Suitcases and bags: two wheels or four?

Suitcases and bags: two wheels or four?

If you want a fiery debate along the lines of Holden vs Ford or Windows vs Mac, host a barbeque with some frequent travellers and bring up the issue of two wheel vs four wheel roller bags.

You may be surprised by the strength of the responses. Some people really resent those who aren't licensed in two-wheeler tight-space maneouvering, and thus bump into fellow passengers in the plane's aisle or let their bag fall over repeatedly.

Others can't abide the extra wheeling resistance put up by four-wheel spinners.

The religious fervour of frequent flyers aside, two-wheel vs four-wheel is just another factor in an already tough choice when you're in the market for a new bag, whether it's a full-size suitcase or carry-on bag.

Here's our take on the merits of each style -- and we'd love to hear yours in the comments.

Two wheeler

Pros

  • You can perch a second bag on top of it due to the angle you wheel it at
  • Easy manouvering around corners due to the two wheels operating at a fixed angle -- four wheeler bags can have trouble with misaligned wheels.
  • Reasonably easy to drag on all surfaces.
  • Usually lighter than four wheelers.
  • The bag won't roll away from you on sloped surfaces.

Cons

  • If overloaded, two wheelers can topple over forwards
  • Can be tiring to drag behind you if they're heavy -- your arm and back are supporting a lot of the weight.
  • As they can only be in one orientation when dragged, they may be too wide to easily get down narrow aircraft aisles.
  • Annoying in long queues at airports -- you can't nudge the bag along like you can with a four wheeler.

Four wheeler

Pros

  • The weight of the bag is entirely supported by the ground, not you!
  • Practically guaranteed not to tip over.
  • Able to be wheeled down narrow aircraft aisles sideway
  • On smooth surfaces, very little effort needed to roll it
  • Its ability to stand upright and still be manoeuvered is superior when getting on and off elevators.
  • Great in long airport queues -- you can just nudge the bag along with your foot.

Cons

  • Higher rolling resistance on rough surfaces like carpet/asphalt
  • Extremely difficult to wheel over uneven surfaces like cobblestones due to the small wheels designed to swivel.
  • Two more wheels may add extra weight to cabin bags
  • It's more of a 'push' rather than a 'drag behind you' which can get tiring
  • Because the wheels have to stick out, rather than being partly recessed into the bag, it can be harder to fit in tight aircraft lockers.
  • If you want to use it in two-wheel mode (dragged behind you), the wheels are often not well suited, as they're designed to swivel in all directions, not just back/forward.
  • There's no 'park brake' so the bag will roll away from you if you're on an incline like a driveway!
  • The wheels are typically smaller and more fragile than those on two-wheelers.

Over to you: two-wheels or four-wheels..?

danwarne

danwarne (danwarne)

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.
 

5 Comments

  • jokiin

    jokiin

    18 Jul, 2011 03:31 pm

    I won't get into the 2 v's 4 debate but if I could offer one tip for dealing with checked luggage, before you go anywhere turn your luggage upside down, have good look at it and remember what it looks like, the amount of people I see playing baggage carousel roulette picking up other peoples bags is ridiculous, I often look on in absolute wonder when they do eventually find their bags to see that they look nothing like anything they've been turning over for the previous 10 minutes, next time you're at the carousel have a look around and you'll see what I mean

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  • Billichka

    Billichka

    18 Jul, 2011 07:07 pm

    2 wheels for me - less likely to be damaged by airport automated baggage systems, also lighter.

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  • Al Glidden

    AlG

    18 Jul, 2011 08:33 pm

    2 wheels all the way. It goes where I want it to rather than risk acting like an out-of-control shopping trolley!

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  • Todd

    Todd

    2 Mar, 2012 09:06 am

    I prefer two wheels personally. I remember collecting luggage from the boot of a cab while my colleague paid the fare. He had four wheels, I had (and always have had) two so I was unaware of the roll-away potential of the four wheeler. It was only a quick dash that stopped the four wheeler going into heavy Brisbane traffic at the bottom of the hill. 

     

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  • Gary Binetter

    g3133

    29 Nov, 2015 05:56 am

    I once asked my cousin why he preferred 4 wheels to 2. He told me that he had been getting shoulder pain which stopped once he started using 4 wheels.

    A few weeks later I had pain in my shoulder. As soon as I changed to 4 wheels, it stopped. Whilst some of the cons written about may be valid, they concern me far less than the shoulder pain I was experiencing using 2 wheels.

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18 Nov, 2017 08:05 am

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