Hardside vs Softside Luggage | 7 Absolutely Must-Know Points

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Hardside vs Softside Luggage | Which is Better?

There are many types of luggage on the market today, but two of the most popular are hardside and softside luggage. So which is better? Let’s take a look.

Hardside luggage is typically made from hard plastic or metal. This makes it durable and able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. It’s also easy to keep clean since you can wipe it down with a damp cloth.

However, hardside luggage can be pretty heavy, so it’s not always the best choice for long-distance travel. It’s also not as flexible as softside luggage, so it’s harder to fit in more clothes and belongings.

Softside luggage is usually made from fabric or other softer material. This makes it lighter and more flexible, which is excellent for long-distance travel.

Related: Top 10 Luggage Brands

Hardside vs Softside Luggage in Depth

hardside vs softside luggage

1. What are the benefits of hardside luggage over softside luggage?

Hardside luggage is usually more durable than softside luggage, so it can better protect your belongings from damage during transit. Hard shell luggage also tends to be more water resistant than softside luggage, so your belongings stay dry even if your bag is caught in the rain. 

Suitcases often get caught in the rain when loaded and unloaded onto a bulk-loaded aircraft.

Additionally, hardside luggage usually has more internal compartments and pockets than softside luggage, so you can better organize your belongings.

On the other hand, softside luggage has more external pockets. Nowadays, premium luggage brands design hardside luggage with external compartments, including laptop compartments.

2. Are there any benefits of softside luggage over hardside luggage?

Softside luggage is often more lightweight than hardside, so it’s easier to carry.

Additionally, softside luggage can often be more efficiently packed into tight spaces, such as the overhead compartment on an airplane, train, or bus. Softside luggage also typically offers more style options than hardside luggage.

As mentioned earlier, softshell suitcases have more external compartments and pockets, making it easy to organize your belongings or take out your essential items on the go without opening the main compartment.

3. Hardsided luggage is more secure

Hardside luggage is more secure from theft because it is more difficult to cut into and access the belongings inside. Softsided luggage can be easily cut open with a knife or scissors, making it an easy target for thieves. 

While hard-sided luggage is not 100% theft-proof, the combination of durable material, YKK zippers, and a TSA lock offer maximum protection for your luggage.

4. What type of luggage do airline cabin crew prefer?

Cabin crew often use softside, carry-on luggage provided by their airline employer. They only travel for one to three days and usually have less space in the cabin crew compartments to store their belongings.

Therefore, they prefer the flexibility of softside luggage in order to squeeze in their luggage and maximize space.

5. Should you choose hardside luggage or softside luggage for carry-on?

One would think it doesn’t matter if you choose a softside suitcase for your carry-on since the likelihood of it getting damaged is minimal.

Plus, you have more pockets and the flexibility to squeeze more clothes into your carry-on.

It’s all fine and dandy if you don’t put fragile items in your softside cabin suitcase. But if you do — beware. Other passengers aren’t going to care when they squeeze in their luggage next to yours.

And there’s a high probability you will have to check in your cabin luggage if you are one of the last passengers to board. Cabin compartments often reach 100% capacity, and additional carry-on luggage will have to be checked into the cargo hold. 

You already know many passengers try to board with more than their personal item and carry-on allowance. Therefore cabin compartments getting fully loaded is a common problem.

And we all know the horror stories of carry-on luggage being damaged or lost by airlines.

In other words, softside luggage isn’t always safe.

What are some things to consider when choosing between hardside and softside luggage?

When it comes to choosing between hardside and softside luggage, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about how you plan to use the suitcase. If you need something that’s durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear, hardside is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for something lightweight and easy to carry, softside is a better option.

Additionally, consider your budget and needs. Hardside luggage is often more expensive than softside luggage, but it typically lasts longer. So if you’re looking for something that will last for a long time, hardside is the way to go. However, if you’re on a tight budget or don’t plan on using your suitcase very often, softside might be a better option.

Furthermore, think about whether the style is essential to you. Hardside luggage typically comes in plain and simple designs, while softside luggage offers more style options. So if you’re looking for something that stands out from the crowd, go with softside luggage.

One thing to mention is that hardside luggage does come in cool metallic, bright, or matte designs. In this style aspect, hardside luggage has the edge over softside luggage.

Which type of luggage should I choose?

The type of luggage you should choose depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you are looking for durability and protection for your belongings, then hardside luggage is a good option. However, if you are looking for a lighter bag that is easier to carry and pack, then softside luggage may be a better option.

Some people choose to have one of each type of luggage to cover all their bases. For example, they may bring a hard-sided suitcase for protection on long flights or car trips and a soft-sided bag for everyday use or shorter trips.

If you travel with a laptop, it’s best to get hardside luggage with a laptop compartment. This ensures maximum protection for your laptop, especially if you have an expensive Microsoft Surface or Macbook Pro.


child laying on open hard-sided luggage wondering about travel

Suitcases are available in both hard and soft varieties, each with its benefits and drawbacks.

Hard-sided luggage usually comes with four rotating wheels, while soft-sided luggage is available in both two and four-wheeled models.

Personalization is possible with both types of luggage, and colors are available for both as well. Ultimately, the best type of luggage for you depends on your needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best material for hardside luggage?

When it comes to hardside luggage, there are a few different materials to choose from.

The most common option is polycarbonate, which is a lightweight plastic that is resistant to cracking and shattering. However, some travelers prefer the durability of aluminum, even though it is heavier.

And for those who want the best of both worlds, there is also a newer material called Makrolon, which combines the strength of polycarbonate with the durability of aluminum.

So which material is the best? That depends on your personal preferences. But one thing is for sure: when it comes to hardside luggage, you have plenty of options.

What type of luggage is most durable?

When it comes to luggage, there are many factors to consider.

Does it need to be lightweight? Does it need to be able to hold a lot? Does it need to be affordable?

But for many people, the most important factor is durability. After all, no one wants their luggage to fall apart after just a few trips. When it comes to durability, hard-sided luggage is usually the best option.

These types of bags are made from sturdy materials like aluminum or polycarbonate, and they’re designed to withstand considerable wear and tear.

Plus, they often come with features like reinforced corners and durable zippers that further increase their longevity. So if you’re looking for a bag that will last for years to come, hard-sided luggage is definitely the way to go.

Which is heavier, hardside or softside luggage?

The age-old debate of hardside vs softside luggage has been argued by travelers for years. The truth is, it depends on what you’re looking for in a suitcase.

If you need something that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, then hardside luggage is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for something that’s more lightweight and easy to maneuver, then softside luggage is the better option. In terms of weight, there isn’t really a clear winner.

Hardside luggage is typically made from heavier materials like aluminum, while softside luggage is usually made from lighter fabrics like nylon.

So, if you’re trying to avoid checking a bag, softside luggage is probably your best bet.

But if you don’t mind an extra few pounds, then hardside luggage is probably the way to go.

Can you fit more in a hard or soft suitcase?

Traveling can be a hassle, especially when it comes to packing. Figuring out how to fit everything into your suitcase is a challenge, and it can be even more difficult if you’re unsure what type of suitcase to use.

Hard suitcases are great for heavier items, but they can be difficult to cram full of clothes. Soft suitcases, on the other hand, are more versatile and can often hold more items. However, they can be more prone to wrinkling clothes.

So, what’s the best option? It really depends on what you’re packing. If you have a lot of heavy items, a hard suitcase might be the way to go. But if you’re packing mostly clothes, a soft suitcase will probably serve you better. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which type of suitcase is best for your needs.

Do airlines prefer hard or soft luggage?

Traveling can be a stressful experience, especially when it comes to packing. Do you bring a hard case or a soft bag? Do you risk packing your valuables in your carry-on or checking them?

And then there’s the question of size – do you go for a small bag that you can easily carry on or a larger one that will hold everything but has to be checked? When it comes to airlines, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some airlines prefer hard luggage because it is more durable and less likely to be damaged in transit.

Others prefer soft luggage because it is lighter and takes up less space in the overhead bin.

Ultimately, the best decision is to choose the type of luggage that best suits your needs. If you are planning to pack fragile items or valuables, a hard case may be the better option. If you are traveling light and don’t mind checking your bag, a soft bag may be the way to go.

Whatever you decide, make sure to check the airline’s luggage policies before you pack your bags.