Backpack vs suitcase… Which is better to travel with?

The debated travelling conundrum – backpack or suitcase? The one you choose should depend on the trip and what you’re looking for in a bag. In this article we list the significant advantages to each type of luggage.

Backpack vs suitcase


Versatile organisation

With backpacks, there are many versatile pockets that can be used for all sorts of different things. My backpack has a bottom pocket for its inbuilt rain cover, and there are lots of small and hidden pockets that can be used for valuables.

In fact everything – from power adapters to toiletries – can have their own spot with a backpack.

Suitcases have less pockets, and therefore, less organisation.

Better mobility

I can still run, climb and crouch with a backpack – nothing can replace it in the mobility department. If there are just five minutes left before a bus departs, I’d definitely choose to be stuck with a backpack rather than a suitcase.

With dragging a suitcase around, you can’t whiz through an airport or a crowd of people quite so well without tripping people over – not good! Hauling a suitcase up and down the stairs isn’t ideal either; stairs are not a suitcase’s best friend.

Complex itineraries

Tying in with the mobility issue, suitcases can be annoying to lug around all the time when you could just simply throw a backpack on and get going.

If I know I’m going to be staying in one place for a while, I’m likely to go with a suitcase instead of a backpack, but if I’m bouncing from hostel to hostel, the simplicity of a backpack is much preferred. Also consider this – suitcases are better suited for travelling when the road is paved and you won’t want to be wheeling it over grass and gravel.

Weight distribution

With a backpack, the weight is dispersed evenly on the left and right sides of your body. But with a suitcase, you have to choose to drag it with your left or right hand. Carrying a backpack also forces you to have a better posture, assuming you’re relatively fit.

Part of the adventure

Most backpacks aren’t built with camping and intense multi-day treks in mind. Travelers often think they need a bigger-capacity backpack when really, they don’t.

Backpacks were built to be optimal for adventure. You can’t go wrong with choosing a backpack if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking.


Better protection

Backpacks do provide protection. But hey, if you go all out and get a hard case, you’ll feel like you can really throw it around. Though I’m not going to start testing out a sledgehammer on my suitcase anytime soon, it can definitely sustain more wear and tear than my backpack.

Small boxes and packages tend to get bent out of shape in a backpack; this happens less often with a suitcase.

Weight relief

If you suffer with back problems, a suitcase might be more suitable. Unlike a backpack, the weight distribution of a suitcase is spread down your body and relegated at your feet. This can slow your mobility down, but it relieves a lot of pressure off your back. Just make sure you swap the hand that’s pulling/carrying the suitcase often (if possible).

Better access

One of the biggest complaints about backpacks is that you can only easily access the items at the top, while everything at the bottom is harder to reach. In comparison, you can get your hands on everything with a suitcase as it has lie-flat access. While there are some backpacks that are designed to allow you to access all of your belongings, there are very few of these products available to do this.

Travelling for work

Obviously this depends on the work that you do, but suitcases are much more suitable for formal engagements. I’ve carried smart clothes in a backpack and with this I’m always worrying about wrinkling clothes I pressed the night before. Suitcases are much better at transporting your pressed clothes.


When picking between a backpack and a suitcase, really think about your travel plan. If you’re planning a three month adventure through Asia or even a holiday where you’ll be walking long distances to get to your accommodation, a backpack is definitely the most suitable option. It’s easy to carry and super handy if you’re taking lots of bus journeys, and though it may drive you crazy how hard it is to keep things folded, you’ll learn to love it.

For all other circumstances, a suitcase is usually the one. Having more space, a suitcase is the right travel companion to keep your belongings safe and more organised. They can be easier to store and ideal if you’re worried about any of your items being damaged during your travels.


Still undecided? Why not go for our RockHoppa roll-up travel bag?


Suitable for both men and women, this bag is perfect for weekend travel, camping, festivals and more. Pack it, roll it up and carry it with the handle or shoulder strap!

It’s ideal for those that don’t like unpacking – unroll it on the bed to take out what you need, then roll it back up, or unroll it and hang it up – both provide easy access to your stuff!