4-Wheel Spinners Vs 2-Wheel Rolling Luggage

Posted by Aviva Wolpert on

What type of rolling luggage should you choose? There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of suitcase. How you like to travel and where you are going will determine to a large extent if 4-wheel or 2-wheel luggage suits your trip.

Answering a few simple questions can help you decide which is the right bag for you.

  1. Ease of Mobility

What type of surface will your bag be rolling over? Does your itinerary include cobblestone streets and hilly terrain or are you rushing through large airports with a carry-on?

  1. Weight

How lightweight do you want your bag to be? How much do you plan on packing and are you able to pull your bag behind you? Do you need to stack extra bags? 

  1. Interior space and exterior dimensions

Do you need maximum packing space? What are the size restrictions for your airline carrier? Are you checking your bag or carrying it on the plane?

 

 So which one should you choose?

 When 4-wheel spinner luggage is best

Very little effort is needed to maneuver the suitcase. The ground supports the weight of the bag so you can push or pull it with one finger! This is especially helpful if you suffer from back or shoulder problems. A Spinner rolls best on flat surfaces like at the airport terminal and its 360-degree mobility is ideal for gliding through the narrow aisle to your airplane seat. A spinner is practically guaranteed to never tip over, even when you stack extra bags on top of it. It is recommended for elderly travelers, heavier suitcases or travelling with a family. The smaller spinner wheels can be more fragile and add some height and weight to the suitcase.

When 2-wheeled luggage is best 

If you’re rushing to catch a plane or pulling your suitcase up and down stairs and over uneven terrain, the 2-wheel design is a better option. The suitcase tends to be lighter with larger, sturdier, protected wheels that are recessed and don't protrude, providing a better fit in the overhead bin of the airplane. And the bag won’t roll away from you when you’re on an incline! There’s a bit more packing space but it can tip if overloaded.

 4-Wheeled Suitcase

samsonite firelite

  • Effortless 360 degree mobility on smooth surfaces, wheels swivel in all directions
  • Stable, won’t tip over
  • Easy to stack extra bags
  • Glides easily down narrow aircraft aisle
  • No weight to pull or push
  • Wheels generally add height and weight

 2-Wheeled Suitcase

eagle creek tarmac

  • Rolls forward faster and better on uneven terrain
  • More interior packing space
  • Fits better into overhead bin on airplane
  • Larger recessed wheels are sturdier and more protected from damage
  • Generally lighter weight
  • Won’t roll away
  • Can tip if overloaded
  • Shoulders, arms and back support more of the weight

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98 comments


  • Since much of my travelling involves wheeling luggage over rough terrain, descending and climbing stairs to access areas on small boats and generally requiring durable luggage, 2 wheels are the obvious choice. Wheels are usually larger and stronger and more recessed. 4-wheeled spinners have more of a tendency to be broken through rough airport handling.

    Arlene on

  • Great article! Some useful tips offered here that I completely agree with. Personally, I love the comfort and ease of a 4-wheeler, especially if you have a large heavy bag. However, if your trip will take you through some rugged terrain, the two-wheeled duffel is the way to go. I love these new duffel types where you can detach the wheels, which gives you the ultimate flexibility for your trip. I love Eagle Creek products because of their versatility. Handles on the sides or straps to carry a bag can come in very handy. I do a lot of international travel, and the bag I choose depends on the trip. If it’s a one-week vacation, anything with wheels is my preference. For longer duration, I prefer my Eagle Creek large duffel for its lightness and durable fabric. Have yet to try one of their wheeled products but they look sturdy!

    Sarah on

  • I like both depends on your travel
    4 wheels upright work easy and effortlessly on hard nice floors. But if you are on cobblestones 2 wheels are best. Think a bag with changeable wheels would be great also if you could take them off for flying would be amazing. ALSO lightweight is best I check a big bag because I ship painting supplies and they must be checked. So every Oz counts.

    Lynda on

  • I prefer 4 wheels because of the ease to maneuver in tight spaces. Also, I like that I can roll on 2 wheels when necessary (hello cobblestones streets) and get back to 4 wheels on flat surfaces – this allow my arms to rest as different muscle groups are engaged.

    Anne-Marie Huynh on

  • In my experience, 2-wheeled luggage is much more suitable for general use, as we usually don’t know precisely which types of surface a case will ultimately be used on. The 4-wheel spinners are only useful on smooth surfaces such as those within airport concourses, and are useless on rough, cracked or corrugated surfaces such as those typically encountered on sidewalks or ferry walkways.

    2-wheelers generally have bigger and stronger wheels which are often supported on both ends of the axle (= much more durable), and the case itself has greater capacity for a given height dimension (vital in these days of strict enforcement of size by airlines), as the 2 wheels are partially recessed.

    For me, the optimum case is a tough, lightweight 2-wheeler with large rubber-tired wheels (for comfort and lack of noise) with the axles supported on each side of each wheel. These are also easier to manoeuvre along the aisle of an aircraft, and with no protruding wheels to catch on other passengers’ coats, handbags, etc inside the overhead lockers.

    Richard Puckridge on


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