Rolling Backpacks - San Francisco,CA

Updated on July 09, 2013
M.F. asks from San Francisco, CA
22 answers

I know this question came up in the past but I am looking for more recent advice.
My daughter will be starting 4th grade and we are looking into getting her a rolling backpack.
There is no issue with stairs at school so I think she will be able to easily maneuver it. I do think we need one as I really don't want her to carry heavy backpack from all the books and etc.
I have looked at many places and looks like they are pricey (saw some between $80-100) so I would like to get one that has good recommendations. If you have experience with rolling backpacks, would love to hear your recommendations.
Also, we have the following limitations for rolling backpacks:
They have to fit in a locker and therefore can’t be more than 20 inches high and 13 across.

Thanks a lot

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So What Happened?

Just to clarify, the school does allow it and the measurements/limitations came from school. I also hear that there are quite a few kids with such backpacks and that is why she is asking for it.

Featured Answers



answers from Honolulu on

LL Bean.
Lifetime warranty.
They replace it for free.
My kids have it.
Since Kindergarten. And my kids are now going to be in 2nd grade and 6th grade.
It is STILL good as new and never broken.
It is WORTH the price.

The dimensions you gave, are the same as my daughter's rolling backpack from LL Bean. AND it is also within the TSA guidelines for "carry on" luggage on a plane.

All you do is go to the website and read the dimension/description of the backpack. They always give the size/dimensions of the backpack on online stores.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

They are heavy and they don't fit in the lockers.
Try LLBean and Lands End for the best backpacks.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I would check with the school and see how many books, etc she will be bringing home. My oldest never had any books he brought home. Maybe 1 at a time and that was few and far between. Our schools use online textbooks and other methods in lieu of books. It may not be necessary for the rolling backpack.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You seem to be sold on the idea already, but if you're willing to entertain some thoughts from a parent of a just-finished-sixth grader, here goes:

First, entering fourth grade, she should not have so much stuff on a daily basis that she needs a rolling backpack -- if you are concerned that she'll have to haul textbooks back and forth, don't be. Most schools now either use online textbooks, send printed ones home to stay there for the entire year, or use them in the classroom only. She likely will not be carrying as many books as you think she will. In fact, I've noticed that kids who have huge, heavy backpacks often are just hauling a ton of graded papers, notebooks, library books they should have turned in weeks ago, etc. -- in other words, good organization and regular clear-outs would mean they didn't have to carry so much each day. If she is organized and you help her develop good habits of removing library books to keep at home, giving you her old papers, etc., that lightens her load and teaches her organization at the same time.

Second, have you checked if the school has any policy that forbids rolling backpacks? Some schools ban them for a number of reasons, including size and safety (I can't tell you how many times I've watched kids stumble over other kids' rolling packs because kids are looking up as they walk -- which they should do! -- and don't see the floor-level backpack in their path; I've tripped over these things myself.). Be sure that it's OK to have these. And just because you've seen some kids with them does not mean the school approves. Our elementary school allowed them, but our school for next year does not -- largely because they do not fit in the lockers and next year the kids have lockers for the first time.

Third, have you had her really try these and see how heavy they are? She is going to have to lift it into a locker each day (especially if the locker is on top of another locker) and these things can be pretty heavy when empty -- imagine adding stuff to their empty weight. If she tries them in a store, she should load them up to see what it would really be like to heft one around.

Fourth -- 13 inches wide? That's very narrow indeed. You might be finding ones that are 13 inches wide, but if fully packed, how deep from front to back is the backpack? You give dimensions for height and width, but the loaded backpack might need to be in the locker at times, and will it really fit front to back, not just in width and height?

As you can tell, I'm not a fan of these things. A good-quality backpack with good, padded straps, loaded properly (heaviest items closest to the child's back) and regularly cleared out, carrying nothing but what's really needed, and most of all worn properly so it doesn't injure the kid's back -- that's what I'd recommend. But if you are sold on the rolling pack, be sure it's not going to be so heavy when loaded that it's a pain, and be sure the school permits it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Have you asked your daughter what she wants? I ask this because none of my kids would ever want one because no one uses them except the nerdy kids who's parents make them. My kids are the nerdy kids so that is saying a lot that they wouldn't want them.

I also wonder why you think there is a need. My kids brought home two subjects top each day. It isn't like college where everything goes with you.

I guess I see them as very unnecessary until college and then apparently they still aren't cool. So I would recommend not getting one.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

They Are Heavy When They Have To Be Carried. Most Kids Dont Manuveur Them Well Down Hallways. They Have To Be Carries When Weather Is Bad Such As Pouring Rain Or Snow Either Will Get BotOm Wet And Items At Bottom Are Ruined. We Had One And Got Rid Of it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Backpacks are not allowed at our schools. They are allowed "drawstring bags" and everything else that is not used for class goes in their desk or in a locker.

Rolling backpacks - HURT when you have to carry them...those metal posts don't have a lot of padding.

If your daughter has a locker? Get her a drawstring - like this -

And save her the hassle of pulling it, storing it, etc.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My nephew used one when he was in 4th or 5th grade (about 6 or 7 years ago) and he hated it. I don't remember what he didn't like about it, but I picked him up from school and I remember he was always complaining about his backpack and wanting a regular one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

I think she should carry a backpack like all of us did when we were kids. I'm in college and see some poeple with roling backpacks and I think it is extremely lazy. Unless there is some medical reason she needs to not carry a few pounds, I say go with a normal backpack. After all, we turned out fine after hauling our books around and so did generations before us....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Double check with the school - many do not allow rolling backpacks because they don't fit in lockers (although you seem to have addressed that issue) and they clog the aisles and hallways (creating falling hazards and exit hazards should there be a fire). Even if they permit them, they don't love them because they don't hang on a hook or even on the back of the chair like a standard backpack. If she's going to be taking the school bus, double check with them as well -- huge problems with blocking the aisle and going up and down the steps safely.

Also verify the number of textbooks she will actually have - none of the 4th and 5th graders in our area have that kind of book load. Schools use on line resources, or keep books in the desk, or at home. A lot of schools even structure the homework so that kids don't need the texts for every subject on the same night.

I agree that a lot of kids carry stuff they don't need. So really try to see if it's what she needs. You might also consult with your family doctor or chiropractor - a lot of medical people don't like the fact that kids are half-twisted to one side to pull a rolling backpack and find it causes more injuries than carrying heavy loads in a balanced load on the back.

My son used a good quality backpack that lasted year after year. I think we got one from LL Bean that was awesome. Quite a few had an outside belt for attaching a lunchbox (so it didn't have to get shoved inside with the books) and a few stretch pockets for a water bottle (we used the stainless steel ones which held up better, could be refilled, and didn't use any plastic with the problems those entail). With the rolling ones, you have to look at the quality of the zipper and seams (if you are planning for her to carry huge loads) and also the quality of the wheels - once one of those jams, you're looking at a big expense. You might look into the backpack or rolling duffle piece of a good luggage set (to withstand air travel), not just things marketed to school kids.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I understand why you/she would want one. Our son was in 4th last year and his backpack was soooo heavy, but having the extra weight of a rolling backpack for him to lift in and out of the van would have made matters worse.

We had them a couple years ago. After a couple months the kids wanted the regular kind. The rolling bp's were too heavy and cumbersome when getting in and out of the car and too difficult to pull down busy hallways.

Land's End and LL Bean make good backpacks.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Be sure you check with the school itself first. I'd be very surprised if you can find one that will fit in the size locker you listed. VERY surprised.

And when my daughter had a rolling backpack (in 2nd grade, when she didn't have to contain it in a locker) she complained about it all the time. They add extra weight and bulk when you add wheels and handle and the mechanics to make them function. Even though you figure that that is compensated for by the fact that your kid can roll the thing rather than strap it on their back, the fact is, that they still have to handle it, move it, open it, close it, get it in/out of the car or on/off the bus. And the added bulk and weight makes those things more difficult. It also makes the bag less flexible, so it does NOT fit just anywhere you can toss it in the car.

In my experience, totally not worth it. Just look at it this way--there is no point in it being a "backpack" (they will never wear the thing)... just call it what it is: a rolling suitcase. With the added weight and bulk that that implies.
ETA: I certainly endorse/recommend any backpack from LLBean. My kids have backpacks from them (also from Land's End, and those are great value as well). But LLBean only shows 2 rolling backpacks, and both are 14 inches wide. Too wide for your requirements. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

My main question: Does SHE want one?

My daughter wanted one at one time also, but as soon as she got in school, she changed her mind rather quickly because hardly anyone else had one. Turns out they are quite cumbersome and not easy to get in the lockers. And they're a pain in the butt in a crowded hallway full of kids trying to get out of the classrooms, to their lockers and then race out to the buses!!

As for the backpack being heavy, I totally get that! Just be sure to instruct your daughter to ALWAYS use both straps to even out the weight. It really does make a difference!!

Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Just a thought: ask the school if they're allowed. My son's schools (2 last year because of a move) did not have stairs or steps, but did not allow the rolling backpacks...dunno why. Check before investing in one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Be sure your school allows them. Our district does not. I guess they cause 100 kid pileups in a crowded dimly lit hallway full of distracted kids in a terrific hurry.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Like others have mentioned, check to make sure the school allows them. I would also make sure your kiddo will actually USE this back pack. I taught middle school and I know many parents were frustrated with kids because they would spend money on this and that and the kids wouldn't use it because they didn't want to be "different". Just some food for thought. No sense in spending $100 on something your daughter may not use.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I can honestly say that the kids that I have had contact with that use backpacks like this have always been teased and made fun of. They look like they are nerds so the kids take advantage of this situation and are relentless.

Everyone of the kids that had them came to my center after school in tears and they'd beg their parents to get them a different one as soon as possible.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I don't think many text books travel home every day.. as more stuff is on worksheets and computer.

I wouldn't get one.

lands end and llbean make great backpacks of all types..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My son had an LLBean on from first thru fifth,,,and it came in real handy in 5th with all the homework he had...however, it did not fit in his locker and with the exception of his 3rd grade teacher (who eventually had to deal w/it because i was not in a position financially to go arouind buying backpacks to please her--sorry for my rant) our school was fine w/it...btw: I don't remember dimensions of either the backpack or the lockers. Now that he's in middle school, he's using a a regular one that has to fit in the locker...yes, another llbean

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Definitely double check--our school doesn't allow them at all!

If she's allowed O., spend the money for a good O. at LL Bean or Lands End. Should last a few years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Just to clarify, the school does allow it and the measurements/limitations came from school. I also hear that there are quite a few kids with such backpacks and that is why she is asking for it.



answers from New York on

How about an old fashioned book strap! Stretchy rubber strap and then they carry them! This way no need for "luggage" at school and all the worrying about heavy backpacks will be a thing of the past.

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