Whether you haven’t traveled in years, and finally booked that dream vacation, or you’re a seasoned traveler, jetting off several times a year, the conundrum remains the same: should you buy a hard or soft suitcase?

We’ve weighed the pros and cons of both to help you decide.

What is Better: Hard or Soft Luggage?

The Pros of Hardsided Luggage

  • The obvious: it keeps everything packed from getting damaged. If you’re checking a bag, you don’t have to worry about other suitcases getting piled on top of it and wrecking anything precarious you’ve packed. As for your carry-on, you don’t have to worry about it getting jiggled around, and perhaps squashed by other items in the overhead bin.
  • Safety: it’s much harder for thieves to get into hard side luggage.
  • Water protection: you don’t have to worry about wheeling it around a rainstorm. If you land during a monsoon and have a 10-minute walk, your suitcase may be dripping when you get to your hotel, but you’ll open it and find a nice dry outfit to put on.
  • Easy to clean: no need to worry about someone spilling their coffee on your suitcase, or wheeling it through a muddy puddle. Take a wet cloth to the spot, and it will be clean instantly.

The Cons of Hardsided Luggage

  • They are heavy: Although we have come a long way with lightweight hardback materials for suitcases, they still can be pretty heavy, especially for checked luggage. The added weight is a big con in this day and age of baggage restrictions.
  • Lack of storage: Although some hardback suitcases now have outer pockets, the majority of them do not. It’s always nice to have that extra storage space, for items you want easily accessible.
  • Lack of expandability: As with outer storage, more hardback luggage is now expandable. However, it’s rare, and if you are planning on purchasing a lot of souvenirs, you will have to pack light from the get-go to ensure you have room for anything you want to buy.

Some of our Favorite Hard Suitcases:

Samsonite Winfield 2  

Purple Samsonite carry-on suitcase, close up of black samsonite suitcase

Astyll 3-Piece Luggage Set

Astyll 3-Piece Luggage Set

Kenneth Cole Reverb Expandable Hardside Spinner

silver kenneth cole suitcase, side of black kenneth cole carry-on

Sologaard Carry-on Closet

black solgaard suitcase with built in organizer, red solgaard carry-on suitcase

Related Article: The Best Lightweight Luggage Under 5 Pounds

The Pros of Soft Luggage 

  • Lightweight: It’s much easier to find a soft suitcase under 5 lbs. Less weight means an extra pair of shoes, which is always a plus in my book.
  • Expandable: My softside suitcase always has a strange shape to it when I’m done packing. It’s much easier to cram things into a soft suitcase that it is into a hard. (Although a con is you can’t exactly sit on a soft suitcase when you’re trying to close it).
  • Lots of outer storage options: Pockets galore! Soft suitcases are much more likely to have extra pockets on the outside, giving you extra space for everything you need to pack.

The Cons of Soft Luggage

  • Easily Squashed: Whether you are tossing it into the overhead bin or checking it, there is less protection for when something gets thrown on top or it gets jiggled around, your delicate items may get ruined.
  • Less security: It’s easier for thieves to cut through.
  • Harder to clean: Mud, dirt, spills, and just general wear and tear will be harder to clean.

Some of our favorite soft luggage:

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Expandable Suitcase

pink travelpro suitcase, back of brown travlepro suitcase

London Fog Cambridge II 20" Expandable Spinner

Coolife Luggage 3 Piece Set

purple softshell 3 piece coolife luggage, blue 3 piece set

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