Travel gear review: wheeled backpacks for trekkers a work in progress

Roller luggage is no longer just for business travel. These suitcases will glide through airports, then turn into luggage you can wear. Don’t expect them to be perfect for hiking rough terrain, though

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 March, 2016, 12:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 March, 2016, 12:43pm

Thule Crossover Carry-on 22”

Though lightweight and with large, stable wheels and a tough telescopic handle that’s balanced even on speedy corners, this 38-litre capacity bag (HK$2,720, thule.com) is made of strong stuff. On the front of a rigid exterior is a padded laptop sleeve, while the side has a useful SafeZone for stowing sunglasses.

WATCH Thule’s introduction to the bag

Measuring 56cm x 39cm x 21cm and weighing 3.5kg when empty, this roller luggage’s ace card is two straps that unfurl from the top and need to be manually attached at the bottom. However, wearing it is comfortable only for short periods, and it looks like what it is: a suitcase tied to your back. It’s handy for short walks over rough ground, but this is no substitute for a day sack.

READ MORE: Seven packable trekking poles to make your hike a full-body workout

Eagle Creek EC Lync

Finding one bag for both business and pleasure is near impossible, which is why the EC Lync (HK$1,980, eaglecreek.com) has taken a structural approach. After you’ve wheeled the bag to your hotel, you’re then free to deconstruct it.

WATCH How the EC Lync system works

The frame, handle and wheel all come off to reveal the straps on a particularly tough backpack core, which front-opens like a suitcase. However, it’s more pleasure-orientated than the Thule; it is softer, there are more pockets, and there’s no laptop sleeve (though a small zipped compartment at the rear can take an iPad). It stores 36 litres, measures 36cm x 51cm x 20cm, and weighs 1.98kg. The best choice for a city tour or day trip.

READ MORE – Travel light: 6 pocket-sized superzoom cameras, and an alternative

Osprey Ozone 36 Convertible

Perfect if you want to travel as light as possible, this two-in-one from Osprey (HK$1,515, ospreypacks.com.hk) also offers 36 litres capacity, but in a slimmer, though slightly taller, design than the Eagle Creek. Measuring 49cm x 35cm x24cm and weighing 2.16kg, the Ozone 36 Convertible has some nice traveller touches; a lockable zip, a dedicated pocket for liquids, and a section full of small pockets for a toothbrush, coins, gadgets and a passport.

A zip reveals the backpack straps, and the storage area is also accessed from the front, but its frame cannot be dismantled. Like the other two cases tested here, it also lacks a side mesh pocket for carrying a water bottle, which is a shame.