Backpack v Suitcase on wheels!!

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1. Posted by BeckyR (Full Member 174 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

Hallo . . .

I am travelling really light, and although I have not "backpacked" before I have done lots of travelling using public transport and planes, and I have always taken my "air hostess" type suitcase on wheels . . . I know I am a sad "30 somthing" who like's her battered but reliable suitcase on wheels . . . .

However the more I read the more I see the advice is take a backpack!

So straw-poll please on "backpack versus suitcase"

And if you recommend the former, any advise on internal framed packs which are slightly larger than day packs

Thanks, B

2. Posted by Peter (Admin 6794 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

We're taking a small carry on type suitcase on wheels and a larger duffel on wheels on our upcoming rtw trip :) If we need more space, we'll buy bags as we go or send things home. You know there is a compromise though -- a backpack on wheels! My vote is wheels whatever the case, carrying things becomes a real drag after a while - even if it is well fitted.

3. Posted by nieck (Full Member 24 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

hi there,

well, can't really comment on a RTW-trip, but i used a small wheel-kinda-thing this last summer/fall when i was traveling up and down within germany for about 10 weeks. it became a real pain in the "you-know-what-i'm-talking-about" getting this thing into the trains and dragging it thru the crowded cars. if you have a bagpack to fit everything into and you travel light anyways then take it! i also had the problem that the wheels of that bag partially went on strike when it started to rain and stuff that was laying on the street became wet and jammed the wheels. i will only take it again if i HAVE to. a wheel-bag also gives more the impression of being a "tourist" rather than being a "traveler".
but in the end: everything will work, somehow. if money is an issue dont buy a fancy USD 200 backpack, take whatever you have and spend the money on something essential.
hope i could help. greetz and have lots of fun!! nils

4. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I think it largely depends on how long you are going to be staying in the different places while travelling. If you are going to travel to Australia and then rent an apartment for 6 months and do a little travelling on the way home, I might go with the suitcase option.

However, if you are planning to really tour and need to move your luggage nearly every day for a while nothing is going to beat a backpack. Especially if you are talking about areas that are sandy, rainy and so on. Nothing is more frustrating than a suitcase on wheels when you can't use the wheels as the handles for carrying are usually very lousy.

If you are travelling light like you say, I would go for a backpack. There are very good ones in all price ranges and quite a few depending on build (male/female being the most obvious)....

That's my opinion anyway



5. Posted by ZazuToo (Full Member 27 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I agree with most of the other comments. I've traveled (not RTW, of course) with both and found a backpack much more versitile. If you really pack light, and the pack fits you well, the weight is almost always tolerable. And you hands are free as well so you can carry the souvenier bag!

My pack was under $100 at a major sporting goods store, and my daughter bought a very nice pack that would serve well for RTW travel with an internal frame and all sorts of upgrades for less than $200. With the same stuff inside, hers feels way lighter on my back.

I only use my suitcase on wheels for short trips to cities where I won't have to move my bag much.


6. Posted by DevonTom (Full Member 20 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I'd go with a backpack's just easier! Especially going up stairs or over rough ground. Wheeled packs don't excel in such situations.

As for which one to buy, it depends on where you're going, and how light you're prepared to travel.

In terms of the size of pack, bear in mind you'll probably come back with more than you left with, taking into account souvenirs etc. For general backpacking, I think 65 litres tends to be a rough average.

The key things for me were:

That it had a rain cover (going to S E Asia in the monsoon season).
Rain covers of different sizes can be bought seperately, but some packs have them built into zipped pockets at the top or bottom for easy access/storage. Some are removable and replaceable in case it gets filthy/ripped. (eg. vango sherpa range upwards)

Try them on, preferably with a load in...all decent packs come with adjustable back systems, but you might find one make just fits you better over another...

Some come with side compression straps to compress the pack when there's less in it to stop things moving around, can be useful for balance etc. If you compress packs enough you might even get away with it being allowed onto a plane as hand luggage.

The amount of padding that comes into direct contact with the back differs with the design and make...If you're going somewhere really hot it's an idea to find a back system that allows plenty of airlow, unless you want highly attractive sweat marks running from your neck to bum! The decent Lowe Alpine packs seemed very good in this respect, but none had an integral rain cover, and were quite pricey, so I gave up on them. I eventually settled for a Vango Sherpa 60+10.

But that was just me, identify the things you want or need, and go from there.

Good luck! ;)


7. Posted by alias (First Time Poster 1 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I only take a suitcase to places that I do not have to move around a lot.Or when I have to stay put in one place throughout the trip.Otherwise, I prefer backpack for the following reasons:

1. when you feel that your safety is questionable and you need
to get away from the very place you are in as soon as possible;

2. you look more of a person who posesses more money than backpackers on the shoe-string budget;

3. you get on and off the transportations or even a camel's back much more easily.

I used to have a Karrimoor,now old and spolit out of an airline's mishandling.Now, I used China made Meixing which was so cheap when I bought,and it came in my favourite black and pastel peach with functional pockets to boot.

8. Posted by samanthah (Budding Member 10 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

in theory i think the backpack is the better idea. However, if like me, you are quite weak(!) then definitely a suitcase on wheels. Mine is very tiny, yet deceptively spacious and very easy to manoeuvre. The other problem that I have with backpacks is that it's so much harder to live out of them. If you have a suitcase, you can open it and see everything, but with a backpack you have to really pack bags within bags within bags, and it takes so much longer to get stuff, and everything gets more creased! really, it depends on the holiday. trekking in the wilderness then yes backpack..anywhere with any concrete- suitcase on wheels!!
have fun choosing...

9. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

For me, definitely a Backpack. Preferably a small-ish one. Internal frame is a matter of persoanl comfort to you and your travel circumstances/styles. BUT - regardless of whatever the conscensus here, always go with what you most comfortable/at ease with. If that's your old battered wheelie, a normal rucksack or even a supply of black bin liners or a cardboard box (have done both - don't ask, long story, although the bin bag use is strangely effective), so be it. But it has to be what works best for you personally.


10. Posted by aimsuk (Full Member 112 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I would definately go with a backpack... make sure it fits well and you just have to remember you are twice as wide when you turn round quickly(I've had a few close shaves in shops etc!). Also pack heavy stuff on top...dunno how it works, but it appears lighter to carry