When you’re shopping for luggage, one thing you absolutely can’t afford to ignore is the wheels! They’re more important than you might think. Damaged wheels can ruin your trip and make it a lot harder to move around airports, streets, and everywhere else. No one wants a bumpy ride, that’s for sure! So, which luggage wheels last the longest? Are spinner wheels the best, or are in-line skate wheels the most durable?
Find out the answer below!
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Spinner or in-line wheels, which luggage wheels last the longest?
In-line skate wheels last longer than spinner wheels. They are built into the luggage body, which makes them stronger and less likely to get stuck or break.
On the other hand, spinner wheels can roll smoothly in any direction, but they are not as durable as inline skate wheels. They are more likely to break, especially when subjected to uneven surfaces like cobblestone streets, bumpy concrete, etc.
Read on for more details…
Types of Luggage Wheels
There are two main types of luggage wheels: in-line skate wheels and spinner wheels. Both types serve the same basic purpose, which is to allow you to roll your luggage instead of carrying it.
However, they have distinct differences, which I will discuss below:
In-Line Skate Wheels
In-line skate wheels are used in suitcases with two wheels on each corner. Carey of Get Set Luggage says these wheels are set up in a line and recessed into the luggage, so they roll smoothly on the ground.
This design makes it easy to pull your luggage as you walk and keeps it from tipping over. These wheels are simple, reliable, and often found in older suitcase models.
Advantages of rollaboard luggage with in-line skate wheels
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of bags with come with in-line wheels:
In-line wheels are more durable than spinner wheels
Choosing a bag with in-line skate wheels has a significant advantage: they are more durable than spinner wheels. Because these wheels are recessed into the luggage body, they are better protected from potential damage like getting stuck, wearing out, or being harmed by airport workers during handling. This means less chance of your wheels being broken in transit.
Expert World Travel explains in their article that the design of in-line skate wheels gives them better resistance to impacts than spinner wheels. If a spinner suitcase lands badly on one of its wheels, that wheel is likely to get torn off. However, this can’t happen with in-line skate wheels because they are recessed into the luggage body, and are likely to survive being dragged up and down stairs.
They can roll smoothly on different surfaces without getting damaged
Unlike spinner luggage, in-line skate wheels can handle uneven surfaces, cobblestone streets, bumpy concrete, carpeted hallways, and even grass with ease. If you often travel to places with uneven terrain, I highly recommend choosing luggage with in-line skate wheels. They are more durable and stable, ensuring a better rolling experience for you.
3. Two-wheeled suitcases fit better in the overhead bin of an airplane.
According to Rosalie Tinelli of AFAR, in her article highlighting the advantages of two-wheeled luggage, using spinner luggage may take up more space in small overhead bins, as the wheels can protrude. However, two-wheeled luggage has recessed wheels that do not stick out, and you can turn the suitcase sideways to optimize the space and ensure a better fit in the overhead bin.
4. Most recessed wheels found on luggage comply with the overall dimensions set by most airlines.
One advantage of having recessed wheels is that you don’t need to worry about your bag exceeding the airline’s size requirements.
However, this is not always the case with spinner luggage.
To ensure accurate measurement, you have to consider the wheels, handles, or any other protruding parts of the suitcase. Unfortunately, many luggage manufacturers do not include these protruding elements in the dimensions listed on their websites. As a result, it becomes easier to unintentionally exceed the acceptable dimensions set by airlines, particularly for carry-on spinner luggage.
5. They are more budget-friendly:
Suitcases with in-line skate wheels generally come at a more affordable price compared to spinner luggage. For instance, the Briggs and Riley Essential 2-wheel Carry-on, priced at $659, is cheaper than its Essential Spinner counterpart, which costs $699.
Disadvantages of rollaboard luggage with in-line wheels
I have highlighted the cons of bags that come with 2 wheels below:
1. Two-wheeled luggage eats into the space of the suitcase:
While recessed in-line skate wheels protect the wheels themselves, they also reduce packing space in your suitcase. This means you may have to give up some room in your luggage or find clever ways to pack for your next trip. Luckily, the space occupied by these recessed wheels is not too significant.
2. Limited mobility:
In-line skate wheels can be challenging to maneuver through tight spaces or crowded areas as you need to essentially drag your luggage behind you.
3. The strain on shoulders:
Two-wheeled luggage requires tilting and pulling, which can strain your arm and shoulder muscles when you are pulling for a long time.
Spinner wheels are a popular and modern choice among travelers. Unlike in-line skate wheels, spinners have four wheels (some models even have eight wheels) attached to the four corners of the luggage. These wheels can rotate 360 degrees, which makes them very easy to use and maneuver in any direction.
Advantages of spinner luggage
Let’s delve into their own inherent advantages and disadvantages for both hard shells and soft side suitcases:
Easy Navigation and multi-directional rolling:
The best thing about spinner luggage is how easy it is to move in any direction – whether it’s behind you, alongside you, or in front of you. The four wheels provide excellent mobility on smooth surfaces, as they can rotate 360°, allowing you to effortlessly glide your luggage in any direction.
Reduced strain on your body:
The wheels’ ability to rotate in any direction means you don’t have to tilt and pull the luggage, which in turn reduces strain on your arm and wrist. It’s much more comfortable to move your bag with this easy-to-use multidirectional movement, putting less pressure on your wrist.
4-wheel suitcases have better balance and stability:
Unlike a poorly packed 2-wheel suitcase that can easily tip over, spinner luggage provides superior balance and stability, even when it’s standing upright. With spinner wheels, you can confidently roll your suitcase on different terrains without worrying about it falling over.
Spinner-wheeled luggage is easy to handle, no matter the size.
Whether your suitcase is small or large, you can simply push the luggage in front of you with minimal effort. You won’t have to deal with a sore arm from dragging the suitcase behind you.
They are much easier to maneuver in a crowded space:
When you’re in a tight space or a crowded area where dragging a suitcase behind you isn’t practical, a spinner suitcase is a lifesaver. Instead of lifting the suitcase, you can just roll it alongside you, smoothly maneuvering through the crowd. This is something you can’t do with a piece of 2-wheeled luggage.
Disadvantages of spinner luggage
Below are the cons of luggage with spinner wheels:
Prone to Damage:
Spinner wheels are more likely to get damaged when they are exposed to rough handling or impacts. Their design, with wheels sticking out, makes them easier to break. Moreover, spinner wheels can easily break when used on uneven terrain or rough surfaces.
The wheels eat into the dimensions of the luggage:
The wheels of spinner suitcases take up space because they stick out on the outside. When you use a sizer to measure your carry-on bag, the wheels are also counted in the size limit. This can be a problem on smaller aircraft with limited cabin space, as your suitcase may need to be checked instead of being allowed as a carry-on item.
Luggage with spinner wheels is pricier than luggage with in-line skate wheels. So, if you’re shopping for budget-friendly luggage, keep this in mind.
Spinner Wheel Luggage vs. 2-Wheeled Luggage: which luggage wheels last the longest?
When it comes to durability, 2-wheeled luggage, also known as “upright,” “inline,” “rolling,” or “rollaboard” luggage, is more durable than luggage with spinner wheels because of its design and construction.
One of the main reasons why 2-wheeled luggage is more durable is because its wheels are recessed into the body of the bag, providing them with better protection from bumps and rough handling. Experts at The New York Magazine agree, stating that having wheels inside the case makes them stronger. They compare it to car tires that eventually wear out with use, but overall, they are more protected.
On the other hand, spinner wheels are on the outside of the luggage, making them more likely to get damaged. They can easily get caught, bent, or broken, especially when traveling on rough surfaces or when handled by airport staff. The New York Magazine correspondent says that they often see broken spinner wheels when people roll off curbs or put too much force on escalators.
Experts at Clever Journey and Expert World Travel have also confirmed that in-line skate wheels used in rollaboard luggage are larger and sturdier, built to handle different surfaces without getting damaged. They roll smoothly over bumpy concrete, grass, or dirt.
Moreover, Oscar Brumelis, a writer for Clever Journey explains that airlines treat spinner wheel luggage more delicately due to the wheels’ vulnerability, yet spinners are still more likely to break compared to regular rollaboard luggage.
Personally, I have used suitcases with two rolling wheels and four spinner wheels. Although I like spinner wheels because they offer better maneuverability, they are not as durable as 2-wheeled luggage. So, if you want the most durable luggage wheels, I recommend choosing 2-wheeled luggage with inline skate wheels.
Factors Affecting Luggage Wheel Durability
Here are some key factors that affect the durability of suitcase wheels:
Luggage Wheel Materials:
The materials used in luggage wheels make a big difference in how well they work and how long they last. So, I suggest choosing luggage with high-quality materials like polyurethane, which is a strong and high resilient flexible plastic. Travelpro and Journey Junket also endorse polyurethane wheels because they are the most durable wheels.
On the other hand, rubber (Thermoplastic Rubber) and some other plastics wear out quickly and can make the wheels harder to roll. It’s better to avoid these materials for suitcase wheels.
The size of the wheels affects how durable they are. Bigger wheels spread the weight of the luggage evenly, making each wheel less stressed. Moreover, larger wheels are less likely to get stuck or caught on uneven surfaces, which lowers the chances of damage.
Number of Wheels
If you’re a fan of spinner wheels like I am, I suggest getting luggage with double-spinner wheels on each corner of the rolling bag. It’s more durable and stable than having just four single-spinner wheels. TravelPro agrees with this and says that having eight wheels reduces the need for wheel repairs or replacements. So, choosing 8 wheels instead of 4 is smart for strong and dependable luggage.
Apart from being made from good materials with high-quality ball bearings for smooth spinning, the best luggage wheels should also have reinforced corners, foot bumpers, and wheel guards. These extra features protect the wheels from damage caused by impacts. So, when choosing luggage, make sure it has these additional hardware features to keep your wheels protected.
Handling and Storage:
How you handle and store your luggage also affects the durability of the wheels. When airport staff handles your bag roughly or when you store it improperly, the wheels can get stressed and damaged. To keep your wheels in good shape, be careful when loading, unloading, and storing your luggage. Remember, if you take care of your luggage, it will last you a long, long time.
When choosing luggage, go for one that comes with a dependable luggage manufacturer warranty. This warranty should cover defects in the materials or workmanship of the bag. This means if something goes wrong, you can get the wheels repaired for free. Considering how often wheels can get damaged, I think having that extra protection is a smart move for your luggage.
How to replace wheels on your suitcase
In conclusion, when considering which luggage wheels last the longest, in-line skate wheels are the winner. They have better protection because they are recessed into the bag’s body, shielding them from bumps and rough handling.
On the other hand, spinner wheels are great for smooth rolling in any direction but are more prone to breaking, especially on uneven surfaces. So, if you want long-lasting wheels, go for in-line skate wheels.
Over to you. Between spinner wheels or in-line skate wheels, which is your favorite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.