Shopping trolley purchasing advice: how to choose the right product

  • What You Need to Know
  • With a shopping trolley, all shopping can be transported home with little effort.
  • For those who live in a multi-storey building, stair climbers are particularly practical. They are easy to move over steps.
  • Trolleys have an average capacity of 20 to 60 litres. The larger they are, the more storage space is needed and the more difficult they are to handle.
  • EVA wheels with a diameter of more than 20 centimetres put up well with obstacles and bumps. Small wheels manoeuvre well through narrow aisles.
  • Comfort features such as height-adjustable handles, additional compartments and holders for shopping trolleys make everyday handling easier.

Everyday helpers in new splendour

Aids that were mainly used by the older generation often have a bad reputation among younger people. And yet they can be extremely practical in everyday life: laboriously transporting groceries home in bags is a task that neither young nor old enjoy. In contrast, a shopping bag on wheels that can be pulled behind you without any particular effort is an excellent alternative.

With a shopping trolley, also called a shopper, everyone can easily transport shopping from one place to another. Even for pregnant women and patients after an operation who are not allowed to lift much, shopping is then no problem. In the meantime, even many younger consumers are turning to the trolley, especially in big cities where a car of one’s own is not necessary. For environmentalists who consciously avoid driving, a bag on wheels is also helpful.

Back of one person with shopping trolley

In addition to the classic shopping trolley from the time of grandparents, there are now, for example, models that can be folded, have several compartments or are equipped with a seat. Furthermore, some trolleys are specialised in climbing stairs.

This is how shopping trolleys are constructed

Classic shopping trolleys consist of a fabric bag that can be attached to a frame and can have a capacity of up to 90 litres. Depending on the model, the bag is either simple or equipped with various compartments and side pockets. Simple shopping bags have only one main compartment, which can be closed with an elastic band and a lid. Other types of closure include a zip or Velcro fastener. With many shopping trolleys, the bag can be removed.

The frame has a holder that serves as a handle. In some cases, a height-adjustable telescopic pole is used. Two wheels with a diameter of between 15 and 25 centimetres are usually mounted on the storage surface of the frame. To prevent the trolley from tipping forward, a support is attached to the storage surface. There are also versions with four wheels that can be pulled and pushed.

These trolley types are available

Shopping trolleys can be divided into different types that stand out from the classic model either by a special shape or a special feature.

The so-called Carry Cruiser is an invention of the Reisenthel company. It is equipped with a rectangular shopping bag whose shape is reminiscent of a shopping basket. This has a removable inner mesh pocket that can be carried thanks to the integrated shoulder strap. The handle has the shape of an extendable bar.

Unlike the conventional shopping trolley, the box trolley does not use a bag but a foldable box. Its volume of up to 35 litres is smaller than that of other types of trolley. Thanks to the side handles, the box is easy to carry. When folded, it can be easily stowed away.

A particularly space-saving and easy-to-transport variant is the folding trolley. With this shopping trolley, the frame can be folded together with the bag.

For those who have to carry their shopping up stairs, there are trolleys with a stair climber function. Stair climbers have six wheels, three of which are positioned on a rotating axle. They are smaller than the wheels of classic models. To climb the stairs, the wheels rotate over the steps, which significantly reduces the effort needed to pull the trolley.

With so-called rolling bags, the frame is reduced to a minimum: The bag has a stable base as well as a reinforced back to which an extendable telescopic rod is attached. The wheels are small, which means the bag only rises a few centimetres off the ground.

Finding the ideal shopping trolley

As the popularity of shopping trolleys has grown, so has their range in recent years. For the consumer who is tired of carrying shopping bags over long distances, this is a great advantage. However, this makes it more difficult to find the right trolley – the following criteria help with the decision.

Material and workmanship

In terms of the materials used, shopping trolleys do not differ significantly from one another. The differences lie in the quality of the materials and workmanship. Durable nylon fibres or polyester fabrics are mainly used for the shopping trolley bag. These often have a coating to protect the contents from water.

According to the manufacturer, most bags are water-repellent. Only a few high-quality designs are waterproof. With water-repellent fabrics, raindrops roll off but seep through over time in heavy rain. With waterproof fabrics, water should not penetrate the inside. How well this is achieved varies from model to model.

Three differently patterned shopping trolleys next to each other

Nevertheless, it makes sense to buy a trolley whose material is described as water-repellent or waterproof in the product description. For ease of cleaning, it is also advisable to buy a bag that can be cleaned in the washing machine.

The frame is mostly made of aluminium, but in some cases plastic or steel components are also used. As aluminium is not only a light material but also a hard-wearing one, it is ideal for manoeuvrable, easily transportable and at the same time hard-wearing shopping trolleys. The majority of shoppers weigh between two and five kilograms, with products weighing more than four kilograms predominantly found in the premium class.

As long as the raw material is of an appropriate quality and the workmanship of the frame is of a high standard, the entire shopping trolley will stand stable and not wobble even under a heavy load. If the handle is a height-adjustable telescopic rod, it should also be firmly attached. The higher the quality of the materials and workmanship, the higher the trolley’s load capacity. The maximum portable weight can be found in the product description.


The size and material of the wheels have a great influence on the comfort of use. The diameter of the wheels on classic models is between 15 and 25 centimetres, although they may well be smaller on stair climbers: The wheel diameter of the Andersen Royal Senta, for example, is 13 centimetres. The wheels of wheeled trolleys are the smallest with a diameter of about 5 to 7 centimetres.

Large wheels are smoother running and overcome obstacles more easily. They cope with cobblestones as well as dirt roads without any problems. The larger the wheels, the easier it is to transport heavy shopping. The same principle applies to stair climbers: large wheels travel more easily over steps. In addition, they are more resilient than smaller versions.

White trolleys with large wheels are pulled along the pavement

The strength of shopping trolleys with small wheels is not in transporting large purchases, but in manoeuvring through narrow streets and around passers-by, and in taking them along on public transport journeys. However, uneven roads, obstacles and unpaved paths cause them major problems. Wheeled bags are excellent for small and light purchases when they have to travel mainly on asphalt surfaces. For larger errands, the small hard plastic wheels do not provide enough stability.

While the wheels of many shopping trolleys are made of the rubber-like plastic EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), there are some premium models with pneumatic tyres. Pneumatic tyres ride best on uneven ground, mud and snow, but they are, on the one hand, the most expensive and, on the other hand, not as low-maintenance as EVA wheels. In addition, pneumatic tyres are more likely to be damaged than EVA wheels when driven over sharp stones or shards.

Storage space

The capacity of the shopping bag must be at least large enough to hold all your shopping. Conventional shopping trolleys have a capacity of 20 to 60 litres, particularly large models up to 90 litres. The carrying weight in kilograms roughly corresponds to the capacity: with a capacity of 30 to 40 litres, the load capacity is often 30 kilograms. The higher the capacity of the shopping bag, the more groceries and items can be transported in it. In return, the heavy trolley is more difficult to manoeuvre.

For small purchases and single-person households, a small bag with a storage capacity of less than 35 litres is often sufficient. In multi-person households, on the other hand, larger models make sense. Here it is important to weigh up capacity and handling: The trolley should suit the shopping behaviour and still be easy to pull.


The original shopping trolley consisted only of a simple bag and a frame to which it is attached. Modern designs, on the other hand, can be equipped in a variety of ways. Especially in the higher price segment starting at 100 euros, various comfort features are used:

Additional compartments and pockets
 Graphic representation of a blue shopping trolley with many pockets

Many shopping trolleys have additional compartments and side pockets. Several compartments allow the user to store some products separately from the rest of the goods. Delicate fruit and vegetables can be protected from pressure marks in this way. Side compartments and zipped pockets inside a compartment offer space for other utensils: the umbrella fits in a side pocket, for example, while zipped pockets are suitable for valuables.

Cooler compartment
 Symbol snowflake

Some bags have a cooler compartment. It can be used to transport frozen goods home even at higher temperatures. It can also serve as a thermal compartment: Users can transport warm food and drinks to the next picnic, for example. However, the compartment only takes up a small part of the total volume: With small bags, the cooler compartment is often already filled after two boxes of pizza and perhaps a pack of frozen vegetables.

Height-adjustable handle
 Symbol of a trolley with height-adjustable handle

The frame can also be extended with various comfort features. Especially for particularly tall or short people as well as in households with people of different heights, the possibility to adjust the height of the handle is a great advantage. Depending on the model, an adjustment range between 85 and 110 centimetres is possible. From a height of 185 centimetres, handles with a height of more than 100 centimetres make sense. If several people use the same trolley, each person can adjust the holder to their own body measurements.

Shopping trolley holder
 Symbol Trolley attached to a shopping trolley.

So that the trolley does not get in the way in the supermarket, users often have two options: either they store the vehicle on the shelf of the shopping trolley or in the trolley itself. However, this takes up the space they need for groceries or drink crates. Models with a shopping trolley holder are an alternative. The shopper can simply be attached to the trolley.

 Symbol of a shopping trolley with a fold-out handle

For older or physically weakened people, a trolley with an integrated seat is advantageous. If they need a break, they can usually simply fold down the seat. In some cases, the seat is not foldable. Those who use the trolley or just the frame for leisure activities such as picnics or excursions in addition to shopping have a practical seat and do not have to rely on benches or dry floors. In addition, the seat can serve as a storage space.

Bicycle hitch
 Symbol of a trolley attached to a bicycle

Shopping trolleys are also an alternative to shopping bags for those who like to do their shopping by bike. With the help of an extension set and a coupling, cyclists can attach the shopper directly to the bicycle. However, these are not usually included in the scope of delivery. Instead, manufacturers offer the appropriate equipment as accessories. Coupled trolleys are similar in function to bicycle trailers.

 Symbol of a shopping trolley with two reflector strips

Some shopping trolleys have reflectors on both the bag and the frame. Especially in autumn and winter, when it gets dark quickly, it is important to be clearly visible to motorists. Reflectors are a useful safety feature to prevent accidents in the dark. Instead of equipping the trolley with them, many manufacturers sell them as accessories.