internal and external. If you want a laptop backpack, for instance, look for a laptop sleeve that is complete with a strap to keep the laptop in place. These type of bags also have other small mesh pockets and compartments where you can store stationary and documents.

With other backpacks, you may not need quite as many pockets or compartments. Still, you should look for a few exterior ones so that it is easier to separate your items. Most exterior pockets are quite small and are good for smaller gear or for keys and phones.

If you are headed out on a bit of trek or adventure, there is a good chance that you may need to take additional gear or equipment with you. For these situations, you should look out for a bag that is equipped with lashes and loops to which you can attach gear to.

The Suspension System

Even if you don’t plan on wearing your backpack for too long, it is still worth it for you to look at its suspension system. This will determine just how comfortable the pack will be while you are carrying it.

One of the first things you will need to do is to measure the length of the backpack. Then, compare this to a measurement that you make of the length between the base of your neck and the area around your hip bones. The backpack should always sit above your waist so adjust the shoulder straps so that it sits like this on your back.

Speaking of shoulder straps, you should look for ones that are wide and that have plenty of padding. This way, it will not sink into your skin but instead, the weight will be evenly distributed across your flesh. Now, since you aren’t carrying too much of weight, there is no need for a sternum strap. A hip belt, however, can come in handy for heavier packs. These, too, should be padded, particularly the area that sits above your hip bones. This will prevent any chaffing from occurring.

Additional Features

Here are some of the additional features that you should go over with your carry on backpack:

Lockable Zippers

Just because your carry on luggage is often near you at all times, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the necessary security precautions. It is important for you to lock up your backpack, even if it will be on your person in most cases. To do this, you will need to have zippers that can be locked. You should look for bags with two zippers that can have openings on the top that can fit a small padlock. This will prevent items from being stolen when you are not paying attention.

Compression Straps

As we have already discussed, airlines will not let you take bags that look overstuffed into the plane with you. if you are trying to pack in a lot of items but still maintain a certain height, you are going to need compression straps on the outside. These will help to keep the backpack as compact as possible. They also work to prevent any of the items inside your backpack from moving around. So, it can help to avoid damages as well.


If you are choosing a wheeled backpack, you should take a good look at the wheels that are attached. First and foremost, they should be durable and made from good quality material. This way, you can be sure that they will last longer. You should also look for larger wheels as they are easier to transport around since they are less likely to get stuck in places.

So, here you have it all of the information that you require to make an informed decision regarding carry on backpacks.

Top 10 Best Carry On Backpacks

1 – Osprey Farpoint 40

Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack, Volcanic Grey, Medium/Large
  • Large panel zip access to main compartment
  • Stowaway backpanel, harness and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in lockable compartment
  • Dual front mesh pockets
  • Heat-embossed scratch-free zippered slash pocket

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Farpoint 40:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Farpoint 40

  • Most testers said that it is an amazing day pack with great built material.
  • They said that the pack is easy to load and is much comfortable to wear.
  • They also mentioned that the pack has a good suspension system and is lighweight for easy carry.
  • Many reviewers said that the pack has large capacity to stuff all their requirements for long vacations.
  • A reviewer said that the adjustable stow away hip straps are quiet advantageous.
  • A traveller said that the desing of the pack is well thought with good number of internal pockets for organizing things.
  • Amost all of the buyers are happy to have a detachable day bag with the pack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A few of the reviewers said that the pack is expensive.
  • Another buyer said that the waterproofing of the pack is not good enough for heavy rains.
  • A buyer also disliked the day pack.

2 – Patagonia Black Hole 25

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Black Hole 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Black Hole 25

  • A lot of users thought that the Patagonia Black Hole backpack is resistant to any weather condition that might tarnish the state of the bag.
  • Other users recommend the bag for those who are commuting to school and work.
  • Other users noted that the bag has a lightweight design.
  • Many of those who have tried the backpack were able to secure things properly due to its pockets.
  • Several users observed that its straps could be pulled quickly.
  • Reviewers have found that it is comfortable to wear due to its back panel.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a padded sleeve dedicated for laptops.
  • Tablet users found it easy to secure their gadgets due to a sleeve dedicated to tablets.
  • Many wrote that the bag is durable and functional.
  • Another user said that its stretchable pockets make it easy to store different sizes of water bottles.
  • Other reviewers noted that there is a roomy storage space for more comfortable organization.
  • Users thought that the bag has an attractive design.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it has a minimal protection to laptops.
  • Another user thought that the bag might be too small for him.
  • A reviewer felt that it is not fit for hiking.

3 – Oakley Kitchen Sink LX

Oakley Kitchen Sink LX Backpack
  • Strap Drop: N inches; Pockets: 4 slip, 5 exterior

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Oakley Kitchen Sink LX:

Reviewers like these things about the Oakley Kitchen Sink LX

  • Many reviewers commend the Oakley Kitchen Sink backpack for its durability brought about by its fabric and construction.
  • Testers have noted that it is a versatile backpack.
  • Several of those who have tried the pack indicated that it features a padded laptop sleeve with side access.
  • They also noted that its brushed media pocket at top is designed for protective storage.
  • Users found the pack comfortable to use.
  • Other users recommend the use of the bag for travel, hiking, or everyday use.
  • They thought that the pack includes a front organizer panel.
  • Testers have found that it consists of mesh optics pocket.
  • Users indicated the presence of a compression-molded back panel for support and comfort.
  • Reviewers noted that its shoulder straps are adjustable.
  • A tester found that it has a bottom shoe compartment.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer had issues with the functionality of the bag.
  • Another user found that the inner metal wire rips its leathery fabric.

4 – Osprey Fairview 55

Osprey Packs Fairview 55 Women's Travel Backpack, Rainforest Green, Small/Medium
  • Stowaway backpanel, harness and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection
  • Detachable daypack provides additional storage and organization ideal for daytrips or carry-on
  • Durable fabrics in high-wear areas combine with smart design to create a lightweight and tough travel pack that will last a lifetime.
  • Large panel zip access to main compartment
  • Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Fairview 55:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Fairview 55

  • Testers found out that the Osprey Fairview backpack is comfortable to carry.
  • Other testers recommend the use of the pack for traveling and commuting.
  • Users also noted that it is capable of distributing load efficiently.
  • Reviewers thought that the bag delivers sufficient ventilation due to its mesh back panel.
  • According to some reviewers, the backpack does not chafe when underloaded due to the mesh on the harness and hip belt.
  • Other users also noted that it has a large main compartment to store essential things and belongings.
  • According to those who used it, the backpack has a durable design.
  • Other users found that its pockets were sufficient to store and organize things securely.
  • Many users took notice on its harness and hip belt which may be zipped away when not in use to prevent the pack from snags and hangups.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A tester discovered that its shoulder straps were not that comfortable.
  • A reviewer mentioned that it lacks a specific pocket for laptops.

5 – Deuter Transit 50

Deuter Transit 50 Travel Backpack with Removable Daypack
  • TRAVEL FRIENDLY - Whether you're jet-setting across the globe or just across the country, Deuter's Transit 50 conveniently fits inside overhead compartments when the daypack is removed; VariQuick adjustable shoulder harness has a zip-up cover panel to keep straps and buckles out of the way when stowed
  • EASY TO CARRY - Getting from gate to gate just got easier with a variety of carry options; The travel-friendly Transit includes a padded removable carry strap, two sturdy grab handles, and breathable padded shoulder harness; Features luggage stabilizing straps for extra comfort and compression straps for regulating volume
  • STORAGE OPTIONS - This backpack was designed to keep your essentials organized and secure; 50-liter main compartment with easy-access U-shaped zippered front panel with a separate bottom compartment for shoes; Includes detachable daypack and small front stash pocket for documents
  • BUILT TO LAST - Made from 600d Polytex, the Transit carry-on backpack delivers lightweight, high-performance durability; PU coating offers excellent water- and abrasion- resistance and ensures this travel bag can keep up with frequent fliers; Internal stays add both structure and stability to help protect your belongings
  • SPECIFICATIONS - This 50-liter backpack comfortably carries up to 40 lbs (18kg); Fits 15.5-22 inch torso lengths; Weight: 4 lb 13 oz (2.2kg). Dimensions: 25 x 13 x 10 in.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Deuter Transit 50:

Reviewers like these things about the Deuter Transit 50

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the Deuter Transit can be used for traveling and commuting.
  • Others thought that its shoulder straps could turn the pack into a practical shoulder bag.
  • Several reviewers thought that the clamshell feature of the main compartment reveals its entire contents.
  • Users found it comfortable to use.
  • According to some users, its compartments and straps keep the materials organized and safely in place.
  • A reviewer mentioned that it has excellent load stability.
  • Another reviewer thought that it has sufficient pack volume to keep the pack lightweight.
  • Testers found that wet and dirty clothes can be separated well from its zippered bottom compartment.
  • Other testers noted that it is easy to transport the bag through its padded grab handles.
  • Many wrote that it is comfortable to carry the bag due to its padded shoulder pads.
  • They also said that its breathable foam back panel provides comfort to the back as well.
  • Several of those who have tried the bag thought that its sternum strap secures the pack in place.
  • A lot of testers felt that it can support carrying heavy loads well due to its load-bearing aluminum frame.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that it might not be functional when used as a daypack.
  • Another user found that the seams on some of the pockets started to come undone.

6 – Hynes Eagle 40

Hynes Eagle 40L Flight Approved Carry on Backpack (Purple)
  • Water Repellent Polyester; Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.4 x 9.8 inches/51 x 34 x 25 cm; Capacity: 40L;Designed to fit the maximum size allowed on an IATA flight, fits in the overhead compartment as well as the under seat as storage in flight
  • Multiple exterior compression buckle straps for adjusting the height based on your need; only 1 backpack in package
  • A true hands-free carry on with suppressible shoulder straps, easily to convert from duffel into a backpack in seconds
  • 1 front zip pocket with multiple interior slip pockets, second compartment fits up to most 15.6 inch laptop
  • New version with new logo, side bottle pocket for extra storage and adjustable sternum strap for stability

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Hynes Eagle 40:

Reviewers like these things about the Hynes Eagle 40

  • Some users liked the presence of Velcro strap which will holds the computer in.
  • Others liked the meshed zippered area which will hold a number of things that they do not want to fall out.
  • Many users liked how the shoulder straps do not cut into shoulders and are adjustable so that the pack can be carried of higher.
  • Many find the ability to zipper the straps inside the pack is a great feature.
  • A lot of users liked the laptop pocket with some embedded padding, fuzzy fabric and a Velcro style strip to secure a laptop.
  • Users also like external compression straps as they are very useful to get an inch or two more of vertical space if needed.
  • Some particularly liked the exterior tightening straps that allow them to shrink the size for storage in smaller airplane overhead bins.
  • Others thought the side straps are wonderful: lets them cinch down the sides to reduce the profile of the suitcase.
  • Many love how it comes with plenty of tightening straps and zippered compartments that both minimize space that the bag takes up and maximizes packing room.
  • A lot of reviewers find the compartments reasonably sized, the straps neatly tuck away when not needed, and the overall build quality is fantastic.
  • Many thought the zippers are durable and it’s got a lot of nice features like the backpack straps.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users thought it’s a nice bag but with poor quality material.
  • Others say the straps need to be reinforced better.

7 – Timbuk2 Wingman

Timbuk2 528-4-2000 Wingman Travel Duffel Bag, Black
  • Converts from a duffel to a backpack with removable backpack straps
  • Size for international carry-on- no need to check it
  • Side expandable pockets for shoes/organization
  • Secure padded pockets carry up to a 17" MacBook Pro & an iPad
  • 40 liter volume

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Timbuk2 Wingman:

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Wingman

  • Most reviewers said that this bag is great for travel and work or even a combination of the two.
  • They also said that the overall size and the large pockets are fantastic.
  • Many other reviewers said that they love the organization on this pack.
  • Reviewers said that this Wingman travel backpack is made very well.
  • Most users said that it has a top finish, no loose threads, and the stitching is spot on.
  • They said that there are handles on all four sides,.
  • Travelers mentioned that t fits the airline overhead.
  • Some users said that it has threat straps, the hardware is great.
  • Most buyers said that it has ample room with a variety of pockets and compartments to fit a wide range of objects and materials.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that the backpack straps aren’t removable,.
  • Another user complained that the straps are uncomfortable.
  • Another reviewer said that the bag is heavier than expected.

8 – OGIO Soho

OGIO Soho Pack Backpack Raspberry One Size
  • Pockets: 11 slip, 1 zip, 5 exterior

Here’s what the reviewers think about the OGIO Soho:

Reviewers like these things about the OGIO Soho

  • A lot of users liked the style and functionality of the bag.
  • Some reviewers thought the bag looks reasonably professional for conferences but provides lots of room to organize things.
  • Many users find the side pockets veryh useful in storing business cards, spare change or snacks.
  • A lot of users agree that it’s a solid bag at a great price.
  • Many reviewers appreciate the smallest zippered compartment with little labeled pockets for various items.
  • Other users find the middle pocket perfect for files, tablets, folders and other office stuff.
  • Many reviewers liked how it’s structured to maintain shape and keep papers flat inside.
  • Some owners like the presence of padding on the bottom which provide protection for laptop.
  • A lot of users find the thick padding on the back and shoulders effective in preventing back and shoulder pain.
  • Some particularly find the polka dot lining cute and unique.
  • Many owners recommend this bag to anyone looking for a nice, durable and stylish looking bag for laptop and other everyday essentials.
  • One user said that the OGIO Soho is everything he’s been looking for a backpack, comfortable, functional, with a more professional look.
  • Attractive style and design, lightweight, comfortable, storage capacity and solid construction are cited as the main reasons for purchasing this bag.
  • Others love the front stash pocket for quick-grab items.
  • One user find the attention to detail exquisite.
  • Some thought that the knotted felt pull-tabs on the zippers make opening and closing a cinch.
  • Other users appreciate how each section is labeled with an icon to indicate what you could place in them.
  • Many love how it holds a lot of stuff, yet doesn’t feel bulky on the back.
  • Some reviewers find the organizational panel very well designed and useful.
  • Other users thought the zipper pulls with added fabric are very user-friendly.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users find the side pockets for bottles are a little narrow.
  • Other reviewers complained about the laptop compartment that’s not waterproof.

9 – Timbuk2 Uptown

Timbuk2 Uptown Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack, Midway , One Size
  • Laptop compartment fits 15" MacBook plus iPad in separate pocket
  • Front zip pocket for keeping small items in check
  • Large main compartment for books, jacket, and other carry-on essentials
  • Channeled airmesh ventilated back panel

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Timbuk2 Uptown:

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Uptown

  • According to users, the Timbuk2 Uptown backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Reviewers noted that the pack is versatile.
  • Other reviewers noted that there is a designated compartment that could fit 15-inch laptops.
  • They also mentioned that it has a separate compartment meant for tablets.
  • Users noted it has a front zip pocket for keeping small items in check.
  • Reviewers pointed out that its large main compartment is meant for books, sweaters, and other carry-on essentials.
  • Testers said that it has ample pockets for storage and organization.
  • Users pointed out that the bag has a ventilated back panel.
  • Reviewers mentioned that they could also store a lot of stuff in its main compartment.
  • Others noted that the bag has a haul handle making it easy to grab the bag on the go.
  • Reviewers recommend the bag for travel and outdoor adventures.
  • They also noted that the bag could be used for school or office work.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that it is not as rigid as it is meant to be.
  • A tester had issues with the zipper of the bag.

10 – High Sierra Access

High Sierra Access Laptop Backpack, Black
  • 100% Polyester
  • Imported
  • Large main compartments and multiple pockets allow you to keep all of your gear secure and organized
  • A fully padded CushionZone laptop compartment accommodates most 17-inch models. A dedicated TechSpot sleeve provides an ideal space for your tablet
  • The rain cover is stored in a hidden compartment at the bottom of the bag. It is perfect for keep your contents dry and help keep the bag clean when checked during air travel

Here’s what the reviewers think about the High Sierra Access:

Reviewers like these things about the High Sierra Access

  • Several users noted that the High Sierra Access pack is designed with dedicated areas to store a laptop and tablet.
  • Reviewers thought that this backpack helps users comfortably tote their gear from place to place.
  • According to those who have tried that pack, its reflective accents keep them visible in dimly lit areas.
  • Reviewers thought that it has an excellent number of pockets.
  • Users found that its durable polyester construction promotes lasting use.
  • Other users thought that its color is beautiful.
  • They also mentioned that it has fully padded Cushion Zone computer sleeve that fits at most 17in.
  • Users also praised integrated Tech Spot tablet sleeve for additional devices.
  • Laptop users found that it has deluxe media pocket offers a headphone port for easy listening.
  • Several reviewers have pointed out that the pack has a premium multiple-pocket organizer with a key fob to keep belongings in order.
  • A lot of testers thought that its mesh beverage pocket is perfect for staying hydrated.
  • Reviewers praised its padded bottom panel that helps keep the backpack in excellent condition.
  • They also mentioned that additional gears could be attached to the monster hook and daisy chain loops.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that poor quality thread was used in the pack.
  • Another reviewer said that the bag is not waterproof.
  • A user mentioned that they had had a little bit of a problem at times in the security line taking out and putting back the laptop.

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Last update on 2018-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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