Not sure what kind of wheels you want on your luggage? Then you’re in the right place because this detailed guide to the types of luggage wheels has all the information you need to make up your mind!
There are two types of luggage wheels – in-line skate wheels and spinner wheels. Both kinds have their own inherent advantages and drawbacks, so it’s impossible to say that one type is the best option for everyone. Keep reading to see the key differences between the wheel types, and for ideas on the best luggage with each type of wheel!
In-line skate wheels are made from hard but flexible plastic. Just like skateboard wheels, they can only move in two directions – forwards and backward. This means that you will need to tilt your luggage to get the wheels rolling, which isn’t the most convenient way of transporting a suitcase.
Additionally, these wheels are practically built into the luggage. The upside of the design is that they don’t add a lot of height to the luggage, but the downside is that they are more difficult to repair on a suitcase, especially the wheels with ball bearings that are riveted to the luggage with a metal rod.
These wheels usually come in pairs, but it’s also possible for luggage to have three or even more in-line skate wheels. Luggage with in-line skate wheels usually features some sort of foot bumpers in the front, which ensure that the case doesn’t tip over when fully packed.
In-line skate wheels are more durable than spinner wheels. They are designed to roll smoothly over different surfaces, so you won’t have any issues with bumpy concrete, grass, or dirt. They are recessed into the luggage body, which just increases their overall durability and means that you most likely won’t have to deal with stuck wheels any time soon.
That’s why most people don’t think twice about dragging luggage with in-line skate wheels down (or up) a flight of stairs, but they’d be reluctant to do so with spinner luggage.
The design means they have much better impact resistance than spinner wheels – if a spinner suitcase lands badly on one of the wheels, that wheel will most likely get torn off. This can’t happen with in-line skate wheels precisely because they are recessed into the luggage body.
Another thing to note here is that the low-profile design means that they don’t add that much height to the luggage. This allows for a larger empty luggage case and it ultimately means that you’ll have more packing space in a 21” suitcase with in-line skate wheels than you would in 21” spinner luggage.
The main disadvantage of luggage with in-line skate wheels is that it’s harder to maneuver. You need to drag the suitcase behind you, which makes it more challenging to get around crowded areas.
Also, if you have to drag your suitcase for a long time, your wrist and arm might eventually start to hurt, depending on just how heavy the luggage is. You will feel the weight of a suitcase with in-line skate wheels when you’re dragging it, which is something that doesn’t happen with spinner luggage.
Another thing to note about this luggage is that the recessed wheels might take something away from the interior of the packing compartment. You might have to pack around them in the corners – an issue you won’t have to deal with if you opt for spinner wheeled luggage.
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The Maxlite 5 suitcase from Travelpro is the best example of quality brand luggage with in-line skate wheels. If you prefer upright luggage and you want a high-quality bag, this is a great option.
The Maxlite 5 luggage is made from high-density nylon with a DuraGuard coating. The coating makes the bag water and stain-resistant, for excellent performance in changing conditions. The suitcase boasts a generous packing compartment, a height-adjustable wheel handle, expandable capacity, and multiple smaller pockets and compartments for easy organization.
It’s also worth noting this brand offers a great luggage manufacturer warranty, whether you’re purchasing one of their suitcase or just a duffel bag.
Samsonite is one of the best luggage brands out there. If you want a high-quality suitcase – spinner or upright – you won’t be disappointed with their luggage. This upright suitcase from Samsonite is available in a carry-on size, which is ideal for 2-3 day trips.
This simple suitcase features a spacious packing compartment, internal and external pockets, and a TSA-friendly lock. It’s a very simple suitcase but it’s got all the basic features you need from a good carry-on.
The luggage doesn’t have an expandable capacity – although this means you’ll fit fewer items inside, it’s not such a bad thing since it makes it almost impossible to overpack the bag. This means that you should never have any issues when this is your carry-on, even on budget airlines that are extra strict with baggage sizing.
The key feature of spinner wheels is that they can turn 360°. This means that you never have to tilt your luggage to get it rolling, and you definitely don’t ever have to drag a heavy suitcase behind you. That’s precisely why they are considered the best luggage wheels out of the bunch.
Spinner wheels allow you to maneuver your luggage in any direction you want, which makes them extremely convenient for smooth airport floors.
Spinner wheels can be single or double. Luggage with single-spinner wheels is generally more affordable than luggage with double-spinner wheels, but there’s not a huge difference in terms of performance. Both types perform equally well on smooth surfaces, but double spinner wheels glide a bit more smoothly on rougher terrain and they’re slightly more durable.
The main advantage of spinner luggage is that you can maneuver it in any direction you want. Spinner wheel luggage is generally easier to control, which makes it a better option for people who usually travel with multiple pieces of luggage.
They also make it easier to get around with a very heavy suitcase. You can just push the luggage in front of you with minimal effort – the suitcase wheels will take care of everything else, and you definitely won’t have to deal with a sore arm after dragging a suitcase behind you.
Also, spinner luggage is easier to maneuver in a crowd. If you’re in a tight space and you don’t necessarily have enough space to drag a suitcase behind you, it will be much easier to move with a spinner suitcase. Especially because you can just roll it alongside you without ever having to pick it up.
Although spinner wheels are the more convenient option out of the two, they’re certainly not perfect. Unlike recessed wheels, these are attached to the exterior of the luggage. They add quite a bit to the height of a suitcase, so they can make your life more difficult when trying to stay within size and weight limits for baggage.
Also, a spinner suitcase will have four wheels at the very least, and eight of them if you have luggage with double spinner wheels. That’s at least two more wheels than a bag with in-line skate wheels, so consider just much more weight that adds to the luggage.
Spinner luggage is both heavier and bigger than luggage with in-line skate wheels but features less packing space inside.
Rockland London is a simple spinner carry-on. It’s great for people who want a hardside spinner suitcase but they don’t want to pay a premium for luggage. The suitcase is made from ABS plastic, it’s expandable, and it has multiple internal pockets and compartments.
The Rockland suitcases boast double spinner wheels that roll smoothly. You can maneuver this luggage however you like, be it alongside you, in front of you, or just behind you. The point is that you don’t have to tilt the bag to get the wheels rolling, which is the main advantage of spinner wheels.
This isn’t the best or most durable rolling luggage money can buy, but it’s an excellent mid-range option for people who need a carry-on and they don’t want to spend a fortune on it. Durability isn’t a huge deal with carry-ons because they travel in the cabin with you, but we wouldn’t recommend ABS plastic cases for checked luggage.
Delsey Paris Helium Aero is a high-quality hardside spinner suitcase. It’s available in multiple different sizes ranging from a small cabin bag to a large checked bag, so there’s definitely a size that’s just right for you.
This luggage is made from durable polycarbonate, a flexible material that doesn’t break easily. The cases all feature double spinner wheels, a height-adjustable wheel handle, expandable capacity, and a TSA-friendly lock.
The interior of the suitcases is spacious and equipped with dividers and elastic cross straps. However, you don’t get much in terms of pockets, so organization might be an issue if you’re not used to packing cubes.
How (often) do you travel? If you’re used to spending a lot of time at airports and you travel fairly often, it’s worth it to get luggage with spinner wheels. They’ll make your life a bit easier, at least while you’re at the airport and you’re trying to rush through a crowd to get to your gate in time for boarding.
If you don’t travel very often and you’re not concerned about maneuvering your luggage through crowds, in-line skate wheels will work just fine.
What kind of luggage do you need? If you want to buy a carry-on, a suitcase with in-line skate wheels will offer more packing space than spinner luggage. But if you want a big checked bag, spinner wheels will make the heavy bag easier to maneuver around the airport.
What’s your budget? Suitcases with in-line skate wheels are everywhere. They range from cheap bags found in local supermarkets, to high-end suitcases made by premium luggage brands. Spinner luggage is harder to manufacture, so it’s generally the more expensive option. Look for a suitcase with in-line skate wheels if you’re on a tighter budget.