Choosing a Hard vs. a Soft Suitcase


Soft suitcases and hard suitcases each have benefits and drawbacks. Both kinds can be durable and come in many sizes. You can also find each type at a range of price points and in a variety of styles. However, they can also vary greatly in terms of flexibility, accessibility, and more. Therefore, make sure to consider the following when deciding whether to buy hard or soft luggage:

How much weight can you give up?

How much a piece of luggage weighs depends on what it’s made out of, but in general, hard luggage weighs more than soft luggage. A hard-shell suitcase may weigh as much as twice as much as a soft-sided suitcase of the same size. So, if you often find yourself bumping up against airline weight limits, a soft-sided suitcase may be your best choice.

How are you going to use your suitcase?

Soft suitcases, because they can change shape to absorb pressure, are easier to squeeze into tight spaces and less likely to crack. They also tend not to show scratching as prominently, though they do scratch more easily than hard luggage does. Hard luggage offers the best protection for valuable or sensitive items, but it can crack under high pressure or at low temperatures, and once it’s damaged, it may become unusable.

Do you need easy access to some items?

Soft luggage often comes with front pockets, where you can stash things you may want to access without opening your entire bag. Hard suitcases, on the other hand, tend not to have exterior storage.

Do you need a flexible suitcase?

Soft-sided suitcases have more give to them, which means that you may be able to cram in a few extra souvenirs, even if your bag was fairly full to begin with. Hard suitcases, on the other hand, have very little give.