People have strong opinions about just about everything in the travel space, and that includes luggage. In this post I wanted to address one of the most controversial topics in the luggage world — should you get a spinner suitcase?
In this post:
What are spinner suitcases?
For those not familiar with the terminology, a spinner suitcase is an upright bag with four wheels (as opposed to roller luggage, which has only two wheels). While it’s absolutely not always the case, spinner suitcases are often hard-sided, while roller bags are more often soft-sided.
It seems like in recent years, spinner suitcases have become all the rage, with many bag manufacturers largely switching from two wheels to four wheels for their bags. So, what are the pros and cons of spinner bags vs. roller bags?
The pros of spinner suitcases
There are several benefits to spinner suitcases compared to roller luggage:
- Spinner suitcases are much more flexible, in the sense that you can roll them next to or in front of you, which isn’t so practical with roller luggage
- Spinner suitcases are more maneuverable, and can be rolled sideways into tighter spaces; this is great whether you’re walking down an airplane aisle, or are rolling a bag through an automated immigration kiosk or through a train turnstile
- On flat and even surfaces, spinner suitcases are arguably easier to roll, as there’s less friction, and less pressure on your arm and shoulder
- Spinner suitcases are often hard-sided, which some prefer, as it’s potentially more durable, and protects the items in your bag
The cons of spinner suitcases
There are also several downsides to spinner suitcases compared to roller luggage:
- Spinner suitcases typically have external wheels, which doesn’t help with maximizing space, as they stick out; when you put your carry-on bag in a sizer, the wheel space counts toward the limit
- Spinner suitcases are great on flat and even surfaces, but the second you deal with an incline, or you’re inside something that’s moving (a train, subway, etc.), or you have an uneven surface, they can become a burden
- Not all bags are equally durable, and sometimes wheels break; you’re more likely to have issues if you have four wheels rather than two wheels
- Spinner suitcases are more likely to be hard-sided, which doesn’t maximize space, and doesn’t allow you to expand your bag in the event that you’re carrying more than usual
I’m in the anti-spinner luggage camp
Let me acknowledge that this is a topic that divides my household. Ford exclusively has spinner bags with four wheels, for both carry-ons and checked bags (he uses Rimowa bags). He says I’m too practical. I exclusively have roller bags with two wheels (I use Briggs & Riley), for both carry-ons and checked bags. I say Ford isn’t practical enough.
Does Ford’s Rimowa look nicer than my Briggs & Riley bag? Probably (though I find Rimowa bags scratch up so easily). Personally I don’t think Briggs & Riley bags look particularly great, but they’re incredibly durable (I made the switch from Tumi a few years back, and have been very happy about that).
But style aside, I can’t help but point out that when we travel together, I generally have fewer issues with my bag than Ford does. Basically any time we’re not on a flat, smooth surface (which is quite a bit of the time), I find that my bag offers a more seamless experience.
I know some people feel like it can be tougher on your wrists and heavier to have a two wheeled bag than a spinner bag. My solution is that I hang my backpack off the back of my carry-on with a clip. This acts as a balance to the bag’s weight when I’m carrying it behind me, and makes it feel virtually weightless.
There’s also not nearly as practical of a way to hang a second bag off a spinner bag as with a roller bag. You can place something on top, but that can be limiting.
Anyway, I make absolutely no claim that my system is better than anyone else’s. However, I’ve been using two wheeled roller bags for as long as I can remember, and I refuse to make the switch. I’m probably just stubborn, since the luggage industry is increasingly headed in the direction of spinner suitcases. I just can’t get behind the concept.
People have strong opinions about the merits of four wheel spinner luggage vs. two wheel roller luggage. There are pros and cons to both types of bags. Call me traditional, but I’m stuck in my ways with roller luggage. I appreciate how these bags perform better with complicated surfaces, and I also like how I can clip something to the side of the bag, to maximize how much I can easily carry.
Where do you stand — do you prefer spinner luggage or roller luggage?