Softside or Hardside luggage? The Best Option for Your Trip

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Jessica is a respected contributor to the Sampling America writing team, eloquently sharing tales of adventures across the country and beyond.

If you are planning a trip, one of the first things you always think about is what to pack. Toothbrush? Check. Swimsuit? Of course. Twice as many pairs of underwear as you will ever need, plus three? Obviously!

But here’s the million-dollar question: what kind of luggage is best to put all that travel gear in?

Most stores break down luggage into two categories: softside (or soft shell) or hardside (hard shell). We’re going to take a look at both so you can choose which one is right for your next trip.

Softside Luggage

Softside luggage
Image Credit: Depositphotos.

Softside luggage has a lot of pros. It tends to be lighter than its hardside counterpart, which makes it easier to move around if you need to pick it up instead of just rolling it. It is also stretchier, so it is a great option for those who tend to over-pack and are looking for a suitcase that they can really cram things into.

Softside luggage can be easier to squeeze into overhead compartments on planes or trains as well, as it has a lot more give to it. And then there’s the organization factor: softside luggage almost always has multiple zippered pockets on the outside that you can stick smaller things in for easy accessibility, something you don’t get with hard luggage.

But nothing is without its downsides. Softside luggage is not as sturdy as hardside luggage, and can be more easily ripped, torn, or punctured, especially when it is getting thrown around with other luggage. Because of this, it is easier for thieves to cut into and easily picks up stains or bad smells. Moisture can also sometimes make it through the outside of the bag to the interior, which means that if you get it wet, your clothes and other belongings are in trouble.

Hardside Luggage

Hardside luggage
Image Credit: Canva.

Hardside luggage is easy to clean and easy on the eyes. Hardside luggage often has more options for bright, colorful designs and can be wiped down without much to-do if something gets spilled on it.

With its tough exterior, it is harder to break into than softside luggage, and harder to break, period. While the wheels on any kind of suitcase are usually a weak point, the rest of the hard, solid material this luggage is made out of is very hard to penetrate, making it an ideal choice for long flights and for checked bags that will be banged around a lot.

What hardside luggage gains in security and durability, though, it loses with its inflexibility. While many hard suitcases are roomy inside, the space is what it is. No amount of pushing or squeezing or stuffing will fit oddly-shaped items that could safely just puff out the sides of softside luggage into this hard, plastic box, so you’ll have to organize accordingly.

Which One Is Right for You?

Family with suitcases
Image Credit: Canva.

So? Which suitcase should you choose?

It all depends on you and your travel needs. If you are going to be walking or driving and/or tend to over-pack, then the softside could be the way to go. If you are traveling overseas, though, you may want something sturdier and more durable for the trip.

The choice is yours, but the important thing is not to forget all those extra pairs of underwear!

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