2-Wheel vs 4-Wheel Suitcase. Best Tips for Picking the Right Bag
I take for granted that suitcases are so well-designed nowadays. It wasn’t long ago that people were lugging suitcases with a leash across airport terminals. However, there is one debate when it comes to luggage that continues to confuse travelers shopping for a bag … and that’s deciding between two wheels and four wheels. In this article I help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of both types of suitcases, and explain which might be a better fit for you.
To be honest, I’ve always been a two-wheel luggage kind of guy. But it’s only recently that I’ve added a four-wheel suitcase to my travel gear. For those of you that haven’t shopped for a suitcase recently, there are basically two
options and styles. You have the traditional two-wheel design that is meant to be dragged behind you, and the more modern four-wheel design that you push along. There are definitely pros and cons to both approaches, so I thought I’d list out the differences.
Starting with the traditional two-wheel suitcase, there are several benefits: Wheels take up less space in the suitcase: Since the wheels tend to be integrated into the suitcase, they tend to take up less capacity. For example, a 22 inch long two-wheel suitcase will usually have more space than a four-wheel version since the wheels take up less space and do not stick out. Wheels tend to be more durable: Since two-wheel suitcases tend to have wheels that do not
pivot or spin, they tend to be more robust and durable. Less expensive: Two-wheel suitcases are usually less costly than four-wheel models. In terms of drawbacks, most two-wheel suitcases suffer from the following issues:
Difficult to move multiple suitcases: This is a big one. It can be difficult to move multiple two-wheel suitcases at once. You can use straps to connect multiple two-wheel suitcases.
However, it’s just much more easy to push along multiple four-wheel suitcases. Can’t move sideways through aisles: This can also be a challenge for some travelers. Most two-wheel suitcases cannot be rolled down the airplane aisle, or at least without taking out some passenger’s arms. Prone to falling over: My two-wheel suitcase tends to fall over when I stuff anything in the front pocket. It seems to be much more sensitive to the distribution and balance of weight. Wrist and arm strain: Pulling a suitcase behind you can be straining on your arm and wrist, especially if you’re dragging it over long distances. Now if we look at four-wheel suitcases, here are the benefits:
Easier to move around: Since you are pushing the suitcase, it is generally easier to move than pulling a bag behind you. More stable: Four-wheel suitcases tend to have fewer issues with tipping over. It can be pivoted and pushed: Since the suitcase can be pivoted sideways, it makes it easy to roll down the airplane aisle until you’re ready to place it in the overhead bin. For cons, four-wheel suitcases have the following problems: Roll away on uneven surfaces: This tends to happen in the worst times too. If your bag is on an uneven surface, it can roll away from you. More vulnerable wheels: Since the wheels are more complex in their assembly, they tend to be less durable when it comes to moving on uneven or bumpy surfaces. Also, since the wheels on a four-wheel bag tend to stick out at the end, they are more likely to be damaged when checking in your bag.
Less useable space: As I mentioned earlier, the wheels can take up room since they stick out the bottom, so you often lose a bit of space in the suitcase. I decided to rate the two styles on a series of factors. If summarise, you’ll see that for movement, four-wheels are usually better than two-wheels. I say usually since four-wheel allows you greater mobility on smooth surfaces, it can be difficult when moving over rough or uneven terrain. Two-wheel bags, on the other hand, tend to be better suited for a wide range of surfaces, but lack the pivoting and maneuverability of a four wheel suitcase. Some of you might wonder which is faster to move around with at the airport. I think that pulling a bag was faster than pushing one. However, after using the 4-wheels bag and seeing how it can swivel, it allowed me to walk between and past people that would not have been possible with my two-wheel bag. So I think it’s pretty even. You might have more speed with a two-wheel suitcase, but you get more maneuverability with the four-wheel suitcase. For space, two-wheel bags tend to have more room since the wheels are usually integrated into the body of the suitcase. The wheels of a four-wheel suitcase tend to stick out, which means that it counts against the length of the suitcase. For stability, I think four-wheels is better than two. My two-wheel suitcases have a tendency to fall over, especially if I’ve loaded the front pockets. For durability, I have to give it to two-wheel suitcases. Since the wheels on a two-wheel suitcase do not pivot, they tend to be more durable and steady. Also, since they are often less exposed than a four-wheel suitcase, they are less likely to get damaged when checking in your bag. For price, two-wheel suitcases tend to be cheaper too. However, four-wheel suitcases are more popular right now, so you’re seeing less and less of a price difference between the two styles. Finally, for versatility, I think four-wheel suitcases offer a lot more versatility. One thing to keep in mind is that you can always treat a four-wheel suitcase like a two-wheel suitcase in case you need to drag it behind you. So, it’s tie.
Though if I were advising someone who was looking to buy a suitcase, I would recommend four-wheels for a carry-on sized suitcase, and two-wheels for a large check-in bag. While you might sacrifice some space with a four-wheel bag, I think you can often capture more space by using devices like packing and compression cubes.
Also, here are a few other things to keep in mind when considering which luggage to get.
1. Look for durable wheels and handles: When picking a suitcase, there are many brands to choose from. I tend to steer away from the designer brands and lean more toward travel brands. That being said, I recommend inspecting the wheels, handles, and zippers closely when purchasing any suitcase. There are areas that tend to break, so it’s worth getting suitcases that have large and durable wheels, sturdy and smooth retractable handles, and smooth and quality zippers.
2. Determine the case material: You’ll often need to pick between hard or soft case suitcases. I don’t think that there is a huge difference between the two in terms of protecting your items inside. In theory, a hard shell should be more protective, but the reality is that a soft shell can often absorb more impact. Also, a hard shell will likely show more wear with scuff marks. Though when it comes to inclement weather, a hard shell definitely has the advantage since it won’t soak up water.
3. I would recommend to anyone looking for a high-quality bag, it may not make sense if you only travel once or twice per year. I bought my two-wheel suitcase at one many years ago, and it continues to serve me well.
4. Consider using a backpack for adventure trips: Despite two-wheel suitcases being better suited for uneven or rough surfaces, they are a pain to drag across gravel or unpaved surfaces. If you know you’ll be doing an adventure trip, or even a trip where you’ll be moving a suitcase over cobblestone roads, I would consider using a backpack instead.
What are your thoughts on two-wheel or four-wheel suitcases? Do you have a type or brand that you swear by? Let me know in the comment section below.I hope you found this information useful. If so, please give me a thumbs up and consider sharing it with others.