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Hardside vs Softside Luggage - What's Best for You?

Rollaboard vs. Spinner Luggage comparison highlighting rollaboard suitcase next to spinner suitcase
Choosing between hard shell and softside luggage doesn't have to be complicated. What matters most is that you pick the one that suits your needs best. To help you make the right decision, here are the top five things to consider when comparing the two types of luggage.

Shopping for new luggage? Know your stuff - from internal organization to colour, size and shape, there's a lot to consider when deciding on the best carry-on, checked suitcase, duffel, weekender or garment bag for you. Comparing softside vs hardside is also a key difference, not to mention all the extras like USB charging ports that make all the difference. Being informed will help you choose wisely!

If you're unsure about the type of luggage you should carry, we're here to help. Perhaps you've been toting around a soft fabric suitcase, but the sleek look of hardside luggage has caught your eye. Or maybe a bag with a hard shell has been your go-to, but you're longing for the convenience of the exterior pockets that softside bags offer. Whatever your preference, we've got you covered.
Choosing between hardside or softside luggage can be daunting, but the right suitcase is out there! Identify your needs, consider the pros and cons of each, and don't forget to think about the insider info that you never thought of - and you'll find the perfect bag in no time!


Before anything else, let's talk money. Although cost shouldn't be the primary determining factor, it will likely be a part of the equation. As a result, prices for soft-sided and hardshell luggage can range significantly. You can find affordable pieces in both. However, beware of cheaply-made bags.

You don't have to break the bank when it comes to luggage. However, it is wise to invest in bags capable of withstanding many hardships, such as the tribulations of intense packing, the wrath of rough baggage handlers, the tumult of bumpy sidewalks and the anarchy of carousel pileups.

If you're on a tight budget or love a good bargain, check out the sales! Most luggage companies introduce new models every year or so, which means you get to benefit from discounted prices on the older models to make way for the new ones. So shop smart and enjoy significant discounts!

For the maximum value, purchasing a luggage set is a wise decision. You'll likely need both a checked bag and a carry-on, so investing in a set is the best move. Not only will all your luggage match stylishly, but you'll be saving yourself a lot of money compared to buying them separately.

No matter how much you can afford to spend, don't let the cost of your luggage be the sole determining factor. After all, if you're picking a place to stay on holiday, you wouldn't necessarily opt for the most affordable accommodation without considering the other options.



Contemplate the unsettling sensation of witnessing your suitcase burst open on the luggage carousel, spilling your items amongst everyone else's baggage. Envision the impact of a stuck wheel while you have miles ahead of you to reach your destination. We often take the power of durability for granted - like running water or electricity - until it's not there.

When travelling away from home, your luggage will be a key item you can rely on. For maximum convenience, pick hard or soft suitcases, or even a large checked bag or a small carry-on; make sure that whatever your choice, durability is at the forefront of your mind!

At Travelpro®, we understand the importance of reliable luggage. That's why our products are designed to be tough and durable and why we provide warranties for extra peace of mind. We stand behind every piece of luggage, so you can trust that your Travelpro® suitcase will withstand even the most demanding travels!

Although it is commonly believed that hardshell suitcases are more rigid than soft-sided bags, the reality is that their "durability" depends significantly on the type of materials used in their construction. Both hard and soft-sided suitcases are strong in their way.

When it comes to hardside luggage, Travelpro® is leading the way! Its polycarbonate shell is lightweight, super-strong and designed to flex on impact to keep it from splitting and cracking - issues that can cause significant hassles with other hardside luggage.

Similarly, soft-sided bags can tear or rip if the wrong fabric is used. For built-in durability, look for luggage made from high-density fabric treated to resist moisture and staining.

Though neither type of suitcase is waterproof, the hardshell exteriors of hard-sided bags will generally repel liquids and can easily be wiped clean in the event of a spillage. In addition, you can sanitise them with special cleaning products, just remember to read the instructions and do a patch test first.

Fabric bags treated to keep liquids and stains at bay shouldn't be washed with aggressive cleaning solutions that could damage the anti-moisture coating. However, that won't be necessary anyway! Thanks to the layer, most liquid should slide right off instead of sinking in.

When selecting your bag, be sure to check for features that will ensure its durability, such as reinforced stitching, secure zippers, strong handles and extension handles that don't bend. Additionally, corner guards, reinforced moulding on high-wear points, and ultra-strong wheels with protective wheel housings can increase your bag's longevity, whether hard or soft.
hardside softside luggage


Luggage Size Guide

What you Pack...and How

As the old adage goes, it's not about the cover, it's about what's inside. This holds true when deciding between hard or soft luggage; what - and how - you pack should determine what type of luggage is best for you.

If you're looking for the best way to pack a suitcase to the brim, a soft-sided bag will provide greater flexibility than a hard-sided suitcase. For an even better option, try expandable luggage. Travelpro® is one of the only brands offering both soft- and hard-sided luggage with zippered expansion features that give you extra space - a great way to transport all the souvenirs you picked up on your travels!

Softsided luggage usually has exterior pockets for last-minute items and essentials you don’t want to carry in your backpack or tote–a favourite feature of new parents hauling already-overstuffed diaper bags. Carry-on luggage just got more practical! Travelpro® has created a hard-sided version with an exterior pocket perfectly sized for laptops and other electronics. This is a fantastic feature for new parents who often find their diaper bags already filled to the brim - no need to worry about stuffing extra items into their backpack or tote. Have the convenience of accessing items quickly while on the move!

Compared to its more flexible counterpart, a hardshell suitcase can be better for protecting fragile items if cushioned adequately. However, the inflexibility of a hardshell bag restricts its ability to fit into tighter spaces - something that softshell luggage is adept at.

Soft bags generally boast one large primary compartment, often with interior pockets and/or organizers. On the other hand, hard shell bags are typically designed with a split construction, where the bag opens into two compartments like a clamshell. Though hardshell suitcases may occupy more space when opened, they can be neatly stacked when closed.


When it's time to hit the road, what's your mode of transport? Do you prefer rolling your suitcase behind you or alongside you?

If you're searching for a hard-sided bag, why not opt for the four-wheeled variety or spinner luggage? With 360° rotating wheels, it's perfect for navigating twists, turns and even obstacle courses. Not only can you roll it along upright beside you, but it's also incredibly sturdy. However, if two-wheeled bags are more your style, you may struggle to find one in a hardshell design.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed when selecting the right softside luggage? Don't worry - both 4-wheeled and 2-wheeled models are widely available. Two-wheeled luggage, or Rollaboard® luggage, offers enhanced manoeuvrability over rough terrain and high speeds - and we're here to help!

For help knowing how to decide between 2-wheeled vs. 4-wheeled luggage, check out our comprehensive comparison HERE.


If you're looking to make a fashion statement, hard and soft luggage comes in various hues. For a truly unique look, adorn a hard-shelled bag with stickers or personalize any bag with luggage tags and handle wraps. Dream big and your luggage will do the same!

The ultimate choice for your travels is hardshell or soft-sided luggage. Consider your packing needs, personal preferences, and budget when selecting the best bag for you. Ensure you get your money's worth with a reliable warranty that will safeguard your investment. Have an incredible journey!

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