Should you buy hard-sided or soft-sided luggage?


If you’re taking a trip this summer, you’ll need the right luggage. In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, members said wheelability, durability, and weight are the most important luggage attributes. But what kind of luggage is best? The choices generally come down to hard-sided or soft-sided. Consumer Reports is here to help you find out what’s best for you.

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

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

Thanks to modern plastics like polypropylene, ABS or polycarbonate, hard-sided luggage can be durable and light. Aluminium 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," Hutheesing said.

-- Like nylon or polyester with a high denier - or “D” rating - an indicator of thickness and strength. Six-hundred 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.

And Consumer Reports says 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.

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