by Staff Writer
There are some very obvious differences between hardside luggage and softside luggage. But there are also a lot of more subtle differences, and knowing all the differences between the two types of luggage can help you find a luggage set that is right for you and makes your travels easier.
Materials: Hardside luggage is usually made of aluminum or polycarbonates. They are chosen because they have a good strength-to-weight ratio. Softside luggage is made of a variety of materials, including vinyl, cotton, polyester, leather and other durable materials. These materials are chosen because they are lightweight, flexible and durable.
Features: The features offered on softside and hardside luggage are nearly identical. They both often offer wheels and extendable handles for convenience when carrying the luggage. Inside, they can have an array of pockets for holding toiletries or preventing clothes from getting wrinkled. What can be different is that softside luggage typically has several pockets that are accessible without opening the suitcase. Also, softside luggage almost always uses zippers to hold it close, but hardside luggage will have some type of latch to secure it.
Price: Many factors determine the cost of luggage; one of which is the materials it is made of, but features, size, brand and other factors play a part as well. Not all hard materials are the same and not all soft materials are the same, but on average, the initial cost of hardside luggage is going to be higher than the initial cost of comparable softside luggage. One thing to consider though is value. If you are a frequent flyer, the initial cost of hardside luggage might be offset by its longevity.
Use: If you are someone who keeps their luggage close to them and will only take a carry-on with you, the lightweight, flexibility of softside luggage might be better for you. The rigid shape of a hardside case doesn't always conform to the shape of an overhead bin; however, if you like to check your bags, hardside luggage is less likely to be damaged when thrown around in the holding area and will keep its contents from getting crushed when another bag gets thrown on top of it.
Bottom line: When it comes down to it, both softside luggage and hardside luggage do the same basic thing. But the choice is about you and what you want. Do you want something that is incredibly durable and will protect everything inside of it? Or would you rather have luggage that is more flexible and lightweight?