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2 Wheels or 4?

Its been almost 10 years since I've been to Europe and then I used an L. L. Bean Quickload travel pack. Alas, my back won't hold up to a backpack now so I was wondering whether I should look for the newer 4 wheel or the older 2 wheel roller bag. I'll be on a lot of cobblestones.

Posted by
7889 posts

I prefer the swivel wheels as they're so much easier to wheel sideways down airplane aisles. I never check a bag.

Posted by
15282 posts

We're solid fans of quality 2-wheelers. Our Travelpros are 13 years old, been dragged long distances across cobbles and all sorts of other nasty surfaces, and are still going strong. Some folks love their spinners (and that's fine!) but I'd personally never trust spinner wheels with the same sorts of abuse our Tpros have endured.

They're 24" so we have to check them but still pack as lightly as possible.

Posted by
84 posts

I agree with Kathy, if you are just going from airport to hotel via taxi, then a spinner would work.

I like to take public transportation, and will do a 'duffle bag drag' with lodging being up to 1 km from the train station or tram line. I think the larger wheels help out there. I always use a 2 wheeled bag for that reason. And for folks who live in the pedestrian zones, sorry. That click-clack-click really does get annoying after awhile, and really echos early in the morning.

Posted by
884 posts

On smooth, even flooring spinners are best hands down. For everything else - stairs, cobblestone streets, public transportation, etc - 2 wheeler is easier on you and the bag.

Posted by
838 posts

I've found that Hefty "Strong" trash bags work pretty well on cobbled surfaces - especially if you smear a little olive oil on the underside. Not much love at the luggage carousel, though. Can't beat the price.

Posted by
22982 posts

About the only advantage to 4 wheels is in the airplane aisle. Much prefer the two wheels. General the two wheels are bigger so they roll somewhat easier over rough surfaces. The small, spinner wheel will get caught in every crack in the sidewalk. However, two wheel bags are getting hard to find. I replaced my ten year old plus two wheel bag last year with a two wheel, semi duffel bag from E Bauer. Really like it.

PS -- This is the bag -----

Posted by
9118 posts

What Frank said.

Although I do like BlueSky’s style.

Posted by
5828 posts

Two wheels. Two fewer wheels to sanitize and decontaminate after rolling across coronavirus contaminated surfaces or Paris sidewalk yuck.

Posted by
10506 posts

About the only advantage to 4 wheels is in the airplane aisle

Frank beat me to it.

Posted by
99 posts

I have both and prefer 2 wheels in Europe. The spinner was a royal pain on cobblestones.

Posted by
7046 posts

Definitely 2 wheels. The bigger and sturdier the better.

I tried a spinner and it's been useless (for me) unless I'm only wheeling it in nice, smooth, level airport hallways. My trips require movement on rougher pavement and cobblestones, so a 2-wheeler is a clear preference based on my travel style (lots of walking, public transport, etc).

Posted by
866 posts

If in Europe, TWO wheels. 4 Wheels are so hard in Europe with all the cobblestone streets. The only time we take 4 wheels is if we are traveling in USA and know that we won't be walking far with luggage. Plus, 4 wheels are more prone to get broken off by airlines as they stick out so far - 2 wheeled bags usually conceal the wheels. We own both, but our 2 wheeled bags get much more travel use.

Posted by
4079 posts

About the airplane aisles.

I have 2 Eagle Creek bags that have 2 wheels. I surprisingly found that both the 22" one and the smaller international one are narrow enough (14") to be pushed down the aisle in front of me. It's much less cumbersome and easier than trying to drag them behind or carry them in front.

If your bag is 14" wide or less, try it if you're on a plane sometime in the future.

Posted by
3961 posts

We have had our two wheeled 22" Travelpro for years. I agree 2 wheels is the best for rough terrain and cobblestones. It's been dependable and we wouldn't even think about changing.

Posted by
14132 posts

I have gone the no wheels route. I have gone the two wheeled route. And now I'm using a spinner.

I like the spinner. When over some rough terrain, I will just pull it as a two wheeler. As long as you get a decent bag with decent wheels you should be okay. (And many of the people who put down spinners have never actually tried one. Some have.)

The ease of using the spinner on most surfaces makes it easier for my shoulder, wrist and back. With the bag at my side, I don't have to be concerned that in a crowded place I'm not trailing the bag so far behind I'm tripping people.

But mostly, it's personal preference. Try them out. Whichever one you prefer, go with that. The only correct answer is the one you prefer.

Posted by
15282 posts

With the bag at my side, I don't have to be concerned that in a
crowded place I'm not trailing the bag so far behind I'm tripping

The problem here is that a fair amount of European sidewalks - cobbled, bricked, smooth, whatever - we've had to navigate our bags over have been so narrow that pulling a bag beside us would not have been an option! Wheeling beside us could also block faster pedestrian traffic on regular sidewalks, where there's limited room, moving sidewalks in airports and on escalators. But I'll agree, it's really up to personal preference.

Editing to add: I thought pulling spinners around on just two wheels was not advised? Thought I remembered something about them not be built to be used that way, increasing the possibility of breakage/premature wear but maybe I'm hallucinating?

Posted by
31 posts

My personal choice is a carry on spinner with a side handle for hoisting the bag up and overhead. When you are on uneven surfaces you will be pulling it on two wheels anyway. The 4 wheels are great the rest of the time, and most everybody has them.

Posted by
18938 posts

Alas, my back won't hold up to a backpack now

Time to learn to back lighter!

For ease of travel, nothing beats a lightly packed backpack. This fact was brought home to me a few years ago when my partner and I traveled in Germany. I had my backpack; she had a carry-on size 2 wheeled roller. Because of her mobility-challenge, I handled both of them most of the time, and the difference between my backpack and her roller was immense. Whenever we moved (changed trains, hotel to train or vice versa), I put on my backpack and it stayed there with no attention needed until we finished, while I opened and closed her bag's handle, rolled it, and carried it up and down stairs. etc.

You will lift and carry your "rolling" bag far more often than proponents of them will admit.

I have a few comments (pro and con) for what I have observed about other people's wheeled bags.

If you carry on, the wheels of a spinner are included for the size limit and since they extend well below the bottom of the bag, carry-on spinners can carry less than 2-wheeled rollers. Plus, spinners need more structure than simple rollers; thus they are heavier to start with.

If you insist on a bag too big to be carried on:

2 wheeled rollers, it not packed carefully for weight distribution, are constantly falling over.

4 wheeled spinners have a tendency to take off (roll away) on their own if the "smooth" surface is even slightly sloped, so watch it carefully.

Posted by
5697 posts

Adding to Lee's last point, I have had a 4-wheel spinner try to take a ride down the train/ bus aisle when the vehicle had a turn or stop. If my 2-wheeler topples over, at least it just lies there quietly.

Posted by
227 posts

I too don't think my back can do a backpack for extended periods of time. I have a TravelPro Maxlite hard side spinner. I use this for all my domestic travel. It worked great in Greece (ferries, public buses etc). It was a HUGE help in the Schiphol airport when i had to walk 15 minutes + from one gate to the other. It is nice it has built in locks.

I am debating getting RS Rolling Backpack (lighter than Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack). However you are still going to have to drag the bag on two wheels in airports etc. That puts strain on your neck, shoulder etc. It does not come with built in locks. Hopefully, my next big trip will be RS. Ireland summer 2021. For a RS tour there is a good chance you won't have a elevator and you will have to carry your bag up flights of stairs.

Posted by
84 posts

To LF who said “I am debating getting RS Rolling Backpack (lighter than Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack).”

I bought the RS Rolling Backpack last year for my RS tour, and while there are some elements I liked (I think it’s well-made, I like the front pocket) I wouldn’t buy it again. It’s a great roller but an terrible backpack. I found it intolerably uncomfortable because of the stiffness of the backside of the bag. The dimensions are also pretty small because it’s only 7 inches deep. It could have been an inch deeper and still met airline limits. I know the OP is about # of wheels, but fwiw my next European trip will be with an Osprey Fairview backpack.