Why You Should Buy a Hard Shell Suitcase

benefits of hard shell suitcases over soft shell suitcases

Choosing a suitcase can be difficult, as there are so many great brands, price levels and features. There’s the upscale, the budget-friendly, the carry-on and the ones big enough to fit a person inside. But when it comes to choosing between the soft case fabric suitcases and hard case made of plastic or metal, it’s harder to decide.

Both styles have their own benefits, but there are a few reasons why you should buy a hard shell suitcase over a soft case.

Sturdy

Travel isn’t easy on your gear, so one trip could destroy your luggage by simply putting it through the conveyor belt. Fabric tears and rips are not uncommon. Hard case luggage solves this problem by being made from tougher materials. They will likely last longer for this reason and can take longer to show wear than their fabric alternatives.

Waterproof and Stainproof

There’s nothing worse than a sudden rainstorm while you’re sitting on the plane, looking out at a tarmac with carts full of unloaded luggage- and yours being one of them. Or grabbing your suitcase from the conveyor belt to find it soaked in… something. But hard cases don’t have this problem. The materials protect from the rain and also from spills from other people’s luggage.

Professional Looking and Unique

Hard case suitcases inherently can look more professional than their fabric alternatives because they’re usually solid colors without many designs. The sleek exterior can be better for business travelers for this reason. They’re also more unique looking than every other black fabric suitcase that comes off the conveyor belt.

Why You Should Buy Hard Shell Suitcases

Protective

Hard case luggage is better at protecting your breakables as they’re not prone to stretching or movement. They’re able to take a beating to save the items inside like bottles of wine or other souvenirs.

Definite Size

You can buy three different fabric suitcases that claim to be “carry on” or tell of their dimensions, but when you bring them to the airport or pack it, it might not fit as expected. Hard case suitcases are a definite size that doesn’t stretch so there’s no guesswork. Either it fits or it doesn’t.

Changeable Designs

Hard case suitcases can get special designs placed on them, whether it be a logo or image. One company even lets you wrap advertisements onto it to save you money for your trip! You get a $50 gift card to use towards your luggage fees.

Lightweight

This website notes that hard case luggage can be much lighter than your standard suitcase thanks to the material used in newer models. When it comes to carry on bags, light weight is as essential as dimensions. If your bag alone weighs almost ten pounds, that’s taking up important weight at the check in counter. A lightweight bag can be the difference between carrying on, checking a bag and paying a fee!

Do you travel with a hard case suitcase? What makes it better?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Alouise says

    Great points. I have a small, hard-shelled suitcase that I use for travel. I got it as a birthday gift 10 years ago and it’s still going strong. The fact it’s waterproof and sturdy is a big plus. The only downside is that it’s a wheeled suitcase (which is good) but the space where the handle folds down inside the suitcase takes up quite a bit of room. I think hard-shelled suitcases have gotten better in the past few years so I’d definitely consider buying another one of these when this one breaks.

  2. Vanessa says

    I’ve never been a fan of them & never bought one – only because I’ve seen so many cracked ones. For all the benefits, they don’t seem to be able to handle being on the bottom of a pile of luggage.

    • Brooke says

      Yeah I’ve heard about cracking incidents before, but I never kept track of the suitcases/brands. I’m sure there are different materials that are used, so that would be a good thing to investigate in the future.

  3. Sara says

    They don’t mind being taken to dusty places – You cans simply wipe them with a wet cloth. And if you don’t find a place to sit while you wait for a bus in Mexico or India or Heathrow… you can just sit on the hard luggage too.

  4. Christine says

    I keep going back and forth on whether I want a hard-shell or not. I love the look and sturdiness. But don’t like the scratches and potential for cracks and broken wheels. I also like being able to over-stuff a soft-side with all my souvenirs on the way home. I’ve had my soft-side for 15 years and the only thing to break has been the zipper-pulls which are easily replaced. I would want the same longevity from a hard-shell but I don’t know anyone that’s had one that long.

  5. Rene says

    Hello, I’ve recently changed to a hard case suitcase and I’m never going back to soft. It took awhile to get the hang of it, but for all the points above, hardy, sturdy, great looks, waterproof and lightweight. Hard case win every time. I have an ultra light Lojel branded one and the only gripe I have is that it scratches easily (light yellow in colour) but the dark grey is more forgiving.

    Thank you

    xo

    • Brooke says

      Hi Rene! That’s so funny that you mention the Lojel suitcase! I was given one to try recently and it’s in bright yellow… scratched before I even got to take it on a trip!

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