There are a number of benefits of hard case luggage. Aside from the additional toughness, most hard suitcases are stain resistant and last a long time if cared for correctly. They aren’t as maneuverable as lighter, soft sided cases, but are the best option if you travel with fragile items. This article discusses the different options when choosing hard case suitcases.
While most travelers prefer soft sided bags, there are situations where hard case luggage is required. If you’re a photographer, for example, then a hard case is essential for protecting photographic equipment. Business travelers, who want to keep laptops and other electric equipment safe, also benefit from hard luggage.
Keep in mind that some airlines don’t allow, or at least don’t recommend, hard case cabin luggage. This is because it can be difficult to store safely in overhead compartments. For this reason, make sure you check with your airline before you fly.
The obvious benefit of hard case luggage is that it’s more durable, and provides greater protection for personal items. This extra durability is really the only reason most people would choose a hard case over a soft sided bag, as the cases are heavier and more prone to cracking. There are several different materials, however, and each has its own benefits and weaknesses.
Plastic, for example, is a relatively cheap option for hard case luggage, but cracks easily if subject to a strong impact. Once the plastic has cracked, the luggage is unusable, so these suitcases usually aren’t a long term purchase. Another option is polycarbonate. This material is lighter than plastic, making it a good option for airlines with strict weight limits, but can dent easily. A good polycarbonate option is the Delsey Luggage Helium Shadow Lightweight Hardside with Four Wheel Spinner.
With the strict limits that airlines put on weight, it’s important that hard case luggage isn’t too heavy. Hard cases are heavier than soft sided luggage, but the difference in modern materials isn’t as large as in the past. The previously mentioned Delsey Helium, for example, weighs 9.5 pounds.
The weight of hard case luggage isn’t only a concern for air travel though. Lighter luggage is also easier to carry.
Most hard case luggage comes with wheels, and these are almost essential for heavy suitcases and bags. Some of the best suitcases have four wheels, often with a 360 degree turning circle, as these allow for easy maneuverability. Other hard cases, such as the Pelican Black Case, only come with two wheels, but provide extra durability.
The size of the hard case luggage you decide to buy depends entirely on where you’re travelling too, how much you want to pack and the airline’s restrictions. Many airlines only use weight restrictions for baggage not stored in the cabin, so you’re free to choose the size you need (within reason). The size needs to be practical though – very large hard case luggage can be difficult to travel with.