Tag Archives: samsonite

Wheeled Backpacks

Soliciting some advice:

For years I’ve had two bags, both of which I use as carry ons. I hate checking luggage, (mostly because I don’t care to wait at baggage claims,) plus I travel light. For weekend trips I have my Timbuk2 messenger bag, and for longer stays I add my medium size REI backpack. The backpack goes in the overhead bin. My messenger bag, with books, snacks, and HP Mini laptop goes under the seat.

This has worked out great for the past seven years, until Memorial Day weekend when I arrived at the airport extremely early in attempts to catch a standby flight to Chicago. Unfortunately due to a single canceled flight there was no availability on the other 10 flights, (yes 10 – thought I had a chance,) so I wound up leaving at 3pm as originally planned. That made for nine hours of gate hopping between reading, napping, and watching these birds, stuck inside Concourse B like myself, drink out of this water fountain. And nine hours of schlepping around my heavy backpack. Denver isn’t the worst airport to wait around in. The upper level in the center of concourse B is uncrowded with comfy chairs and some free semi-private cubicles to plug into to surf or work. But still, I was bored and because I was traveling solo couldn’t go anywhere without my gear.

Everyone on the planet has wheeled suitcases. I even see professionals walking down city streets diligently towing them like a pokey child. But these are usually firm and have a hard frame. Thus I’ve seen way too many people fruitlessly trying to cram them into overhead bins while rearranging and shoveling around other peoples’ stuff. Plus, when you step out of the airport and into the world of cobbled sidewalks, curbs, and streets – they aren’t that functional.

I thought “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a wheeled suitcase that was also collapsible, like a backpack?” Or if it was pliable and not limited the the restraints of overhead bins, taxi cab trunks, etc.

Turns out they make wheeled backpacks. I had no idea these existed until I was at the Apple store in Cherry Creek and noticed a Samsonite store across the way. I explained this is to the salesman and he showed me the Samsonite “Wander” – for about $85. It’s everything I want, AND – you can use it as a regular backpack too. It’s pictured left. I searched online and also found the Timbuk2 “Checkpoint,” (right,) which retails for around $250. This however does not have backpack straps. Also on my list is the Jansport “Driver 8,” which is not as aesthetically pleasing but looks functional nonetheless.

So – has anyone used these or have recommendations for similar styles and designs? Love to hear.

edit – 6.14 Here’s a photo of the backpacks two of my regular and appreciated commenters suggest:

Anil of FoxNomad.com suggests the “Swiss Army E-Motion” – pictured left. Right is the “Switchback” by Eagle Creek, personally recommended by 2Wheels3Speeds.

I posted the rear photo of the “Switchback,” as it has the lumber strap found in most regular backpacks. It appears the “E-Motion has this too. The Samsonsite “Wander” did not have that, making it feel a bit clunky when transitioning to a regular backpack. My thanks to both suggestions. I’m going to try and track them both down here in Denver to try on and check the size in person.

Update: Wheeled backpack winner