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Spinner vs Rolling Luggage?

What is your opinion of using spinner type luggage vs the old fashioned 2 wheel type luggage when getting on and off multiple trains in Europe? We currently have the 2 wheel type but I have been looking at spinner luggage. My only reservation with the spinner type is that the wheels stick out from the bottom of the suitcase - they look like they could be broken off easily????
Thanks

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
18192 posts

And they can. But the bigger issue is that the wheels are smaller and therefore prone to getting caught in every little crack. Not a problem in train stations and airport where the surface is fairly smooth but a huge problem when you hit the streets will cobblestone and broken pavement. For those reason we do not used wheeled luggage in Europe except when we have to and it is the two wheel.

Posted by Christi
Cotulla, TX, United States
2353 posts

What Frank said^^^^^

2 wheeled bags with in-line skate type wheels manage many surfaces

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, Washington
2158 posts

Hi Marty, type "Spinner" in the Search option at the top, and you can read several people's opinions pro & con on spinners vs. 2-wheels and even no wheels.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9628 posts

I use a 4 wheel spinner made by Samsonite., works well. Just have to keep it light enough

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
4309 posts

Also keep in mind that much of the older sections (and interesting) sections of Europe are not handicap friendly (no wheel chair ramps) and lifts and escalators are not always conveniently located. Getting from one train platform to another may involve stairs to cross above or below the track. If you NEED wheelie luggage, the 2 skate type wheel bags appear more robust than the 4-wheel spinners. And then there are the cobble pavements.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
3105 posts

I don't see the advantage of spinners except maybe on long airport concourses where you have to move something heavy for a long time. The extra wheels add weight and bulk for little benefit. And I can see where they'd be more fragile and apt to get caught in cracks. But it's hard to find 2-wheel bags in the cheap stores where I'm looking now.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
4309 posts

Here's a LL Bean promotional video page illustrating proof testing roller luggage:

http://www.llbean.com/llb/videos/512486?type=V&channelId=512400&autoplay=Y

The Old Port Course Luggage Test was designed 10 years ago. It's a
one-mile course and it goes all the way through the Old Port in
downtown Portland, Maine. Each part of the course is specific to a
certain area in the luggage – cobblestones test the wheels, granite
curbs to test the frames, stairways to test the handles – everything
is basically pass or fail. If it falls apart, breaks, rips, tears or
just basically breaks down, it's time to redesign it and make it so
that our customer will be 100 percent satisfied when they use this
product in the real world.

PS. Last segment of the Bean film clip shows luggage being pulled over snow covered pavement. We experienced snow covered pavement this past February in Finland where snow was deep enough that the bottom of the roller bag had to function like a toboggan. And when the pavement was shoveled clear, the bags had to wheel over the 1/4-inch rock spread over the ice.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
5254 posts

We have numerous sets of luggage. Latest ones are Travel Pro lightweight 21" with the spinner wheels.

The spinners' biggest benefit is when you're hauling them on a tight aisle of an airplane. You can roll'em sideways.

And I do prefer the spinners over the regular wheels. Going ultra lightweight is also a big plus over our old generation standard weight luggage.

Posted by Stacy
Connecticut
264 posts

Bags with 4 wheels (spinners) let you roll the bag without bearing all the weight on the handle, as happens with 2-wheeled rolling bags.
BUT all the 4-wheel bags I've seen leave less space for clothes, etc. inside the bag. The wheels take away overall space, which your clothes or shoes might occupy otherwise.
Just another thing to consider.

Posted by sandybwb
Houston, TX
130 posts

I also have 21" Travelpro lightweight spinner. Used it for 10 days in France, 3 cities, 2 train trips, 1 bus trip. It was great, easy to carry up/down stairs to platform & easy to lift into baggage holds. I'm 69 y/o & 5' tall & this was a ladies trip with no husbands to help. It held as much as my 9# 2-wheeler & I could manage on my own.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
4309 posts

Tare weight matters. Some airlines (e.g. Lufthansa, SAS) limit carry on baggage to 8 kg, about 18 lbs. I'm usually pushing the 8 kg limit. Some airlines even less (Qantas 7 kg).

I've also had to help other passengers who don't have the strength to lift their carry on into the overhead. Weight also matters when you book one of those B&B hotels with no lift and where the first floor is above ground level.

Perhaps loosing pack-able volume offsets the extra weight of the wheels and frame by limiting contents weight.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
1068 posts

I don't have experience with the spinners but really like the 2 wheel rolling luggage. In the past, I was a member of the "no wheels" set but learned my lesson. I've had no trouble with 2 wheels over cobblestones, ice etc. Someday I may give up my wheels but for the life of me I couldn't imagine why I would want to.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
2291 posts

I resisted the spinners for a while. The wheels looked so flimsy compared to the inline skate wheels. I now have the same 21" Travelpro spinner mentioned above, and I love it. It's lighter than my old 2 wheeler. It can still be used as a 2 wheeler when the pavement is bumpy.

The reason I wanted a spinner was that I have trouble pulling a suitcase through the miles and miles of airport hallways. I have a nerve damage in both hands and holding/pulling did not feel good. So I'd have to stop, adjust stuff, and switch hands. The spinner is much easier to switch, and it doesn't really bother me to push it. I'm not using the same hand clenching movements, or keeping my hand in the same position for several minutes.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
2291 posts

Mrs. EB, I just took at look at LL Bean's spinner vs their two wheeled pullman. Their spinner's wheels do look awful. They're the same kind a lot of spinners have. Their pullman has the inline skate wheels, as do the Travelpro spinners.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
16842 posts

You can walk much more quickly with a 2 wheel carryon than those 4
wheel bags.

Thank you for mentioning testing, because I have been doing my own test the last 3 years. For domestic travel, my partner uses a 2 wheels rolling bag;, I use a small convertible. I'm always waiting for her, even in flat airports, let alone cobblestone sidewalks. I've found you can walk much more quickly with a non-wheeled backpack than with a roller.

So if two is better than four, none is better than two.

Posted by Frank II
Freedonia
6913 posts

I suggest you go to a luggage store, department store, big box store, or anywhere that sells luggage and try them out. Just realize they will be empty and it will be slightly different when packed.

There are people here who like spinners. There are people here who like rollers. There are people here who think using wheels at all is a mortal sin.

You are the one who will be using the bag. Choose the one YOU like best. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

I've been on a lot of trains over the past few weeks and I tend to notice bags. I've seen small bags, I've seen big bags. I've seen rollers and I've seen spinners. I've seen hard sided bags and I've seen soft sided bags. Except for actual backpacks, I've seen very few convertible type bags.

As for rollers vs spinners.....it seems about equally divided.

As for the wheels, yes, the spinner wheels are usually not as strong as rollers.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
1068 posts

It doesn't make sense to me whether your back is strong or not. If someone isn't as fast using about 1-2 pounds of force to wheel a piece of luggage, how would they move any faster if they had to carry an entire load or 15-17 pounds? (not to mention the added stress on their back, hips and knees.....whether they are healthy or not.) Who gets there first (again, unless I'm missing something) also means very little. If my friend gets across an airport faster than I do with two pieces of luggage and I have none, does that mean it is easier to travel with 2 pieces of luggage than none? (I am a slow walker and my friend, about 20 years my junior runs 15-20 miles a day, was a gymnast in his youth -strong upper body-, and still does things like compete/complete the Tough Mudder in Canada.) I think the results of this testing means than in domestic airports (and the jury is still out on international airports as no one has tested there) Lee gets there first because he: walks faster than his partner, or doesn't stop to shop, or whatever.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
14936 posts

I feel that I travel faster with a backpack than a wheeled bag because I don't have to navigate it around every pothole, mud puddle, curb, stair, or pedestrian. I may also walk faster because it's heavy and I don't want to carry it any longer than necessary. (In European airports, I use the free luggage trolleys.) My newer two-wheeled bag requires less muscle power overall, but it is not without strain on the hand, wrist, and arm, and not without other tradeoffs.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
16842 posts

I don't know why rolling backpacks slow people down, but they do. I don't think I have ever been passed in an airport concourse by someone with a roller. However, I have often been impeded by those walking slowly, side-by-side, down the concoures, with rollers held out to their sides, taking up 6' to 8' of space, so I have to try to go out in oncoming traffic to get by.

And, BTW, my partner used a convertible backpack (I loaned her my Essential Carryon) for our one trip to Europe, and I can't recall having to wait for her then. Her pack was also just above 10 lb.

It seems that everyone who uses a roller claims to have some sort of physical disability that prevents them from carrying much weight, but I see plenty of people coming out of the grocery store carrying bags that obviously weigh more than my carryon. Is it possible that people who travel in Europe don't buy groceries in this country?

The problem I have with wheeled luggage is that it just facilitates over-packing.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
1068 posts

I feel that I travel faster with a backpack than a wheeled bag because
I don't have to navigate it around every pothole, mud puddle, curb,
stair, or pedestrian. I may also walk faster because it's heavy and I
don't want to carry it any longer than necessary. (In European
airports, I use the free luggage trolleys.) My newer two-wheeled bag
requires less muscle power overall, but it is not without strain on
the hand, wrist, and arm, and not without other tradeoffs.

Laura, all good points. While you may or may not travel faster with a backpack (although you feel you do) I have rarely seen someone step into a mud puddle because they are carrying a backpack. Perhaps it is the people I travel with (usually a RS group or a few intrepid friends who can put up with me!) but I have not seen people have problems with curbs, stairs or cobblestones (I am puzzled when I read you can't pull wheeled luggage over cobblestones but I guess that is a myth that won't die.) Had to laugh when you said you may walk faster because it is heavy to have luggage strapped on, perhaps that explains the facial expressions of the people I see with large backpacks-they are hurting. %) Anyway, as I have said in numerous other posts, there is no right way to travel. If you ever catch me saying someone "should" travel a certain way or a certain way is "better" or "best" feel free to give me grief.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
28907 posts

" perhaps that explains the facial expressions of the people I see with large backpacks-they are hurting"

If they're hurting, then they're not using a Backpack that's been properly fitted for torso length. I'm also an advocate of Backpacks, and I can wear my packs comfortably for extended periods of time.

Posted by Frank II
Freedonia
6913 posts

I recently switched from a convertible backpack to a rolling bag and I doubt I'll go back.

I've rolled it over pavement, cobblestones, up stairs, down stairs--no problems. I'm less tired and less sweaty.

As I have an interest in luggage, I tend to notice what people have. Surprisingly, I'm see more and more spinners than anything else--especially "carry on" size ones. No one seems to have problems.

The only people I see having problems are those with the monster suitcases. The other day on the tube to Heathrow there was a couple with two monster cases each, two smaller duffel bags and a couple of shopping bags of stuff. When they got off the tube, one had to hold the door open while the other got all their stuff off.

I used to believe that the only true way to travel light was to go without wheels. But I now believe light travel is how each of us defines it. There is no one right way. And I have to wonder about those who yell that their way is the right way and everyone else is wrong. Perhaps it has nothing to do with luggage at all.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
2291 posts

Or, as a wise man recently said about laundry, "Life is short. Do what makes you happy." ;D

Wheels make me happy. Backpacks do not. I'll keep on rolling.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
1068 posts

I used to believe that the only true way to travel light was to go
without wheels. But I now believe light travel is how each of us
defines it. There is no one right way. And I have to wonder about
those who yell that their way is the right way and everyone else is
wrong. Perhaps it has nothing to do with luggage at all.

Or, as a wise man recently said about laundry, "Life is short. Do what
makes you happy." ;D Wheels make me happy. Backpacks do not. I'll keep
on rolling.

Exactly.

Posted by Wray
Quincy, MA, New England
1754 posts

To wheel or carry...The age old argument...or at least since the 90's! I use wheeled luggage and I do not have a physical disability. I see no reason to schlep when I don't have to do so. I pack light in a carryon, but I check my bag anyway. These debates are all the conundrum of life for those of us lucky enough to have these small problems. Travel on!

Posted by donald.30d
8 posts

I used to believe that the only true way to travel light was to go
without wheels. But I now believe light travel is how each of us
defines it. There is no one right way. And I have to wonder about
those who yell that their way is the right way and everyone else is
wrong. Perhaps it has nothing to do with luggage at all.
Or, as a wise man recently said about laundry, "Life is short. Do what
makes you happy." ;D Wheels make me happy. Backpacks do not. I'll keep
on rolling.

Nailed it!

Posted by Barbara
Walnut Creek, CA
364 posts

I recently went from a two wheeled bag to an eagle Creek spinner and I love it. One reason has nothing to do with the number of wheels. The bag has a, actually I am not exactly sure how to explain it, set of elastic bands that allow you to secure anything you are carrying on to the top of the bag and it does not fall off, slip around or anything else. It is really nice for me so that way I don't smack the person behind me in line with my daypack. However, I will probably never go back to a two wheel suitcase again. I have found if I need two wheels I just tip the bag on to two wheels and I am fine.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
9350 posts

I just took my first trip with a spinner and I loved it. It's an ultralight by It Luggage, and has a u-shaped handle which is the width of the bag. That makes it very easy to handle in the plane, airport and elevators. It was easier to maneuver out of other peoples' way in shops, too. At just over 4lbs, the 21" seemed to have plenty of usable room, and I think I will take it to Spain in the spring. Like a previous poster, I had trouble with the 2-wheel bag on long airport walks, pulling it behind me in one position.

Posted by Mike Tipton
Ozarks of Arkansas
174 posts

Having made several European trips that involved trains and public transportation I would definitely go with two wheels. The problem is not with the train itself. The surfaces of train stations are not the nicely carpeted walkways of an airport. You will also likely be dragging your bag over cobblestone sidewalks and streets. We had a worst case last summer that required pulling our bag of dirty laundry over a quarter mile of crushed limestone towpath. Not a spinner bag application. In the US where you usually go from parking lot to terminal to plane to terminal to rental car pickup a spinner bag is the way to go.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
9350 posts

I would have just carried the bag in those circumstances. A quarter mile isn't that far. I mean, people carried bags before they invented wheeled bags.

Posted by grussgott
20 posts

For what it's worth I switched totally to "schlepping" from wheeling for a few reasons:

(1.) I move faster - which is important because I don't have to outrun the thief, just you (ha, j/k) - I'm a business traveler; 50% of the time speed is the difference between getting home in 2 hours or 24 hours
(2.) I can take way more stuff - why schlep wheels, frames, handles when it I don't have to?
(3.) Never take more than you can comfortably carry is a great life lesson
(4.) It's a great workout - if you're able, you should so you stay able

As an example I had a recent flight that was diverted from vegas (where my connection was waiting) to Denver due to an illness. The chaos was spectacular. Because I was carry-on no wheels I was able to move past the all the lines, climb a row of seats, run to a gate, and was the last one to board the last flight outa dodge.

Thanks Tom Bihn Pilot and Western Flyer!

Posted by zcorsair
San Francisco, CA (USA)
224 posts

I was a backpacker, that's switched to a roller (2-wheel) the last 5-years.

While the backpack made negotiating crowds and trains on/off easier, I've come to embrace a straight-up roller Spinners I don't like, the wheels are exposed and will take an absolute beating, especially when going over cobblestones. On two trips I've seen two people separately who had their spinner wheels bust-off while rumbling over cobblestones. While very convenient going through open concourses and paved streets, the reality is the tourist hot-spots and the idilic remote locations are in older sections of town where cobblestones and uneven pavement rule.

Two brands to consider:

Eagle Creek- very durable, good warranty
Briggs & Riley- large variety of styles and best warranty in the travel business, they call it No Questions Asked and it really is like that. I had a clip replaced inside the handle extension and the service guy showed me a roller from another customer that looked like a elephant sat on it and then a gorilla used it as a stress reliever...they replaced it, free of charge.

Posted by Jay
Chicago
1388 posts

For our last trip to Paris, Lucerne and various points in Italy, we went with the Samsonite 21" Lift2 Spinner. Not expensive at $140, they are just small enough to be used as a carry-on but we checked ours through. With the telescopic handle, my wife was able to perch a Vera Bradley bag on top and I did the same with my CPAP case. It has a very smart design, is expandable & we loved it.

Obviously, it worked fine in airports and train stations--that's a no-brainer. For cobblestones, cracks, etc., you have to anticipate and switch to two wheels on an angle, no way around that. And it's probably best not to pack it to the gills either--I believe ours each weighed in the 23-24 pound range filled (only 7 lbs. empty!), which was good for the wheels--they look godawful but you remember the Samsonite monkey throwing around the luggage commercial--which survived admirably, and also good for my back when hoisting them up on an overhead luggage rack on the trains.

Posted by Frank II
Freedonia
6913 posts

You were probably smart to check your Lift2 spinner. According to Samsonite, the overall dimensions are 24.5 x 15 x 10.5. It would not have passed if you were asked to place it in the sizer box.

Just because a luggage manufacturer says it's carry on doesn't mean it really is. They only have to find one airline that would allow it and they can call it "carry on" size.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
28907 posts

grussgott,

"Thanks Tom Bihn Pilot and Western Flyer!"

Compliments on your ability to pack light. I haven't got my packing down to that level yet, and I find even a TB Tri-Star a challenge at times, and I doubt I'd be able to make that work for a month long trip. I'm working on it.....

I think it is the quality of luggage that matters most. High quality brands do all different types of test to ensure that wheels or other parts don't get easily broken.

Posted by drjudejen
1 posts

I like sturdy long lasting luggage and own 4 pieces of duo wheeled Club Glove, including their new Ballistic, which I love. Some of my pieces are 10 years old and still going strong. I like that the wheels roll smoothly and quietly.