Hard-sided luggage is often made of rigid plastic. Typically, the luggage is made from polypropylene or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. ABS is usually found in more expensive rigid cases and is more durable than polypropylene plastic. Meanwhile, soft-sided luggage is normally crafted from nylon, polyester or a combination of both. The durability of the fabric is marked by "denier levels," with higher levels being better. For best results in either category, choose a rigid case made with ABS, or a high-denier fabric for soft cases.
In general, soft luggage is much lighter than hard luggage. Weight may be important if you are traveling by air and want to avoid the fines imposed by airlines for overweight luggage. The total weight of your bag or suitcase may also be critical if you are traveling to exotic locales and may need to hand-carry your luggage great distances.
The rigid casing of hard luggage prevents the sides from caving in, thus making it a better choice if you are packing fragile goods. When you are traveling by air, your luggage is often checked through and tossed into the bottom of the airplane. A rigid case can help prevent your suitcase's contents being crushed by other bags or rattling excessively when thrown about by luggage handlers.
The fabrics of soft luggage are more prone to tearing and ripping than the casing in hard luggage. If you want to get the most life out of your luggage, you may wish to choose a hard-styled suitcase, though cracked plastic may be a problem in some cheaply made models.
Soft luggage stretches, and because of this you can squeeze more clothes and goods into a soft luggage case. Hard luggage does not offer this flexibility. If you need to maximize your packing potential, you may find soft suitcases to be more suitable.
Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle
Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.