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The Ultimate Debate: To Buy 2-Wheel or 4-Wheel Luggage?

October 26, 2010 at 9:43 AM | by | ()

We know there are strong opinions and hard evidence out there in the case of 2-wheeled luggage versus 4-wheeled luggage, and we want to hear them! You see, there comes a point in a traveler's life when such a choice must be made, and it's not always easy to pick a side. There is design, comfort, weight, brands, guarantees and overheard storage space to consider and it's a tad overwhelming when you're searching for the perfect constant travel companion.

So help out your fellow travelers; what bag do you swear by? Why does a traditional two-wheel trump the newer four-wheels, or is it the other way around? Share your position in the comments, and meantime we'll separate our own two and four-wheelers to different sides of the ring.

[Photos: loungerie, superciliiousness]

Archived Comments:

4 Wheels 4 Lyfe

Maximum flexibility. You know those people on a crowded subway who have their 2-wheelers and then try to move it to get out of someone's way by tipping it and wheeling it, only to bump into someone else? Those people suck. Sure, 4-wheelers have a higher likelihood to roll away, but I rarely spend more than 30 seconds without actively holding on to my luggage in the first place. There are thieves everywhere!

Never tried 4-wheel

I've only used 2-wheel, as the 4-wheel looks a little complicated and it's weird that it would never leave the ground. Also, I'm pretty sure I'm not coordinated enough to operate 4-wheel. I'd probably try to work it like a 2-wheel.

Two Wheels

Fits nicely in overhead and can balance my laptop bag on top of it while rolling it through T5.

Two Wheels

The four wheel thing looks intimidating and awkward. I can't imagine hoisting it off the ground without bumping the other wheels into things, and I'm kind of worried it'll roll away when I try to prop my laptop on top of it.

Two Wheels

I'm with the 2-wheeled lovers - easy to balance my carry-on bag around the handle and easier to stow! I swear by Tumi's T-Tec luggage set, it's indestructible.


i once tried a 4 wheeler in a shop and it felt unsteady. so two it is


Can I play both sides here? I've always traveled with a two-wheeler, hardside case that's more than proved its indestructibility and that it fits every overheard compartment. It's lightweight & I like the rollerblade wheels for quiet rolling. However, I've been playing with a 4-wheeler hardside case lately & it's pretty neato. For getting around escalators, subways and stuff, the 4 wheels can't be beat. It's also lightweight & surprisingly compact for a 4-wheel carryon. Houston, we may have a problem.


I mean "overhead," obviously.


I have to say that I've never used four-wheeled luggage. It just seems not as stable and easy to lug around as a two-wheeler.

2-Wheels Please

I've taken 4-wheelers for test drives--and they're neat--but I don't think I could handle one out in the wild.

The big thing with the 2-wheeler is that I know they are easier to shove in the overhead bin, and I can use it as a footrest without it escaping out from under my feet.


I have a samsonite 4 wheeler that is beat up to the extreme,, but it is my favorite bag to use as checked luggage.. For my carry ons 2 wheels are the way to go


I've honestly never tried a four wheel bag but have had plenty of 2 wheelers and didn't really like any of them. I have a hard enough time navigating curbs, subways and escalators on my own, let alone while dragging a heavy bag on wheels along with me.:) A couple years ago, one of my friends, who is an avid camper, convinced me to try a Euro Sak and I actually really like it. Yes, it can be a pain (literally) to carry the full weight of a packed bag on your back, but I think its way easier to get around an airport or train station without having to drag something around, not to mention it forces fellow travelers to keep a comfortable distance behind you! :)

I forgot!

I do have a 4-wheeler! I used it on my honeymoon to Oz. The reason why I stopped using it was because its so big, it needs to be checked and I try not to check a bag these days.

However, I pulled it out of storage for my upcoming trip back East as I am moving some clothes from my house to my parents house. The wheels make it nice to move around. So I think it's definitely a good thing to have if you have a heavy suitcase.

Two wheels = back ache

Of course the need to avoid checking bags is high on my list but the hand baggage style 2 wheelers just never have enough handle for taller people which means they stoop uncomfortably to pull the case and invariably it begins to wobble badly.

Buy Both!

I bought the 4 wheel for our trip to France in July and it was invaluable. It was checked luggage, but because it was heavily packed for a 3 week trip, it was so easy to "push" in the airports or at taxi stands. My arm did not feel like it was falling off. It also can be pulled traditional 2 wheel style when needed, which I did have to do a few times. You do need to watch those inclines, but I also had a hand on it. I also have a 2 wheel for shorter trips when my bag is lighter, but LOVE the 4 wheel for a heavier bag.


Well I Would Have to say 2 wheel luggage hands down! Best Maine Vacation

Four wheels for me.

I find that configuration to be much easier to use in lines for ticketing or security.

Two Wheeler Fanatic

Almost always in a hurry, I prefer a two-wheel luggage as I can easily maneuver it. The wheels are oriented for forward and backward motions only, hence, just a little twist on the handle and the luggage will pivot according to my wish. Four-wheelers? I observed it's a little bit complicated to handle. Its wheels are 360-degree oriented and there is a tendency that the wheel in the other corner will not automatically go with the direction of the other.

4 wheels 4ever!

Seemed like everytime I had a connecting flight, it was at the other side of the airport. By the time I got home, my shoulders were screaming. I purchased a carry-on 4 wheeler (yes, it does fit in the overhead bin) and loved it so much, I went back and bought the two larger sizes. I used them all for my first trip to Paris last month and they worked perfectly. They were so much easier to use than my traditional two wheels that I will never go back.

Two wheels

Two wheels is the only one for me because it can stand up on a train and not disappear down the carriage every time the train moves.

Trade Offs...2 or 4 wheels

4 Wheel Pros:  
Can be pushed narrow depth wise down the planes isles when entering/exiting. Luggage is WEIGHTLESS  when pushing/pulling in a vertical position.

4 Wheel Cons:  
Wheels add 1"-1.5" to the exterior height and/or the interior dimension of the luggage is decreased. TravelPro's spinners hamper vertical access to the luggage area when packing due to front wheels*.  Smaller diameter spinner wheels pull hard when the luggage is at an angle.  Hard to pull/push vertically, or at an angle on cobblestone, dense carpet, or any uneven surface.  Harder to get in/out of overhead compartments and car trunks [especially European car trunks].

2 Wheel Pros:  
Larger diameter wheels navigate uneven surfaces.  Easy to get in/out of overhead compartments and car trunks. Wheels [2] are easily repaired/replaced by owner. No exterior height gain and/or interior space loss for a given size of luggage.

2 Wheel Cons:  
Must be rolled width wise down a plane's isles.  Since these are pulled/pushed at an angle, travler must ALWAYS carry some of the luggage weight.

Hope this helps!  As 68 & 69 year old travelers, we are each buying TravelPro Crew 9 Rollaboard [2 wheels] in the 22"expandable [carry on] and 26" expandable [stowed].  

*Go to Macy's and compare TravelPro Crew 9, offered both in Rollaboard [2] wheels & Spinner [4] wheels.  Note that Rollaboard sizes are 22", 24", 26", and 28".  NOW note that the Spinner sizes are 21", 25", and 29".  When you compare them side by side you can see the trade offs in overall size and compartment size due to the wheels. That is why the sizes available for both are not identical.   Note how the Spinner's front wheels frame makes access to the interior compartment offset.

2 wheels forever!

I am a photographer/filmmaker and I travel 6 months of the year on all forms of conveyance. My one experience with 4 wheeled suitcases make me question how they have stayed on the market as long as they have. 4-wheelers are only functional on hard flat surfaces. If you have to roll your luggage over anything more than a 2" impediment you may not even have wheels. Rolling on smooth, even tile or pavement 4-wheelers work fine. Cobblestones? Drain grates? Expanded steel platforms? Forget-about-it. 4-wheeled suitcase are only for those who never venture outside of airports or hotels. I generally carry a large suitcase, a carry on, and large Pelican equipment case, all 2 wheeled. I can place my computer bag on my carry on and lash the pelican to my large suitcase and push/drag them anywhere, even on a escalator, by myself. I hope they will all survive this market-driven 4-wheeled fad so I won't have to hire a valet when I travel.

Can 4 wheel be tipped & used as 2 wheel??

Never tried a 4 wheel & my suspicions about them seemed to be verified by other comments here. They just dont look like they are built for anything apart from airports & hotels! I travel a lot & who knows what terrain I might encounter from airport to hotel. If I could use a 4 wheeler on its side like a 2 wheeler when needed that would be best of both worlds. Does anyone know if this is possible??? If not then I would be shooting myself in the foot buying a 4 wheel. Annoying that the best/top end suitcases all seem to be 4 wheel.