2 Wheel vs. 4 Wheel Luggage: Which is Best for Travel?

Two wheel vs. four wheel luggage in an airport

Before I set off on my latest jaunt around the world, I started thinking about 2 wheel vs. 4 wheel luggage. At the time, I had a 4-wheeled spinner suitcase. (Or technically 8-wheel, I guess.) It worked really well, especially when I was buzzing through airports or across smooth sidewalks.

Now, I was facing a rougher style of travel. I’m still a budget traveler, which means that I take public transportation when it’s convenient, and I spend a lot of time going up and down stairs and over rough sidewalks. Would a 4-wheel suitcase be the right choice over a 2-wheel model?

Learn about the suitcase I travel with: Best Two-Wheel Luggage

Pros of 4-Wheel Spinner Suitcases

For vacation-style travel, 4-wheel spinner suitcases are fantastic. They’re so easy to roll, even when they’re stuffed full — and even better, you don’t have to stress out your shoulder trying to drag heavy luggage through the airport. All it takes is a gentle pressure, and you’re good.

Cons of 4-Wheel Luggage

Here’s the thing, though — I’m not a vacation traveler. I don’t just pop from the airport to the car to the hotel. I’m dragging my suitcase over cobblestones in Europe and down those crazy uneven sidewalks in Mexico. My luggage is stuffed under buses and in overhead compartments on trains.

And that is where the cons come in:

Delicate: Put simply, 4 wheels means that there are more parts to break. One poorly timed throw into a cargo area, and those things are toast. And if one wheel is broken, it’s all downhill.

Not great for dragging: Spinner luggage is made to be pulled upright. But that doesn’t work on cobblestones and dirt roads — which means that I have to drag it. Have you ever tried to drag 4-wheel luggage over potholes in Thailand? It is a nightmare. The wheels go every which way, and you can’t get any momentum.

Bulky: Those 4 wheels add a good 2 or 3 inches to the bottom of your suitcase. If you’re trying to fit it in an overhead bin or in a crowded train, that extra length can be a deal breaker.

2 Wheel vs. 4 Wheel Luggage: Which Wins?

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You won’t be surprised to hear that I ended up with 2-wheel luggage rather than a 4-wheel model. (I chose the Samsonite Aspire Xlite, which is AWESOME.) Here’s why:

Easy to Roll on Any Terrain: Most 2-wheel suitcases use inline skate wheels, which are very different from spinner wheels. These things are wider and thicker, which means that they roll over any type of terrain. My current suitcase has been over crazy rocky roads in Mexico, cobblestones in Italy, ridiculous angled sidewalks in Guatemala, and all over Southeast Asia. It has been on trains, planes, buses, tuk-tuks, cars, shuttles, and everything in between.

Rugged and durable: Unlike 4-wheel luggage, the wheels on a 2-wheel suitcase are recessed. Since they’re not sticking out like spinners, they are much less prone to damage. They can’t be snapped off on impact, which means that my luggage is going to last longer.

2-Wheel Luggage: The Cons

Okay, obviously, 2-wheel luggage is not perfect. It’s a little bit of a pain to have to tow it, especially in long-ass airport hallways when it weighs close to 50 pounds. But since I spend more than half of my towing time outside of airports and train stations, I can live with that.

My trusty 2 wheel luggage on a train platform in Croatia

The real hassle? It’s so hard to find great 2-wheel luggage! I searched forEVER to find a model that had enough space, but that I could still carry with one hand. I finally found the Samsonite Aspire Xlite at a Kohl’s, and I love it. I also like the look of this Travelpro 2-wheel suitcase (which gets amazing reviews) and this Amazon Basics 2-wheel luggage set.

So that’s that! Unless I suddenly become a millionaire and can afford private cars and fancy hotels everywhere I go, the 2 wheel luggage vs. 4 wheel luggage is a no brainer. If you have any great 2-wheel luggage models, I’d love to hear! Leave ‘em in the comments, or email me.

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