Hardside vs Softside Luggage

Hardside vs Softside Luggage

(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

If you are on the market to buy a new luggage, you have to distinguish between the two key styles that you are likely to find. You have to decide whether you would prefer soft side luggage or the newly famous molded hard-side luggage. As they are both pretty fantastic choice, you can almost feel very confused. You must try to explore the pros and cons of both styles to remain cool when purchasing the perfect luggage for travel, whether soft or hard case luggage.

You would most likely still have a preference for one over the other if you have made several trips. The truth is, for each type, there are so many complexities that it all boils down to just what you want. But if you’re on the lookout for your luggage on the market, here are several considerations that will help you decide.

Hardside Luggage

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Luggage

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Luggage

Hardsided luggage is manufactured today using high-tech plastics that are both durable and lightweight, such as polycarbonate and ABS. However, polycarbonate is very durable, as ABS is considered the lightest. Aluminum is the heaviest, but still the most durable. Hard-sided luggage often sometimes has a 50/50 split gap, allowing you to equally load double sides and balance the material with a center divider or an x-strap.


Hard-sided baggage has greater protection thanks to the built-in locks, ideal for securing breakable items. With a blade, or anything else, they will never rip open. Using a zipper that can be vulnerable, most of the composite plastic hard-sides get closer, but aluminum baggage typically comes with metal draw-bolt latches rather than zippers.


There is a big deal about lightweight polycarbonate materials used in hardside luggage, and it is true. Hardside luggage is exceptionally light, similar to old and bulky plastic luggage. The molded polycarbonates are highly durable, compact, and come in cool designs and colors. Although most of the newer softsided luggage today come in lightweight materials as well.


It’s not all the time that people want to steal your stuff, so they’re less able to cut through a hard shell when they do. Although all styles of luggage will provide protective protection on the zippers or openings, there are always occasions where it is important to prevent slitting or actually cutting the bag open. For hardside luggage, this is almost difficult to achieve, but very easy to do for bags made of canvas or nylon.


In hardside luggage, various colors and patterns are more prominent, making them easy to distinguish among the thousands of black bags that bounce on the luggage carousel. Soft cases are available in different colors, but after a few journeys, colored luggage appears to get dusty, and general wear and tear are easy to see.

Softside Luggage

SwissGear Sion Softside Luggage

SwissGear Sion Softside Luggage

Soft-sided luggage is usually made from fabrics such as nylon, such as Cordura, ballistic, or ripstop. Cordura is more textured, a bit smoother, and more abrasion-resistant than ballistic. The cleaner and shinier of the two is Ballistic. The ballistic will abrade over time, but it would not compromise the strength of the material. The very lightweight fabric usually referred to as “parachute material,” mostly used in unstructured or semi-structured bags, is Ripstop nylon. All these materials come with denier counts, denoting the fabric’s weight, not the quality or strength. However, a higher denier will guarantee that even this lightweight cloth will be heavy enough to carry your things when it comes to ripstop nylon.


On the exterior of the luggage, softside luggage usually have several pockets to ensure that your travel items are easy to reach when you walk through airports. This extra space is not allowed by the molded exterior of a hardside luggage. It is also better for softside bags to fit into the overhead bins. The fabric is lightweight and will also fit into a room that would not be a hardside pack.


The capacity of luggage to absorb the traditional airport abuse is a major criticism for hardside luggage, this places all the benefit on the softside type. While stains and dirt appear on softside luggage, it has the capacity to be tossed and turned and still come out alive at the baggage claim. On the other hand, hardside luggage would come out battered and scratched. If not broken.


Many of the more colorful, less costly luggage is made from polyester. Polyester is not as durable as nylon, but it can be destroyed even more quickly. Make sure the plastic frames or handles are sealed with screws for each soft-side pack. With taped and reinforced seams, zippers should be water resistant. Before you shop, make sure to understand all aspects of the bag.

Hardside vs Softside Luggage Comparison

  • Better protection if you have fragile items inside
  • Exterior is usually water-resistant
  • More colors and designs available and thus will be easier to find in baggage claim
  • Can fit into compact spaces
  • Organization on the exterior for passports and phones
  • Can absorb the abuse by airports
  • Might get scratched easily specially at the airport
  • Does not have nifty pockets no the outside
  • Cannot squeeze into tight spaces
  • Most come with 2 wheels and thus making it more difficult to move
  • Fabric can be cut open by thieves
  • Cannot have fragile items


The hardside vs. softside luggage will be a point of discussion for a long time. There is a myriad amount of luggage in the market, and when it comes to picking one, even the most experienced traveler can be stumped. There is going to be a minor advantage for one form or another in most categories and obviously, in any case, neither the hardside nor softside luggage was the obvious winner. In your luggage decision-making process, personal interests and desires, as well as taste, should play a part. Pick the most important function for you, and then narrow down your options from there.