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2 wheels, 4 wheels, soft, hard or just hoist it on your back?

So there have been literally hundreds of posts about carry on luggage. Let’s do one more.
Who would you rather be behind in a crowded airport?

Am I the only one sick of tripping over those two-wheeled things in crowded airports? Or self-conscience enough not to want to be the one doing the tripping of others? Oh and think about that plane aisle …… no contest.

Then let’s not even get into the image of the two wheeled bag with the personal item slung over the handle. The sheer weight on the arm makes the bag stretch even further back.

Need we discuss the two-wheeled bag falling over all the time?

But the two-wheel bag is a solid half pound lighter than a spinner and you got to carry it up stairs at the RS hotel with no elevator (is there even a hotel he uses these days with no elevator)! But its not! Well at least not for me because I fly an airline with a 8kg weight limit no matter how many wheels. I have discovered that it makes so little difference that this year I switched to a superlight hard shell spinner. I just moved the heavy stuff to the personal item and the capacity of the somewhat heavier hard sided spinner is more than adequate.

But the half pound means more clothes in the bag! Again, for me (and I suppose I am unique) between the spinner and the personal item (with no weight limit), if that’s not enough room I should be checking a bag. Otherwise, the sheer joy of walking with my bag beside me, no weight on my arm more than makes up for any argument to the contrary.

Why the hard shell? Well, first if I buy things they are a tad less likely to get broken. But more important I got tired of digging to the bottom of a soft bag at every stop. The hard sided bags are clam shell, meaning half your clothes are in each half of the bag. Half the digging at each stop. And I don’t need all those outside pockets. They just hang up on the other luggage when you push it in or pull it out of the overhead compartment. And what good are those pockets? You put the stuff you need to access in the personal item. Heck, get a small cross body pouch for the true essentials and pre-load it before you go through security with all you jewelry and watches and wallet and ….. and you can breeze through security. Wait! That’s two personal items!! Save a bit of space in your larger personal item to stow the cross body pouch if anyone objects.

Now, when I was a tad younger, the RS Back Door bag was the bag of choice. But alas, these days I am happier with the weight on the wheels and not on my back.

And please, get the right size. I am also tired of people who cant measure 21 x 9 x 14 (or 15) and cram the luggage space with what should have been checked.

Rant Over

Oh, why the rant? I had to help a young lady in the airport the other day. She had a two wheeled carry on and a personal item. I am guessing maybe 35 pounds total. Because of the length of her arms it was stretched out at least four feet behind her. I got involved because she couldn't deal with the weight on the long walk. I suspect her arm was carrying 25 pounds of the total weight. I could help because it is possible to push a spinner and pull hers at the same time. Something to remember if you have carryon and you check a bag. Trying to pull two bags with two wheels is difficult at best (for you and everyone around you.

Posted by
1441 posts

An unsung benefit of a soft-sided backpack is that it can form-fit to some degree into the precious overhead bin.

Posted by
16560 posts

Yup, the young lady in question at the end of my post; her 9" dimension was every bit of 12" but I do suspect you are correct that others could smash hers to size when they attempt to store their luggage.

But seriously, you are correct. My personal item is a good example. While legal for the airline i fly, I do know i can smash it down to a few inches smaller if necessary to fit under the seat.

Posted by
6452 posts

Where can I buy one of those hooks shown in the 2nd photo to drag my 2-wheel suitcase like a tail and have my hands free? LOL! It looks like an easy way for a pick pocket to run with the whole suitcase.

Back on topic, maybe it helps that I’m tall, so my suitcase is not extended nearly as far behind me. And I’ve never asked for help placing my suitcase overhead in the plane. The type of suitcase that makes me worry is when someone is rotating their body (in a plane, metro escalator, etc.) and not realizing that their backpack is making a larger circular swath behind them.

Posted by
2347 posts

thanks for sharing, James - a friend of mine got a light hardshell spinner (Away, i think) and when I first saw it I thought he had gone nuts, so hearing from you changes my estimation (of him, not you. maybe /s)

You've mentioned this thing with stuff compacting at the bottom of soft bags before, and I have found this not to be a big deal because I use a folderpacker and one or two cubes, and with either the RS convertible carryon or the eBags weekender jr I still have room to put my personal item inside on the way out, making getting through security a breeze, and then on the way back when I have added souvenirs, i just loosen the tie-downs a little more. So long as I continue to feel comfy hefting the backpack, that's the way I'm packing.

In the airport and on the plane I like to act as though I was someone who likes people, because that famously was Kurt Vonnegut's advice (“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ) So helping people with their stuff or dodging stuff that has gotten loose is part of the fun, I decide to decide.

Posted by
16560 posts

avirosemail, your last comment is beautiful. G-d bless you.

Jean, back packs worn in crowds are my second complaint after tripping over rolling carryon.

Posted by
14132 posts

back packs worn in crowds are my second complaint after tripping over rolling carryon.

To quote the great philosopher Meat Loaf..."you took the words right out of my mouth."

I switched to a spinner three years ago and haven't looked back. It was fine on rough pavements and cobblestones and never once refused to continue on to our destination. Right by my side at all times and never getting in the way of anyone else.

Posted by
227 posts

I didn't know someone else's luggage choice could annoy someone so much

Posted by
16560 posts

Frank II; you have officially come out of the closet. Next your luggage will become hard-shell as spinners are "gateway" luggage that just lead to harder and harder luggage! Before you know it, you will be checking a bag; then its life in the Ritz and no turning back. The only hope is forced luggage intervention. With counseling we will have you back on those 60 day trips with nothing but a 5kg $300 designer back pack containing a 1 gallon zip lock to wash your skivvies in.

Posted by
175 posts

Am I the only one who doesn't enjoy trying to walk around people with spinners at airports? My husband and I are fast walkers, and the spinner being off to the side instead of behind makes more of a "blocK" that makes it harder to maneuver past people. It is especially hard to walk around people with spinners who are walking two abreast (and also zigzagging - I think people with all kinds of luggage do that though.) This is a complete first world problem, I know! Just my two cents. I've never actually used a spinner but I can see how they could be easier on the arms. They just seem much slower to pull, which would be a downside for me.

Posted by
4079 posts

I agree that anyone with any kind of luggage can get in the way. That's very annoying for those of us who may need to step out smartly to get to our departure gate when changing planes. I don't think the airport dawdlers are bad people. I think their focus simply isn't where mine is at the moment.

I switched from a spinner to a 2-wheeled bag over 5 years ago. It was partly because of empty bag weight and partly because I only let my spinner roll on all 4 wheels about 5% of the time. It was just too slow, particularly on carpet. Yes, some of the airports I use are carpeted. I assume that's to help prevent slipping and falling on slick hard surface flooring.

It was also because I was constantly having to gate-check my spinner, even though its 22x14x9 overall size was supposed to fit in the overhead bins of some of the regional airlines I use. My oldest 2-wheeled bag is listed as the same overall size and interior capacity, but the top is curved instead of square. I've never had a problem carrying it on.

As for plane aisles, I learned that I could tilt a 14" wide 2-wheeled bag only slightly toward me and push it in front of me down the aisle on any plane I've been on. It's actually easier than pushing my spinner down the aisle. Obviously, 2-wheeled bags can be pushed in front of you in more open spaces. No other passengers have been injured while I've done this.

My other two, newer 2-wheeled bags are the smaller, international size. One is 14" wide. One is European design 16" wide. I've used the 14" wide one with no carry-on challenges, easy placement in overhead bins and no issues rolling it down the aisle in front of me. I haven't used the 16" wide one yet. Depending on the plane, I may need to carry it in front of me down the aisle.

About the butt hook, when I used my spinner, it would always roll away from me on hard surface flooring. I started using a dog slip leash through a handle to keep it from doing that. A 2-wheeled bag is not likely to roll away, but sometimes using a leash will help it to stay close by in situations where it might have some help in going roll about.

Posted by
32105 posts

I definitely find the two wheel models to be annoying as they're invariably moving at a slower pace than I am, and I'm almost tripping over the darn things. On past trips I've always used a backpack but I'll probably also be using a spinner on the next trip (whenever that is). I've always liked Eagle Creek products, and hopefully I'll be able to find a suitable model within my budget when the time comes.