Forty years ago, Bernard Sadow, a vice president of a Massachusetts luggage and coat company,was traveling back from Aruba with his family. While struggling with his suitcases at the airport, a bulb went off: He realized putting wheels on the bottom of suitcases would make them a heck of a lot easier to handle. So he submitted a patent, took his ideas to stores and, after some initial resistance and some successful ad campaigns, the wheeled suitcase industry took off.
Now, it's hard to imagine life without it: Wheeled luggage is a must-have for any traveler. And it comes in all shapes and sizes.
On "The Early Show," Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor, explained what to look for when buying rolling luggage, and showed some of his favorites.
Some things to be aware of when shopping for wheeled luggage:
You should think of it as an investment. Many of the best options can cost you $100, $200, even more. But many come with warranties that will protect you if something happens, So, make sure you buy a bag with a lifetime warranty that includes wheel replacement.
Remember, these bags can take a real beating. If you buy a cheap version of wheeled luggage, you'll pay for what you get.
The first thing to go on cheap bags is the wheels themselves. They take the most wear and tear, and most aren't easy to replace. The further apart the wheels are from each other, the better, in terms of center of gravity and balance.
You need wheels with proper wheel encasement and sealed wheel bearings. A wheel simply stuck on a rod is going to break.
Also, many wheeled bags look good, but haven't licked the center of gravity problem. This is a case of style over substance, and no matter how you pack them, they fall over. This is what happens with backpacks with wheels, and some bags that have large front pockets. Not fun.
Then there are the luggage companies that will go to great lengths to put wheels on their bags so they can market them as rollaboards, but putting the wheels and the handles on take up so much of the bag's interior room that the bags themselves become inpractical. Just because your bag has wheels on it does not mean it's portable. It may be transportable, and no matter what, it does not mean it's a carry on.
Affordable option from Delsey: This company has a feature designed to save you money when you travel
Launched in January 2010, both the 25-inch ($81) and the 29-inch ($88) upright trolleys are fitted with an Over-Weight Indicator to help avoid excess baggage charges.
Something else to look for when shopping for luggage is the weight of the case. An example of a lightweight, yet durable piece of wheeled luggage:
This luggage from Antler is so lightweight, you can lift it with one finger. A flexible frame and corner protection system make this case light, yet crush-proof. The Duolite series is even lighter: 4.6 lbs. for a 22-inch carry-on and only 6.4 lbs. for a 28-inch wheeled upright (less than half the average weight). The front is nylon and the back is foam-padded for stability without adding weight. Antler's Size Zero 27-inch upright is from about $219, and a Duolite 26-inch upright is from $179.
Bag from Briggs & Riley
The BRX adventure travel bag is lightweight and soft-sided to pack in a lot. The Outsider handle system allows for more interior space. Briggs and Riley's lifetime guarantee is truly that: lifetime. Many other luggage companies have a list of exclusions, including damage caused by the airlines, wear and tear, requiring the receipt, and many more. Briggs and Riley actually guarantees coverage. The BRX 25-inch upright costs about $320 at Briggs-Riley.com.
Lightweight and affordable, the xSpace 26-inch Spinner is about $189. It's made from a polyester/nylon blend fabric with a durable honeycomb frame. This spinner upright features multi-directional wheels mounted at each corner that allow for 360-degree rolling.
The rolling duffel bag by Cabela's is a good one. Rolling duffels are a new addition to the popular Ripcord series, made with durablenylon bottoms and 600-denier polyester ripstop fabric tops. The Wheeled Duffel has corner protectors and reinforced wheel housings to guard the in-line skate wheels. The enormous 42-inch wheeled Ripcord duffel series (remember, just because it has wheels doesn't mean you can shove it into the overheard compartment), is about $149. Great to lug for a road trip if you have a large minivan, but not a carryon under any circumstances.
"Rolls Royce of wheeled luggage" is a piece from Titan
The diamond texture enables the hard cases to be virtually scratch-proof; a concept unheard of in the world of polycarbonate hard shells. In fact, it's so textured that you can jab at it with a pair of scissor and there will be few marks that are easily wiped off with a cloth. All wheels are anti-shock. Ball-bearing wheels mean that no matter how heavy you pack it, the wheels stay centered. These are considered to be among the lightest cases in the market. Even the 27 inch weighs only 10.4 pounds. The smallest case in this line, the 20-inch business case, starts from $415, while the massive 31-inch trolley is $785.