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When you open your laptop or enter a luggage store looking for a new piece of luggage. The very first thing you need to do is to decide between the two famous types, the hardside or the softside luggage.
If you travel a lot, you will most likely already have a preference for one over the others, Basically you know what to buy. But if you are new to the luggage stuff and traveling, you will be overwhelmed with all the options you’ll have.
Both hard-sided and soft-sided luggage are really great options. They both are made from strong durable material that build to last long. Like for hard-sided luggage the material you’ll find the best and most popular ones is the ABS and Polycarbonate. And for the soft-sided you’ll find the ballistic nylon material and polyester and the Nylon as well.
To be honest with you, the matter of choosing between hardside or softside luggage comes down to personal preference. At the end you will buy the one that you like the most.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about Hardside Vs Softside luggage from the quality and material until the things you need to consider when buying each one. And that will guide you to make your purchasing decision.
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
What Is Hardside Luggage
You can clearly tell the difference between Hardside luggage from Softside luggage by looks alone. The hard-sided or hard-shell luggage are known with their tough exterior shell that gives them a defined structure. Most of the hard-sided luggage can handle impacts without incurring damage.
These luggage are produced using high-tech plastic like polycarbonate and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, more commonly known as ABS. Both materials are durable and lightweight. ABS is considered as the lightest. However, Polycarbonate is quite durable. But the most durable and most heaviest material is aluminum.
One of the best features of the hard-sided luggage sometimes is the 50/50 split opening. Which allow you to pack your belongings in both sides equally, and hold your content with x-strap or a middle divider. Many hard-sided luggage are built this manner. However, there are a few in the market with the top opening lid.
Most hard-sided luggage has four spinner wheels that allow you to roll your suitcase with ease at any surface. Because when you pulling your bag the last thing you want to worry about is tipping it over, or getting stuck. Soft-sided luggage on the other hand, tends to only have two wheels which is good, but not useful as four obviously.
Best Hard Luggage Materials
All hard-sided luggage are durable and strong and offer the maximum level of protection to your belongings while traveling. The most popular hard-sided material is ABS, Polycarbonate, Polypropylene, and Aluminum. The aluminum luggage are the top of the range (durability and price), followed by Polycarbonate and the other materials.
The aluminum is considered as the most premium of luggage material. If you take a look at the most expensive luggage, you’ll find that most of them will be made from Aluminum. And some famous luggage brands like Rimowa based their whole product on this material.
But the real question is, is this material really deserve that much of a price? The reality is that the aluminum is easily damaged and easily scratched. It’s also very heavy when compared to other hard-sided material.
However, it is incredibly robust and good looking, and offer a high level of protection to your content. also it’s waterproof, so it will protect your items from an unexpected weather.
The important thing you should know is that Polycarbonate is near enough impossible to break. It is used in so many things purely because of this toughness. You would be surprised how common the use of this material is.
Polycarbonate is very popular material for hardside luggage because it’s extremely lightweight than aluminum with great strength quality. It is has that impact resistant quality, and super flexible to absorb any kind of impacts and handle weight pressure and get back to its original shape.
With all these advantages of the polycarbonate material, you would think that this is the perfect luggage material for you. Another benefit of it, is that you can find luggage are made of this material with low prices, so you will not have to pay that heavy money on a high quality bag. Plus the polycarbonate luggage are easy to clean.
Not as popular as other hardside luggage material, but still a viable option. It is also a type of thermoplastic polymer and the lightest of all the thermoplastic product, making it an ideal material for any lightweight luggage range.
It’s flexible more the than ABS material, but not as flexible as polycarbonate. This material is a great choice for those travelers who want to travel with a light suitcase as possible.
ABS is actually a combination of three properties. The three properties are acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene.
ABS is lighter than polycarbonate but not as durable, of course. It is considered a low cost material, which means it is popular in the cheaper hard-sided luggage range. The suitcases are made with this material tens to crack and damage very easily.
However, ABS’s low cost and lightweight makes it still used in many luggage manufacturers. basically not everyone has enough money to buy an expensive suitcase. But if you do just stick with the Polycarbonate material.
And for more low budget luggage material, the PVC is the cheapest one out there. Obviously is not a very popular option in terms of sales but it is still a viable option for low budget people.
It will not do a good job protecting your belongings, but it is very lightweight and flexible as well. in-fact the flexibility is one of its attractive points.
How Much Does Hardside Luggage Cost
The hard-sided luggage prices tend to go up in down by the month. To be honest, there’s a price for every budget, if you want the luxury suitcase from a famous brand it will cost you a lot.
And if you want a quality bag with a low price you can find them as well. Or if you run out of budget and you want a normal bag with a good quality that can last for some time, there’s plenty of options for you.
Below you will find some option of hard-sided luggage to help choose between which one do you want hardside or softside luggage.
The Samsonite Omni Pc Expandable it’s an affordable high quality luggage that every budget travel can buy with no worries.
This luggage is made from 100% polycarbonate construction, which means it is super durable and lightweight as well. most the travelers claimed that this luggage can take most travel conditions with ease, and it can last for some serious time.
It has a roomy main compartment that can hold everything you want. And with the cross strap you can keep them well organized. It also feature and expandable design, which allow you to store more items when needed.
It has a four 360 degree spinner wheels that make it easy to glide through airport. and the micro-diamond scratch resistant texture. And a TSA approved lock on the side for extra security.
Check Samsonite Omni Pc Hardside Spinner price here.
This AmazingBasics is an affordable suitcase, and it is an ideal option for trips lasting longer than a week. the luggage is made of extra-thick ABS for enhanced strength and durability. And it has that scratch resistant feature as well.
An interior organizer, made of 150D polyester for exceptional strength, with 3 separate pockets to store small items.
The AmazonBasics suitcase features a telescoping handle that extend when rolling the bag and make rolling very easy. After finish just collapse it down in one smooth move for compact storage. And a security mounted to give you that peace of mind while traveling. And a four double spinner wheels for easy maneuver around.
Check AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner price here.
Final Words: as you can see there’s a price for every budget. However the price of a great high quality hard-sided luggage is vary between $80 to $350 (that includes the luggage sets as well).
This suitcase is a part of delsey chatelet collection. It is made from 100% bayer virgin Polycarbonate formulated to achieve the highest standards of extra temperature and impact resistance.
It has a fully lined interior with two compartments and adjustable web straps for organized packing.
The delsey features an additional top and side handles allow you to easily lift the load case into airplane’s overhead bin. And a fully lined three dial TSA-approved combination lock to keep your belonging safely locked during travel. And a four silent-running double spinner wheels assure smooth maneuverability. Also a garment compartment with hanger and removable pouches for packing toiletries and small items.
Check Desley Chatelet Carry on Spinner price here.
Pros And Cons Of Hardside Luggage
- The hard-sided luggage can handle any kind of impact, thanks to the strong durable material it is made of (Polycarbonate, ABS, Aluminum). Your suitcase won’t break whether you throw it or drop it it will Protect your belongings while traveling.
- Most hard-sided luggage are lightweight allowing you to pack more items. And sometimes they weigh less than a soft-sided luggage.
- The famous hard-sided luggage material like Polycarbonate and ABS are highly scratch-resistant. The scratch and the scuffed will not show in your suitcase surface, and if you have a dark colors that will help as well.
- Most hardside luggage comes with four spinner wheels allowing you to roll the bag even smoother and faster than two wheels. The wheels can rotate 360 degrees which mean you can retrain balance even if your bag is filled with a heavy load.
- You will have a lot of different color options to choose from, to make your luggage unique and different from others.
- Hard-sided luggage deliver better security to your belongings because of the integrated locks.
- Unlike the soft-sided luggage, the hard-sided suitcases don’t offer you some outside pockets to carry some small items. However, if you need to carry these items you should put them in your carry-on bag.
- The structure of the hard-side luggage will limit how much you can pack. Even if some of them features an expandable area, but you can really pack as much with a soft-sided bags.
- They are not that flexible as well, so you can’t squeeze or compress the bag to fit in some tight spaces.
- You can’t really reach your Items unless you open the entire bag.
2. Softside Luggage
What Is Softside Luggage
The other option you will have is a soft-sided luggage, they are typically made of fabric that can move and stretch such as ripstop nylon, ballistic material, cordura or woven nylon. However, the ballistic material is the smooth and shinier one.
The nylon material is so durable and strong and you often see ripstop nylon used in parachutes, so it’s also a material that is built to last for years. Beside that use, many manufacturers favor ripstop nylon for semi-structured and structured bags.
Cordura considered as a newer type of fabric that promises great durability and vivid colors that are also sustainable. It can also handle abrasions without ripping or tearing, and it is a bit soft.
The benefit of these materials is that they are super lightweight and strong at the same time. The soft-sided luggage are flexible so they can compress if pressure apply and back to their normal shape very easily. Most of them open in closes with an integrated locks or a zipper.
The majority of soft-sided luggage has some front pockets, which is super useful when it comes to organize and pack some of your small items like phones, passport, cards,money for easy access if you want them.
Best Soft Luggage Materials
The majority of soft-sided luggage are flexible and can last long. The most popular luggage fabric for softside suitcases and bags are Ballistic Nylon, Cordura and Polyester. The Ballistic nylon material are frequently used in top quality soft luggage, while polyester is the most cheaper one.
Is one of the thickest synthetic nylon fabrics you will find out there. This material is very durable and easy to clean as well. It has a super useful ability to resist abrasion which makes it the most popular material for luggage that has to be able to withstand considerable beating.
The ballistic nylon material is hard to die, so you will not have so many color options to choose from, usually they come in black or similarly dark colors.
Cordura is best known for its durability and resistance to abrasions, tears and scuffs. The cordura weight is slightly less than ballistics nylon and takes die easily, meaning you have more color choices. When ballistic nylon offer high tear strength, the cordura also take abrasion resistant.
Most of the lowest price soft-sided luggage are made from polyester fabric. Basically because it’s the cheapest soft material option. The quality of polyester bags can vary but they can be excellent value for money if you run out of budget.
How Much Does Softside Luggage Cost
Like we did for hard-side luggage, here are several soft luggage options, so that you can check for yourself the amount of money you’ll need if you want to buy a new softside luggage.
This soft-sided suitcase is made from 100% polyester fabric with stain-resistant, which means it’s strong and durable, and can last for a long time. It has a high-tensile-strength zipper pulls provide lasting durability.
This ultra-lightweight expandable spinner suitcase maximizes your packing power and meets the carry-on size restrictions for most domestic airlines.
It has a big main compartment allowing you to back all of your belongings for a short term trip. And if you know how to pack like a pro, this suitcase will hold items for up to two weeks.
The travelpro maxlite 5 feature a four spinner wheels rotate 360 degrees for a smooth rolling in any direction. a Lightweight yet sturdy PowerScope Lite handle with stops at 38″ and 42.5″ features a patented contour grip with comfortable.
It can also extend up to two inches to maximize packing capacity. There’s a side and bottom handle, two exterior compartment, and a side accessory pockets and adjustable hold-down straps for keeping things in place.
Check TravelPro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Expandable Suitcase price here.
A bit too big for carry-on, this AmazonBasics premium 26-inch softside suitcase makes a great option for checked luggage when looking for a smaller, lighter option.The softside luggage are more flexibility when Compared to hardside luggage. It can fit into tight spaces more easily, be collapsed down a bit to make room for other bags, or store compactly when not in use.
The suitcase features two inline wheels and sturdy telescoping handles allow for smooth comfortable rolling through airports and hotel lobbies. A Built-in TSA lock to add more level of security to your belongings while traveling. The TSA can open the lock as needed during the screening process.
Check AmazonBasics Premium Softside Suitcase price here.
This amazing strong suitcase made from 100% nylon fabric which allow it to be more flexible and durable at the same time.
This expandable carry on spinner suitcase can meet up with most airlines regulations and checked luggage. It has an external USB port and dedicated powerbank. However, the powerbank is not included.
The inside has a good size for a carry on luggage, and it has a tie down system includes built-in accessory pockets and a TSA approved lock for extra protection. And a removable quart-sized wet pockets for toiletries. A leather top and side carry handles for more comfort, plus a bottom cup provide carrying options.
Check Travelpro Luggage Platinum Elite Expandable Spinner price here.
Final Words: some people say that the hard-sided luggage are a bit more expensive than the soft-sided ones. But like i said there is always an option for every budget.
Pros And Cons Of Softside Luggage
- Normally the soft-sided luggage are lighter in weight than the hardside ones, and more flexible as well.
- With the soft-sided luggage you will have a number of front and side organizational pockets, that let you pack all small essentials close to you if you need them, like wallets, glasses, money and more.
- The major benefit of soft-sided luggage is that they can easily fit in tight spaces. This adaptability and flexibility allows in an extra outfit.
- They are very loose when they’re empty. Unlike the hard-sided luggage which has a defined structure whether empty or full.
- All soft-sided luggage can expand and gives you extra space to pack even more items.
- Soft bags are regarded as more durable than hard-side ones. You should be able to get years out of use from them.
- You will have more risks to lose control while rolling the soft-sided luggage, because most of them have just two wheels rather than four. However, you can find a few with a four wheels.
- If the rain got you, or you get your suitcase wet, the water could seep through to whatever inside, and this can ruin your belongings and it will be smelly.
- Not many color options to choose from like the hard side ones.
3. What To Consider When Choosing Hardside Or Softside Luggage
The durability of both hard-sided and softsided luggage are quite perfect. The robus, flexible ABS and Polycarbonate shell of hard-sided luggage are strong and most likely won’t scratch or crack if your bag mishandled by the airport staff, or by any other person.
And the nylon and all other material that used to make a soft-sided luggage are designed not to fall apart if they have slight rip or tear, so don’t worry about that too much.
No matter which one you choose, it’ll be the right one.
Keeping the weight of luggage to the minimum is a great idea for your comfort and to avoid baggage fees at the airport. The soft-sided luggage isn’t heavy, that’s for certain. And the material of hard-sided bags such as ABS / Polycarbonate are more lightweight as well. But it tends that the soft ones are more likely to be lighter than the hard bags.
You can find light option for both as well as heavy ones, when you want to buy one, make sure to read all the product description, or read some review on it. That will help with your final decision.
Both bags are made to move that’s for sure. However, hardside luggage tends to roll along better since it comes with four spinner wheels, and those wheels have 360 degrees for easy movement, so your suitcase will travel with you not against you.
The majority of soft-sided luggage comes with just two wheels. That’s not a bad thing, but the smooth rolling you will have with the hardside bags are not the same with the soft ones.
The softside luggage will keep your stuff neatly tucked in and well organized in the interior compartment. And with the tough outer fabric you’ll be having an extra protection to your belongings.
On the other side, the hardside bags with their strong shells are also extremely adept at protecting your items. Unlike soft bags, the hardside luggage can resist water and unexpected weather.
When it comes to pricing, there’s one clear fact, is that the soft-sided luggage are not expensive as the hard-sided bags. However, you can still find some good hard-side bag with low cost.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, there’s always a price for every budget, and with the competition between the best luggage brand, you can find some good quality suitcases that can last for years with a reasonable cost.
Everyone wants their suitcases to have a unique color from others. The hard-sided luggage offers plenty of colors to choose from for most it bags. At least you will have 4 or more colors.
For the soft-sided luggage you can also find so many colors options for each bag. However, some people tend to say there are not as many as the hard ones.
With so many luggage options nowadays, no matter which type of luggage you choose you can be sure you’ll have a strong, durable, high quality one.
While both hard-side and soft-side luggage have their cons, they also have plenty of pros that will make you very happy when buying one of them. Both bags are portable, lightweight, flexible, and ready to make your trip way more easier.
If you was unsure what is the best luggage type for you, we hope that this article helped you clear up your mind and shows you which one is the best for you.
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