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There is no definite and absolute answer to the question: what’s the best luggage carrier between backpacks and carry-on suitcases? You will find a lot of travel junkies putting their weight behind backpacks. Then there is an entire class that considers rolling suitcases a lot better option.
But truth to be told neither of them is an ideal and complete luggage option. Both have their benefits and shortcomings. First, let’s have some rundown on the features of a standard carry-on suitcase. To begin with, rolling suitcases are extremely good in term of weight management. You are not required to hold and move all the weight on your own. The wheeled assembly makes sure you can carry the luggage along with a gentle push.
Moreover, most of the carry-on suitcases offer better protection to fragile items with their hard casing and internal compressions straps. Lastly, they are suited best when you have to go on formal and official trips.
On the other hand, backpacks are designed for better mobility. Having strapped on your back, you can easily move with your luggage when it is in a backpack. For all those people who have to walk a lot during their traveling, this portability of backpacks comes in handy. Furthermore, backpacks are really good for accommodation even when you are tight on space. This flexibility also ensures a hassle-free commute.
Best Rolling Backpacks
- Best Rolling Backpacks
- Both Carry-on and Backpacks Have Their Shortcomings
- Winning Features of a Rolling Backpack
- Buying Guide for Rolling Backpacks
With all this useful information at your disposal regarding rolling backpacks, you are now able to make the right buying decision. And if you don’t want to search the market on your own, read on because we are going to review 10 of the best rolling backpacks available in the market right now.
We will dissect them in detail while discussing all the pros and cons to make it easy for you to fix on a single option. It is important to mention that the numbering here doesn’t show any preference. It is just done for your reading convenience.
Osprey Ozone Convertible Wheeled Luggage is also known as a traveling chameleon for some obvious reasons. With the backplate made of highly durable ABS plastic and an internal frame of aluminum along with the high-clearance wheeled base, it is just like your any high-quality carry-on suitcase.
On the other hand, its winning combination of a hip belt and shoulder harnesses allows you to swiftly convert it into a backpack when the plain pavements end or you face strain in your pulling hand.
With a quick and easy to access top storage, you don’t need to carry your toiletries and snacks in a different bag. Just reach the top zip and procure the items of instant use without spilling your other luggage items.
While exploring a city or scaling a landscape; you need a small handy daypack with some items of everyday use. Osprey Ozone Convertible comes with a detachable daypack. Now leave your entire heavy luggage at the hotel or base camp and complement your day-to-day traveling with the detachable daypack. From a laptop to tablet and food to extra clothing, many things can go into that backpack.
Compression straps are an important feature of any backpack. Osprey Ozone has also given it in its rolling backpack. There are two compression straps fitted inside the bag so you can adjust its volume as per your requirements and can keep the clothing and other delicate items in place.
We think that carry-on frame is the part where Osprey Ozone Rolling Backpack outshines many of its competitors. Its frame or chassis is as good as any premium carry-on available in the market right now. And this is one of the reasons why it has ended up on our list of 10 of the best rolling backpacks.
The lightweight aluminum alloy (6001) frame ensures the torsional strength and rigidity that the backpack needs to roll over on any surface with all its weight. Moreover, the injection-molded ABS plastic base of high-clearance along with foot bar proves to be a durable backbone.
This sturdy frame is then fitted with durable PU wheels that are enclosed in sealed frames so you don’t feel any strain on your hand while dragging the backpack on any pavement.
Another winning feature of Osprey Ozone Convertible is its volume that is ideal to go with the maximum carry-on size that the majority of airlines allow.
High Sierra AT7 Wheeled Computer Backpack is made of high quality 1200 Denier. The figure “1200” here indicates the thickness of the weaving of the fabric. This Denier variant (1200) is also called Duraweave because of its strength and thickness of the weave. As the title suggests, this rolling bag has padded storage sleeves for laptops and tablets and other similar devices. Moreover, the compression strapping allows you to expand the main compartment by 2 inches.
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This expansion comes in handy when you are packing and need a little more space for some last couple of items. Moreover, the side pockets are not just showpieces. Besides tucking in beverage bottles, you can also use them for your other traveling gear. Like any good quality rolling backpack, High Sierra AT7 is ideal both as a standalone carry-on and a backpack.
Its single-body frame with inline stake wheels can be used anytime to make your luggage a rolling suitcase. The good thing about the wheel assembly is it is just not there just to have another feature. High Sierra has made sure that the wheels can give you an absolute carry-on experience while traveling. The tires are made of polyurethane along with ball bearings just like any good quality rolling suitcase.
The PU tires ensure extended use without considerable wear and tear. Meanwhile, ball bearings keep the frictional resistance minimal during the wheel movement. Since High Sierra has pitched AT7 as a sporty and adventure luggage carrying option, therefore it bears reflective piping that glows in the dark. This feature proves to be very handy if you are on off-road expeditions.
Weak and poorly designed handles are the bane of carry-on suitcases. No matter how good the quality of the bag is, if it is fitted with a shoddy handle, you can’t use it as a carry-on. High Sierra has especially taken care of this aspect while designing the AT7 rolling backpack. It is fitted with the recessed telescoping handle of aluminum that is equally lightweight and durable.
If High Sierra AT7 is for light backpacking, then this Osprey rolling backpack is the opposite of it. This 80L backpack is designed to ensure you don’t have to pack more than one suitcase for your week or long trips. Similarly, if AT7’s construction is closer to a backpack, then Osprey Sojourn has a finishing of a carry-on. Nonetheless, like any good-quality rolling backpack it can easily transform into a backpack with its technical pack suspension system.
Apart from shoulder straps, the suspension system of Osprey Sojourn also contains a hip belt so you can distribute the weight onto your entire back. Meanwhile, the back panel of Osprey Sojourn is made of tensioned and ventilated mesh that ensures comfortable and sweat-free backpacking. With such care of details, it is pretty obvious that Osprey wants its product to be equally good on both sides of the luggage spectrum.
These days, backpacks are all about more innovative design details. And we can find such in Osprey Sojourn as well. The rolling backpack has two daisy chains on the front so you can stuff and tie a couple of instant-use items there. Similarly, side and top padded handles are given to make sure you can easily move the bag without needing its aluminum telescoping handle.
Like the earlier reviewed Osprey backpack, this one also contains a top zippered pocket for toiletries and quick snacks. In Osprey Sojourn, you get the straightjacket compression that comes in handy to stabilize the load and to secure particular content in the bag. For instance, if you are carrying a tablet or any other fragile item in the pack, this compression strap will help you in keeping it in the same place.
To keep up with its tradition of offering impressive carry-on mechanism, Osprey offers high-clearance rolling wheels that don’t tumble and fumble on any type of pavement and surface.
The best thing about Osprey Sojourn is it doesn’t just come in 80L configuration. With all the impressive features that we have discussed, you can get this rolling backpack in 45L and 60L volume sizes as well and that too in a variety of color.
We all know that typical carry-on suitcases go well when your traveling and accommodation conditions are all good and fair i.e. you travel through planes and tubes and stay in hotels, rest houses and Airbnb rentals. As soon as the traveling and staying conditions get rough and tough, the service life and utility of a regular carry-on plunge.
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Eagle Creek has got around this frailty of conventional carry-ons with its Creek Load Warrior. It is a piece of carry-on luggage but with the sturdiness and hardwearing of a good quality backpack. It is primarily made of a 450 Geo Ripstop fabric. It is woven nylon that is reinforced to withstand all the tough condition. At the time of weaving, thick threads are interlaced at a regular distance in a crosshatch design on a Ripstop fabric. This thick thread reinforcement extends the durability of the fabric manifold.
And this durability is at display in Eagle Creek Load Warrior. Moreover, the exoskeleton of this rolling backpack is also made of tough 210D fabric. Another hardwearing material 450D Helix Poly is also part of the construction. But that’s not where Load Warrior’s tale of sturdiness ends. The edges of the carry-on are reinforced with a synthetic rubber called Hypalon. This exterior reinforcement prevents fraying and protects the luggage against hard-surface impacts and drops.
While ensuring supreme durability, Eagle Creek has also made sure that you get all the functional features of any carry-on and a backpack. The rolling backpack has multiple pockets that help you in sorting out your luggage in a better manner. Moreover, compression straps are also given to adjust the volume of the carrier accordingly. With lightweight aluminum ergonomic T-shaped handle and multiple grab handles, handling the carry-on with all the luggage weight becomes quite easy.
To deliver its services as a high-quality carry-on, the Load Warrior is fixed with large treaded wheels. Moreover, a kick plate is also installed at the bottom to protect the wheel assembly and base of the carry-on from unfriendly rolling conditions.
Eagle Creek Load Warrior is available in three different volumes of 36L, 42L, and 63L.
5. Wheeled Luggage- Best Designed Rolling Backpack
Packs Meridian might be the most well thought out rolling backpack by Osprey. From the outside, it doesn’t look like a 60L carry-on, kudos to the ergonomic specialists at Osprey. Like other Osprey rolling backpacks, this model is also fitted with the manufacturer’s patented HighRoad high-clearance chassis.
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The rugged wheel assembly made of polyurethane is perfect to scale all sorts of urban landscapes. And as you enter the natural scenery, you can utilize its suspension features to use it as a typical backpack. The suspension system includes padded and mesh-covered shoulder straps and hip belts that are fitted with buckles so users of all torso sizes can adjust it accordingly.
A good thing about Meridian’s suspension system is it’s not hanging out there. In the carry-on mode, the shoulder and belts are enclosed in the meshed back pocket. Without dangling shoulder harnesses, a rolling backpack looks neater. This arrangement also protects the belts from getting dirty on the pavements.
If you are running out of space and only want to use the rolling backpack as a carry-on, you can use this suspension pocket as additional storage. But it is very unlikely that you will need that. The four spacious zipper pockets in the main compartment are enough to keep your entire luggage. And with the topping of a top zipper pocket for toiletries, snacks, and beverages, you don’t even miss the missing side pockets.
Detachable daypacks are also part of other Osprey rolling backpacks. But Meridian’s daypack is in a league of its own. It is a complete carrier package for your everyday excursions while you are on a trip. The daypack has padded sleeves for a laptop and tablet. Moreover, internal organizer let you have your important belongings sorted in a better manner. Lastly, it even has two stretchable external pockets.
The carry-on handle is an extended dual-tube structure. With weight getting distributed on two rods, it becomes really easy to pull a loaded rolling backpack on all sorts of pavements. And if you are worried that the bumps and jerks coming from the rolling surface might mess your luggage setting, then use compression straps to keep the items in place.
After ticking all the boxes of a quality carry-on and backpack, Osprey has also ensured that you get the features of a duffel bag in Meridian as well. Therefore, it is fitted with a wide and strappy top and side fabric handles.
If you are a travel blogger, a film student, a photographer or a passionate vagabond who captures the aesthetics of the seemingly mundane sceneries of every day and looking for a travel bag that can effectively let you carry all your photography gear and post-production gadgets, then you have landed on the right page and reading the right review.
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This Neewer rolling backpack is a wheeled camera backpack. The main compartment of the backpack has 11 differently sized portions. From camera to lens, filters, and batteries all your DSLR assembly can easily be sorted in those 11 internal compartments. On the opposite panel of these compartments, you get padded sleeves for your laptop and tablet.
It is important to mention here that the internal compartments have a thick base and wall, which ensure better shock absorption to protect your delicate gadgets. On the outside, you get side straps, front pockets, and side pockets. All these spaces will be very useful for putting the tripod and stashing the backup memory cards.
Primarily, the Neewer Camera Backpack has a shape of regular carry-on suitcase due to its hard internal compartmentalization. However, this is where this camera bag triumphs over others. Despite having a hard case body, you can carry it on shoulders through a deployable shoulder harness stowed in the back pocket.
Now, you don’t need to worry about how to carry your expensive DSLR setup to rough, uneven terrains and landscapes. Pack it in Neewer Wheeled Backpack and fulfill your dream and passion to the furthest corners of the world.
To ensure lesser bumps on roads and pavements, Neewer has fitted sturdy rollerblade-grade wheels on the backpack and complemented it with a telescoping handle. The length of the handle is long enough to provide you the force arm needed for hassle-free rolling.
No matter how sturdy and mobile the body of a rolling backpack is, if it is not weatherproofed then you will think twice before using it in off-road conditions and natural landscapes. This apprehension increases manifold when an expensive photography setup is in question.
This is the reason why Neewer has taken extra care of the waterproof characteristic of its product. A rain cover also comes with it to provide added protection against water, dust, and dirt.
J World New York Sundance LAPTOP Rolling Backpack is a compact carry-on designed for a range of uses. Whether it’s about carrying all sorts of projects boards and other heavy items to school every day or you want to pack light for a short trip, this 20” bag is pretty nifty. Before we discuss its functional features let’s shed some light on how J World has made its product one of the most stylish and aesthetic rolling backpack on the block.
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The bag comes in a whopping 38 different designs. With all those animated colors and innovative patterns, you can make your traveling more fashionable. This trendiness and vibrancy also seep into the functional features of the bag.
For instance, its carrying handle is not just a linear tube attached with a T-shaped grip. It is a semi-cylindrical tube along with the top handle that bears treads and is shaped in a manner so your hands don’t get all sore even after a long walk. The carrying handle is made of the lightweight corrosion-resistant handle with 3-stage locking so you can pull out the handle to a convenient height.
Similarly, the single shoulder harness of the bag is in wavy S shape that just doesn’t look tasteful but also gets the strain off your shoulder during an extended backpacked stroll. The strap is cushion padded and contains a mesh that also mitigates the load on the shoulder.
With all the impressive exterior features, J World has also made sure that main compartments and secondary pockets can accommodate both schooling and traveling. Apart from the spacious main compartment with a padded laptop sleeve, you also get two side mesh pockets, a key fob, pencil/pen holder and a front zip pocket. And the front pocket is also lined with a reflective zip to keep your nighttime strolls safe.
Lastly, the wheel chassis of J World New York Rolling Backpack is far better than what we usually get in such carriers. Instead of in-line skate wheels, here you get durable rubber tires that offer noise-free motion and give you better control over the movement.
All things considered, J World New York Rolling Backpack is the most aesthetically compact and highly functional product in this category.
Since photographers and travel bloggers usually require a unique combination of a carry-on suitcase and backpack for their equipment, therefore we have added another convertible rolling camera backpack on our list. This camera backpack is offered by Amazon’s subsidiary AmazonBasics.
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Like the earlier discussed camera rolling backpack, this one also contains 11 internal compartments to store the camera and all its different accessories. Moreover, the side pockets are also given so you can stuff all the memory cards and extra lids there. Moreover, straps are given on both sides of the pack so you don’t have to stuff the tripods inside the bag. A front pocket is also given to hold documents, business cards, and other such stuff.
With padded sleeves for a laptop and a tablet inside, you can have your complete video and image equipment inside.
The carry-on size of the bag is compatible with general airplane storage requirements. Now, you don’t need to send your camera gear to a location separately. You can save the money by carrying it in this airplane compatible rolling backpack. The telescoping handle of the bag is also fully retractable. It can collapse down into its hollow frame with a single push so that you can easily put the carry-on backpack in overhead compartments.
No matter how stylish and sturdy your camera carry-on is, unfortunately, it can’ be rolled on a sandy and damp beach where you are going to have your next shoot. Whenever, you find yourself in such intractable terrains, get the shoulders harness out of the back pocket, put the handle back in and carry your equipment in a backpack. And when there are smooth pavements and airport terminals, pull your camera equipment with rollerblade-style sturdy wheels.
For shoots happening amidst natural landscapes, one also needs to factor in the weather conditions for better protection of the expensive equipment. AmazonBasics has also factored in this hazard and thus included an effective rain cover in the deal as well.
This rolling camera backpack is slightly cheaper than the Neewer’s one. Moreover, it is Amazon’s Choice product in the category “rolling camera bag”.
Tilami Rolling Backpack Armor Luggage is another product that is equally good as a school backpack and a light traveling carry-on. With the colors and designs available in this product, it is quite clear that Tilami has designed this rolling backpack for Generation Z. The Technicolor front panels with shoulder harnesses draped in the same visual theme, Tilami Rolling Backpack looks good whether you are rolling it on the roadside or carrying it on your back.
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Even though it’s a compact rolling backpack, but the load capacity of 30 pounds is enough for the traveling spans 2-3 days. This load capacity is distributed in four zipper pockets called main, medium, medium front 1 and medium front 2 pockets. While the main pocket (also contains a laptop sleeve), is ideal for clothing and other large size belongings, the medium and medium front pockets can be used for different traveling accessories.
From small makeup kits to notebooks and passports, many miscellaneous items can easily be sorted in these pockets. There are also two side pockets to put water bottles and snacks.
Apart from these standard elements that you can find in any good traveling/schooling rolling backpack, some features are exclusive to Tilami’s offering. For instance, the base of the rolling backpack is fitted with a Tilami Armor Protection. It is a tough ridged polymer platform that ensures the seams and weaving of the bag fabric doesn’t get frayed on the pavements. Moreover, you also get a unique wheel cover with Tilami Rolling Backpack. This puts a barrier in between the wheels and your back to protect your clothes from the dirt falling off the tires.
Similarly, when carrying it on wheels, you can put the shoulder straps in the concealed pockets to protect them from dirt and dust. The ergonomic T-handle with two-level adjustment ensures you can easily tow up to 30 pounds of weight.
Racini Rolling Backpack is just a perfect combination of both a carry-on suitcase and a conventional backpack. Whether it is an official trip or a meditative journey to the backcountry, you can carry out both of them with Racini Rolling Backpack. It is made of hardwearing nylon that is water and tear-resistant and ideal for both road and off-road use.
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The carry-on assembly of this rolling backpack is perfectly balanced. It includes a retractable telescoping handle that can be adjusted at different lengths as per the pulling height you want. The handle can be stretched to 18 inches of length, providing an optimal moment arm. In other words, you can pull even the heavy load with lesser force. Similarly, the durable PU wheel assembly is fitted in high-clearance chassis ensuring you can easily roll the luggage in airport terminals and all other different urban landscapes.
The storage of Racini Nylon Waterproof Rolling Backpack is diligently designed. The main compartment is deep and spacious and can easily accommodate clothing for a weeklong trip. It also contains a padded pouch for 15” laptops and tablets. Then there is a front pocket that has an organizer to keep your documents and stationery in place. Meanwhile, side pockets come handy in keeping water bottles and snacks.
The transformation from a full-time carry-on to a laptop backpack is pretty convenient and fast. Just slide the carrying handle down. Zip down the back panel and take out the two shoulder straps, adjust the Velcro fastening according to your torso and now you have a handy traveling backpack.
The easily one-touch removable wheels also give you an option to transform it into a complete backpack for an extended period.
The detailed discussion in this piece has made a couple of things clear i.e. rolling backpacks are compatible for all sorts of traveling and suitable for users of all ages. We hope that you can find an ultimate travel bag from the 10 rolling backpacks that we have reviewed here.
Both Carry-on and Backpacks Have Their Shortcomings
Having said that, both backpacks and rolling suitcase have some constraints. While rolling suitcases are not suitable if you have to scale all sorts of pavements, ascents/descents and uneven walkways, you can’t carry a heavy backpack on your shoulders and back for extended hours.
With this dilemma, it’s always difficult for hardcore travelers to pick between the two: rolling luggage that becomes quite a headache on uneven alleyways and pavements or a backpack that you have to carry with all its weight while on the move.
Travel bag and luggage manufacturers have got around this predicament by introducing an option containing the best of both worlds. We are talking about a rolling backpack here. Yes, you have read that right: a backpack with the assembly of the wheels just like any regular carry-on suitcase. A rolling backpack has supreme mobility with the weight management and ergonomics of a carry-on suitcase.
If you have to move with considerable luggage across different destinations and through different means of transportation, then a rolling or wheeled backpack will become a real traveling blessing for you.
Before we delve into discussing and reviewing 10 of the best rolling backpacks available in the market right now, let’s have some discussion on the salient features of a rolling backpack and how to pick and buy a right option for your traveling.
Winning Features of a Rolling Backpack
Rolling backpacks have become all popular among travelers in the last couple of years. While the reason behind their popularity is quite obvious, following are some of the practical features that have made rolling backpacks the first choice of travelers of all sorts.
The Optimal Mobility
Mobility is the main reason why rolling backpacks have been developed in the first place. A rolling backpack has shoulder straps just like any regular backpack. So, whenever, you are tired of dragging your luggage on the roads and terminals. You can put it on your back.
At the outset, this feature doesn’t seem something extraordinary. But if you have traveled with a carry-on suitcase and encountered surfaces that are not asphalt, concrete or other flat, hard surfaces, then you are well-aware of how one yearns for shoulder straps especially when you have to scale rocky, uneven, dirt and sand-laden surfaces.
With a rolling backpack, you get equally good mobility on both hard and soft and regular and off-road conditions.
Manage Weight the Way You Want
Have you ever regretted not having a rolling suitcase in place of a backpack? There are strong chances that you have experienced that while carrying a backpack that is killing your back and amid hard plain surfaces ideal for rolling a carry-on.
With rolling backpacks, you don’t have to regret anything. What ergonomics you want from your luggage and at what instant, you can get it with a rolling backpack.
Better Access to the Luggage
It is one thing to carry luggage and it’s an entirely different thing to conveniently use it from the suitcase or bag. If you have to frequently get into your luggage to bring something, then you would be familiar with how bothersome it becomes with regular hard case rolling suitcases.
In contrast, backpacks with their multiple exterior and side pockets ensure you don’t have to spread your luggage all over the place for a single thing. In a rolling backpack, you get the same better accessibility to your belongings because its exterior is also designed like any regular backpack.
A Versatile Visual Appeal
In general, how your luggage looks factors in a lot in creating your impression and reflecting your personality. With a rolling backpack, you get the aesthetics of both sides of the spectrum. While wearing it on your back, you can create that sporty look associated with tourists and travelers. On the other hand, you can roll it like a suitcase if your trip entails formal engagements.
Buying Guide for Rolling Backpacks
There are several points that you should keep at the forefront while picking a rolling backup to get the best deal. Shopping the best travel bag is a really subjective matter. Everyone will have a different set of parameters to pick the right luggage carrier. Nevertheless, below are some of the characteristics that everyone should factor in.
This is the most important aspect while choosing a rolling backup. Irrespective of who is the manufacturer, the choice of material is the actual indicator of the service life of a rolling backpack or any travel bag for that matter. Since a rolling backpack consists of different components. Therefore, we will also discuss the material selection accordingly.
The Bag: Backpacks usually wear away from the fabric and seams of the bag. So, always consider this first. Always look for nylon, polyester, and Cordura over other materials. These materials can withstand heavy load from their flexible and lightweight body.
While choosing a rolling backpack, make sure that the fabric is not warping on the seams. Similarly, look for the tight weaving of the fabric. This diligence with material selection will help you in picking a rolling backpack that won’t split open while traveling.
Handles/Straps: Make sure they contain foam padding. Otherwise, be ready to have bruised shoulders after carrying a backpack for a long time.
Internal Frame: This is another important place where you need to be careful with the material selection. If your trips usually entail rough traveling and some off-road movement, then always go for aluminum or stamped steel internal frames. Only sturdy internal support can withstand harsh traveling conditions. For light and standard traveling, you can also go with plastic frames.
Wheels: Without wheels, a rolling backpack is just like any other backpack. If you don’t want to get your wheeled backpack to lose this distinctive characteristics feature in the middle of traveling and touring, then pick an option fitted with hardwearing polyurethane tires. Polyurethane is a plastic variant that is designed to withstand all the wear and tear coming from unfriendly rolling surfaces.
Whether it’s a trip to the backcountry or a visit to another city for fulfilling any professional commitment, the idea is always to keep your luggage light. Therefore, always prefer a lightweight option. But keep in mind that the weight of a rolling backpack can’t’ override the features that we have discussed in the material section.
For instance, you can’t put down a backpack with a stamped steel frame just because it’s a bit heavy particularly if your voyage includes some rough weather conditions. Weight can only be factored in if you are choosing from the same material.
The Size and Volume of the Bag
Now, this is also a crucial factor while choosing the right rolling backpack. Many people get carried away when they find a bigger backpack in the same price as any small variant. Although backpacks usually come with compress strapping feature, buying a bigger backpack just because of its volume and without factoring in your traveling needs is not the right call.
If your trips usually end in 4-5 days then any rolling backpack in between 35 and 50L will easily fulfill your needs. Similarly, you can easily manage a weeklong trip in any bag with the volume of 50-70L. Backpacks bigger than 70L are suitable if you are going for longer trips and have to pack clothing for cold weather.
In general, we won’t recommend you backpacks that are in the range of 70 and 100L. In most of the cases, they will only cause inconvenience during traveling and accommodation.