The rolling luggage discussed in this report also comes in bigger sizes, so you can buy larger luggage that matches your carry-on bag. Since checked luggage is handled roughly, it's a good idea to buy the highest-quality bag you can afford. A warranty that covers accidental damage is a big plus.
The REI Wheely Beast Wheeled Duffel 28-Inch (*Est. $180) is the winner of Outside magazine's 2009 Gear of the Year award. "I packed this thing 25 times during a walking tour of England," writes Outside magazine's Ted Stedman. "The 6,000-cubic-inch main compartment ate gobs of clothing and gear." About 35 users at REI.com give this bag an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Its biggest pluses are durability, capacity and ease of carrying. The bigger 35-inch duffel (*Est. $200) holds so much in its 7,200 cubic inches that owners say they have to be careful when they pack, so they don't exceed the airline baggage weight limit. We did see a few complaints about durability with the larger bag -- specifically, wear on or around the bottom, which could be due to all the weight it has to carry. Both bags come with REI's unlimited return or exchange guarantee.
Stedman also offers praise for the Eagle Creek Take 2 ORV Trunk 30 (*Est. $415). This bag falls between the two Wheely Beasts in size, with a total capacity of 6,590 cubic inches. However, half the duffel is actually a smaller bag that you can unzip off, giving you two separate bags of about 3,000 cubic inches each. The wheels are on the back section, while the removable front bag has hideaway backpack straps and a removable shoulder strap. Stedman especially likes the lining in the rear section, which keeps muddy boots and clothes isolated from other belongings. Users at Amazon.com find the bag sturdy, spacious and easy to pack, though some would like to see more interior pockets. The Take 2 ORV Trunk 30 is backed by Eagle Creek's lifetime "No Matter What" warranty.
Those seeking a less expensive bag should consider the High Sierra AT3 Sierra-Lite 32-Inch Drop-Bottom Wheeled Duffrite (*Est. $125), winner of Outside magazine's Killer Value award in 2006. Reviewer Stedman says it survived a "20-bag squashfest trucking over 13,000-foot passes in Bhutan" and kept fragile souvenirs intact. His one quibble: Its wheels don't spin freely. At 8,360 cubic inches, this bag is even larger than the 35-inch Wheely Beast, and also heavier (nearly 14 pounds as opposed to just over 11). It features hidden backpack straps and a lower compartment that drops open for easy access. Users at Amazon.com and eBags.com say this bag is huge, well organized and versatile. Its biggest drawback, they say, is the danger of exceeding airline weight limits. High Sierra's warranty covers the bag for five years, but it applies only to manufacturing defects -- not accidents or "normal wear and tear."