Average Customer Review:
It's becoming almost impossible to find luggage without wheels, even on the smallest bags. And for good reason -- wheeled luggage is extremely convenient because it enables anyone to easily transport a heavy bag through a parking lot and the airport, and on to the gate or baggage-check area without strain.
There are two basic kinds of wheeled luggage, spinner, which has four wheels, and fixed, also called inline or roller bags. The latter have two wheels on the bottom of the handle side of the case and rests on the other side so the bag can stand upright. Both have pros and cons. Spinner wheels spin 360 degrees and allow the bag to be pulled behind you, pushed in front of you, or scooted along beside you. Spinner bags are extremely easy to push -- even with one finger. Inline wheels can only be pulled behind you, but they're thought to be more durable and they're easier to wrangle over curbs or other obstacles. In addition, inline wheels add less weight and bulk to a bag. Having said that, manufacturers are working on improving spinner wheels to make them lighter, smaller and tougher.
The clear standout in both spinner and inline wheels in this this category is Travelpro, and, if spinner wheels are your preference, experts and owners say it doesn't get any better than the Travelpro Platinum Magna 21-Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter (Est. $260). Travelpro's proprietary magnetic wheel technology solves many of the problems inherent in spinner wheels, namely, that they can make it difficult to control your bag -- spinner wheels tend to drift and "rock" when you pull them. This Magna collection solves that issue by keeping the wheels aligned no matter which direction you're going in.
There are six pieces in Travelpro's Platinum Magma line, but experts say the 21-inch spinner strikes a nice balance between roomy, well-organized packing options and size. At 21 by 14 by 9 inches, it will fit in the overhead bins of most normal-sized planes. Experts and owners say they can pack enough in this expandable suiter for about five days, but it's expandable by two inches if you need to squeeze in a bit more -- although, keep in mind, it may not fit into an overhead bin in when expanded. This 21-inch suitcase includes a removable, tri-fold suiter that is handy for business travelers, and has a good array of other organizational options, including side pockets and a mesh organizer. The two front pockets also earn raves; the larger one will accommodate all but the largest laptops (although it's not a dedicated laptop compartment, so it's not padded) and the smaller one gives you quick access to tickets and boarding passes. It's light, too, at just 7.9 pounds.
Samsonite is another popular luggage brand that's well-reviewed by professionals and travelers, and the Samsonite Inova 20 (Est. $230) looks to be a great choice if you prefer hardsided luggage. It's the number three pick at OutdoorGealLab.com, with testers there praising its TSA-approved integrated lock and flawless roll on high-quality wheels. It's not as large as some other carry-on bags, but plenty sufficient for a few days away, although it's not expandable, so don't expect to bring him more than you take, unless you already have extra room. Like most hardside luggage, there are no exterior pockets on the Samsonite Inova. On the inside, one side can be completely closed off for separating dirty and clean clothes.
Owner of the Samsonite Inova give it very high ratings, saying it's a very attractive bag that's a great choice for quick trips. The single stem handle doesn't allow you to attach other bags -- such as a laptop bag -- so this probably isn't a great choice for business travelers. However, casual travelers love its easy push and light weight (6.5 pounds).
There are reasons that travelers prefer fixed wheels, also known as inline wheels (think inline skates), or roller wheels over spinner wheels. They are thought to be sturdier and to add less weight to the bag. Frequent fliers say they are easier to pull, because they don't shift as much as spinner wheels and that they move along more quickly if you have to run with it to catch your flight.
Like our Best Reviewed spinner suitcase, our top pick in this category, the Travelpro Luggage Platinum Magna 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter (Est. $220), is part of the Platinum Magna collection, and is very similar in every way. It gets raves from experts and owners for its sturdy wheels and great capacity compared to its relatively small size. Owners say it's super easy to pull, even around the city, on cobbled streets, and up and down curbs and subway stairs. It's also light, at 7.7 pounds, and includes side, bottom and top handles. It has a nice organizational arrangement, including a large front pocket. The interior features a large compartment with compression straps, and a small mesh compartment. The lid is a mesh, zip compartment for storing personal items. This suitcase is expandable by two inches.
It's a lot pricier, which is the only thing that keeps it out of our top spot, but if you have the budget for it, a number of experts recommend the Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner (Est. $630). Reported as roomy, sturdy and durable, this bag is very popular with frequent flyers because it holds up well -- often for years -- and has a great variety of organization options, including a popular, built-in tri-fold garment bag. The large bag is going to be your best bet if you have to travel for extended periods because it holds plenty of stuff, but it also comes in smaller and larger sizes.
The reason the Briggs & Riley Baseline collection is such a great choice if you check your bags is because, in addition to be extremely durable, many of this bags components can be easily swapped out if something goes wrong. Briggs & Riley also offer a best in the business "simple as that" lifetime warranty that owners say really is as simple as that. In fact, in a recent survey for ConsumerReports.org Briggs & Riley was the top-rated brand in both the carry-on and checked bags categories.
All of those factors make the Briggs & Riley Baseline collection a terrific choice whether you're using checking it or are a frequent flyer using it as a carry on. This collection features a wide variety of styles and comes in either spinner or roller wheels.