Hardside V/S Softside Luggage: Choose the best suiting your suitcase need

When you stroll out to buy new luggage and enter a store, the foremost thing that you’ll be asked is: What kind are you looking for? Hardside or Softside luggage?

In case you’ve done a lot of travel, you’ll have a preference for one over the other.

However, the fact is, there are so many preferences with each one of them that it all comes down to simply what you like. 

But if it is your first piece of luggage, here are some factors that will help you decide.

Hardside Luggage


No matter the luggage it will always be loaded with something breakable or expensive. The benefit of hardside luggage is its rigid frame. This means that it’s more difficult to squeeze and press into the luggage because of the hard shell, protecting valuables inside. A common concern is a fear of breaking or cracking the shell.

But the good news is: with new technology and materials, it’s almost impossible to break the exterior shell through the airport and regular travels.


Another big advantage is weather resistance. Most soft cases are not completely waterproof because of the zippers and small openings. Whereas in the case of hardside luggage, your belongings will be sufficiently protected from rain and moisture.


The same goes true when it comes to cleaning your luggage. Hardside materials are easier to clean – by wiping the surface. Softside luggage absorbs water and is more prone to retaining stains and smells. The only disadvantage is that you need to pay a little extra for a lightweight piece of luggage.


It is not like every time strangers attempt to steal your belongings, but when they do, they don’t go cutting the hard shell ones. It is certain that both types of luggage offer security features on zippers and openings, there are cases where the bags have been ripped open and the belongings have gone missing.

This is almost impossible to do for hardside luggage, but easy to do for bags made of canvas or nylon.


Both options come in varied colors and patterns but stains and wear and tear is seen more prominently with brightly colored softside luggage.

Since hardshell luggage is made of polycarbonate, there are many colors available from vivid to muted ones. Not to forget an array of patterns and textures.

Softside Luggage


Since the material used in a softshell is more flexible and softer, softside luggage is great for packing more than you have planned for. In brevity, it is easier to cram more things inside a softside luggage.

Secondly, it also works better than a hardside when you need to pack irregularly shaped items since soft shells have a little bit more wiggle room to accommodate your stuff.

Want your luggage to stuff into small spaces?

Softside can do so easily. It is easier to manipulate something into overhead bins or luggage racks on trains and buses when it’s soft. Hardside luggage is known to take up space. Flexibility is that one thing that’s not its forte!

Most softside luggage comes with an expansion option where you can unzip it and get more space. A neat feature in itself, it is essential for any traveler who yet has to master the art of packing and planning.


One huge measurable plus for softside luggage is the availability of external pockets. These pockets come in handy for things like jackets and toiletries when you don’t need those for carry-on. Moreover, it is great to dump those last-minute essentials you only remember after you are done with packing. It saves you a lot of time and energy of opening the bag and going through the process of packing all over again.

On hardside you have no other option than to lay the bag down, open the main compartment and go through everything all over again(just for a single item).

Moreover, some hardsides do have internal pockets(not that common). Whereas on the other hand, softside luggage would usually feature both external and internal pockets. It’s easier for you to separate small from large items and find what you need quickly.


We often come across complaints about hardside luggage that puts all the advantage in the softside’s court is the ability of the hardshell luggage to absorb that typical airport abuse. There’s no doubt that stains and dirt do show on softside luggage, but it has the ability to be tossed and turned and squeezed and dragged but still, come alive at the baggage claim.

Many times hardside luggage tends to come out all scratched and bruised. In worst cases, broken.

It is almost impossible to settle down on one piece of luggage as the luggage needs differ according to the travel or the condition/situation. It all boils down to personal preference and the kind of traveler you are. So, be sure about your traveling needs and go for any kind of luggage that suits your needs. Just make sure you check the dimensions and that’s it not too heavy.

Here’s a quick overview to help you decide and make that hard or soft luggage purchase a happy one.

Soft ShellProsCons
Durable for a longer span of time. More flexible; can fit into compact spaces. Flexibility allows soft shell luggage to accommodate more items. More accessible with more pockets.Not water-resistant.Not as easy to maneuver as hard shell luggage. Limited color options.
Hard ShellProsCons
Water-resistant. Protect items in case of liquids. Easier to maneuver.Easier to spot at baggage claims as they come in many unique colors.Firm edges bring in limitations to fit in compact spaces. Lacks flexibility making it difficult for last moment packing. Inaccessibility. 

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