Results from an ice cream novelties taste-off involving three budget brands and two higher-priced brands.
Rolling Backpacks Features
Rolling Backpacks Fabric.The body of a backpack is usually made of some type of polyester. The apparel industry scales fabrics by the weight of their fibers; the measure is called "denier." Fabrics with a higher denier are heavier and thicker and tend to be more durable, a prized quality in a product meant to hold a lot of weight and undergo a fair amount of knocking about.
Adults' and kids' rolling backpacks come in a variety of designs and colors. School children can choose among special kids' rolling backpacks that feature popular cartoon characters, such as Pokémon or The Little Mermaid, and among colors such as sky blue, purple, pink, orange, and camouflage. Then there is Bag Republic, which offers the Clear Backpack with Wheels (made from clear PVC, and starting at $28). This kids' rolling backpack so thrilled one youngster, according to a mom posting on Amazon, that he wanted two. Adults may have to settle for the standard red, navy, grey, or black when choosing a cheap wheeled backpack unless their inner child starts screaming for attention. An outlay of another $15 or so opens the door to a wider assortment of styles, colors, and patterns but lifts you out of the cheap wheeled backpack niche.
Wheeled Backpacks Zippers.One of the most critical components in any type of luggage, but one that's often overlooked, is the zipper. Think about it -- you won't get very far with a wheeled backpack that won't zip. Luggage experts at Howtoadvice.com stress the importance of choosing a backpack or piece of luggage with self-repairing zippers, which have the ability to repair themselves even when a bag is overstuffed. Traditional metal zippers may buckle under the strain, but a self-repairing zipper is made of synthetic components that can accommodate the stress, with teeth that can be realigned by pulling on the zipper tab. Both the CalPak Awestruck and Olympia 18-inch are equipped with self-repairing zippers.
Wheeled Backpacks Handles.The handle used to cart around a rolling backpack should retract and open easily and lock into the open or closed position. Some cheap wheeled backpacks come with a single-rod handle and others feature a double rod. One is not necessarily better than the other -- user preference should be the guide. For example, the Travelers Club Metropolitan Rolling Backpack has a single-rod telescoping handle and the CalPak Awestruck has a double-rod retractable handle; both get excellent user reviews.
Pay attention to the length of the handle. A handle that's too short could trip you up at your heels; one that's too long could be difficult to control. Few adults' or kids' wheeled backpacks specify handle length, but user reviews occasionally provide guidance. Better yet, test out the rolling backpack at a store.
Rolling Backpacks Wheels.The handle alone won't get you very far, so this is where the wheels come in. They should roll and glide smoothly, and for this task, in-line skate wheels are the best choice. In-line skate wheels have become the standard on most rolling luggage, including rolling backpacks. All the rolling backpacks we researched feature in-line skate wheels.
Wheeled Backpacks Straps.Although wheeled backpacks are intended to roll from place to place, there are no doubt times when you must carry your load. Kids' rolling backpacks should come with a shoulder strap and/or traditional backpack straps; most models include the latter. The Port Authority wheeled backpack, for example, offers two carrying options: the handle on top lets you carry the bag as a briefcase and the double straps put you in backpack mode. For extra comfort, look for padding in the shoulder area to cushion some of the weight. The Travelers Club Metropolitan, the CalPak Awestruck, and the Olympia 18-inch all feature padded backpack straps; the Travelers Club Metropolitan also has a padded carrying handle at the top. Back to top »
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