Hard Shell Vs Soft Shell Luggage: The Battle Continues

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Published: 05th July 2010
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Ever since soft shell luggage entered the market, comparisons have been drawn between hard-sided and soft-sided bags to establish one's superiority over the other. Truth be told, both hard-sided and soft-sided luggage serve their own purpose and have their own pros and cons. One is not better than the other - just more suitable for certain types of travel and requirements.

Here's a brief overview of both types of luggage and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Hard Shell Luggage: Hard-sided luggage is made from materials such as aluminum and polycarbonate and have a rigid exterior owing to their molded construction. Some of the most common pros and cons of hard-sided luggage include:

Durability: Made from tough materials like aluminum and polycarbonate, hard-sided luggage is extremely durable and long lasting.
Protection: Due to their tough exterior, hard-sided bags are able to provide maximum protection to the gear packed inside them against bumps, knocks and falls.
Weight: Usage of solid materials tend to make hard-sided luggage heavier. However, luggage manufacturers have started using lightweight materials for constructing hard-sided luggage to cater to the needs of modern day travelers.
Stress: Put under pressure or stress, hard-sided bags have a tendency to get deformed or broken.
Cost: Hard-sided luggage usually cost more than its soft-sided counterparts because of the complexity of construction.
Style: If you're buying a hard-sided luggage, your only choice might be a rectangular shaped suitcase with wheels and handle or a smaller-sized business case.

Soft Shell Luggage: Soft-sided luggage is made from fabrics like canvas, nylon, polyester, etc, though some high end ones are also made from leather. Such bags have a soft exterior. The benefits and drawbacks of soft-sided luggage are:

Lightweight: Soft-sided luggage is the preferred choice of travelers worldwide because of its light weight. In fact, luggage companies keep coming up with newer, lighter collections to increase their market share.
Organization: Soft-sided luggage comes with several compartments and dividers that aid organization. These products can also have the expandability function, which provides additional packing space if needed.
Maneuverability: Made from materials that are flexible, soft shell luggage is easily maneuverable. It's possible to squeeze soft shell luggage into overhead bins in aircrafts or the boot of your car, and the bags will spring back into shape.
Style: Soft-sided luggage is available in various styles from uprights and duffles to totes and backpacks.
Longevity: For obvious reasons, the longevity of soft-sided luggage is not as much as that of hard-sided ones. However, the use of tough materials like ballistic nylon has added durability to soft shell luggage.

When you're getting ready for your next trip, just think about the kind of travel you have to do and things you have to transport. If you have to transport your luggage from terminal to terminal or haul it between multiple destinations, then you might be better served by a lightweight soft shell suitcase. Soft-sided travel luggage and carry-ons are also a better choice if all you're taking with you are clothes and non-fragile items. On the other hand, hard shell luggage is better suited for transporting delicate items and valuables that can break easily.

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