Talking Wheels & Hard Cases
Thoughts on the progress of hard case luggage
I’ve never really been that into hard case luggage. You can’t squeeze it into tight or irregular spaces, it takes up serious cupboard space when not in use, and it generally has really pokey little wheels that get stuck on fairy dust. But it is bringing back a surprisingly sensible trend for casters. Let me explain…
The first wheeled luggage essentially bolted small swivel castors to the base of a suitcase. While this early U.S. luggage (now part of Briggs & Riley) was not 100% dialled, it did start a revolution that has transformed airport travel.
So as crew used these suitcases, they started to notice how the tiny wheels worked well on polished marble, but got jammed on any sort of real world surface. That’s when we started to get the tilted wheeled bags (first via Travelpro), as this let designers fit two larger and softer wheels, without upsetting the stability of the case.
The downside? Tilt wheeled bags are uni-direction (there’s no side to side), and require strength to support them (kind of like a wheelbarrow). So while the larger wheels do well over rougher ground, their uni-directionality means the cases are worse in tight and busy stations and airports.
So how can we have our pie and eat it too…?
The recent market rush to lightweight hard cases has seen ever increasing investment in the 4 caster approach (generally known as Spinner cases). In a quest to stand out amongst the masses, Rimowa and a couple of other brands are just starting to upsize these casters – offering bags that work beyond the polished floors of first world airports.
With the better examples of these, you can push and pull them in their upright position, even stacking several other bags on top without expending any energy keeping them upright. Or you can tilt them to walk longer distances and negotiate the bottom two wheels over larger obstacles. All of a sudden those tactile indicator paths for the blind shouldn’t trip you up infront of everyone (that was embarrassing…).
So now all we need is some of those rad luggage designers that read our blog to start applying these larger castors to luggage that can compress and fit a tight space, while remaining durable, lightweight, and affordable. Make sure you fit soft enough tyres, and perhaps make me handsome also. Haha, as easy as that