I’m Jonathan, the “Roller Board Expert”. I’m here to give you the insider scoop on roller board luggage. I traveled the world for two decades and kept track of my best and worst roller boards. You can find my recommendations below.
These roller boards are the best that money can buy, and all of my recommendations are backed up by gushing 5-star reviews on Amazon and other sites. Scroll down now and take a look at my recommended picks in each price range.
– Jonathan Reynolds
Roller Board Luggage
Your top picks for a normal budget.
- Traveler's Choice
- Under $100
- Under $100
- Under $100
For frequent flyers who can afford to spend a little more.
- Around $200
- Briggs & Riley
- Around $500
- Around $500
More excellent choices that didn’t quite make the “Best Value” category.
- Under $100
- Under $100
- Under $100
With traveling growing into a crazy passion throughout the world (and especially in most Western countries), we now have a really wide range of luggage options out there. However, when it comes to air travel, it’s still very hard to beat carry luggage.
But choosing the ideal luggage bag for air travel still isn’t as simple as it sounds. This is because there are quite a few options to choose from in even carry-on luggage bags.
However, we now have roller boards, a fairly new type of carry-on luggage that’s taking over the airports. It was probably something utterly unheard of a couple decades back, but is now the perfect luggage partner for air travel for many frequent travelers.
That being said, if you’re a frequent air traveler, it’s definitely something you might be interested to learn about.
What is a Roller Board?
Simply put, it’s a type of luggage that’s designed to be as large as it can be without going beyond the size restrictions for a carry-on luggage by U.S. airlines. In other words, it’s just a type of carry-on luggage that’s actually as large as it legally can be for air travel.
Apart from that, another important distinction that helps it stand out is the extended handle and wheels. This simply makes it more comfortable to carry.
Roller Board Buying Guide (What to Look for When Purchasing)
Well, now that you’re aware of what a roller board exactly is and why it may suit most air traveler’s needs better, let us find out how to go about choosing one.
Size and Size Restrictions
Although many of these products are designed to be as large as possible without going beyond the size restrictions for carry-on luggage for most U.S. airlines, the overall size may still vary quite a bit. Hence, it’s important to carefully consider the exact size you want to get.
Getting the right size is probably the most important thing here, due to two main factors. First, if you go beyond the size restrictions, the airline’s luggage staff may simply reject it as a carry-on luggage. While the restrictions don’t seem to be very strict, especially if there’s just a minor difference, you would still probably be taking quite a chance.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you also don’t want to go with something much smaller than what’s legally allowed. An optimum size would help you get the most out of your purchase without landing you in any trouble with the airline staff.
Similarly, it would also be ideal for long trips, as it would allow you to pack for more days than you otherwise could, if you don’t choose the most “optimum” size.
Now, an important thing to note here is to make sure the size listed includes the wheels and other parts as well (that may not be considered as part of the product’s storage). This is because many manufacturer’s simply list the size dimensions for the “storage compartment”, and don’t include the external components.
That being said, you might as well want to bring a tape measure while shopping for it, or double-check with the seller if you’re buying online.
As for the size restrictions, a 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches would work well for most U.S. airlines. Some airlines such as the Southwest and JetBlue are a little more generous, as they allow up to 24 inches x 16 inches x 10 inches. However, again, you need to check these numbers before traveling as they do tend to change from time to time.
The “Packing” Ability
We know we just discussed the size above, but this is something slightly different. It’s more about getting the most out of the size that you get, something many manufacturers are actively working on.
Roller boards that come with some kind of expansion and compression features can pack more than others that are of the same size but don’t come with these features. For instance, there’s something known as plastic brackets, which can increase the packing ability of the product quite a bit.
What you do is pull up the brackets before starting your packing, which kind of expands the height. This leads to a reasonable bit of increase in the storage, and you can push the brackets back down when you’re done. So in other words, it helps you respect the size limits at the airlines while still being able to pack as much as a considerably larger product would allow you to.
Similarly, some products also come with the zipper being outside instead of on the inside, which, too, helps add a couple of inches to the overall size of the bag. Finally, these expansion and compression features also help prevent wrinkling of your clothes, so they are definitely something worth considering while making your purchase.
A “Roller” or “Spinner”?
Roller boards come in two different types, and although they don’t seem to be very different from each other, the difference may turn out to be significant for some.
Perhaps the most basic (and important) difference is that while a “spinner” comes with four wheels, a “roller” comes with just two. However, it’s important to understand why this seemingly minor difference may still turn out to be something vital to consider.
Firstly, the spinners are believed to be more comfortable to carry, as their wheels roll upright, ensuring that you don’t have much weight on your arm at all. Secondly, they are also more “mobile”, as they can roll in any direction without having to push them around very hard, which is something more common with rollers.
But that doesn’t mean spinners are an outright winner. Some of the major issues associated with them are the wheels taking up space, leaving you with less compartment space, as well as the wheels being vulnerable to damage. Also, unless you’re buying a fairly expensive product (that come with “magnet” wheels), a spinning roller board may be a little difficult to control at times, as the wheels may not move in exactly the same direction you want them to.
Finally, it’s worth noting that a fairly large number of travelers still seem to side with rollers, as they probably allow you to move faster, given you’re willing to pull them and don’t mind some weight on your arm.
While this is believed to be more about style than functionality, it may also turn out to be something important when it comes to the durability.
The two main choices you would have here is hard-sided material and soft-sided material. While the former had been failing to impress the customers before even the latter took over, top industry officials believe it’s now back with a bang.
Hard-sized roller boards have now started coming in a wide range, with the variety not just being limited to the color, but also including the style and design. Furthermore, most manufacturers developing them now make sure they are not as heavy as they used to be, which was perhaps one of the biggest reasons they consistently failed to please customers. Now many of them come with quite a bit of innovation, which not only helps them being reasonably lightweight, but also boast some cool design improvements.
However, the soft-sided products are still the preferred choice for many, as they are still easier to pack, and less prone to scratches.
Where to Buy Roller Board Luggage
So now that you probably know enough about roller boards to make an informed decision, let us discuss a few options where you can buy them from.
We doubt if there’s anything that you can’t find on Amazon that you can find in your local stores, and luggage products are no exception. You can find a reasonably wide range of roller boards on Amazon, many of them priced pretty affordably.
Also, the good thing about buying from Amazon in particular if you’re buying online is that you can quickly return the product if you find anything wrong with it, including the size dimensions.
Another popular online retailer you’re probably very familiar with. However, you probably might have a hard time finding the same competitive prices that Amazon offers. Similarly, the quality standards may not be very high, too, as you would be dealing with individual sellers’ policies rather than one, uniform policy as with Amazon.
While it may not be hard to find what you’re looking for at your local stores as well, the variety may be fairly limited. Also, there may not be any return policies to protect you from a bad purchase. So make sure you check the product thoroughly before buying it.
Another problem you might come across is the pricing. As the local stores may be operating at a fairly low scale, and have many expenses to cover that online sellers don’t, the priced may turn out to be considerably higher than what you can find online.