Hardside Vs Softside Luggage: A Buyers Guide

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Choosing between soft-sided and hard-sided luggage might be hard if you haven’t used both in the past. Unfortunately, most sellers are of no help since they tend to glorify what they have.

Luckily, you have me because being a frequent traveler, I have used both luggage on several trips and I can give reliable advice.

Now, before we dig into the main agenda, let’s look at the various factors that one should consider when deciding on either hard-side or soft-sided luggage:

  • Where you are going, in terms of weather.
  • Length of your trip. Think about access to laundry because you need to clean your luggage, how much you are carrying, and the extras you will be bringing back.
  • Mode of transport. Think about where and how your bag will be carried and handled.
  • Type of items to be packed. Will you have anything delicate?
  • How often do you travel?
  • Think about durability & maneuverability

Soft-sided Luggage

What are the strengths of soft-sided luggage?


Because they are made of flexible materials, soft-sided bags tend to be more durable, unless the craftsmanship is lacking or if they are exposed to too much impact.

If you are satisfied with the material, look at the zippers and the straps. Also, don’t forget to check the quality of the handle and the wheels because they determine the ease of maneuverability.


Soft-sided luggage is more flexible, and this is because of the material used. They are therefore easy to fit in various compact spaces, but you should be careful not to damage its content in the process.

Packing/carrying capacity

Because they are more flexible, dividers and many compartments, they are more expandable thus easy to manipulate when packing.

Accessible compartments

One thing to love about this type of luggage is the numerous easy to access pockets where you can store your travel documents and such.


  • Not water-resistant
  • Most have two wheels thus not so easy to maneuver.
  • Not available in various colors and patterns

Hard-sided luggage


Water-resistant & easy to clean

These are made of tough materials that are also water resistant. As such, they are ideal for use during the rainy seasons and are also very easy to clean.

Better protection

Apart from protecting its content from liquids, this type of luggage takes on impacts better thus it is ideal for use when carrying delicate items. However, adding some cushion with your clothes might also be of great help.

Again, case slitting cases are minimal with this type of luggage, so it also reduces theft.

Better maneuverability

Most hard-side luggage has four double wheels, and this means better maneuverability.

Available in various colors

I try to as unique as possible with my luggage to help me locate it easily at the baggage claim, and the hard-side option has made it possible.


  • No external pockets thus accessing some items during travels might be work.
  • Not flexible so enough means enough, no way of manipulating it.
  • Not easy to fit in various spaces

Final Thoughts

The determinants of what’s better between soft-sided and hard-sided luggage are your needs, how you use it and the nature of your trips since they both have their strengths and weaknesses.