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How to Choose the Right Luggage | Which is Better, the Hardshell or the Softsided Suitcase?

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Look no further on how to select the best suitcase. This article shares some important details on picking this travel essential. This post contains affiliate links, which means I might make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you make a purchase.

As a traveler, our luggage is the foundation for protecting material possessions. There are two material options for luggage hardshell (plastic or aluminum) or soft-sided (nylon or polyester). Either is a good option, depending on your preference and travel itinerary, and only you know what features are necessary. Think about airports, bus stations, and hotels.

Hardshell luggage can be heavier and harder to close if you’re stuffing in extra souvenirs. The empty hardshell suitcase weighs, on average, 14.77 lbs for aluminum for a large empty checked bag and 10.05 lbs for an aluminum carry-on. The cons are that they are known to crack and fall apart more quickly.

Fabric is essential for soft-shell luggage. You’re looking for a durable material that will protect your possessions from rain or snow. The empty soft-sided suitcase weighs, on average, 12.35 lbs for a large empty checked bag and 8.48 lbs for the average carry-on material. The cons are that they can sustain stains and smells and are unsuitable for rugged locations.

For either material, a four-wheel suitcase will allow you to push and pull your bag in multiple directions easily. Domestic or international airlines have restrictions on the number, size, and weight of both carry-on and checked luggage. Be sure to look up airline specifics before you pack because airline regulations for luggage change frequently, often in response to fuel costs. Most airlines outside the USA will measure bags in centimeters so check twice. Another thing to consider is the price of the luggage, and on this topic, "you get what you pay for."

Still looking for more information about choosing the right luggage? Check out this article written by Consumer Reports, an independent, nonprofit organization; These reviews can be invaluable in guiding your decision. Finally, click here to see my recommendations for tech travel essentials.

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