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Backpack with wheels or just a spinner?

Hi all, I went to Italy with just a carry on backpack for 3 weeks and other than it getting heavy near the end, it worked pretty well. What I liked was having it on my back for all the train travel and keeping it close. Actually started in London, went to Italy and ended in Greece. This next trip is similar with 8-10 weeks, moving approximately every 3 days.
I am a solo traveler in my sixties, so wheels are getting to be a priority. LOL
Space Wise, the backpacks with wheels get less packing space than just wheeled luggage.
My question is for the travelers with carry on wheeled luggage, do you find it hard to maneuver on the trains? Was it easy to keep near you?
Thanks in advance,

Posted by
11 posts

Hi Kate,

I am following this thread as I find myself in a similar spot with luggage. Love my Osprey backpack but it gets heavy!! Just looking at small rolling bags now and wondering if I would be happy with one. I pack light ans don’t really shop but my back still gets tired.


Posted by
8245 posts

We use Travel Pro ultra light swivel wheel 21" carry on bags. And we follow Rick Steves' travel list--with some modifications. If my wife can travel that way (with a big purse), anyone can--indefinitely.

T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are great places to buy high quality luggage. also carries great suitcases.

Getting on and off trains can be troublesome, but I'm strong and can handle two bags. And we seldom ever get out of eyeshot of our luggage on the train. I do limit my train travel to 3 1/2 hours at a time. Otherwise, I'm on a budget airline.

Posted by
15717 posts

I've been using a spinner for years and have taken more trains than I can remember.

The spinner is a breeze on trains. Just put it in front of you and roll. No knocking people with a backpack, no lugging the bag behind me like with a two wheeler.

With four (or eight) wheels that swivel, the spinner can go in any direction. With one hand rested on the handle, the spinner never got away from me. On the train, it usually gets stored above my seat or in between the seats near me.

Posted by
5159 posts

Our 21 inch two- wheeled carry-on fits between the train seats. I have no problem gettin on/ off trains, and I'm a 70- ish woman, in good physical shape. I also am a fan of cube packing. I have no problem on the steep train station stairs. Again, I am a two- wheeled suitcase gal, ( not four- wheels.) Safe travels!

Posted by
4597 posts

My older backpack with wheels doesn't get used as much as hoped. It is very uncomfortable as a backpack, the T handle doesn't feel robust enough for extended European travel, and it doesn't pack as well as I would like bit is also too fill....awful for frequent moves....particularly for so many weeks. Often people remark most fall short as a wheeled bag or a backpack....but occasionally some people rave about theirs.
I still haven't decided whether I prefer 2 or 4 wheels, but I think 2 wheels have the slight edge. My spinner isn't great on carpet or rough ground and flares up some upper body issues, so I end up dragging it on 2 wheels anyway.

Posted by
1047 posts

We (59 and 73) travel with a two wheeled backpack (me) and a backpack (him). We much prefer the two wheeled bag for the train compared to a spinner bag. When the luggage racks are full and we have to just sit our bag down on the train with two wheels it stays where we put it. We enjoy watching people chasing their spinner bags up and down the train as those things roll around all over the place.

The other advantage of the two wheeled backpack is that it is squishable which means I can often put it in the triangular hidey hole that forms when train seats are back to back. We use that spot often.

On our last two trips I have left the backpack harness for my bag (Osprey Sojourn) at home which gives me extra space for packing. The harness pocket is the ideal place to stuff raincoats and dirty washing.

Posted by
755 posts

Agree that the two wheel carry on is easy to tuck in next to you, between seats, or on the overhead rack. I have seen a lot of people struggle with their spinners on cobblestones also.

Posted by
7026 posts

Spinners work well in the airport, but not actually in Europe.

You know, a lot of people say that, but considering how many people here love their spinners, and have traveled to Europe on multiple trips, I’d say that is a fallacy. I have never had any problem maneuvering it in any country I’ve been to in Europe and I’ve had a spinner for at least 10 years.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks everyone, this is super helpful. Sounds like a roller will be just fine. I think maybe a 2 wheeler but with extra handles on the sides so I can carry down the aisles if I need to. Check that decision off the list :)