Consumer Reports

Should You Buy Hard or Soft-Sided Luggage

Luggage has come a long way since the days of that old valise.

Nowadays your biggest decision when buying luggage is should you get soft-sided or hard?

Thanks to modern plastics like polypropylene, ABS or poly-carbonate, hard-sided luggage can be durable and light. Aluminum luggage is likely the most durable but a bit heavier.

Their strong construction makes it harder to slit through, and locks are usually built-in.

“They’re also a good option for traveling with more fragile items which can crush easily,” said Nikhil Hutheesing, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

And you’re guaranteed a no-bulge fit in the overhead bin - as long as you buy the right size.

There are some drawbacks: Taking up twice the space of soft suitcases when packing, they also lack flexibility.

Soft-sided luggage on the other hand is more flexible, works well in cars, and can compress into overhead bins. Extra pockets may mean more organized packing.

“But soft suitcases can be vulnerable when it comes to security and ripping. So, buy ones made of strong materials,” said Hutheesing.

Like nylon or polyester with a high denier - or “D” rating - an indicator of thickness and strength. 600 is a common number. The higher the number, the more wear and tear it can take.

Even the right luggage won’t make travel totally stress-free - but it can help take the edge off.

Consumer Reports said pay attention to the wheels. Suitcases with four wheels are more ergonomic and can spin in different directions. Two-wheeled suitcases only go backwards and forwards but are better when rolling on sidewalks or over uneven surfaces.

Copyright CR - Consumer Reports
Contact Us