Rolling Carry-On Backpacks: We Love the Osprey Meridian 60L, But There Are Alternatives

For travelling light with both wheels and backpack straps, and ready for city pavements, metro staircases, back roads, anything...

In front of the Gare de Lyon in Paris with our favorite wheeled carry-on backpack.
Heading to catch a train in Paris with our favorite wheeled carry-on backpack and its detachable daypack.

It rolls! But it’s a backpackers’ pack! And it’s also small enough to be a carry-on!

This combination of features is what I’ve found absolutely ideal for my nomadism; I’ve travelled constantly with one small rolling backpack or another for the past decade.

I have also been updating this article for several years as we try out different wheeled backpacks. Aside from our testing, we analyze brand reliability results from consumer testing organizations across Europe and North America, and we continuously read about others’ experiences on travel blogs in a variety of languages.

At this point there’s one rolling backpack carry-on that’s by far our top choice. It’s a bit pricey, but worth it we think — though we also have a few cheaper recommendations further down on this page.

Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L Wheeled Luggage

In our travels the Osprey Meridian 60L/22 has come out on top as the best rolling carry-on backpack. In a nutshell, this piece is:

  • Lightweight but solid, and has held up well over the years
  • Comfortable to carry as a backpack, and the wheels (which is what we mostly use) glide over rough terrain without issue
  • The detachable daypack is small enough to be a personal item on a flight, but full-featured and roomy enough to carry a large laptop and other essentials
  • Unless you really overstuff it, this Meridian meets carry-on restrictions for the vast majority of airlines in Europe and the Americas

Check prices on Amazon

Table of Contents

Update history of this article

Originally published: June 24, 2016. Updated March 28, 2017: Information on the new version of the Meridian and the models from Granite Gear and Eagle Creek has been updated. Updated April 30, 2017: Eagle Creek options updated. They are coming in very close to the Osprey options, but we still prefer Osprey. Updated May 31, 2017: Added Lowe Alpine option and minor updates. Updated July 24, 2017: REI option not available. Updated Aug. 4, 2017: Minor changes to introduction. Updated August 18, 2017: Added Thule information. Updated Sept. 5, 2017: Info on Meridian hip strap. Updated Feb. 6, 2018: Minor fixes, added word “rolling”. Updated July 11, 2018: Added updated information throughout, changed some recommendations, and added more photos. Updated Nov. 14, 2018: The Osprey Ozone Convertible is discontinued but still available at this check. Updated May 24, 2019: Our snazzy new main recommendation, plus overhaul of the whole damn article.

My History: Why I Came to Travel with Only a Rolling Carry-On Backpack

My first extended backpacking trips were around South America and I carried a traditional pack on my back. As I continued to move through the world I switched for a time to large suitcases, which would get quickly destroyed by bumpy streets in São Paulo and aggressive baggage handlers in Chicago and Paris. I replaced a few.

Like most frequent travellers, I eventually whittled things down to start travelling as lightly as possible, and reached that nirvana of travelling with only a carry-on.

And from there, finding the perfect carry-on backpack with both backpack straps and wheels was gravy. Now I could hop off a French train, roll my small bag through the station, and then jump onto a borrowed city bike with my belongings on my back.

Here’s my first rolling backpack carry-on: a boxy, unbranded piece that I picked up in Paris. I loved the convenience of both straps and wheels, but it was uncomfortable to carry, pieces broke, and the handle was prone to sticking.

I later upgraded to the (generally no longer available) Osprey Ozone Convertible 50L / 22in. Here I am waiting for a train in Spain with the daypack on my back. In terms of features it’s about the same as the Meridian that we now use and recommend, but it was a bit smaller and more prone to tipping.

The Osprey Meridian 60  has been the culmination of this series of upgrades in my travel bliss; the daypack allows me to always have a few key travel essentials on hand and the main piece is smooth-rolling and can also pop on my back with the pull-out straps when need be.

Why limit yourself to a carry-on?

If you’ve got more than a carry-on, you’re humping around more stuff than you need, and the quality of your actual experiences is going to suffer. That’s the whole point of our minimalist perspective on this site. Do you want to come home with memories, or have space for junky souvenirs you’ll never use? Do you want to spend extra time figuring out what to do with a big bag, or be able to change directions at the drop of a hat?

That said, if for whatever reason you really think you must travel with larger checked luggage, skip the present article and head over to our coverage of the best options for full-size wheeled travel packs (hint: we like the larger Osprey Meridian 70 pretty well too).

Why wheels? Does that destroy my backpacker cred?

The wheel is not an invention to be ignored, dear backpackers! Wheeled luggage keeps your back from getting hot/tired; if you have them, you’ll use them 90 percent of the time. Save your travel energy for going out dancing, hiking, sightseeing, and the rest, not hefting around your belongings.

Why backpack straps?

For those moments when you need the flexibility of being able to pop your load up onto your back, quality backpack straps are a lifesaver. They’re particularly useful when you encounter lots of stairs in a city metro, when you’re off the pavement in the wilderness, when you want to hop on a bike for a moment, when it’s raining and the streets are full of puddles…. We don’t use them all that often, but we’re sure glad to have them when we do.

The Very Best Rolling Carry-On Backpack: The Osprey Meridian 60L/22

Osprey Meridian 60 side view when used as backpack

We’ve used the Osprey Packs Meridian 60L/22 for more than a year of world travel as of this most recent update of this article, so we’re even better placed now to recommend it and describe a few of our minor complaints as well. Overall, we still haven’t found better than this on the smaller end of rolling backpacks for travel.

The Advantages of the Osprey Meridian 60

The Meridian is the only carry-on out there right now that meets all of our most key criteria: durability, wheels, backpack straps, a daypack, and being comfortable to carry, roll, and pack.

The Key Feature: A Great Detachable Daypack

The Osprey Meridian 60s daypack carries a few essentials for us as we climbed the pyramids of Teotihuacán in Mexico.

A good daypack is essential for travel; you’ll actually use it more than your main luggage piece as you carry lunch and water through green landscapes, bumble around in a new city with a few essentials, take a laptop to work in a café or coworking space, or even pack a change of clothes for a short overnight trip. So you want your daypack to be a good one, and the Meridian’s daypack excels.

  • The Osprey Meridian daypack has a mesh panel that elevates the actual pack contents just slightly away from your back, and provides a bit of air and springy comfort. Lovely for this hot day in Mexico.

    A mesh backpanel holds the daypack’s contents slightly away from your back, providing ventilation. This doesn’t do miracles on a hot day, but it does let a little air in between your back and the daypack, which keeps you from having huge sweaty marks down the back of your shirt.

  • A sternum strap helps center the weight and take some of it off of your shoulders.
  • The padded laptop sleeve can fit 15″ and even most 17″ laptops and second portable screens and securely protect them. There is also a smaller tablet pocket that is ideal for a Kindle, old-fashioned book, or super-protected spot for a passport and other documents.

    The Osprey Meridian 60’s daypack loaded with a laptop, second screen, headphones, and an umbrella.
  • The main compartment is roomy enough that the Meridian daypack can hold quite a bit of stuff, but yet it’s not so big that we’ve ever had it questioned when using it as a personal item on flights.
  • The top zippered pocket is ideal for things you need quick access to, such as sunglasses, a phone, etc. It has a special heat-embossed coating to avoid scratching such items. It also perfectly fits the Osprey Ultralight Zip Organizer that is one of our favorite toiletry bags. There is a convenient key fob for carrying a set of keys and keeping them easy to find so you don’t have to root around in the bottom of the bag.
  • The closed and loaded bag; exterior water bottle pockets can also make a good spot for an umbrella

    There are two outer stretchy pockets that work well for water bottles, a sandwich, banana or other snack, or a collapsible umbrella. For many critics of other luggage this is a very appreciated feature of daypacks but one that is also a key stress point; often the poor-quality mesh material of the water bottle pockets on backpacks is the first thing to fall apart. On the Meridian daypack, these pockets are made from very durable yet light solid and stretchy nylon material. They show no signs of wear on our daypack yet, and we’re certainly not expecting them to give out the way such mesh pockets do.

  • The daypack snaps into place quickly and securely on the main pack via three sturdy buckles.

Offering a detachable daypack seems obvious, but many of the other rolling backpacks that we review later in this article simply lack this feature. And yes, you can just buy one separately (we cover a full range of daypacks here) but we think it’s far better to have a daypack that attaches to and detaches from your main piece of luggage. This allows you to roll all of your stuff as one unit, as well as leave the main piece and unclip the daypack with your essentials when that’s all you need.

Osprey Meridian 60 used as a carry-on plus personal item while boarding a plane. My camera must have gone a bit fisheye here; the daypack is smaller and the main pack larger than they might appear in this picture.

Aside from the convenient carry options, the detachability of the daypack has also proved wonderful at times for getting through different airline carry-on restrictions:

  • If the airline allows a personal item, you can use the daypack as your personal item and more fully stuff both it and the main carry-on if needed.
  • If the airline does not allow a personal item, you can attach the daypack to the main Meridian piece and voilà, you have only a single carry-on. Just be careful not to overstuff the pack and exceed the dimensions for that particular airline.
  • If an airline then decides it wants to gate-check your carry-on at boarding, you can detach the daypack with your valuable essentials and laptop and keep it with you while allowing the airline to gate-check your main carry-on. (One airline worker in France was very surprised and impressed when he saw me doing this.)
We rolled the Osprey Meridian 60 down some rough roads in small-town Mexico. The large sturdy wheels and excellent clearance make it possible to roll on roads where other luggage would have to be carried. In this case we separated the daypack in order to spare some of our electronics a bumpy ride.

How the Osprey Meridian 60 Rolls: Large Wheels, Excellent Clearance

The main bag has slightly oversized wheels are set into the frame on sealed bearings. These are not flimsy plastic wheels that will pop off the first time the bag hits a conveyor belt, nor are they the controversial “spinner wheels” (pro: you can push your carry-on ahead of you, and supposedly turn easier; con: they take up more space, and break off easily). This means that as with any convertible carry-on you’re simply going to pull this behind you.

The Osprey is particularly notable for the higher clearance of its wheel housing, so you can pull it over bumpier paths with no problem. The handle can be locked at two different heights for comfort. The double pull bar provides some stability.

This is the same “highroad chassis” that Osprey uses for the Meridian 60 and a number of its other rolling packs: the wheels are firmly housed and protected but yet there is excellent clearance for rougher paths. In this picture an Osprey Ozone’s wheels are shown after a couple of years of heavy round-the-world use. The wheels have some scratches and dirt, but still roll as smoothly as day one. Note that there are no marks on the high-clearance base — an area that generally suffers a lot of damage with other roller bags.

How it Carries: Comfortable Shoulder, Sternum, and Hip Straps

The main bag’s backpack function includes shoulder and sternum straps that can be quickly revealed when you need them and tucked away into a zippered compartment when you don’t. You can also remove them entirely if you feel they won’t be necessary for a particular trip, and use the back panel for other storage.

Both sternum straps, on the daypack and on the main pack, feature a safety whistle that is integrated into the buckle. It’s clever and works fine but in my book is less effective than yelling loudly.

Sternum strap and safety whistle on the Meridian 60

Note that these straps are thinner than those of a standard backpackers pack and there is no hip belt. A previous version of the Meridian did have a hip belt, but Osprey removed it in 2016 as they apparently found that when people have good wheels, they’re not likely to carry the load as a backpack for long distances, but rather just for the occasional stretch of off-road or stairs.

Sojourn 45L from $519.67
If you do plan on mainly using the piece as a backpack, we’d recommend going with something else that does have a hip belt, such as the Sojourn 45L, which we compare to the Meridian 60 here.

Easy-Access Pockets

The main bag, like the daybag, has a heat-embossed easy-access top pocket for those things that you will need to get to quickly without opening your luggage. The sleeve on the back of the piece for the shoulder straps can also be used to stash things separately from the main compartment, such as wet/dirty clothes.

The Osprey Meridian 60 Fits as a Carry-On — For Most Airlines

We’ve used the this piece around the world and fit carry-on limits. We’ve found that as long as you don’t overstuff it you’re within major airlines’ limits, and as mentioned above the daypack can be either attached or carried as a personal item depending on the airline’s rules.

Any backpack’s stated dimensions are going to be a bit squishy just like the pack itself; even hard luggage is pretty complicated to measure, as Consumer Reports found when using lasers to do so. You can do your own checking, as airline size requirements for carry-ons vary within the USA as well as abroad.

Note that now some airlines, including especially some budget airlines, have been reducing the allowed sizes of their carry-ons. If you get the cheapest fare on Polish budget airline Wizzair, for example, you can only carry a bag much smaller than the standard carry-on; it must fit under the seat in front of you. If I’m going on a short trip on such an airline I take only the Osprey daypack and if it’s part of a longer journey I’ll pay extra to have a standard-sized carry-on.

The Osprey Meridian is also small enough to fit in the overhead bins on our much-preferred modes of transport: buses and trains. For example, you can use it with the carry-on only basic ticket for the French budget train Ouigo.

The Meridian 60 main piece on an overhead bin in land transport.

Other Features of the Osprey Meridian 60

  • Light, sturdy frame: The aluminum frame is key to both the sturdiness and lightness of this piece.
  • Internal and external compression straps: If you go a bit too wild with your packing and need to cinch your luggage down, there are straps for this purpose both inside the main compartment and outside the bag.
  • Lightweight: The main bag by itself weighs 8 lbs (4 kg) with the daypack. The materials are 1680D ballistic nylon and 420D nylon mini check dobby. These are very sturdy but lightweight fabrics; cheaper bags generally use less-durably rated grades of nylon material.
  • Tucked-away handles: The “low-profile” handles stay out of the way when not needed, so that they don’t catch on things as you pass. They are very well padded.

A Few Drawbacks — But They Don’t Hold Us Back

  • Cost: The Osprey Meridian 60 is not exactly cheap, even taking into account that we expect it to hold up for decades. We cover some cheaper options below as well that could be good alternatives if you don’t travel often and are gentle with your luggage.
  • Difficult to clip on daypack if the main pack is full: If you overstuff the main pack and then try to clip on the filled daypack you may have issues, it would be nicer if there was some flexibility with these buckles. It can be smarter to attach the daypack first in this case, or else just carry the daypack on your back and roll the main, overstuffed bag.

Durability: A Pack for Life

Our current update of this article is after a year of heavy travel and the Meridian 60 has held up brilliantly, with no defects, noticeable wear, or broken pieces. The same has been our experience with Osprey pieces in general over several years. They’re expensive, but you can expect them to last a lifetime.

We’re not the only ones to like Osprey. This Meridian itself and the brand in general get great raves from bloggers, consumer reviews, and online travel magazines. For travel writers who cover luggage, the Osprey line is at or near the top of the list. They report that particularly Osprey’s zippers, handles and wheels in sealed bearings stand up to heavy use.In fact, thus far we have yet to find an overall negative travel blogger or press review of an Osprey Ozone piece. The Meridian 60 itself gets similarly high marks from reviewers who have actually used it over a long period.

In our research for this article we also consulted results from consumer testing organizations in Europe (Which?, Que Choisir,  60 Millions) and America (Consumer Reports), which, although do do not cover this particular subcategory of carry-on, do offer pointers in terms of quality, rolling design, and durability, as well as some limited specific brand testing insight. Backpacker sites and forums tend to disdain wheels, although they are at least starting to catch on with some.

Add to these experience’s Osprey’s “All Mighty” Guarantee (“any reason, any product, any era”), which puts it among the top few luggage manufacturers in standing by its work. If a handle, buckle, zipper, whatever breaks on the road, you can get it repaired and sent back to you free of charge, and if they can’t fix it they’ll replace the bag. You pay only to send it in. If you’re on the road, just contact the international customer service center closest to you. Importantly, travelers have reported in that Osprey actually follows up on this promise, quickly, without fuss, and for free. We’ve never had reason to contact Osprey’s warranty department ourselves.

A Video: Opening up the Osprey Meridian 60L/22

Here’s a promotional video of the piece being opened up and turned about in all of its glory.

Similar Osprey Rolling Packs

Osprey offers similar features and quality construction on a range of packs with slightly differing sizes and features. So if you’re interested in the Meridian 60 but want something just slightly different, there are options.

  • Osprey Ozone Wheeled Global Carry-On 38L, Wheeled Carry-On 42L, and Wheeled Luggage 75L:  These share some features of the Meridian 60, but are lighter weight and only roll. They lack backpack straps and have no detachable daypack, though you can attach a separately purchased daypack via a tow strap. They are the best super-lightweight pieces at each of their sizes that are still made of durable materials, and have practical organizational pockets. The Global Carry-On 38L is marketed to be better for some European airlines, though carry-on sizes there vary too so there’s still no one sure solution for carry-on sizes. But with its smaller dimensions this will be the surest bet for check-ins compared to any other rolling Osprey option.
  • The Sojourn 45L is more geared towards backpackers than the Meridian 60 (full comparison here), and lacks an included daypack (though you could buy one separately  and attach it). It’s more comfortable than the Meridian 60 to be worn on your back for long stretches, due to its ventilated suspension.
  • The Osprey Ozone 50L is discontinued though you may see it used at Amazon or on Ebay. It used to be or main pick. It had basically the same features as the Meridian 60L but was a bit lighter and slightly narrower; the drawback was that it was slightly more prone to tipping over when the daypack was completely full and attached to the main piece.

Other Rolling Carry-On Backpacks

If you’re looking for something simpler, slightly different features or styling, or want to spend less, there there are a few other options worth considering. We try to look at every single quality option out there; let us know in the comments if you feel that something important is missing.

High Quality but Not Quite the Right Features: Eagle Creek Wheeled Backpack Carry-Ons

Eagle Creek Expanse International Carry-on Luggage, Black

We find that Eagle Creek’s convertible rolling cabin bags come in at a very close second to Osprey’s. Eagle Creek has a solid reputation for durability and tops the list for luggage brand satisfaction in surveys by consumer organizations. Also, like Osprey, Eagle Creek offers a solid lifetime warranty and has repair centers around the world. If something goes wrong you pay to get the bag to a repair center, and they take care of the rest.

There are a number of Eagle Creek bags worth considering with nearly exactly the same options as found in the Osprey Ozone lines. But in spite of the general high quality, none of them had quite the right combination of features, plus some complain that Eagle Creek’s big puffy carry-ons’ handles stick out too much and at just the wrong height, catching on plane armrests when rolling down an aisle (Osprey Ozone’s handles are certainly more out of the way when not in use).

Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible International Carry-On: This is the latest entry from Eagle Creek, and the non-Osprey option that comes closest to being a bag that we would buy. As with everything from Eagle Creek, the overall quality and durability is excellent. We ran a full comparison of it against our main pick and our main gripe was Eagle Creek’s lack of a detachable daypack, which is so useful for travelling or getting past security with a single carry-on, but then having a daypack to zip off and take out for the day.

The Eagle Creek Switchback International Carry-On can still be found from some retailers. It has pretty much the same features as our top pick. It has rather comfortable backpack straps and a hip belt for when you want it on your back, plus high clearance wheels for rolling over cobblestones and other rough terrain. The daypack can attach to the front straps, and it has a laptop sleeve.

People who use this piece and review it have loved it. But when available it generally costs much more than our main pick, so thanks to that and a few other complaints from customers, bloggers, and reviewers (tips over too easy, protruding handles…) this piece still isn’t what we’d go for unless it becomes available at a major discount.

The bag weighs 6 lbs. 8 oz. (2.95 kg.) and measures 14 x 21.5 x 8 in. (36 x 55 x 20 cm.)

Eagle Creek DoubleBack Carry-OnWe kind of like it that this piece’s daybag quickly snaps onto the main bag, but other than that we find the offered range of features a bit weird. The daybag has a hydration pouch but no laptop sleeve, whereas the main bag is actually much less suitable for outdoorsy use than the above Eagle Creek Switchback International. Here’s our full comparison of the two. But to be brief, this one isn’t going to be ideal for most people.

The Eagle Creek DoubleBack Carry-On gets good rankings from customers and from various bloggers. The key stress areas are reinforced with hypalon (a synthetic rubber) and the relatively large wheels are set into a durable, protected housing.

The shoulder, sternum, and hip straps, along with the padding to protect your back, are located on the front of the piece (not on the side with the wheels). This is opposite the design of the Osprey piece, and some reviewers found this a bit clumsy or at least weird-looking. On the other hand, this ensures that what is naturally the softest part of your bag is against your back. You can completely remove the straps if you think you won’t be using them and you want more room (you’ll then have a padded pocket for a laptop).

The louder style (in certain color options) can be off-putting for some tastes; on the other hand it stands out on a luggage carousel.

The Eagle Creek Flip Switch Wheeled Backpack weighs 6 lbs 7 oz (2.9 kg) and measures 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 36 x 23 cm). There is also a bigger 28″ version for those not concerned with carry-on sizing.

Eagle Creek Lync System: The trick with these convertible pieces is that the wheel housing detaches and can be stored separately, as do the straps. In theory, you can then decide which you want to use for a particular trip. In actual fact, this doesn’t save you much space or weight and you’re likely going to want both backpack straps and wheels; that, at least, is our whole premise with this article, born of years on the road.

At last check these bags were not widely available, but you can check for the Eagle Creek Lync 20 inch,  22-inch, and 29-inch versions.

Not Really a Carry-On: The Granite Gear Cross-Trek Wheeled “Carry-On” with Removable 28L Pack

The Granite Gear Cross-Trek Wheeled Carry-On is a solid, well-constructed carry-on bag at a better price than our main pick. Reviewers found it to be durably built with heavy duty zippers, and solidly built wheels.

However, its detachable daypack is quite a bit bigger than the Osprey Ozone’s, which may be convenient for those wanting to travel heavier, but could also raise issues if carried as a personal bag on some airlines. And put together the daypack+mainbag combo is too big to be considered a carry-on. You could carry the detachable day bag inside the main bag if necessary on a flight, but that doesn’t allow much space for your actual stuff.

Many familiar features are there: compression straps, a variety of interior organizational pockets (including a laptop sleeve) and two water-bottle side pockets. Some reviewers complained that it took too long to zip the daypack onto the main pack.

The backpack has shoulder, sternum, and hip straps. The entire piece weighs 9 lbs 11 oz (4.4 kg). If you don’t mind the extra weight and the oversized daypack, this can be a suitable alternative to our main pick — and it’s certainly cheaper. It may even be preferable for those willing to check a bag or those travelling only by ground, and travel a bit heavier.

There is also a “duffel” version of this bag that lacks the daypack.

Cheaper: The High Sierra AT7 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack

The simple and affordable High Sierra AT7 has wheels, backpack straps, and a detachable daybag.

In general customer and travel blogger reviews have been positive on its design, but the build quality is hardly at the level of Osprey or Eagle Creek. There are complaints about the wheels being set at different heights as well as breaking easily and about the quality of the zippers. It can be difficult to get the two bags attached together, and they don’t have a lot of organizational pockets.

All that said, it’s much cheaper than our main pick and could be acceptable if you don’t travel often.

There is a smaller, simpler “computer” version without the daypack that is more intended for students with too many books. But see also our reviews of the best rolling laptop bags.

With Spinner Wheels: The Samsonite Luggage MVS Spinner Backpack

If you really want spinner wheels for some reason, or a smaller and much cheaper piece, the MVS Spinner is an option.

We don’t recommend spinner wheels as they break off more easily and don’t serve much of a purpose, particularly with smaller carry-ons that you will never end up pushing in front of you.

Samsonite luggage has been generally reasonably well-rated by consumer organizations for its durability (and the British organization liked some of its apparently more rugged hard luggage), but this piece has gotten a number of negative comments for the durability of its wheels and handle.

There are similar problems that would steer us away from buying the Samsonite Tectonic 21″ Wheeled Backpack.

A School Option: The High Sierra Ultimate Access 2.0 Carry-on Wheeled Backpack

The High Sierra Ultimate Access 2.0 Carry-On is really more meant for carrying heavy textbooks than for intense travel; if you’re considering this also check our recommendations for kids’ rolling backpacks, which are better for rolling small loads on a daily basis.

For this High Sierra bag, reviewers on Amazon and other shopping sites were generally satisfied, but there were occasional complaints about the quality of the zippers and straps. But reviewers have complained about the durability and comfort of other High Sierra luggage pieces.

There is a mesh side pocket as well as a laptop sleeve, although some have complained that the lack of padding may put a laptop at risk.

As with our main pick, the backpack straps can be hidden behind a zippered panel when not in use. There isn’t a hip belt or sternum strap, nor is there padding on the back, so this bag will be less comfortable if you have to pop it on your back for a significant amount of time — but if you’re limiting your travels to developed city spaces you’ll mainly just use the wheels anyway.

The wheels are of a less sturdy construction but set into the bag in such a way that they will likely not pop off under duress. The clearance is lower, so you may have more problem on bumpy roads.

This piece measures 9 x 22 x 13.5 inches (22.9 x 55.9 x 34.3 cm) and weighs 6.9 lbs (3.13 kg). It replaces the High Sierra Overpass, which is no longer available.

From REI: REI Stratocruiser Wheeled Backpack 22″

At last check this piece was no longer available at REI (though you can check via this link). It had come in at a similar pricing to our main pick and was generally wellliked by bloggers and customers for its durability, although they did complain about a few of its design features. The Stratocruiser’s daypack clipped easily onto the back of the main bag (instead of the front as with the Osprey Ozone above), which meant a thief could easily make off with it without you noticing. For balance, it is preferable to be able to clip the daypack onto the front.

Others have reported zipper problems and the main bag oddly lacks a hip belt, although that could be OK if you’re not going to use it as a backpack too often.

REI often offers its own store-brand versions of luggage and packs, but hasn’t come back with a newer answer to the rolling backpack for the moment.

Indestructible, Hard, but Less Comfortable and Over-Sized: The Thule Crossover 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On

The Thule Crossover 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On is likely the most indestructible piece we’ve considered here. Water-resistant fabrics are stretched over a durable frame and hard back panel; the piece’s various reviewers (some of whom have used it for years) say that it holds up to anything.

But they also all cite different problems with the design. They fault a lack of padding for the laptop pocket and a hard-plastic sunglasses pocket that takes up too much interior space. At 23.2 x 15.4 x 9.1 inches (58.9 x 39.1 x 23.1 cm), it’s also just a bit too tall for some airline carry-on requirements.

Our chief complaint is the lack of an integrated zip-on daypack; there’s a strap to attach a smaller bag but it’s likely to bounce around and get in the way when you’re rolling the piece as there is no way to firmly secure it.

Also, while the straps pull out on the front (softer) part of the bag there’s no sternum strap or hip strap, nor is there back-contoured padding as with the Osprey options. The straps are OK to use for a moment but would not be comfortable for a longer jaunt about town. We think that for the price, most people will be happier with our main pick.

All that said, the reviewers as well as customers at Amazon are generally happy with this piece. It holds up great over time (and has a lifetime warranty — Thule even reimburses for the shipping back to them) and the wheels are durably housed. There is a separator for dirty and clean clothes. While not the lightest piece on this page, it weighs in at 7.7 pounds. Most people quite like the distinctive design, and we’d agree that it’s a classy-looking piece.

You can check prices for the Thule Crossover 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On at Amazon and eBags.com.

Cabin Max Lyon Flight Approved Bag Wheeled Carry-on Luggage-Backpack

We don’t recommend this bag as customers have reported too many quality issues with the wheels, zippers, and even the fabric.

The Cabin Max marketing text mainly emphasizes as a bag that is “guaranteed” to fit carry-on requirements, which is all a bit silly.

Jansport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack

These bags are quite a bit smaller than carry-on size at 19 x 13 x 8 inches (48.3 x 33 x 20.3 cm), and more intended for those lugging books to and from the library. We think they’re great, but see our recommendations for rolling laptop bags and kids’ rolling bags for more.

Kipling Alcatraz II Wheeled Backpack with Laptop Protection

The small, overpriced Kipling Alcatraz II Wheeled Backpack has a stuffed monkey hanging off its side. If this appeals to you, we would recommend that you buy one of the more useful and rugged options (reviewers complained about this piece’s durability after any serious use), and then buy a small stuffed monkey separately to affix to it.

Discontinued? Lowe Alpine AT Roll-On 40 (22″) Rolling Pack

Lowe Alpine was so well-known for comfortable and durable technical packs for backpackers, and used to have a combo wheeled/backpack Lowe Alpine AT Roll-On 40. Strangely, it wasn’t that comfortable to carry, but anyway it’s been discontinued.

ECBC Pegasus Convertible Laptop Bag

The expensive and gimmicky ECBC Pegasus got a lot of press when it came out by including a USB device-charging pocket, which seems convenient until you realize that you can buy great pocket USB batteries separately for under $10 (and we definitely recommend owning one of those). This bag’s other trick is that it can zip fully open exposing its laptop pocket in such a way that supposedly airport security won’t make you put your device in a separate bin — but personally we wouldn’t want to risk having a laptop on the top outer flap of a bag. Reviewers also complained that this compartment isn’t well padded and doesn’t hold the laptop firmly in place.

This piece has tons of pockets for gadgets and that leaves less space for clothing etc. The reviewers cited above weighed it at 9 lbs (not the advertised 7 lbs/3.2 kg), making it much heavier than our recommended bags. They also felt that it was quite sturdy and would hold up to abuse. Amazon customers have generally been quite happy with their purchase. It does not seem that this company has been around for long and we have not been able to find any online reports of how well it follows through on its products’ lifetime warranty. It also does not have a detachable daypack. We think you’re much better off with the more feature-rich, lighter and more established main pick above.

Prices have now come down quite a bit from the $400 initial price, but we still wouldn’t buy this bag. There are two other versions out there that we also don’t particularly recommend: the ECBC Sparrow, which is even heavier and includes a garment component for suits but no backpack straps, and the ECBC Falcon, which is more of a wheeled duffle and also available in larger sizes.

Wrap-Up: The Best Rolling Backpack for Most Travellers

Osprey Packs Meridian 22 in/60L
The Osprey Meridian 60 is our preferred backpack/rolling carry-on combo for our world wanderings. It’s holding up well to a lot of abuse and is the most full-featured piece we’ve found. The detachable daypack in particular is excellent.

 

We love to hear about your experiences with these and other rolling carry-on backpacks in the comments.

15 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Emilie
    March 20, 2019
    Reply

    Heart = broken. After much too much time scouring the internet for the Ozone, I can’t find it anywhere, in any size… except one for $570 from Japan! Amazon is out. Can’t even find it on eBay.

    What I can’t understand is why Osprey would discontinue this pack. It’s 2lbs lighter than the Meridian, which is a lot for those of us with bad backs who end up packing our bags to the T. Maybe because they can charge more for it? So lame!

    • Mose
      March 20, 2019
      Reply

      I’m not sure what country you’re in so it’s hard to help; checking just now, the Osprey Ozone Convertible is still available from Amazon at our links above for the USA; it has long not been available in Europe. It sounds, though, like you might prefer to travel with a bit more space? I’d go for a larger rolling backpack like the Meridian 75 in your shoes; because of your back you’ll roll it most of the time but it has comfortable straps when needed.

  2. Avatar
    Nathan dev
    February 6, 2019
    Reply

    Quite an informative blog.

  3. Avatar
    Mello
    September 5, 2017
    Reply

    I have been considering the Meridian for a few months now for an upcoming trip to Japan..but I can’t seem to find one to try on anywhere where I live (Ottawa, Canada). I am also a little confused…I see in some sites advertise the Meridian with a hip strap and in other sites it does not have one. I really want a hip strap…can anyone let me know for sure if the Meridian has a hip belt.

    • mose
      September 5, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Mello, the new version (as of 2016) of the Osprey Meridian 22 does not have a hip strap, and can be purchased here in Canada.
      It sounds like you want a hip strap so the Osprey Ozone 22 would be better for you; it is slightly lighter to carry on your back, has basically the same features as the Meridian, and has the hip strap. Here’s the link for the Ozone in Canada.
      Amazon.ca offers free shipping and has a good return policy so you can return it if you change your mind.

  4. Avatar
    Darin
    April 22, 2017
    Reply

    I’ve been searching for a wheeled convertible backpack with a detachable daypack for a while. I am glad to have found this article with reviews. Aside from the lack of a daypack and the weird placement of the backpack straps, the Eagle Creek Flip Switch Wheeled Backpack 22 mentioned here is no longer available on the manufacturers website. There are, however, two other bags offered by Eagle Creek that are much more comparable to Osprey’s Ozone 22″ Convertible:

    The Eagle Creek DoubleBack™ Carry-On: http://shop.eaglecreek.com/doubleback-carryon/d/1510C1522?CategoryId=115

    The Eagle Creek Switchback™ International Carry-On: http://shop.eaglecreek.com/switchback-international-carryon/d/1584C3555?CategoryId=115

    For me it is now a choice between the Osprey Ozone and the Eagle Creek Switchback.

    • mose
      April 30, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Darin, checking just now, the Flip Switch is available at Eagle Creek. Your suggestions about the Eagle Creek Switchback International and the DoubleBack are excellent, however, and we should have covered those earlier. We now have a full comparison of the two and we’ve also completely updated the Eagle Creek section of this page. Thanks for your careful comments and happy travels!

  5. Avatar
    Mitch
    March 26, 2017
    Reply

    Why not like the Eagle Creek Lync Series system? Their 20 inch is a true International carry on, unlike the flip switch or even the Ospey 22 inch you highlight.

    • mose
      March 28, 2017
      Reply

      We considered the Eagle Creek Lync 20 inch and 22-inch just a bit too weird—when is it really necessary to be able to remove your wheels? You’re going to want them at some point on any trip, so why take them off? And more importantly, they lack a daypack. Eagle Creek makes good backpacks and we think the Eagle Creek Flip Switch is a better option if you don’t need a daypack.
      We have not had any problems on international flights (including intra-Europe flights on budget airlines) with the Osprey and Eagle Creek carry-on options we highlight, nor have others reported problems.

      • Avatar
        Mark
        April 20, 2017
        Reply

        If you’re going somewhere where you won’t use the wheels such as on a day hike you’d remove the wheels (well if it wasn’t such a hassle to re-install, which is the real complaint with the Lync bags).
        However, if as I do you own a separate daypack just use it instead and leave the roller at the lodging. You mention you can buy the usb separate but neglect to mention you can buy a good daypack for $20 that while not in use can be stuffed into your main bag.

        • mose
          April 20, 2017
          Reply

          Personally, I wouldn’t want to take off the wheels and carry my entire bag with me on a day hike; that’s what daybags are for.
          Great point about buying daypacks separately (we discuss that further here). If you want to go that route, the Osprey Ozone 22″ plus the Osprey Ozone Adult Day Pack make a fine couple and are built to hook together. But note that it’s nice to be able to fully zip your packs together (especially when you have to fly on airlines that don’t allow a “personal item” in addition to your carry-on). Thus our recommendation at the top of this page.

  6. Avatar
    March 24, 2017
    Reply

    The confusion with the Granite Gear Cross Trek is that there are two models with the nearly the same name.

    One the doesn’t have a dayback, and weird front-backpack straps, seen here:
    http://www.ebags.com/product/granite-gear/cross-trek-22-wheeled-carry-on-duffel/283779?productid=10335540

    and another that does have a dayback, and normal back-backpack straps (identical to the Osprey Ozone convertible concept, but not quite as polished), seen here:
    http://www.ebags.com/product/granite-gear/cross-trek-wheeled-carry-on-with-removable-28l-pack/283781?productid=10335544

    Seems like even the sellers are confused, not just reviewers.

    Also, the article should really note that the latest version of the Osprey Meridian (the one currently being sold in shops) is significantly different than the one most of reviewers raved about.

    • mose
      March 28, 2017
      Reply

      We didn’t originally mention the duffel version of this bag since it lacks a daypack, which we find essential. But sure, why not, for completeness. We have now added the duffel to the text above.
      As for the Meridian, there was a — we’d call it minor — update in 2016 that improved ventilation of the daypack and streamlined the harness design. This is also now noted above. We don’t think this takes away from the design of the piece at all, if anything it’s now even more appealing.
      Thanks for your careful comments!

  7. Avatar
    TNM
    November 23, 2016
    Reply

    These are great overviews! Wish I had stumbled upon this page during my two days of researching wheeled carry-on backpacks. You mentioned that the main bag of the Granite Gear Cross Trek backpack cannot be worn on a backpack, but I noticed in the video here that you can – you just need to unzip the back:

    http://luggagebase.com/product/11907/Granite-Gear-Cross-Trek-22%22-Wheeled-Carry-On-Upright-with-Removable-28L-Pack.html

    • mose
      March 28, 2017
      Reply

      Yes, this was misstated in an earlier version of this article. This has now been clarified in the text above; thanks for your comment! The Granite Gear Cross Trek Wheeled-Carry-On is a decent bag at a great price, but with the daypack attached it is too big to be accepted as a carry-on — so not our top choice.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *