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Hardside vs Softside Luggage

Hardside vs. softside

If you’ve started the search for the perfect travel bag but are stumped when it comes down to choosing hardside or soft, you are in good company. Many travelers don’t know the key differences between these bags, and end up either sticking to what they feel safe with or making a decision that doesn’t work out with their travel style. Here are some ground rules for when to go hardside and when to go softside with your travels.

Hardside if you want to ensure you fit in the sizer. We too often hear of people getting dinged for overstuffing their softsided carry-on bags. Hardside bags do not have the give in fabric that a softside bag does, and usually stray from front pocket spaces. This allows you to be totally certain when it comes time for the plane sizer that your bag will fit.

Softside if you need some fabric stretch to your packing. On the flip side, if you are taking a checked luggage piece and really enjoy having some stretch in your material so you can overpack it and stuff the pockets, go softsided. It will also be better at housing unusually shaped goods like toys and gear, because of its less rigid frame.

Hardside if you want an easy-to-clean bag. Stains or marks are way easier to get off a hard surface bag rather than a fabric piece which stains can get embedded in. Take a wet rag or even a magic erase marker to the surface to a hardside and you’ll have a bag that requires minimal clean up.

Softside if you are going on safari or adventure travel. For this type of travel you really need to defer to a bag that will have some flexibility in packing space because you will have to fit into a smaller-than-usual plane cargo. We’re talking around eighteen inches worth of bag space. Hardside luggage doesn’t really span to this size of casing, and you will really want a wheel-less extra light nylon duffel or backpack for your travels.

Fabric hardside if you want to find a middle ground. If you want a blend of hardside and softside, you’ll find some of the latest travel bag collections have tightly woven fabric that create a hardshell exterior. Tumi has a fantastic fabric hardshell that is a meld in style between the two, so if you want the durability of a hardshell without the shiny shell exterior, try the Tegra-Lite Max.

Ultimately, the two exteriors can really come down to a preference in style. While neither will be material will always win the race for being lighter or more durable, you will find them to be different in packing style and their overall look. Enjoy whichever ends up speaking to you for your travels!