Hard or soft-sided hand luggage?
There are typically two types of suitcases – hard and soft. Hard-sided hand luggage has a rigid exterior that is stiff rather than flexible. Soft-sided hand luggage is made of fabric and has a flexible exterior.
Many soft-sided suitcases will have some form of rigidity to give the suitcase shape. This can help to protect your belongings and may help to balance the suitcase.
There's often a perception that hard-sided hand luggage is more durable than soft-sided hand luggage. However, our lab testing of suitcases over a number of years has proven this not to be the case. Our results show that the best suitcases for durability can be either soft or hard-sided.
Here are some pros and cons of each suitcase type to help you make the right decision for you.
Hard-sided hand luggage
- Can offer greater protection to fragile items
- Tend to be more water resistant
- More lightweight options are available than with soft-shelled hand luggage
- Is perceived to be more stylish by some travellers
- The glossy finish of some suitcases can be prone to scratching
- There are fewer expandable cases
- The non-flexible exterior can make them trickier to store
- They are typically more expensive than soft-sided cases.
Soft-sided hand luggage
- Flexible fabric makes them comparatively easy to store
- Many have expandable compartments to increase the suitcase's capacity
- A number of lightweight options are available
- Tends to be cheaper than like-for-like hard-sided suitcases
- Fabric can be less water resistant compared with hard-suitcases
- Fragile items may have less protection
- May be perceived by some travellers as less stylish