Spinner Or Roller Luggage – Which One Is Better?

Spinner Or Roller Luggage – Which One Is Better?

Before we get into the differences and find out which one is better, spinner or roller luggage, I thought it might be good to quickly make sure which one is which. Spinners are the newer invention and usually have 4 wheels or even 4×2 wheels or double wheels to give more stability. Rollers are the older style of wheeled suitcase and only have 2 wheels.

Mostly you’ll find spinners in all the shops but there are some very good reasons to find a roller instead. Now let’s get a bit more into the differences and pros and cons for each to help you decide which one is the right choice for you.

As with most luggage, it really depends on the kind of travel you are planning to go on. Where are you going, how much are you packing, how many souvenirs are you adding to your luggage, how big and heavy will your suitcase be, and are you going to carry or lift the suitcase at some point?

The other point to consider would be your physical condition and your preferred level of comfort. Are you fit and healthy, will you be able to deal with cobblestones and won’t mind lifting the suitcase or even carrying it upstairs? These are some questions you need to ask yourself, as the answers to them might help you decide on spinner or roller luggage.

Spinners – 4 Wheels Are Great On Flat Surfaces

double spinner wheels
Double Spinner Wheels (8 wheels)

Most suitcases these days are spinners and consist of either 4 single wheels or 4 double wheels (sometimes called 8 wheeled). The difference between the 4- and 8-wheeled option is mostly that the 8 wheels or 4 double wheels are generally more robust.

Spinners are much more popular in stores. Most of the suitcases and carry-on luggage offered have 4 wheels or dual 4 wheels. Spinners are great when you are in a hurry to get to your gate and when walking on or running along an even ground.

Spinners are easy to manoeuvre and a very good feature for bigger sized and heavier luggage as they don’t need much effort at all to move them around. If you have limited mobility, a spinner might be the answer to your problem.

4-wheelers are great for sore backs as they enable you to gently guide them to roll alongside wherever you go. You might even be able to lean on the suitcase for support, which might eliminate the need for a walking stick.

You don’t need to push or pull them at all. They just slide from A to B and won’t fall over, so you don’t have to worry about damage from that.

Some spinners are quite good when it comes to using them as a roller for when you need to get on or off of kerbs, or even just using up less room when walking down the aisle of the plane – just tilt the spinner sideways. This of course depends on the quality and durability of the wheels.

More advantages would be when waiting in a queue (such as check in or security); all you have to do is just give the suitcase a nudge and it’ll move forward by itself. Another bonus with many spinners is the option to secure something on top of the suitcase with elastic bands; this could be your day pack for example, which you also don’t have to carry around anymore.

If this has already convinced you that a spinner suitcase is the right choice for you, check out some of the BEST SPINNER SUITCASES for 2018 here. 

Spinners – The Downside Of 4 Wheels

spinner wheels
Flimsy Spinner Wheels

The biggest problem with the spinners seem to be the wheels. The wheels on spinners usually stick out from under the suitcase and make them a bit more vulnerable to break off and the wheels’ plastic attachment to the suitcase many times looks a bit flimsy.

When using the bag as a 2-wheeler as sometimes you might have to on uneven surfaces, the covering of the wheels might be damaged or in the worst case, your 4-wheeler might turn into a 3 wheeler.

Another downside of bigger sized spinners of course, as with any bigger and heavier luggage is that if you do have to lift them (onto or off of a conveyor belt, in or out of a car), they can become a bit of a problem. On cobble roads or in a busy city with lots of getting on and off of sidewalks, bigger sized spinners can also be a hindrance.

Spinners have also been reported to be a bit of a hazard when trying to ‘park’ them on a bus or train, as they tend to roll all over the place. The same problem occurs when you’re walking on a bit of a slope; spinners, especially heavier ones, could be hard to control. Make sure you don’t let go of your spinner if you can’t safely place it somewhere where it can’t move by itself.

One more downside to the spinner is that the size includes the wheels, which means you essentially have less room in your bag. Also, when looking to buy a spinner, many times the sizing is misleading.

Make sure that the sizing stated includes wheels and handle so you don’t get a nasty surprise when, for example, trying to take a carry-on and having to check it as it is an inch bigger than advertised, due to the wheels and handle not being included in the advertised size.

When it comes to packing, a spinner can be a bit annoying, as it usually opens like a shell, meaning it opens right in the middle and everything can fall out if not fixed in place properly. A 4-wheeler will also use more room when packing and unpacking for the same reason.

Rollers – 2 Wheels Are The Perfect Choice For A Holiday In Europe

Roller luggage wheels
Sturdy Roller Wheels Attached To Frame

One of the biggest advantages for the roller suitcase would be the wheels that are directly attached to the frame. This makes the wheels far more durable than the spinner, which are usually sticking out far more.

The 2-wheeler will be perfect if you have to push or pull your luggage around at times, such as walking around a city or on cobblestone roads or up and down sidewalks. If you’re planning your holiday in Europe, the roller would be the better choice for exploring via train and public transportation.

The rollers usually offer more space (outside dimensions of spinners include the wheels, which are sticking out, as well as the handle, whereas rollers have the wheels attached to the frame), and when keeping in mind to put your heavier items towards the bottom, the chances of it falling over will be zero.

When buying a roller you don’t have to wonder what size it really is. A 22″ really is a 22″. You get what you see. Easy.

Also, it won’t be running away from you on a train or bus or on a sloped street. You can just park it next to you and it’ll still be there after you’ve finished consulting your map or paying for train tickets.

Rollers are easier to pack as they open on top, not in the middle. Things are not going to fall out as easily and the roller will use less room to pack and unpack because of that. If this has convinced you that rollers are for you, you can find the best roller suitcases for 2018 here.

Rollers – 2 Wheels Could Tip Over

There are not many downsides to rollers as far as I am concerned. One of the few would be that they are slightly less maneuverable on flat surfaces and require more effort to pull or push along.

Another minus point is that if not balanced right, they can tip over.

However, if you travel with more than one suitcase, the advantage of spinners is clearly that they are both easy to guide along, which does not apply for the rollers.

A roller also doesn’t have the option of keeping a day pack safely on top of it as it can easily slip off.

A bit of a problem is the fact that many shops, online as well as your local shops, mainly have spinner suitcases in stock. Especially when it comes to checked luggage it can be a bit of an annoyance that you don’t even get the choice between a spinner and roller anymore. Rollaboards – carry-on rollers – can still be found frequently though.

Choose Quality

As I mentioned at the beginning, make your choice according to your needs. If you are just planning on going from the airport to your hotel, and have heavy luggage, choose a spinner.

For your holiday in Europe (yes, I do like to mention it a lot, as I love traveling around Europe) choose a roller that won’t die on you (we’re talking wheels) when walking up and down those sidewalks of the cobblestone roads.

Whichever you choose, take a good look at the wheels before buying to make sure they are of good quality and can keep up to your requirements. Don’t be too shy to try the suitcases in the shop, try pulling and pushing them to see how they handle.

Leave a comment or ask a question below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Safe and fun travels!

12 Replies to “Spinner Or Roller Luggage – Which One Is Better?”

  1. I personally always use a spinner for short breaks and holidays in cities/more touristy areas. I find them so easy to push along and my arm doesn’t get tired!

    However, when I go more off-the-beaten track or to less developed countries, I always take my side opening rucksack as wheels would get ruined on the uneven ground! I think it’s definitely a good idea to have a couple of different bags for different situations 🙂

    1. That is very true, different situations require different luggage. You shouldn’t have too much of a problem with smaller sized items where ever you go, it’s mostly the bigger and heavier luggage that’d be harder to maneuver around. That’s where it’s important to plan a bit more and make sure it’s of better quality. It really comes down to the individual and their needs, doesn’t it? 🙂

  2. I have never taken much interest in suit case wheels but with your explanation i now know there is a difference. I would go for the 2 wheeler for my travel but if its a case of relocating with a lot of luggage i would go for the spinners.
    But if the spinner wheels are not that durable then how will they handle heavy luggage?

    1. That was my point, too. There are some better quality spinners around that should be able to handle even heavier luggage, but as I said, it’s really important to look at the wheels and give them a good test run in the shop to see how they handle. If they don’t handle well in the shop I’d stay away from them. My recommendation would be to look for the ones that have a stronger casing around the wheels, and also check what material they’re made of. 

  3. I have been searching for a decent suitcase for a while and to find your post has really helped me out, i never gave it a thought about four wheeled suitcase helping you with your back, we all like to lean on something while waiting in a queue and that would be ideal as you have said.
    I must say i think you have helped me out by deciding which one to get:)
    Thanks.

  4. Hey, Petra!

    I have to admit that I’ve always thought that spinners are better. This belief probably stemmed from the fact that they look much easier to maneuver than rollers are. And I’m used to people bragging about how easy they are to move. But I do agree that in reality, if you really think about it – there are a lot more downsides to it.

    At least for me certainly as when traveling I do use local public transportation a lot. I believe most people do.

    Another thing is that I’ve never actually owned a spinner. I’ve always opted for rollers as they tend to be cheaper. Probably that’s the reason why I hadn’t ever looked at the downsides of spinners.

    Cheers and thank you! I will continue to opt for rollers in the future. Yet, not anymore out of conserving the money, but because they actually suit my traveling style much, much more.
    Have a great one!

    1. Hi Matiss,

      I’m glad the article was of help. There are a lot of good points about either, spinner or roller luggage. Sometimes 4 wheels make more sense and sometimes 2 wheels handle the situation much better. As you said, it really depends on everyone’s need and travel style.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. Hi Petra, Thanks for the great article on four wheel and two wheel roller luggage. I havn’t tried 4 wheels but love the two wheel luggage. Makes it so much easier at the airport.

  6. The spinners always look cool but I have always been reluctant to buy as I am so used to the two wheels for when I need to run throughout the airport, hahaha. Thanks for the differences, fun read!

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