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Carry on Luggage, WHEELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I scored a really nice carry on wheeled suitcase. I had been wanting one with four wheels that didn't tip over when I let go of it. Well, it didn't even make it through two trips! It still looks brand new, but one of the wheels is shot. How about someone develop a suitcase with replaceable wheels? NO, I don't want to consider a backpack. I do pack rather lightly, but I'm not up for carrying it on my back. I do lift my suitcase up and down curbs, stairs and over cobblestones and rough terrain.

The wheels on my "ancient" carryons still are rather sound, but they only have two wheels. Is the quality of these things going downhill? Any ideas or suggestions? Just as an FYI, I am pretty savvy with my packing. I follow Sarah Murdoch and have developed other strategies on my own.

Posted by
2713 posts

My experience with spinners is you get what you pay for. The wheels are more exposed therefore vulnerable. The quality brands like Travel Pro, Briggs & Riley, have very durable wheels and a warranty to back them up. Less expensive ones break. What brand do you have and how much did it cost?

Posted by
5837 posts

I'm not a fan of four wheel "spinner" luggage, Two wheel bags can use single axle roller blade type wheels that project less than a wheel radius from the bag's chassis. The two wheel roller blade wheels will take curb drops and cobbles better than the more fragile spinners that not only have to have a wheel shaft but a circular bearing to allow the wheels to track 360 degrees.

If you must use the four wheel spinners, look for the ones the "look" robust and keep the pack weigth as minimal as possible, Try to carry the bag up and down stairs and off curbs to avoide impact loading. and try to avoid cobble pavement or lift the bag to reduce the weignt on the wheels.

Here is a video on how LL Bean tests rolling luggage:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO37P-ZIZ3w

Posted by
1259 posts

I’ve got my dad’s ancient American Tourister spinner, probably from when the spinnner concept was new. It’s been all over the world for at least 25 years and the wheels still look like new, unlike the rest of the bag. I don’t think they make spinners like they used to. And today, it looks like you get what you pay for, a Tumi spinning carryon bag is $800 and you can expect your great grandchildren to use it. A North Face 2-wheeler is $300 and I expect my son to use it. My PacSafe 40L was just $100 and I expect it to be a pile of useless threads when I’m done with it.

Posted by
8239 posts

We're using Travel Pro 21" ultra light carry on bags with the spinner wheels. After 3 big trips, they're still great. The reason we like the spinners is that you can turn the bag sideways to roll them down the aisles of airplanes and get them into small places. Travel Pro is available at Amazon.com for very good prices too.
Our last trip was this past April, and I towed one Travel Pro carry on bag behind my wife's wheelchair and my carryon was an Amazon Basics 21" backpack carry on. I handled them all without checking a single item with any airline.

Posted by
58 posts

Love the idea of having a suitcase with replaceable wheels! I feel like I spend more time deciding on a suitcase than planning a trip. I now have 2 suitcases; one for big trips and one carryon for smaller trips. I'm a heavy packer so I need a variety.
My carryon suitcase is by Samantha Brown and I swear by it. Picked it up from Craigslist brand new. It's very durable lots of pockets and has held up pretty well over the years.

Posted by
11504 posts

The little wheels on spinners are better suited to airport and plane floors, but not cobblestones etc. There are times when bigger (wheels that is ) is better.

Perhaps contact a luggage repair shop to see what a new wheel cost is. Luggage wheel replacement is rarely a DIY project.

So what brand should we avoid?

Posted by
6098 posts

Lots of great suggestions, thanks! Continue to send more ideas, please. I do have rolling Samsonite luggage that is ages old. The fabric and trim is pretty worn, but the wheels and the hardware in great shape, its just that the carryon tips over when you let go of it, and I was kind of seeing the advantage of the 4 spinning wheels. I hate that we are in such a disposable society. I'd hate to be throwing suitcases into landfills just because the wheels break. My suitcase with the defective wheel looks brand new in all other respects. Its "guaranteed for life", but I didn't save the company tag attached when I purchased it. The company is Olympia. I sent them photos and an email, we'll see if they'll do anything. Right now they are telling me that I can purchase the wheel (plus shipping) and then take it to someone for repair. Sounds like the labor repair cost is at least $20, and my guess is that another wheel will break on my next trip, because that's the way things work. From a young age, I made my kids deal with their own luggage. I purchased inexpensive wheeled luggage from TJMAXX and for the most part that luggage is in decent shape with no broken wheels. None of them is great for me to use for my travel for various reasons. I purchased new luggage sets for my kids when they graduated from high school. Was not happy with the sets that I purchased for my first two. For my twins, I stalked LLBean, and nabbed a great deal on a set for each of them. One of the great appeals with them WAS that they had a lifetime guarantee. Now they don't. So I will take a serious look at the suggestions I'm getting. I do like Eddie Bauer quality and was not aware their luggage had a lifetime guarantee. The piece that Jean suggested looks oddly similar to the LLBean luggage I got for my girls. Honestly, the LLBean luggage has been back and forth to college for four years and on quite a few trips and it looks brand new. This has been very educational! I never thought about the fact that four swiveling wheels are inherently more fragile than the two wheels. I will be checking in for any additional thoughts.

Posted by
27417 posts

I'll never buy another spinner bag unless it gets to the point that nothing else is available. Which it may; I've seen no 2-wheeled bags except tiny (20" or smaller) ones on my last two trips to TJMaxx and Marshalls.

I don't doubt that the expensive spinner bags have much better wheels, but they also tend to be quite heavy.

Posted by
15690 posts

When buying a spinner, one area to look at is how the wheels are attached. It is better to have a bag that has screw on wheels than ones that are riveted. The screw on wheels are easier to fix. (I'm not talking about ones with little screws on a plate but ones that are screwed on through the center of the housing.)

As an example, Rimowa, an expensive brand, have designed their bags to make their wheels easily replacable. If one should break, the company will send you a new one with instructions on how to replace it. All you need is a screwdriver.

Buying a cheap spinner and then trying to take it over rough pavement is probably not a good idea. Having flimsy, small, riveted on wheels is probably stacking the deck against you

I head out next week on another two month jaunt through Rick Steves' favorite continent. I'll be taking and testing a carry on size spinner. I have a choice between two: one that is 55 cm in height and one that is 56 cm. The taller one is about one pound lighter than the shorter one. Tough decisions as all the carriers I'm flying have a 55 cm limit but also weight limits. Both spinners have quality, strong, 8 count wheels. They are also polycarbonate.

Posted by
525 posts

There’s a store in St. Louis Park, off of Highway 100, called Luggage World that can probably repair your suitcase. They may even have appropriate wheels in stock. They also sell a wide variety of suitcases that you can try out in the store.

Posted by
75 posts

"I'll never buy another spinner bag unless it gets to the point that nothing else is available. Which it may; I've seen no 2-wheeled bags except tiny (20" or smaller) ones on my last two trips to TJMaxx and Marshalls."

It's quickly getting harder to find nice two-wheeled carry-on sized bags.
I had to buy a new one this week, and went to three different stores looking for decent two-wheelers.
I could have shopped/ordered online if I had more time, but I needed something right away.

Posted by
156 posts

I’ll add to the Travelpro recommendations here. I’ve never had a problem with any of their bags, and I’ve owned quite a few. They’re a nice alternative to the ultra cheap brands and the sometimes over priced high end bags from brands like Tumi. And they’re often at a great price, particularly on Amazon. As an example, Travelpro is phasing out its TPro Bold line in favor of a remake called Bold by Travelpro. I see little difference between the former and the latter in terms of features, other than a better color selection, so expect the older line to get marked down pretty soon.

Another pleasant surprise is the Amazon Basics line of wheeled bags, which are quite affordable and of good quality. I can’t attest to long term durability, but it’s a good bag at a really good price.

As for the two versus four wheel debate, after owning many of each style, I’m of the opinion that the two wheeled bags are a bit more durable. The only wheel repair I’ve ever had to perform was on a four wheeled bag, albeit a low end brand. The one area where I really prefer a spinner is in a larger, checked bag, where weight is more a consideration than in a carryon. I find it much easier to navigate one of those through an airport and on sidewalks than dragging it behind me as one has to do with a two wheeler.

As always, it never hurts to check out buyer reviews, here as well as on other sites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, etc.

Posted by
6098 posts

@Renee, I did call Luggage World. They or I would have to get the wheels from the manufacturer. I'd have to take it over to get a labor estimate, but they said at least $20. I feel like this piece may just be a losing situation, because the way this wheel wore out, I feel the rest would go, too. The rubber or whatever the material is has come off the actual wheel. I'm trying to think of a way to build the area up, because then the wheel would function. Right now thinking electrical or duct tape. May just take it to my friends at Ace to see what ideas they'd have. They can have clever ideas. @Frank, you are absolutely right on the rivets! That's part of the problem. If they screwed I could do it on my own. Live and learn. My biggest concern here is that I know we have LOTS of suitcases in our house in various states of condition. I don't want to keep buying luggage which will accumulate in my house and then in landfills. Still waiting to see what the manufacturer offers, but the Eddie Bauer bag is looking pretty good. It looks quite similar to the LLBean luggage that we've had great luck with and I think its probably pretty light and the guarantee is nice. Though if I have a problem, do they repair or just chuck the whole thing? And it would be back to 2 wheels for me.

Posted by
2632 posts

I have a Travelpro 21" spinner that just made its maiden voyage to London--not only am I now a convert to the carry-on club, but I really liked the ease of maneuvering it any which way. I have a dicey lower back and try to avoid any additional strain when traveling, even tugging along a wheeled regular bag can cause an flare-up, it seems.

Posted by
2916 posts

I'll never buy another spinner bag unless it gets to the point that nothing else is available. Which it may

When I did a search on-line last year for 2 wheel bags, it was clear that the trend was towards spinners, which I have no interest in. Maybe I'll have to stock up before they stop making two-wheelers.

Posted by
14580 posts

The one advantage the two wheeler roller has over a 4 wheel spinner, at least that was my experience with the two wheeler, is it has at the bottom a metal rod which you can hold to as you're hoisting the whole thing on to a train luggage rack above your seat. That metal rod makes it much easier to balance the weight. When I had that two wheeler, (the handle finally broke), I could without much effort toss 30 lbs on to the rack.

The spinner has no metal rod at the bottom, only some flimsy material to hold, so flimsy that you can't balance the weight at all when trying to get it on the rack. The only solution is to reduce the weight, ie pack a lot less, say 24 lbs.

Posted by
3260 posts

I like the RS wheeled bag. I've had no issues with carrying it on, on international or interEuropean flights in the past. If checking a bag is free (and it usually is as I fly BA), I check it and it still looks like new. That being said, I don't buy a lot of 'things' in life, but I love to buy suitcases, personal items and travel purses...it's my ridiculous thing. In the rest of my life I try to be very environmentally and socially conscious. My problem with the RS bag is that I can't justify a new bag as it looks and works so well, so I can rarely pull myself away to use another bag...as much as I might try. I can't imagine why anyone wants a lifetime guarantee. Can you imagine having a lifetime guarantee on a 1980s suitcase or forever having the same bag? It's fun and necessary to buy different types of bags because all trips are not the same. I say this in spite of the fact that I seem to largely move back to the RS bag--I love the front pockets that work perfectly for my system. I'm also not ready to bother with 4 wheels, at least, until they have strengthened the wheels...even then... Two work fine for me in all conditions.

Hold Harmless: I do have a fun, small, underseat 16" bag that I've been using for shorter domestic trips, but I don't see it being my go to bag for longer or international trips.

Posted by
2788 posts

In my 16 trips to Europe in the last 18 years I have seen a lot more folks having problems with spinner type luggage, since they have become so popular, on uneven surfaces, either sidewalks or street crossings. I have a 2 wheel RS 21/22" bag that has never had a problem in Europe or the US in traveling over all kinds of surfaces.

Posted by
4012 posts

My experience with spinners is you get what you pay for. The wheels
are more exposed therefore vulnerable.

Exactly. Plus I see travelers walking quickly treat the spinner like a 2 wheel pullman and drag the bag on the front wheels especially uphill. Those dangling wheels can't handle it and crap out. Buy an upright pullman if you want durable wheels.

Posted by
27417 posts

I stopped in TJMaxx and Macy's yesterday to see whether there were any 2-wheeled bags. Macy's had two (possibly identical) rolling duffle bags. That was it. The duffles were larger than the size I need, which is roughly 23" counting wheels and handle.

Posted by
996 posts

I am more than thrilled with my carryon bags from Delsey. I have two from them now, two different sizes depending on whether I'm flying domestic or international. The bags are lightweight but sturdy + the wheels have held up in multiple states/countries now.

eBags sells them, but you can also score some good deals from their website.

Posted by
5260 posts

Jules,

Back in March I searched high and low for a new 20" carry-on because my old Swiss Army spinner ended up with a defective wheel on my previous trip. I ended up buying two 20" carry-on suitcases and had a difficult time deciding which one to keep.
I ended up keeping both since I got them on sale at great prices! ; )

The first one I bought is this Delsey - Helium 360 a two-wheel carry-on (one of the pictures on the ad is wrong as this is a two-wheel roller, not a spinner)

Anyway, I took my new Delsey on a domestic trip and it worked well for me, but I actually missed my old spinner!

So... Back to Macy's I went, with measuring tape in hand, and found this great 20" Victorinox Werks Traveler 5 spinner

Long story short, I couldn't decide which one to take on my recent trip where I knew I'd be walking and lugging a suitcase to/from multiple train and bus stations. I opted to take my new Victorinox spinner and it worked great even on cobblestones!
As you can see, it has 8 wheels (4 double wheels) and they are very sturdy.
Both of these brands have great warranties too.

Wishing you a wonderful trip!

Posted by
6098 posts

Haven't yet decided if I'm going to purchase a new carryon and what I'm going to do in the future in terms of spinner or not, but thanks for all the great ideas! Priscilla had some awesome suggestions, too, and if anyone is interested, the Delsey Helium is on sale at Macy's at an absolutely CRAZY low price! It's tempting and so are some of the others. . .

Posted by
27417 posts

To me, 6.4 lb. is quite heavy for a 20" bag. I had a 23" bag that was either 3.5 or 4.5 lb. Of course, the wheels didn't last as long as I would have liked and were probably a lot lighter than the presumably-better ones used by Delsey.

Posted by
6098 posts

good catch acraven. I don't see a weight on the Eddie Bauer bag, but my guess is it is quite a bit lighter than the Delsey. When one looks at the fabric on the Eddie Bauer bag, one might think it wouldn't hold up. But, my daughters' rollers are so similar and they are so light yet very sturdy and have held up well. You wouldn't think so, but a few pounds really makes a difference, one of my girls has commented that my suitcase is "a lot heavier" when empty than hers. I would guess the extra weight impacts the wheels as well.

Posted by
2713 posts

I think the spinner versus two wheels has been debated on this site ad nauseum. I’ve seen less passion around discussions of Mideast peace. Anyway, there are pros and cons, so to each his/her own. The weight issue: that’s a dilemma. Cheap spinners have cheap wheels liable to break. They are lighter. My Briggs & Riley international wide body spinner weighs in at a whopping 9 pounds and sells for over $500. It’s built well, good frame, the rails are outside so lots of room, good wheels. I doubt I’ll ever wear it out, but if something goes wrong it does have a lifetime warranty. Our Travel Pro’s are somewhat lighter-my wife uses hers for trips abroad and they’ve held up. I’ve learned to pack very light over the years and I’m still trimming that down. That somewhat makes up for the weight issue (and thanks to this forum I do make a written list of items less used after every trip). So, if you want a spinner the choice is a cheaper bag that is lighter, but could fail while you are traveling and require periodic replacement or, swallow hard, pay big bucks for a better built bag that is more likely to hold up and not need to be replaced for a long time, if ever. I think the Travel Pro is a good middle choice as you can nab one on sale periodically, especially when new models are released. But, you need to get one of the better lines as they have some cheaper models which in our experience don’t hold up.

Posted by
73 posts

I called Eddie Bauer. The expedition drop bottom rolling duffel, medium, weighs 8 lbs 10 oz.

It's a nice bag but too heavy for me. Rick's Rolling Carryon is 6.65 lbs, about 2 pounds lighter.

Posted by
5837 posts

If you buy cheap luggage, pack a roll f duct tape, or better yet, a roll of Gorrilla Tape.

Posted by
6098 posts

@Rainy Day. That is crazy! Sometimes when I've checked luggage (traveling with 4 kids) I've been sure I'd be over 50 Lbs, and found out that my luggage weighed about 25 lbs, It astounds me that a suit case would weigh 8 1/2 pounds!

@acraven, now I'm very sad. I thought duct tape fixed everything, haha. I travel with mole skin, duct tape and super glue. Always.

Posted by
27417 posts

I haven't gotten to the point of Super Glue yet, but I'm moving in that direction. With my luck, though, it would leak all over my suitcase.

Posted by
5837 posts

When your wheel(s) fall off you can use the duct tape to make a harness to carry the bag as a backpack. Of course you could buy a RS "Rolling Backpack", two wheels and a harness system (that is spec'd to weigh 5.6#). If the wheel(s) break, whip out the "hidden" backpack straps and carry it until RS can send you a replacement.

Posted by
6098 posts

@Edgar, ok, that was pretty funny!

Is RS stuff guaranteed for life?

Posted by
5837 posts

We haven't had to file a claim yet but here is what the RS product description says:
https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/rolling-carry-on

Our Product Guarantee

Every Rick Steves travel product comes with our guarantee that it will
be free from material and manufacturing defects for the life of the
product. If a defect appears, we will either repair or replace the
product (at our option) free of charge. This guarantee does not cover
damage caused by an airline or other common carrier. Nor does it cover
wear and tear to components and materials which may occur over time
with use of the product.

Posted by
5697 posts

Regarding RS guarantee -- I had a Civita day bag for several years before the cords on the water-bottle holders frayed to the point that the holders were unusable. Took a photo, emailed it to customer assistance, asked about getting the cords repaired. After I answered questions about where and when I bought the bag (wasn't sure where, but it was at least three years earlier) there was a replacement bag in the mail within.a week.

Posted by
6098 posts

Well, my Olympia suitcase was supposedly guaranteed for life. But, the guarantee is only as good as the company. I did receive help from the company, they located the wheel and for almost $20 they will send it to me. They are charging for the wheel because I didn't retain the paper tag attached to the luggage, and for the postage. It was a back wheel not even a spinner. Then I will pay almost $20 and have to drive across town twice for the repair. I feel like if the suitcase couldn't stand up to two trips, I probably can expect another wheel to go soon hence I likely will not go ahead with the repair. While the employee did work pretty hard to identify the suitcase I do not recommend the purchase of Olympia suitcases.

Posted by
4174 posts

I own no Travelpro luggage, so I took a look at the Maxlite 5 line. I was pleased to see that the Product Specifications list Overall Dimensions, Weight, Case Dimensions and Volume. I loved the low weights for the bags. Very tempting.

This European style (15.75" wide, 7.75" deep), spinner is an example.

So is this spinner. Note that the piece is touted as a 21" bag, but overall it is 23" high.

And this 2-wheeled one is touted as 22," but overall it is also 23."

Posted by
5837 posts

Lo's comments highlight the problem with manufacturer's dimensional claims for roller bags. The interior dimensions will always be smaller than the maximum out to out dimensions. Iterior vs. exteror dimensions of non-wheelie backpacks will only differ by the pack thickness and possibly any added grip straps. But if not stuffed, the soft sided bags are more likely to deform enough to fit airline gate sizing frames/boxes. Take a tape measure and check exterior out-to-out dimensions, and if you have a luggage scale, verify tare (empty) weight.

Posted by
37 posts

I have used Travel Pro luggage for years and will continue to do so. They are well designed, reasonably priced, and very durable. Travel Pro is one of the few companies that still sells luggage with two wheels. In my opinion, two large wheels glide over cobblestones much easier than 4 small wheels. I also have better control of my bag. I do limit myself to 20 pounds in my suitcase which helps, as well.

Posted by
47 posts

Macy's routinely puts the TAG MATRIX spinners on sale - usually $50 a suitcase, sometimes any size, but I've seen the carry-on for $50 numerous times. We bought one on our recent 33-day Europe trip and it held up well - cobblestone streets, sandy beach cabin, uneven pavement, etc. - wheels are still working great, so it'll go on more trips until it dies. I figure for what it cost, I can replace it quite a few times compared with a $500+ carry-on with a guarantee.