Best School Rolling Backpacks

Updated October 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
337 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best school rolling backpacks

Last Updated October 2019

If your child uses a backpack or messenger bag, chances are they fill them to capacity on heavy homework days. They can feel weighed down by them, and in some cases, these bags can have a long-term effect on posture. That’s why it’s worth making the switch to a school rolling backpack. They’re a convenient alternative that makes carrying textbooks and binders simpler.

School rolling backpacks respond to your student’s changing needs since they can be either carried or rolled. Equipped with a telescopic rod, it’s easy to adjust them to a comfortable length to hit the ground rolling. Rolling backpacks are also designed as the ultimate organizers, as they have plenty of compartments uniquely sized for electronics, pens, and water bottles.

We examined models of school rolling backpacks to give you the rundown with this buying guide. Take a look at our picks to choose the right one to help your student stay on top of their homework — instead of being weighed down by it.

If your child brings lunch to school, consider whether the rolling backpack is spacious enough to carry a lunch bag. Look for space in the main compartment, expandability options, or an exterior clip to secure a compatible handled lunch bag.

Key considerations

Parts of a school rolling backpack

  • Straps: Rolling backpacks are equipped with traditional backpack straps. In some models, there is an additional flap or compartment where straps can be stowed when the backpack is rolling.
  • Telescopic rod: A telescopic rod — either in the form of a single or double rod — extends and adjusts to a comfortable length for rolling. The mechanism is usually hidden and sewn into the rolling backpack, although there are some models in which they are exposed.
  • Handle: The handle of a rolling backpack offers a streamlined grip as well as tension buttons to collapse or extend the telescoping rod. Some handle styles feature rubberized nubs or similar designs to provide a softer grip.
  • Compartments: There are a wide variety of compartments and pockets throughout the rolling backpack. Larger compartments house textbooks, notebooks, and binders, whereas smaller ones hold keys, pens, and water bottles. In some styles, there are padded compartments that protect laptops, tablets, and e-readers.
  • Wheels: Rolling backpacks are equipped with two wheels. They’re usually made of plastic and metal, and there are some heavy-duty wheels that have rubber treads. Unlike other luggage where wheels rotate 360°, wheels on rolling backpacks only go forward and backward. This is a safety mechanism, so students have full control of their rolling backpacks, especially in busy hallways.

Ample compartments and convenient wheel pocket

If your student brings a laptop to school, this rolling backpack is a great choice. Designed with large compartments made accessible by quality zippers, it’s easy to turn this model into an office or study room on wheels. In addition to the dedicated space to hold a laptop up to 17 inches, there are other pockets to hold USBs and media devices as well as a headphone port. If your student needs to carry instead of roll, the unique bottom pocket expands to cover the wheels and base to prevent clothing from getting soiled. Best of all, padding at the back and in the straps makes for a comfortable carrying experience.

Size

Since they have telescopic arms, rolling backpacks are designed to accommodate a limited range of heights — which is why dividing them into age groups is an easy way to determine which models best serve certain students.

Ages four to seven: These backpacks can be as small as 12 inches in height. There are only two or three compartments, and the entire pack only holds a couple snacks and toys. They’re often themed or feature vibrant designs that are child-friendly.

Grade school: Grade school students usually have textbooks and notebooks, so these rolling backpacks aim to hold larger accessories. They’re often on the compact side and still have somewhat limited compartments. They focus on being lightweight, as some children are still getting the hang of manipulating a rolling backpack with the added weight of books.

Middle school: At this age, it’s hard to definitively say which style or size of rolling backpack is most appropriate. As far as stature goes, middle school students may be the same height as grade schoolers or high schoolers. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a rolling backpack for a middle schooler is that their load is significantly larger than that of a grade schooler. In addition to changing classrooms, they often have larger textbooks and binders.

High school and college: High school and college students generally fall into the average adult height category, so expect a full-size rolling backpack in this age range. Models vary a great deal for this age group as needs and preferences vary tremendously between students. Some models feature a high level of organization with many compartments, while others are compact, designed to store only a laptop and a couple of textbooks.

EXPERT TIP

Pack items in a rolling backpack in a way that evenly distributes the weight. Not only is it easier to roll, but it keeps papers and folders from being crumpled or crushed inside.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Designs

Rolling backpacks come in an endless assortment of colors, designs, and patterns. Some manufacturers stick to the basics with a small selection, and others are known for a wide variety. There are also themed backpacks available, so if your child is a big fan of a team or character, there’s probably a rolling backpack that appeals to them.

Materials

One of the more popular materials for rolling backpacks is ripstop nylon. It has a tight weave that withstands heavy use. With its high tensile strength, it holds up to the jagged corners of binders and textbooks as well.

Other nylon or polypropylene blends are common with rolling backpacks, particularly lightweight and children’s models. While they’re decently constructed, the material is much thinner and more susceptible to punctures and tears.

Expandability

Some rolling backpacks are equipped with expandable pockets hidden behind a zipper. They may add as much as half an inch to two inches of space, so if your children frequently have heavy homework days, it’s a feature worth considering. There are also slimline compartments which hold thin folders or notebooks. Even if they’re not filled, they’re discreet enough not to interfere or add bulk to the rolling backpack.

Bottom coverage

To protect your clothing from getting stained or dirty, some rolling backpacks feature a bottom or base cover. These attached flaps unfold to cover up the wheels and knobs while you carry the backpack. As the inside of the cover comes in direct contact with the wheels and bottom, there’s usually a transfer of debris, so clean it out before rolling it up and tucking it away.

Regularly clean the wheels and bottom of the rolling backpack. These areas attract dirt given their immediate contact with so many surfaces, so disinfecting them often is a good idea — especially if you drag them through your home.

Accessories

Refillable water bottle: Simple Modern Wave Water Bottle
Save money by using a refillable water bottle. Most rolling backpacks have an exterior bungee compartment to store one. We like this line of water bottles from Simple Modern. You can choose from a wide assortment of colors and patterns, and the stainless steel bottle is hardy and durable.

Pencil case: LIHIT LAB Zippered Pen Case
A pencil case keeps your pens, pencils, and highlighters in one place, especially if there are not enough pen slots to hold all of them. We like the neutral look of this sturdy, affordable gem from Lihit Lab. There are nine colors to choose from, including a camo pattern.

School rolling backpack prices

Rolling backpacks range in price between $25 and $100.

Inexpensive: Models between $25 and $40 are usually geared toward children ages four to seven. They’re limited on space, though they feature fun designs and characters.

Mid-range: Mid-range rolling backpacks are priced between $40 and $70 and are designed for high school and college students. They’re larger and feature a high level of organization, including padded compartments to store electronics.

Expensive: If you’re looking for the cream of the crop when it comes to rolling backpacks, expect to spend between $70 and $100. Models in this bracket are typically made by established or premium brands. They’re designed and constructed far better than lower-priced models and have a reputation for lasting through a few years of use.

EXPERT TIP

Opt for a backpack that stands out in a crowd. By being able to quickly identify yours, you can prevent it from being accidentally taken by another student.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Be realistic about contents before buying. Determine the normal items your child keeps in a rolling backpack on a regular basis, including binders, textbooks, and electronics. Once you know what you need, it’s easier to choose a model with the appropriate capacity.
  • Optimize space by consolidating writing implements. If your child carries a collection of markers, colored pencils, and pens, store them in a single pencil case so they fit easily in your rolling backpack around other items.
  • Mark your contact information. Write contact information in permanent marker on your bag or attach a luggage tag to it. Include your name, telephone, and email address.
  • Enliven zipper pulls. If you want to add some fun to your zipper pulls, attach keychains to them. They also make the zipper easier to manipulate for young children as there’s a larger surface area to grab.

Functional accessories and detachable wheels

This model has a comfortable design with padded straps and a pinch buckle across the chest. Unlike other school rolling backpacks, the backpack can be fully detached from the rod and wheel base. There are a variety of compartments and functional areas inside and outside the backpack, including pen slots, keyfobs, and expandable mesh pockets. This model even comes with its own rain guard, which slips over the backpack and protects it in rain and snow.  Available in five designs, this school rolling backpack is a good fit for grade school students.

Other products we considered

We’re big fans of HollyHOME 19-inch Multifunction Waterproof Wheeled Rolling Backpack. This lightweight model has more than meets the eye, as it’s fully expandable to hold several hundred pages or multiple textbooks. There’s also a padded slot to hold a 15-inch laptop and a compartment system in a front-facing pocket for easy access. The lateral bungee pocket provides plenty of space to fit bottles of all sizes. This rolling backpack also boasts a solid construction with large protective knobs and high-density polypropylene wheels. The telescopic rod is made from rust-free aluminum and connects to an ergonomic handle for a comfortable grip.

For students who regularly carry electronics, Targus Rolling Backpack for 16-inch Laptop is ideal. It’s equipped with a dedicated compartment to hold a laptop, in addition to other areas designated for tablets, e-readers, and portable Bluetooth speakers. If you have to carry this model as a backpack, you’ll love the foldable wheel cover that separates the bottom of the bag and prevents debris from transferring to your clothing. When you’re rolling it, there’s a convenient pocket to tuck in your straps and keep them from snagging. Considering its functionality and budget-friendly price, this rolling backpack is a smart investment for any student.

For young children who ride the school bus, make sure their rolling backpack is a shape and weight that’s easy for them to lift as they step on or off the bus.

FAQ

Q. Are rolling backpacks allowed at my child’s school?
A.
For the most part, rolling backpacks are acceptable in school districts. In fact, some schools encourage students to use them to cut down on excessive lifting of heavy textbooks and binders. If your school happens to have regulations against them but your child needs one for health reasons, get a doctor’s note detailing medical necessity.


Q. How do I clean my rolling backpack?
A.
You have to rely on spot cleaning, as you can’t exactly place a rolling backpack in the washing machine. Select appropriate cleaning products geared toward your bag’s specific material. Another option for dealing with stains on the go is a detergent pen, which pretreats the affected area until you can deep clean at home. You can also spray your rolling backpack with stain and water repellent to seal it from substances that may penetrate or soak through and damage the bag’s contents.


Q. Do I really need a rolling backpack? Can’t I just attach my regular backpack to a rolling luggage carrier?
A.
You can, but it ends up being more cumbersome and less cost-effective in the long run. Rolling backpacks are designed for quick transition from carrying to rolling. It would take far more time to detach a backpack, not to mention the hassle of carrying or wheeling the carrier around when it’s not convenient.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey