When you are packing for a trip, one of the most important decisions you will make is which type of luggage to take. There are two main types of luggage – hard-shell and soft-shell – and the right type for you depends on your needs. In this article, we will compare the two types of luggage to help you decide which is the best choice for your next trip.
Types of Luggage
When it comes to choosing the right type of luggage, there are two main considerations: hard-shell luggage and soft-shell luggage. Each has their own pros and cons, and knowing the differences can help you make the best choice for your travel needs.
Hard-shell luggage is the classic suitcase - it has a solid, hard exterior made from plastic, fiberglass or other sturdy materials. This material makes your luggage more durable and better suited for packing heavier items. Aside from the durability, hard-shell suitcases also provide more protection for your items since their rigid construction can better shield from bumps and jostles of travel.
Soft-shell luggage is the go-to choice for the modern traveller. These suitcases usually feature a soft, fabric exterior, making them lightweight and easier to store. Soft-shell luggage also offer more flexibility – they can expand or shrink to accommodate items that don’t fit in the traditional hardcase. Finally, soft-shell luggage generally costs less than its hard-shell counterpart.
Advantages of Hard-Shell Luggage
Hard-shell luggage has lots of advantages over soft-shell luggage. It’s super durable, water and scratch-resistant and the molded shape will protect your belongings inside.
- Durability: A hard-shell suitcase is typically made out of a strong material such as ABS plastic. This material is used to make things such as bike helmets and skateboards, which should give you an idea of how durable it is. This type of luggage is great for long trips where it will take a lot of wear and tear.
- Protection: A hard shell suitcase can better protect your personal items from any kind of external damage due to its thicker walls. Even if you drop your bag, its hard shell will absorb most of the impact to whatever is inside.
- Weather Resistance: Hard-shell suitcases are more resistant to rain and snow, as the sealed construction prevents moisture from entering the case. Soft-shell cases don’t offer this same level of protection.
- Lightweight: It may seem counter-intuitive, but hard-shell cases tend to be lighter than soft-shell cases. The reason is that hard-shell cases are made of thinner and lighter materials than soft-shell cases, which are typically made of heavier fabrics.
- Carry-on: Hard-shell cases meet more airline regulations for carry-on luggage, making them the perfect choice for a budget traveler. Some budget airlines don’t accept soft-shell cases as carry-on baggage. So it’s best to double-check the airline rules before your flight.
Overall, hard-shell luggage can be the better option if you’re looking for a durable, lightweight suitcase that meets airline restrictions. It may cost more upfront, but it is likely to last a lot longer than soft-shell luggage.
Drawbacks of Hard-Shell Luggage
When traveling, hard-shell luggage is often seen as the go-to choice for its perceived strength and durability. However, this type of luggage can have some drawbacks.
- Cost - Hard-shell luggage is generally more expensive than its soft-shell counterpart.
- Weight - The hard casing makes these bags heavier, so it can be difficult to meet airline weight limits.
- Fragility - The hard exterior makes them more prone to cracking under stress, especially when checked in during air travel.
- Stiffness – The rigid nature of hard-shell luggage can make it difficult to fit into smaller spaces.
- Noise – The hard casing can create more noise when rolling along hard surfaces.
- Versatility – The lack of softness and flexibility make it difficult for these bags to be used in a wide range of situations.
While these drawbacks can make hard-shell luggage a less than ideal option for some travelers, it is important to consider all options before making a decision on what type of luggage to purchase.
Advantages of Soft-Shell Luggage
Soft-shell luggage is becoming increasingly popular for its lightweight construction, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. With its vast range of features and benefits, here are a few advantages of soft-shell luggage.
Soft-shell luggage is designed to be extremely flexible. It is designed to expand as needed and can conform to almost any shape. You can also pack items securely and compress the luggage to reduce its size for easy transport.
Soft-shell luggage is built to be durable. It is made of durable and water-resistant materials, such as nylon and polyester. It can also withstand a good amount of wear and tear, making it an ideal option for frequent travelers.
Soft-shell luggage is much lighter than hard-shell luggage. This makes it easier to transport and handle, as it weighs less. It is also travel-friendly when trying to avoid overweight charges at the airport.
Soft-shell luggage is typically much more cost efficient compared to hard-shell luggage. It tends to be cheaper, not to mention, it is a great choice for budget-conscious travelers. You can also find a great selection of soft-shell luggage at different price points.
Drawbacks of Soft-Shell Luggage
Soft-shell luggage, while generally containing a good amount of storage space and being light-weight, has a few drawbacks when compared to hard-shell luggage.
Durability: Soft-shell luggage often wears out and tears much more quickly than hard-shell luggage. This is especially true for luggage that is packed to the brim and forced to fit more than it can handle. Plus, soft-shells have a tendency to show dirt and stains more easily, making them look shabby more quickly.
Protection: As previously stated, hard-shell cases offer superior protection for the items inside than soft-shell cases. While soft-shell cases may contain a certain amount of padding, items are far less safe from bumps, knocks, and other accidental damage.
Cost: Soft-shell luggage is usually found to be lower in price, but this cost savings comes at a price. Higher-quality hard-shell luggage, while more expensive, is likely to last much longer, saving you money in the long run.
When considering the appropriate type of luggage for a trip, the weight of the luggage is one of the most important factors. Hard-shell luggage tends to be heavier than soft-shell luggage as it is made of a solid material, rather than fabric. Soft-shell suitcases are more lightweight, making them a better option for travelers looking to minimize the weight of their luggage. However, hard-shell luggage can be more durable, making it a better choice for travelers who plan to check the luggage and need it to withstand the wear and tear of the airport baggage handling process.
Soft-shell luggage can be a better choice for those who need to save weight, as it can be 5-10 pounds lighter than hard-shell luggage. On the other hand, hard-shell luggage provides an extra layer of protection as it is made of a solid, weatherproof material. Hard-shell luggage may also last longer compared to its fabric counterpart, making it a better investment for frequent travelers.
When it comes to cost, hard-shell luggage tends to cost more than soft-shell luggage. This is because hard-shell suitcases are more durable, waterproof, and resistant to scratches. Soft-shell suitcases, on the other hand, are usually made with less durable materials, such as nylon and canvas, so they may not be as long-lasting as hard-shell luggage.
The cost of hard-shell luggage tends to range from $50 to $400, depending on the size, features, and brand. On the other hand, soft-shell luggage typically ranges from $30 to $200, again depending on the size, features, and brand.
When purchasing luggage, it is important to consider both the price and the quality of the product. While hard-shell luggage may be more expensive, it may be a wiser investment for travelers who need a suitcase that will last for many years.
One of the primary considerations when weighing the pros and cons of hard-shell luggage against soft-shell luggage is their durability. Both types of luggage have a great life span, but hard-shell cases have a slight edge.
Hard-shell cases typically feature a hard exterior made of a sturdy plastic or other material that can withstand wear and tear from rough handling. This makes them ideal for frequent travelers looking for a durable luggage option. In addition, the hard exterior helps protect your items from getting crushed, scratched, or torn.
Soft-shell cases, on the other hand, feature a flexible exterior made of a fabric or synthetic material. Although very lightweight and often slightly less expensive, these cases don't provide the same level of durability as hard-shell cases. This can be a problem if you're traveling frequently or with fragile items, as they may not be able to stand up to rough handling.
While both hard-shell and soft-shell luggage have their benefits, hard-shell cases are generally the more durable option, particularly if you plan on traveling frequently.
Style and Design
When it comes to style and design, hard-shell and soft-shell luggage offer two distinct looks. Hard-shell suitcases, with their sleek and contemporary lines, are designed to appeal to a younger crowd. They come in a variety of colors and some brands feature geometric patterns or other eye-catching designs. Soft-shell luggage, on the other hand, has a more classic, vintage feel. It's available in more subdued colors and comes in a range of fabrics and materials, making it much more customizable than hard-shell suitcases.
Hard-shell suitcases tend to be more durable than soft-shell bags, with their hard plastic exterior providing extra protection for its contents. However, despite their added strength, hard-shell suitcases can be quite heavy and bulky, making them difficult to carry around. Soft-shell bags are much more lightweight and easier to maneuver, making them the preferable option for travelers who prefer to travel light.
In terms of price, hard-shell and soft-shell luggage varies depending on the brand and features, but you can expect to pay more for hard-shell suitcases, as they are more durable and have a more modern look. Soft-shell luggage is typically less expensive, but the cost of customization can quickly push the price up.
When it comes to selecting the right type of luggage, it's important to consider your needs and preference. Hard-shell luggage offers protection and is more durable, while soft-shell luggage is lightweight and flexible. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your travel requirements and personal preference.
If you prioritize durability and protection, hard-shell luggage will give you that added sense of security. On the other hand, if you need something lightweight and easier to maneuver, then soft-shell luggage is a great option.
For most travelers, the best choice comes down to budget and needs. Consider your needs and budget to make the wisest decision for your next journey.
Hard-shell and soft-shell luggage each have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your travel needs and style, one may be a better choice than the other. Hard-shell luggage is the best option when you need your belongings to remain safe and secure. Soft-shell luggage is best for people who would prefer to be able to squeeze their luggage into small spaces when it is not in use. Ultimately, which type of luggage you choose comes down to your personal preferences and how often you travel.