If you’re old enough to remember traveling in the 70s and 80s, you probably recall those hard, plastic suitcases that everybody have. They were mostly a dark gray, and the rough plastic scratched easily. It was ugly stuff. When luggage brands began offering soft-sided luggage made of durable materials, many people switched over.
Nearly 40 years later, and you still see more soft luggage than hard. But, if you pay close attention, you’ve probably noticed that hard-sided luggage is becoming more popular. This is thanks in part to the availability of durable, lightweight materials, and a better color selection.
Of course, travelers don’t need to understand trends as much as they need to know what will work for them. If you are on the market for luggage, keep reading. This article will explore the benefits, features, and drawbacks of both hard and soft-sided luggage.
What is Soft-Sided Luggage
Soft-sided luggage is made of fabrics that are generally flexible, and have give. This can include nylon, canvas, blended fabrics, even leathers (faux or genuine). However, luggage doesn’t need to be entirely soft to be classified as soft-sided. For example, this Samsonite suitcase has a very firm structure, and likely a fabric over frame construction. It would still be considered ‘soft’ luggage.
Nylon is one of the most popular materials used in soft luggage. This includes, ballistic, ripstop, and cordura. Ripstop is particularly common in string bags and duffel bags where travelers want a very soft exterior, but a significant amount of strength.
Most soft-sided luggage such as it luggage, best carry-on garment bag or suitcases such as the best samsonite suitcases are zipper closed. This ensures easy access. In addition to this, it is common for soft luggage to contain both interior and exterior pouches.
When to Buy Soft-Sided Luggage?
There are some definite benefits to owning soft-sided luggage as mentioned in lv bag reviews and the skyway luggage reviews. First, it’s quite lightweight. It’s also flexible for fitting into overhead bins, the trunk of your car, or the underside compartment on a train. That flexibility is also a plus if you don’t have much storage space at home.
If you shop for soft-sided luggage, you’ll also find that many of your choices have interior and exterior pockets and pouches. These are very helpful in allowing you to keep your packed luggage as organized as possible.
Of course, there are some downsides. If you aren’t careful to buy good quality luggage, the fabric could tear. Soft luggage also doesn’t provide the level of protection that hard-case luggage does. Your soft-sided luggage and the best sling backpack is also more susceptible to water damage and stains unlike the backpacks that are waterproof. If that happens, cleaning it can be a real pain.
What is Hard-Sided Luggage
Most hard-sided luggage for sale today is made from advanced materials. Polycarbonate is one of the most popular. ABS is common as well. These materials are lightweight, durable, and much more attractive than the brittle, plastic luggage you may have seen a few decades ago. If you choose plastic luggage, you should know that polycarbonate is the most durable choice. ABS is the more lightweight choice. Finally, you can also purchase aluminum suitcases. These are by far the most durable, but also quite heavy. If you enjoy the silver look of aluminum, you can find that color option in a polycarbonate suitcase like the Tru-Frame.
If you buy hard-sided luggage there’s a good chance you’ll get a basic, clamshell suitcase. These suitcases open up like a book so that you can pack both sides at once. You’ll need more surface area to open and pack, but your suitcase will usually have a strap or divider to help stabilize each side so you can close the suitcase.
When to Buy Hard-Sided Luggage?
The benefits of hard-shell luggage are that you can rely on it to better protect breakables, it’s more secure than soft luggage, and is less susceptible to breaking. Hard-sided luggage often comes with built-in locks.
If you are really concerned with security or looking for the best durable luggage, you should definitely consider aluminum luggage. Rather than having zippers, aluminum luggage usually has drawbolt latches making it much more difficult to break into.
If you overpack, you’ll find this bad habit is nearly impossible with hard-case luggage. As long as you buy luggage in the proper dimensions, you never have to worry about your packing stretching it past the size limits.
If you travel in rough conditions or bad weather, you may be better served with hard-case luggage. It’s weather and water resistant, and you can simply wipe it clean.
Finally, do you go on cruises? If so, you’re luggage will be stacked with hundreds of other suitcases below deck. Get a hard-case so yours won’t be crushed under all that weight.
What are the downsides to hard-case luggage? First, you can’t compress your hard-case luggage. You’ll have to be sure to have adequate storage space. In addition to this, even the best hard-shell luggage is susceptible to scuffs and dings.
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