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How to Add Wheels to a Backpack

Updated on July 14, 2010

The Wheels On the Backpack Go...

In an evacuation situation, it may be to your advantage to add a little mobility to your emergency backpack, particularly during a long trek. With that being the exception, there aren’t a whole lot of practical reasons to add wheels to a backpack. However, being concerned with what’s practical isn’t always the answer. You may just be a quirky individual who has a backpack that you really dig the look of, and you want to make it a bit more mobile in airport shuffling. Perhaps you just crave that extra awkward attention only achieved by wheeling your glittery backpack around in the cafeteria. Regardless of your motives, it’s a simple enough project for nearly anyone to tackle. Here’s how it’s done.

Taking It To The Extreme

This guy took the idea and ran with it
This guy took the idea and ran with it

The How-To

You’ll need the following items:

  • Obviously, the backpack.
  • Pick up some casters from an office or hardware store. They’re cheap, durable, and probably the easiest to work with. You’ll either want two big ones of four small ones, which also depends on the size of the backpack.
  • Find a high speed power drill,set of pliers or a socket wrench for the bolts, a nail punch, a hammer, a pen or pencil and a Sharpie.
  • A sturdy junk piece of wood.
  • Get yourself a flat hard surface with an area slightly smaller than the base of your backpack. This can be wood, plastic, steel, aluminum...whatever look you prefer
  • You’ll also need a grommet tools with grommets to make holes in the fabric that will last (sounds like an oxymoron).

How to do it

  1. Line up the casters on the flat surface that you picked out, outline the surface and the holes with your pen for drilling. Unless you enjoy the challenge of travelling unbalanced, you’ll want to install the wheels close to the perimeter or the surface. You’ll also want to add a few more holes in the middle of the surface, as well as the corners around the casters in order to fasten it securely to the fabric.
  2. Drill your holes accordingly. If you’re drilling through thin metal, you’ll probably want to use a pilot bit half the size of the final hole to get it started.
  3. Line up the freshly drilled surface with the bottom of the backpack, and mark the outline of the holes on the fabric.
  4. Place your sturdy piece of wood on the the underside/opposite side of the backpack forming a hard surface, and, using your hammer, drive the nail punch into the fabric. These are the holes you will use for grommeting.
  5. Use your grommet kit to install the grommets on the holes that you’ve just added.
  6. Now use the bolts to install the casters, and secure the platform to the bag. The grommets that you just installed in the fabric will help prevent it from tearing over time.

Now you have yourself a genuine, homemade backpack with wheels on it. It can help you save your energy during an emergency, or simply make your individuality shine through. Whatever the case, you got to use a power drill!


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      4 years ago

      Thank you for an interesting adaptation to a backpack.

      Folks will need to consider the terrain they will be crossing.

      If you will be on the edge of a roadway without sidewalks or on a dirt/gravel path then you need to use wheels that are sturdier than standard household/office casters. Also you may wish to keep in the pack a repair kit for the casters. I use a collapsible pull cart to carry my bag in when I go from my car to my workplace. I line the cart with a large trash bag to keep out any rain or snow and I am still using it after I lost/damaged the two front casters.


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