Strong double-rod design. A 17-inch laptop can be hidden and zipped away in top compartment. Zippered mesh pocket, pen pockets, lidded media pocket, and key fob hook. Wheel and base cover protect clothing when being carried. Wheel treads for sidewalks and uneven ground.
Handle pocket could let rain or snow leak into bag.
18-inch rolling backpack. Stylish patterns for kids. Bottom is well protected with durable shields. Straps and quiet wheels can be hidden. Supports on bottom to keep it standing. Handle on top, a device holder, 2 large main compartments, smaller front compartment and 2 mesh side pockets.
Handle for use in rolling mode can get stuck.
Large capacity and water resistant. Padded laptop holder in main compartment. Middle compartment, pocket for essentials, pocket with organizer, and 2 side pockets. Adjustable shoulder straps with padded material tuck away in rolling mode. In carrying mode, wheels can be hidden under flap.
Wheels may not be as durable as the rest of the backpack.
More compact at 17 inches. Straps tuck away in rolling mode. Main pocket for textbooks and lunch, front pocket with organizer and 2 mesh side pockets. Handle can be used at different heights. Bottom has rubber guards to protect from damage. Comes in many designs and colors.
Handle may not hold up to heavier loads.
Compact at 17 inches. Metal telescopic handle and inline wheels. Backpack is made of polyester. Large storage opening. Has 2 storage pockets, an organizer, and side mesh pockets for water bottles. Carrying handle on top and backpack straps on the back. Stays upright when not in use.
Does not have a flap to cover wheels in carrying mode.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.