Everything You Should Know About Hardside Luggage 

 February 2, 2022

By  Hanel

Imagine you’ve been on a flight of 13 hours, headed halfway across the world, just for a summer vacation, and then the plane finally lands. You head for the aircraft exit so tired and exhausted (possibly jetlagged), and then you’re directed to the terminal building. After a long walk, you get there by following the signs to the luggage carousels only to find the luggage you checked in good condition, looking mauled and disfigured. Your favorite summer shorts and a piece of your underwear are hanging out of the luggage. How angry and frustrating would that be? You then try to organize things, but suddenly you feel someone stealing glances at you, and you look up and find a very hot boy or girl staring back at you and your “mauled and disfigured” luggage. How embarrassed are you going to feel? Very, I guess. These things happen and are sometimes a result of your choice of luggage.

In this article, I am going to be giving you a rundown on everything you should know about hardside luggage. So come with me.

What Is Hardside Luggage?

Hardside luggage, otherwise known as “hard shell luggage,” “hard-sided luggage,” or “hard case luggage,” is a luggage type made with high tech plastics, commonly polycarbonate and ABS. It can also be made from metals such as aluminum. It is known for its excellent strength and protection (security) and is also lightweight because of the materials used in its fabrication.

Now that we know what hard-sided luggage is and its composition, we might as well get to know the various types of this luggage.

Types of Hardside Luggage

There are five distinct types of hard-sided luggage, which are determined by the material they’re made from. They are:

1. ABS hard-side Luggage

This type of hard-sided luggage is made from ABS, which is a polymer of three plastics – acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. This is the cheapest of the five types of hardshell luggage, and it is the weakest. It is a bit brittle, easily scratched, and has low impact resistance. Although it is the lightest, it has a lower range of durability compared to the others.

2. Polycarbonate Hardside Luggage

Manufacturers have generally declared that polycarbonate is one of the best plastics to be used in the fabrication of luggage. It has excellent durability, high impact resistance, lightweight, and it is the strongest of all the types of hard case luggage. It can be molded into different designs and textures, which makes it super attractive. It is therefore considered as the best hardside luggage.

3. Aluminum Hardside Luggage

This type of hardside luggage is the most expensive hard-sided luggage. It is very heavy and can easily be scratched. It has excellent protection and security, and it is also waterproof. To manufacturers, it is regarded as premium luggage.

4. Polypropylene Hardside luggage

This type of hard-shelled luggage is considered better than ABS. It is very flexible, lightweight, and also affordable. It is ranked just above ABS and below polycarbonate In terms of properties and benefits.

5. PVC Hardside luggage (Polypropylene Hardside luggage)

Although it is very flexible and lightweight, this hard-shelled luggage is not as popular as the others due to its low security. Because security and protection are one of the major reasons why hard case luggage is preferred over its counterpart, this type of hard case luggage does not meet up with this requirement (therefore making it unpopular among consumers).

The table below is a summary of the difference in the quality of the various types of Hardside luggage listed above. I’m going to be using the terms excellent, medium, and poor to compare the various properties of the types of hard-shelled luggage.


Pros and Cons Of The Hardside Luggage


The advantages of hardshell luggage cannot be overemphasized as it is seen in our everyday activities. These include:

  • It provides protection and security to your properties.
  • They are water-resistant.
  • This luggage type is easy to clean.
  • It is strong.
  • It is lightweight.
  • It is trendy with attractive cliché.
  • It is durable.

Protection and Security:

Hard-sided luggage is known for its high protection and security guarantee. They assure a high level of protection to the content and belongings placed in them. Since they generally do not come with zips but TSA (integrated) locks, they are not vulnerable to theft band manhandling.

Water Resistance:

Hardshell luggage is made from waterproof materials, which therefore makes it water-resistant. It offers the advantage of being unaffected by weather conditions such as rain. Even when the luggage is drenched by the rain, the contents remain unharmed and untouched. What a wonderful property it exhibits.

Easy To Clean:

A hardshell suitcase guarantees a neat and dirt-free appearance at all times. All you need to do is to dab the surface of the suitcase with a wet piece of cloth or rag, and the dirt comes off instantly. It does not require washing and scrubbing as compared to its counterpart.


Some tests have been carried out to determine the strength of the hard shell suitcase using a hammer, and it was proven that this suitcase-type displays a high level of strength and impact resistance. When a dent is found on it, it can easily be pushed back into place without damaging the surface. This property is commonly exhibited by the polycarbonate and aluminum hard luggage type. Hence, you do not have to worry about your luggage being mauled and deformed at the airport, or it being tossed and destroyed when put in the trunk of a taxi.


Weight is a significant and important factor to be considered when choosing luggage. You do not want to get something heavy and difficult to lift. It can be very tiresome. As a result of the types of materials used in manufacturing hard shell luggage, it is lightweight, easy to lift and move around.


The sales of hard luggage have increased tremendously over the years because it has become quite trendy. It is made with materials that exhibit excellent moldability properties (can be molded into different forms, shapes, and textures), and this offers the advantage of much more attractive and trendy designs coming onto the market. It can come in different bright colors, which make it easier to be spotted at the baggage carousels at the airport, among other luggage sets.


The hard case suitcase has a high ability to withstand wear, tear, and pressure or external damage. The reliability and durability of the plastics used in the fabrication offer it another great advantage over its counterpart, which has a lesser durability and tolerance level.


As rightly said, ‘anything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage.’ This brings us to the cons of this luggage type.

  • It is expensive.
  • It is not easily accessible.
  • This luggage has limited internal capacity.
  • It is not flexible.
  • It gets scratched or scraped easily.

A little Bit Expensive

Hardside luggage sets are expensive compared to the soft-sided luggage sets. They are less affordable and have a range of prices that may not be accessible for consumers with a lower budget. This results in these consumers opting for the more affordable counterpart.


In terms of accessibility, hard-sided luggage may not offer the superiority of being accessible. It doesn’t guarantee 100% satisfaction, and this is as a result of the 50/50 opening system. You might want to reach for something in your suitcase, but due to the type of opening system incorporated in the design, it will require that you open the luggage fully in order to get what you want. This is a bane to the accessibility factor of this luggage type.

Limited Internal Capacity

The hard case luggage has a limited internal capacity, and therefore storing items in them can be very difficult. It does not come with a side partition, or expendable zips but rather a fixed internal capacity. This limits the amount of what it can carry, unlike its counterpart, which has expandable sections and outer pockets where additional contents can be squeezed into.


The hard sided luggage does not allow for excellent flexibility. It cannot be squeezed into small spaces (for example, the overhead counter boards in an airplane) If the space provided is not equivalent to the size of the luggage, it cannot be maneuvered into this space.

Easily Scratched/Scraped

Because these types of luggage are made from plastics (or metals), they can be scraped by sharp objects or rough surfaces. Once sharp objects are introduced to the surface of this luggage, they leave a scratch or scrape on the surface and may be seen as an eyesore to the consumers who require 100% perfection.

What to Consider When Buying Hardside Luggage

Buying hardside luggage can be difficult, especially if you do not have basic knowledge of what to look out for when buying one. Below are a few things to look into when buying hardside luggage.

What is the Weight of the Luggage that You’re Buying?

When choosing hard-side luggage or any type of luggage generally, weight is an important factor to look out for. You don’t want something too heavy and bulky because this can harm the content that will be placed in it since the more the weight of the luggage, the fewer contents you can put in it.

Also, transportation of heavy or bulky luggage can be very stressful and discouraging, starting from transportation fees or the amount of energy required for lifting the luggage.

Weight should be carefully considered. In regards to this, polycarbonate is to be considered fit for this category.

Consider the Durability

You may want to take an option that has a longer durability tolerance to avoid further costs in the long run. A highly durable hard-side luggage will help cut costs because you will not have to buy a new one often. It can last for years if you are someone who travels often, and this is an advantage over a less durable one. So you should look into this factor. As a recommendation, polycarbonate or aluminum hardside luggage stands better chances of offering you trusted durability.

Budget is Key

There’s a saying that goes, “cut your coat according to your size”, it is not a myth. You must also know your estimated budget on how much you are willing to spend on a hard side luggage set.

Some hardside luggage sets are generally more expensive than others. The most expensive is the aluminum hard-sided luggage, seconded by polycarbonate, although it is not as affordable. So, there are many options to choose from, and this depends on your budget.

For more affordable options, the ABS, PVC, and polypropylene are recommended.

Strength is Important

Categorically, the aluminum and polycarbonate hard shelled luggage displays excellent strength as compared to other types of hardside luggage.

Stronger luggage is long-lasting luggage. This factor can influence others in such a way that you may decide to consider this as the most important. For instance, it will strongly influence the budget and durability because if you opt for a stronger option, it cuts future costs and also guarantees durability. So you might want to pay close attention to this factor.

Why are you Buying it?

The last tip is going to be on its purpose. When the purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. The purpose of the luggage should be clearly stated. Is it for air travel (international or local)? Is it meant for your belongings or just for your supplies? Are there going to be some confidential documents in them? These are some questions that should be answered so as not to be placed in a tight corner after purchasing the luggage.

For air travel, you might need to opt-in for the strongest case because of the treatments the luggage might receive during check-in at the airport. If that’s not the case, the strongest case might not be a necessity.

Zipper Type

Before choosing hardside luggage, take into consideration the zipper-type or generally, the lock system of the luggage. Based on research, chain zippers do not get damaged easily; metal chain zippers are the most durable, and coil zippers are the least durable. Therefore, the zipper-type increases the durability of the hard shelled luggage.

Warranty is an Essential

You also have to consider the warranty of the luggage. Those with longer warranty are obviously the best to choose when purchasing hard case luggage. It helps guarantee a longer usage and reduces the tendency for the luggage to get damaged. Checking the warranty also gives an assurance that the luggage is cost-effective.

Type of Wheels

There are various types of wheels on hard luggage. They include spinner wheels and roller wheels. Hard luggage with spinner wheels stand firm with four wheels, and they require less effort in pulling on a smooth terrain while those with roller luggage have two wheels.

Hard luggage with roller wheels is easier to pull on rough terrain, but they put pressure on your muscles and joints because they require much more energy to move. Roller wheels are considered to be much more durable.

On the other hand, hard-side luggage with spinner wheels are not reliable on rough terrain, but they require less effort to be pulled on a smooth surface, therefore taking pressure off your joints and muscles.

Type Of Material Used In The Construction

You also have to take into consideration the type of material used in the construction of the hard-shelled luggage. Polycarbonate and aluminum hardside luggage are considered the strongest and most durable. Although ABS, PVC, and polypropylene are cheaper, they are not considered premium luggage. Having known all these, you can go ahead and choose the right luggage for your travel.

How to know you’ve made the right choice about Hardside luggage?

Looking at the hard-sided luggage reviews, you might think you’ve made a terrible choice on what to buy. But before you conclude that it is a terrible choice, you have to answer some questions yourself without viewing comments from others.

Does this hardside luggage set fit the purpose for which it is needed for? 

As I said, the purpose is a very important factor to be considered. The hard luggage must meet the requirements.

Is it cost-effective? Whatever choice you’ve made should not put a dent in your pocket or result in being a waste of money in the long run.

Does the luggage suit your preference? 

You have to sincerely answer if the luggage suits your choice and style. If your style is simple or glamorous, you must make the right choice. It must match all the preferences you have when considering the right luggage to buy (durability, strength, purpose).

When you have answered these questions, you should know in your heart and feel joyful about your decision. You will know that you got the best hardside luggage for you.

I know you might consider only going through reviews to answer some questions regarding this post, so I am simply going to make things easier for you by answering some FAQs.

Frequently asked questions on Hardside Luggage.

What is the best material for Hardside luggage?

All the materials are good, but it all boils down to budget. You have to get the best material for the money you’ve got. So, set your budget first. I recommend polycarbonate or aluminum because they are very strong and durable.

Where can I get hard side luggage?

You can get Hard side luggage from online stores or a department store around you. Just walk into one and make your pick.

Is it safe to purchase hard side luggage online?

Yes, it is. But you have to purchase it from a trusted online store such as Amazon to avoid a tragedy. The downside of online shopping is you don’t see the product in person, so I highly recommend you go in store first to get a feel for the product. Then you can buy online if you so choose.

Does Hard side luggage really guarantee protection and security?

Yes, it does. It has a TSA lock incorporated in its design, which reduces the risk of theft and tampering.

Is polycarbonate and aluminum hard shell suitcases worth it?

Yes, it is. They both guarantee excellent strength and durability. They are considered as premium luggage.

Do hard shelled luggage exhibit aesthetic values?

Definitely! Due to the fact that they are made from materials that have excellent moldability properties, they can be molded into different shapes and sizes, which offers aesthetic values. They also come in various bright and attractive colors.

What’s the best type of wheel for a Hardside of luggage?

The type of wheel that would be the best fit for you is dependent on your budget, surface terrain, and weight of the luggage. For rough terrain, I would recommend a roller wheel set and for a smooth terrain, a spinner wheel set.


Finally, I conclude this post with a small recommendation. Aluminum and polycarbonate hard-shelled luggage is definitely your go to luggage material. They fit many preferences and more.

I really do hope that this article was able to give you the necessary information you need to make the right choice on purchasing hardside luggage. And I hope the decision you are going to make is worth it. With the right luggage, you will be confident as you begin your journey on plane, train, or car. Good luck!


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