Whether you are a business traveler or casual traveler, luggage is essential. In the 1980s, soft-sided luggage gained widespread popularity because travelers were looking for a convenient and lightweight option.
However, in the recent past, hard-sided luggage sets have taken over as manufacturers can now make hard side luggage with almost the same lightweight qualities while providing more protection for the contents of your bag. An example of this is the Samsonite Omni PC.
And let’s be honest. We have all thought of purchasing hard-side luggage at one point or another. It is hard not to whenever you see all those sleek and elegant designs roll past you when you are traveling. Whether it is out of a sudden desire to change things a little or a real need to secure your belongings, we will help you find the best hardside luggage.
What Is Hardside Luggage?
Hardside luggage, also known as hard-shell luggage, is made of high-tech plastics, like polycarbonate and ABS, which are both durable and lightweight. While polycarbonate is usually more durable of the two materials, ABS is the lightest. Aluminum is the most durable; however, it is the heaviest as well. The exterior surface in hard side luggage is very similar to a shell.
Hard-sided luggage usually has a 50/50-split opening that allows users to quickly pack both the sides equally and secure the contents neatly using a middle divider or interior strap. However, keep in mind that a majority of clamshell designs often require nearly twice the surface space to spread open.
Many hard-sides have similar material specifications, but you will find some models in the market with a lid opening.
A lot of people prefer hard-sided luggage, especially when packing fragile or breakable items. That is because it usually offers better security compared to soft-sided baggage and cannot be ripped or pried open quickly due to its integrated locks. Moreover, aluminum hard side luggage could be even more secure as it usually features metal drawbolt latches rather than zippers.
Hardside luggage would rein you in if you tend to overpack. The chances of overstuffing it are pretty slim. In case of carry-on, you will benefit from a no-bulge fit as long as you purchase the most suitable size.
Also, hard-sided luggage can even stack with ease which makes it perfect for cruise ships because the storage section for luggage on a ship is right below the vessel’s belly. Hardside luggage is also quite easy to clean.
Marks or stains are a lot simpler to get off hard surface bags instead of fabric pieces. You can use magic erase marker or wet rag on the surface to get rid of stains.
But it can scuff and scratch more easily than soft-side luggage. And due to its rigidity, it is harder to squeeze in a few extra items in case the need arises. You will also require a permanent storage space, which could be problematic for small-house and apartment dwellers.
You need to keep a few factors in mind before buying a hard-sided suitcase. These factors include sturdiness, material, and longevity, etc. The best hard sided luggage options will vary from one person to another.
Hardside Luggage vs. Softside Luggage
Softside bags, on the other hand, is made of a variety of fabrics that yield and move—typically woven nylon, like ballistic, Cordura or ripstop. Keep in mind that Cordura is more textured compared to ballistic, more abrasion-resistant and a bit softer.
In contrast, ballistic is the shinier and smoother of the two. Although with time ballistic may abrade, the abrasions are not likely to compromise the strength of the fabric. Out of the three materials, ripstop nylon is the lightest. The stuff is alternatively known as “parachute material”
All three fabrics are available in many different denier counts, denoting the fabric’s weight, but not its strength or quality. However, in case of ripstop nylon, the higher the denier count, sturdier the fabric.
A majority of softside pieces of luggage have exterior pockets with two or three interior compartments for storing different types of items. In most cases, the closure is usually a zipper, but the latest bags may feature an integrated lock.
People usually opt for soft-sided luggage when they need lightweight pieces which can efficiently compress and flex to fit inside tight or constricted spaces, like overhead bins in a plane. Another benefit of soft-sided luggage is that it takes up considerably less storage space than hard side luggage.
Moreover, softer cases have materials that are less likely to get irreparably marked. In case anything gets on them, you can quickly wipe them off using a wet towel in most examples. Also, scrapes and dings do not stick or make any difference to most soft cases.
Of course, the downside is that softside luggage cannot offer as much security and protection as hard-sided luggage. Moreover, it is also more susceptible to ripping, especially if you buy a low-quality product. A lot of soft-sided cases are not entirely flexible and preserve their softside look in spite of the fact that they feature reinforced shells.
During the past twenty years luggage options have improved so much that irrespective of the type of case exterior you buy, it is likely to be quite sturdy and durable provided you carry out adequate research first. However, make no compromises on quality as less expensive bags tend to tear or fall apart more easily compared to reputable brands.
Whether you go for a soft or hard suitcase, always ensure your luggage is made of the best materials and has excellent craftsmanship. Even your hard side luggage may break or crack quickly the product is nothing but flimsy plastic. In the same way, your softside luggage could tear and rip if it has a shoddy construction.
Therefore, if you are looking to buy hard luggage, go for a suitcase made of polycarbonate. The material is sturdy and durable and will not be too heavy. On the other hand, your softside luggage must be high-quality nylon.
It will provide more resistance and protection against sharp objects and fluids. Also, zippers must have reinforced or taped seams with sturdy handles that can retract.
Who Benefits The Most From Hardside Luggage?
Hardside luggage comes with plenty of cutting-edge benefits whether you are a businessman, an athlete or just a frequent casual traveler. The main advantage is that all your items are better protected and secured. There are many other reasons why you will be better off choosing hard side luggage over softside luggage.
Travel is usually not easy on your personal effects or gear, whether you are flying for a corporate meeting or a golf tournament. Therefore, even a single trip can destroy or damage your luggage by just putting it on a conveyor belt.
Keep in mind that fabric can rip or tear, which is not uncommon. Hardside luggage sets solve this problem quickly as they are more robust and durable materials. As a result, they are likely to last much longer and often take much longer to show signs of wear compared to their fabric counterparts.
Stainproof And Waterproof
There is not much worse than an unexpected or sudden rainstorm while you sit in the plane, gazing at the tarmac with carts filled with unloaded luggage- and one of them is yours. Or collecting the suitcase from a conveyor belt only to find out that it is wet and smells horrible. You get the picture right?
However, with hard side luggage, you will not face this problem. The waterproof materials can protect your valuables from the rain as well as any spills from other passenger’s luggage.
Unique And Professional Looking
Hardside luggage inherently looks more professional and individual compared to its softside alternative as it is well designed with sober colors and exudes a formal vibe. Hardside luggage sets have sleek exteriors which are ideal for business travelers. Moreover, they are more distinct looking compared to many fabric suitcases.
Hardside luggage is much better when it comes to protecting and securing your breakables or fragile items because it is not prone to movement or stretching. As a result, it can withstand a severe beating to safeguard your sensitive things inside, especially precious souvenirs or bottles of wine.
You may end up buying three carry-on fabric suitcases; however, when you try to pack them or get them to an airport, they may not fit as you expect them to. On the other hand, hardside luggage has a definite size that is not stretchable. That can eliminate the guesswork.
Hardside luggage sets with two or three pieces, matching in design and color are great for everyday travelers. Hard-sided luggage provides a quick means to buy sufficient suitcases for family trips. They often have at least one carry-on bag with larger bags that can you can check-in when flying.
If you are a frequent traveler, traveling with matching sets of luggage can make it much easier to locate the bags when you are at an airport baggage claim.
Moreover, you could lower the risk of someone inadvertently grabbing your suitcase by choosing a hardside luggage set that has a distinct print on its exterior.
Another significant benefit is that with a matched set you could open all your luggage locks easily with one key.
There are many lightweight hardside luggage options for a businessman. Most of them have an adjustable handle and four wheels for smooth maneuverability and handling.
Interior zippered lid pockets are convenient when it comes to separating different contents, while larger zippered pockets on the exterior are an ideal place for items such as newspapers, magazines, and folders.
Other hard suitcases have abrasion-resistant and durable materials with sleek designs that would stand out on baggage carousels. Moreover, many latest models have elastic tie-downs, ergonomic and self-repairing zippers with built-in shoe pockets that make packing convenient and comfortable.
Types Of Hardside Luggage
There are different types of hardside luggage discussed below.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
This type of hard-side luggage often combines ABS with other materials to offer more strength and durability. It is a synthetic material that can shape into hardside luggage. When added to materials like polycarbonate it creates strong shells which can protect the contents.
If you want to get the benefits of hardside luggage with minimum weight, it is advisable you explore a lightweight material like polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is lightweight, durable and very impact-resistant.
Moreover, the material can flex on impact which makes it resilient to any potential rough handling. Sturdy and almost impossible to shatter or break, polycarbonate is in a variety of items like CDs, sports materials, eyeglasses and bulletproof glass.
Hardside spinner sets have four wheels, which allow you to distribute the weight of the luggage equally. A significant benefit is that all the tires could “spin” quickly in any direction. That can help maximize maneuverability and let you squeeze through constricted aisles or spaces with ease.
One Piece Hardside Luggage
One piece hardside luggage often has sturdy plastic metal with a light and durable hard shell. That prevents scratches, ensuring long-lasting use and safety. In most cases, the bags have a simple design, without fancy patterns or complicated pockets.
They are ideal for most business trips and can meet the needs of individuals who have low-key or a straightforward lifestyle. The luggage is available in different sizes such as 20 inches, 24 inches or 28 inches, etc. It also has four wheels that can roll smoothly and quietly in any direction and can support larger weights.
Sizing Of Hardside Luggage
There are different sizes or capacities of hardside luggage. Therefore, it is essential to get one most suitable for your needs.
Carry-On Hardside Luggage
This term often applies to hardside cases that passengers could take aboard a plane and keep them in overhead compartments above the seats. For this type of hardside luggage, you should be careful when it comes to the weight and size that you can carry.
As a general rule of thumb, keep in mind that a suitcase with dimensions higher than 22 x 9 x 15 is not considered carry-on luggage.
Checked Hardside Luggage
When it comes to checked hardside luggage, passengers have a lot more freedom regarding weight and size. Of course, this does vary from one airline to another. Hardside bags that exceed 62 linear inches in length, width and height combined are considered excess luggage. For hardside cases exceeding this limit, you might have to pay an extra fee.
Hardside cases often do not have any exterior compartments or pockets. As a result, you will need to rely solely on their domestic capacity to store all your items. That is why it is essential to look for a higher number of organization features. You can divide these features into small pouches, mesh pockets, straps, and dividers.
In some cases, you will note that hardside luggage is designed to allow for only a specific number of items and you will not be able to squeeze in any more stuff. However, a majority of recent designs let you expand the luggage so that you may store even more items.
Manufacturers often manage this via an additional piece of fabric and an extra zipper. A regular hardside suitcase may expand from one inch to up to five inches. However, keep in mind that if you make use of this crucial feature, you will be carrying more weight too.
How To Pack Hardside Luggage?
Follow these simple tips to pack hardside luggage efficiently and efficiently for any trip.
Regular maintenance of your luggage will make it last longer and look better. You must always thoroughly clean the baggage outside and inside after every trip to address any potential problem promptly. That may include fixing loose screws or lubricating stiff handles.
We have discussed what hardside luggage is and why it has become popular in the recent past. We have compared hardside luggage with soft-sided luggage to determine how they stack up against each other. Hardside luggage offers more security and protection, while softside luggage is more flexible and lightweight.
We have looked at the different benefits of hardside luggage such as more protection, sturdiness, and exact size which its soft-sided counterparts often lack. We have also highlighted why hard bags are suitable for business people and frequent travelers.
We have highlighted the different types of hardside luggage such as spinner luggage and one piece luggage and covered its different sizes like carry-on luggage. We have provided some instructions on how you can pack your hardside suitcase. We have given tips on how you can quickly clean and maintain the baggage as well.
Our buying guide will discuss the different features that you should consider when buying hardside luggage along with some recommendations.