How Wheeled Luggage Could Ruin Your Trip

Fred Perrotta

As I hopped off of the curb, I heard a sharp CRACK then my suitcase started veering left, into traffic.

Damn it!

I’d cracked a wheel and now the suitcase was moving of its own volition. With no better option, I picked up the heavy bag and carried it. My clothes felt like they’d been replaced with bricks.

Luckily, I was only a few blocks from my apartment, where I could alleviate myself of this dead weight. What would I have done if this happened on the other side of the world where I didn’t have a way to replace it?

Luckily, I’ll never have to find out. Due to wheeled suitcases’ propensity to ruin a trip, I’ve abandoned them altogether in favor of backpacks.

Do what I did and JUST SAY NO TO WHEELED LUGGAGE. Otherwise, you run the risk of having one (or more) of the following problems ruin your trip.

Broken Wheels

Suitcase wheels are meant for the smooth linoleum floors of an airport, not the cobblestone streets of Old Town Prague.

As a traveler, you’re constantly on the move, jumping on and off of trains and trudging up long, winding hostel stairwells. The real world can take quite a toll on your suitcase’s cheap, plastic wheels.

In the likely event that those wheels break, you’re screwed. Once the wheels stop rolling perfectly, you’ll need to carry the suitcase by the small, uncomfortable top handle.

Not only will it be unwieldy, it will also be significantly heavier than a comparably-sized backpack because of the metal and plastic in the handle and wheel structures. A suitcase with a bum wheel quickly becomes an encumbering ball and chain.

Rough Terrain

Wheeled luggage does not function well in adverse conditions. You will have to drag your bag through any rough terrain you encounter, potentially ruining the fabric and/or wheels.

You wouldn’t want to roll your suitcase through any of the following conditions: beaches (sand), dirt roads, cobblestone streets, mud, bodies of water, staircases, between train cars, steep hills, mountains … Am I belaboring the point?

Will you encounter any of these situations in your travels? If so, your suitcase may not survive the trip.

Gate Check

Ding! “We have a full flight today and may ask some passengers to check their luggage when boarding. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Just when you thought you could board your flight without the risks and fees of a checked bag, you hear that all-too-familiar announcement. If you’re forced to hand your bag over to the airlines, you never know what condition or city it will end up in.

When the gate attendant starts head hunting for bags to check, what is his first target? Wheeled luggage.

If you have a backpack on your back or duffel bag on your shoulder, you won’t be singled out for a last minute, involuntary bag check. Use a backpack and stay off the airlines’ radar.

The Solution

The bottom line is that wheeled luggage is a perfectly fine choice under ideal conditions. However, you will rarely encounter ideal conditions on your journeys.

When the going gets tough, a wheeled suitcase quickly becomes a twenty-pound albatross. Make the smart choice (a backpack) and JUST SAY NO TO WHEELED LUGGAGE.

Outbreaker: The Best Backpack for Urban Travel

So, wheeled luggage is out, what should you pack in instead? What you need is a well organized, ergonomically engineered, and thoughtfully designed bag made specifically for the kind of travel you do: Urban travel. No one hopping trains in Europe or flights around Southeast Asia needs a pack designed to hike the back country. That’s just dumb. But that’s what’s been most prevalent on the market.

The Outbreaker collection was custom designed, by travelers, for the way we really travel, and to pack in a way keeps things organized and accessible. A comfortable adjustable suspension system with ariaprene foam padded shoulder and waist straps, ensures that the load is properly distributed to your hips allowing you to breeze through airports without dragging an uncooperative bag.

The waterproof sailcloth material keeps your clothes and your computer dry when the first thing you encounter in Bangkok is the monsoon.

Add to that lockable YKK zippers to keep your stuff safe in a crowd, and duraflex buckles for durability on top of easy adjustment and we think you’ll agree that this is the best backpack for urban travel. Period.

The cherry on top of the well designed Outbreaker travel backpack is how it packs. No more fighting a top-down trash bag style compartment found on almost every backpack on the market. Instead, fully unzip the front panel and open it to the side, like a book, and pack your backpack with ease just like that rolling suitcase you gave up. Convenience is king and gone are the days of trashing a room and your bag looking for that one thing you stashed at the bottom.

Choose the Outbreaker 45 for maximum carry on dimensions of most major airlines, and bigger bodies. Or choose the Outbreaker 35 to fit a smaller frame or the more stringent carry on size restrictions of budget airlines.

Goodbye wheeled luggage nightmare. Hello backpack dream.

Share your worst experience with wheeled luggage in the comments.

(Photo: ngader)