Best Travel Backpacks with Wheels: The Ultimate Buying Guide

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Best Travel Backpacks with Wheels – Introduction

 In the backpacking community, having a suitcase with wheels is a faux pas. Come on – we all know that real travelers carry all their stuff on their backs, so elements like uneven roads or stairs don’t stop us. It’s easy to put on a backpack and go on a random adventure. Rolling a bag around is for the inexperienced travelers. (I know, I have judged travelers in hostels with a rolling suitcase).

But wait. What if you had luggage with wheels and backpack straps!

Could a hybrid travel backpack with wheels be the best travel bag option for backpackers? Because let’s be honest, even us real travelers sometimes wish that we didn’t have to carry everything on our backs. 

Like that time, I arrived in Tokyo and hopped on a crowded train with my backpack. I knew I hit a few innocent bystanders with my turtle shell (that’s the nickname I give my backpack) while squeezing into the bus. I was too lazy to take my bag off because it would be too much effort to put it back on when I left. Imagine if I had a lightweight backpack with wheels instead! Then I could take off my turtle shell before entering the bus (and not have to worry about hitting anyone), and quickly transition to roll my luggage once I left the bus (with no extra effort).

Why choose between a backpack and a roller bag when you can have both!

I am presenting you the:

Ultimate Guide to the Best Travel Backpacks with Wheels.

In this guide you will find all the best backpacks with wheels, whether you are looking for a weekend bag with wheels, backpacks for girls with wheels, a large backpack with wheels, or any travel bag with wheels – this is an ultimate guide after all.

I have done all the hard work for you!

I have scoured Facebook travel groups, Reddit, TripAdvisor, and Amazon reviews to compile this ultimate list.

By the end of reading this guide, you will have the most information to ensure that you buy the best travel backpack with wheels!

Comparison Guide –

Best Travel Backpack with Wheels 

Before I delve into all details on backpacks with wheels, I wanted to include a comparison chart. This chart gives a quick snapshot of the essential elements to assist in choosing the best backpack with wheels for travel.

Want to know where to buy backpacks with wheels? Amazon! You can find all of these travel bags on Amazon, and I have included a purchase link for each bag to make it as easy as possible for you to buy!

In this chart, I have only included my top recommendations for best travel backpack with wheels. In the full guide that follows, there are more options (as I said, this is the ultimate guide, so I included all the noteworthy backpacks with wheels from my research).  

 

Name

Size

Options

Best

Features

Comfort

(Out of 4)

Price

(Out of 4)

Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley

32L, 50L, 70L

Comfortable to wear as a backpack

Carry-On option

Stylish design

 

♦♦♦♦ $$$

 

 

Pros and Cons 

Of Travel Backpacks on Wheels

The pros and cons of owning a backpack with wheels for adults instead of a regular backpack.

PROS

 Why a hybrid backpack is better than a backpack with no wheels.

Optionality

In almost every aspect of my life, I despise making commitments, (hence – I’ve always been single, I haven’t had a home in the past four years, etc.). A hybrid backpack gives me one less commitment to fear. I don’t have to decide if a backpack or a rolling bag is better suited for a trip. A rucksack with wheels provides versatility. If I’m climbing up stairs or on cobblestone streets, I can put the straps on, and use my bag as a backpack. Or if I want to look more professional when walking into a hotel instead of a hostel, than I can roll my suitcase behind me.  This type of bag is perfect for traveling in various terrains and situations.

Easier in Airports

Whether you have a quick layover or you are 3 hours early to the airport, having a bag with a rolling option makes for a more comfortable airport experience.

Great in Hot Weather

On a hot day, wearing a backpack is a recipe for a sweaty back. Having a rolling bag option keeps you sweat-free!

Better for Walking Long Distances

Carrying a backpack can get tiring, especially on a long walk. Having a backpack with wheels can save money because instead of being tempted to take a taxi, you can roll your bag.

Save Your Back Some Pain! 

I’m getting older and rolling a bag doesn’t sound too bad.

Easier to Squish Into Places Versus a Suitcase

Whether you are packing the trunk of a car or trying to fit your luggage in the overhead on a plane; a backpack with wheels is more manageable than a regular hard suitcase.

Easier Access Than a Backpack 

Backpacks with wheels open like a suitcase, so you don’t have to struggle to find all your clothes. (Unlike most backpacks, where you can only access items from the top). 

CONS

Why a hybrid backpack is worse than a backpack with no wheels.

Heavier

The wheels make it weigh more.

Solution: Roll it if it’s too heavy!

Less Packing Space

The storage compartment for the wheels takes valuable packing space wheels make it weigh more.

SolutionBuy compression bags. These bags will help make more space in your bag.

Click here for my compression bag recommendation.

Less Comfort

Wheels can be a pain and aren’t as comfortable as a regular backpack.

What To Look For 

When Buying The Best Travel Backpack with Wheels

There are several factors to consider when selecting the best backpack with wheels.

Aluminum interanal frames are good since they are typicaly stronger than stampted steel or plastic frames

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Best Travel Backpacks with Wheels Breakdown 

The Ultimate Guide

Ok, we have weighed the pro’s & cons and discussed the deciding factors. Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty and list all the options so you can purchase the best backpack with wheels.

I have done all the dirty work to compile this ultimate list. I have searched hundreds of reviews from:

 

  • Facebook travel groups
  • Reddit
  • TripAdvisor Threads
  • Lonely Planet Threads
  • Amazon reviews
  • Reviews from the company website
  • And more!

There is no need to look elsewhere!

I’ve organized the backpacks into different groups. Click on the hyperlinks below to go to the section that best suits your needs:

By Brand

  • Jansport Backpacks with Wheels
  • Samsonite Backpacks with Wheels
  • Kipling Backpacks with Wheels
  • J World Backpacks Wheels
  • Osprey Backpacks with Wheels

Want a Free $10?

Use my sign-up link to make a Rakuten account and get a free $10 after spending $25. 

Rakuten Marketing is a cashback site, so you can earn money while you shop online at popular stores. After reading this guide, I hope you are convinced to buy a travel backpack with wheels. (Stores with cashback include Patagonia, REI, backcountry, etc). 

Make sure to sign-up for an account, so you can get $10 off the best travel backpack with wheels.

I’ll label products that are eligible for cashback savings with Rakuten throughout this guide.

Best Carry On Backpack with Wheels

Carry-on luggage + backpack with wheels =  a beautiful combination. My travel style is carry-on only since I despise waiting for checked baggage, so I think it’s appropriate to start this guide with the best carry on backpacks with wheels.

1. Kathmandu Hybrid 32L Trolley

“Perfect carry-on bag. It’s a lighthaul on wheels.”

Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦♦♦, Price: $$

The Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley is the perfect weekend bag and prides itself on being lightweight and comfortable. The reviews consistently state that this bag went above expectations since it is easy to wheel and better than a straight out backpack. There’s also a 50L and 70L version that are all highly recommended. 

You can read on their website that:

 “After a decade and a half of design evolution, the hugely popular Hybrid Trolley is better than ever. We went through every tiny detail of the bag to strip out weight without compromising strength. Where we took out weight, we added in comfort to make it our most comfortable, lightweight Hybrid yet. We improved the harness, and we updated the look. Rugged, durable, and good-looking with no extra weight, this is the bag you’ll take everywhere.”

KEY FEATURES

    • Durable Wheels
    • Lockable Zips
    • Internal mesh pocket and front pocket
    • Fold-out backpack straps

PROS

  • Budget Airline Friendly – easily fits as a carry-on for budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet
  • Comfortable as a Backpack   
  • Smart and Colorful Design – several reviews mention that people compliment the design of the bag. Straps are comfortable and easy to clip and unclip
  • Light and Robust – the most common words used when people reviewed this backpack with wheels
  • Great For a Day Hike – the backpack is easy to wear 
  • Durable – one user claims that there is no sign of wear after dragging this bag over trails, streets, gravel dirt for 3 years

CONS

  • Slight instability – while sitting on its base. If you pack heavy things in the back than it will stay upright. 
  • Not Enough Pockets – when the backpack is full the front pocket isn’t practical. The bag could also use some smaller pockets to store items like phones, wallets, etc. 
  • Front Opening Doesn’t Open Fully – which makes packing slightly harder. 

Best Travel Duffle Bag with Wheels

Although not necessarily a backpack, carrying a duffle bag is convenient like a backpack, so here are a few options for travel duffel bags with wheels.
1. Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffle – Large

“A great lightweight bag that can hold up to 105L.”

Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦, Price: $$

Worried about splashes from a boat ride or leaving your bag in the rain? No need to since the Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffle is made with water-repellant bi-tech fabric. The treaded wheels maneuver easily through unpaved, bumpy, or muddy surfaces.

KEY FEATURES

    • Useful Compression Straps
    • Front Zipper Pocket – for quick stash items
    • Lifetime Warranty
    • 105L Capacity (The extra-large version has 128L capacity)
    • Abrasion Resistant and Weatherproof
    • Treaded Wheels

PROS

  • Water-Repellent Bi-Tech Fabric
  • Extra Durability – will last through rough & tough, and rain or shine (hence the name – “No Matter What”) 
  • Low Weight – Weighs < 5 lbs, which gives room to the 50 lb checked luggage limit
  • Huge Capacity
  • Easy Storage – no internal frame so the bag folds up compactly and can be stored inside the provided stuff stack

CONS

  • No Structure – makes it harder for pulling. Some users have a lot of trouble, while others are able to easily roll the bag. It is recommended to fill the bag completely so it rolls easier.
  • Does Not Stand Vertical – Bag won’t stand up vertically on it’s own.
2. Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel – 70L

“It’s called a black hole because it always fits more than you’d expect.”

Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦, Price: $$$

The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel is an excellent bag for a nomad or someone who works on yachts or sailboats. It is water-resistant and a soft bag that can hold a lot, although it does not collapse to be completely flat.  This duffle is not cheap and is priced higher than the Eagle Creek duffle, but the bag is versatile. With a robust frame and handle and it’s burly fabric, this wheeled duffle should last many years through rough adventures. 

PROS

  • Water-Resistant
  • Easy to Pack
  • Stands Upright 
  • Manageable size – Can still lift the bag if it’s full
  • Highly Durable
  • Easy to Roll

CONS

  • Needs More Protection on the Bottom – Several reviews complain about ripped corners when the bag is checked on flights
  • Not Enough Pockets
  • Heavy – weighs 7.2 lbs 
  • Expensive
3. High Sierra AT3

“It’s three bags in one!”

Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦, Price: $$

The AT3 Drop Bottom Wheeled bag provides optionality since it is three bags in one! It can be used as a roller bag, a duffle bag, or uncover the backpack straps and wear it as a backpack. The reviews are split – half the people love this bag, and the other half hate this bag because it fell apart after little use.  This bag is marketed towards men.

KEY FEATURES

  • 3 Bags In 1 – converts from a wheeled bag, to a duffle, to a backpack
  • Large Main Compartment
  • Front-Load Access
  • Hidden Backpack-Straps -behind the zipper padded back panel
  • Flexible Storage Compartments – The main compartment expands 2 inches for additional capacity. Shoes can be stored in a drop-bottom lower compartment

PROS

  • Versatility – depending on the situation, it can be used as a wheeled bag, duffle, or backpack
  • Easy to Organize – Lots of useful pockets
  • Bottom Zipped Compartment – separated compartment than can hold a lot of clothes or shoes

CONS

  • Construction Issues – Several reviews about poor consturction with zippers and handles ripping off. 
  • Short Life – bag falls apart after multiple uses. 
  • Heavy – weighs 7.2 lbs 

Best Laptop Backpacks with Wheels

Best Cheap Backpacks with Wheels

Lightest Backpack with Wheels

Best Large Backpack with Wheels

Best Strap On Wheels for Luggage

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Couchsurfing review – is it still worth it?

Couchsurfing review – is it still worth it?

The first time I used Couchsurfing was in 2012 on my first solo trip backpacking through Europe. In 2012 Couchsurfing was a great web application and I connected with locals in London and Stockholm. These cities are notorious for having high accommodation prices, which is what initially made me interested in Couchsurfing, but after I surfed a couple of places, I realized Couchsurfing is much more than just a free place to stay.

How does Couchsurfing work?

If you have never heard of Couchsurfing before, let me break it down real quick! As a solo traveler, it is one of my favorite ways to meet people around the world. Couchsurfing connects locals with people visiting their respective city. 

A Host offers a free place, usually a couch, to stay.

A Surfer is a traveler who will sleep for free in someone’s house.

But why would a host offer their place for free? There has to be a catch!

There are several reasons why hosts offer their place to stay:

  • It is a way to meet new people from around the world.
  • The host wants to be a surfer when they travel, so they host to build more reviews so that they can get accepted when they send out Couchsurfing requests.
  • They love the Couchsurfing community and want to give back, by hosting other travelers.

How Has Couchsurfing Changed?

Couchsurfing has lost popularity over the years due to Airbnb, but it is still alive! Here are the significant changes I’ve noticed:

Fewer activities posted – The major shift I have noticed in Couchsurfing is that there are fewer activities posted. In 2012, I was in Sweden and saw a CS event to play Brännboll, a Swedish game similar to baseball. Brännboll was the perfect Couchsurfing event because it introduced me to something native to Sweden and allowed me to make new friends. Nowadays I never check the activities in a particular city, because there aren’t that many and the ones that are listed aren’t as interesting.

Men treat it like the new tinder – Some members treat Couchsurfing like a dating site, which is off-putting towards women. Please make sure to read reviews to avoid awkward encounters. Also, if you stay with an overly aggressive host, write a review so others can be informed.

Less couchsurfing requests –  As a free member, you can only send 10 messages to hosts per week. If you pay for a membership, then you can send an unlimited amount of surfing requests. This change is positive because it helps decrease mindless Couchsurfing requests. Since you only have a limited number of messages per week, there is a higher incentive to research the hosts and write a thoughtful note.

5 Reasons Why You Should Still Couchsurf

Although Couchsurfing has changed over the years, I still highly recommend it, especially for a solo long-term traveler. Here are the top 5 reasons to still Couchsurf:
1. Save money – Couchsurfing is free, which is great for your wallet! As a courtesy, offer to pay for a drink or meal for your Couchsurfing host. Or bring something small from your home country.
2. Travel like a local – This is the real benefit of Couchsurfing. Take advantage of the local knowledge your host has. The ideology is that CS facilitates cultural exchange. Having access to someone local is valuable since you have an insiders guide to different things to see, types of restaurants to try, and fun activities to do.
3. Instant friend – I Couchsurf in places where I don’t know anyone because I immediately have someone to hang out with. Couchsurfing is ideal for solo travelers, but it’s also possible to surf with one or two other people.
4. Improved review systems – Couchsurfing has enhanced their rating systems, so people aren’t afraid to leave bad reviews. In the past, hosts and surfers could write reviews whenever they wanted – if a surfer wrote a bad review than the host could retaliate and also leave a bad review, which led to everyone only writing good reviews. Now, after a stay, the host and surfer have 2 weeks to write a review. Once both have written a review, it becomes public. If only the host or surfer writes a review, it will still be public in 2 weeks, but the opposite party can’t change or do a new review after reading their evaluation.
5. Keep the community going – Yes, Couchsurfing is free, which is an excellent way to save money, but the actual benefit is the community. In the current age of Airbnb, the people who still host on Couchsurfing are more interested in making connections and sharing their culture than trying to make extra money. Let’s keep this “pay it forward” community together because connecting people is one of the most important things about traveling.

How to get people to accept your Couchsurfing Request

  • Introduce yourself – When you introduce yourself, think about what things make you interesting. Why would someone want to have you in their home? i.e., My name is Kesi, and I’m from NYC. I’ve been traveling around the world for 4 years.
  • Be personal – read the whole profile of the host and some reviews. Find something on the profile that interests you and mention it in your request. Some hosts get several requests per day, so it’s important to give the impression that there is a specific reason why you would want to stay with that person. Find some connection. i.e.,– I see that you have traveled to Mozambique. I’ve always wanted to go there and would love to hear your stories!
  • Offer Something – I love cooking, so I always offer to cook a meal when I’m a surfer. Think of something useful you can share, whether it is travel stories, a gift from your home country, or offering to buy a beer if you have a night out. i.e., By the way, I work as a chef on boats, and if you are interested would love to cook one night. Maybe you can teach me some cooking techniques from your country?
  • Be flexible – remember people are opening up their homes to you. You have to follow all of their rules. Sometimes there is no extra key, so you have to leave the house when the host is not home. Also, you might stay a couple of days with one host and then switch to another host. Let your host know that you are flexible. i.e., I would appreciate it if you could host me for a couple of days. Please let me know if these dates work with you, or if there is an alternative date that is better.

Couchsurfing experiences from around the world

Couchsurfing Review – Africa

My best Couchsurfing experiences were on the continent of Africa.

I surfed in Morocco, Uganda, and Tanzania. The hosts in the countries truly embody the CS spirit, and their sole mission is to show you the local life in their town.

One reason why African hosts are the best is that CS is their only source of travel. For example, a Moroccan passport is hard and expensive to travel with since visas are required to visit different countries. It is easier for someone from Morocco to “travel” by participating in Couchsurfing and hosting surfers from around the world. Couchsurfing allows hosts to learn and interact with different cultures without actually being in a different country.

Below is a photo of my host from outside of Casablanca, Morocco. I called him my brother from another mother – afros unite! He went out of his way to show me around his city. Even though he comes from a low-income family, he bought me street food (snails!) because he wanted me to try local cuisine. Spending a couple of days with him and his family was a different, and enjoyable way to travel in Morocco.

 

My most unique CS experience was with Tobiko and staying with his family in a Masaai Village in Tanzania. I asked my Tobiko, “How did you find out about Couchsurfing?” He replied,

“I Googled how to make friends, and Couchsurfing popped up.”

My most unique CS experience was with Tobiko and staying with his family in a Masaai Village in Tanzania. I asked my Tobiko, “How did you find out about Couchsurfing?” He replied,

Couchsurfing Review – Australia

I prefer to stay in hostels in Australia.

Australia is a very social place to backpack, especially the East cCoast. I tried Couchsurfing twice in Australia but realized that I would rather spend money and hang out in hostels. My CS hosts were always ready to party, but they weren’t always people I would necessarily want to hang out with. I would rather make friends on my own, and since Australia has extremely social hostels, I wasn’t in search of friends while on the continent. To read more about my experience backpacking in Australia, check out my interview by UPROXX Magazine.

Couchsurfing Review – Europe

Accommodation is expensive in Europe, and Couchsurfing helps offset the cost.

Europe is the first place I ever Couchsurfed. Visiting major cities in Europe can be overwhelming. I prefer living like a local versus sightseeing all day. Couchsurfing in Europe is perfect for getting a sense of what it would be like if you lived in that city. With a plethora of options in each town, it’s always nice to have someone local with recommendations.

Couchsurfing Review as a Solo female

A solo female traveler has a higher chance of being accepted as a surfer when compared to a single male traveler. The reason is that women are not as threatening. Is it safe to surf with strangers? Every decision you make in life has an inherent risk, yet Couchsurfing strives to remain a safe space. Before accepting a host request, always have a backup option in case you feel uncomfortable. The worst plan is to solely rely on your host because if they end up being creepy, you need to find a safe place to go.

I have never had anything scary happen to me while I have Couchsurfed, but there is one time in Croatia where I felt uncomfortable and chose to remove myself from the situation. The guy I stayed with had over 100 reviews, but there were signs that he wanted to be more than just friends. The first sign was that he took my girlfriend and me out to a nice meal and paid for everything. With CS, since the host is already giving a free place to stay, nothing else free is expected. The second sign was that he would always walk around in his small underwear. It’s his house, so he can choose to wear what he wants. The final straw was when one night, he suggested I sleep in his bed instead of my bed. My bad vibe was confirmed after he asked me to share a bed, so I politely told him I would be leaving and found an Airbnb. Listen to your gut and make sure always to post reviews if anyone is treating Couchsurfing like a dating site.

For other tips on solo travel, check out this guide for first-time solo travelers.

For other longterm travel advice, click here.

 

Couchsurfing Alternatives

Here are some alternatives to Couchsurfing. I have not personally tried these websites, but other travelers have recommended them. 

Free Alternatives

  • Bewelcome.org – This website is a smaller community filled with a lot of ex-Couchsurfers. Basically, everyone who got pissed off that the CS community changed and become low quality decided to join Bewelcome, which has the same values Couchsurfing originated with.
  • Hospitalityclub.orgworldwide home sharing site offering free accommodation
  • Servas.org -This is the pioneer website and was around before there was even internet. 

Paid Alternatives

  • Airbnb – a home sharing site where you can rent a single room, an entire apartment, or even a villa. One of the downsides of Couchsurfing is if you don’t bond with your host, you are awkwardly stuck with them. Sometimes it’s better to pay for accommodation, to have your own space. Airbnb is an excellent alternative because you can find hosts with a similar Couchsurfing mentality, who strive to provide a local experience, like my host in Split, Croatia. Airbnb is cheaper than staying in a hotel. Airbnb also allows you to book experiences, which are unique ways to see a city.

Do you like free money?

Click here to sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your home booking. And you get $15 to use toward an experience worth $50 or more.

  • Veg Visits – a home sharing site that’s specifically for vegetarian and vegan accommodation. It’s excellent for the hosts, who don’t have to worry about guests cooking meat in their kitchen. And it’s also helpful for the travelers, as the hosts will be able to give them insider advice about the best places to eat out or shop for specialty items. Some hosts even offer the use of their kitchen to travelers who don’t need accommodation but are looking for a place to prepare their own meals. Users can even filter to see which hosts have blenders, food processors or other equipment.

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