The 10 Best Hardside Luggage
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in March of 2015. When you're embarking on a trip and transporting valuable or fragile belongings with you, it helps to have something sturdy in which to carry your load without the worry of anything breaking. These hardside luggage options will give your stuff some decent protection without forcing you to sacrifice your own personal style or leave you wanting for organizational pockets. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 27, 2019:
Luggage is something one should never skimp on. There is nothing more annoying than having a piece break during your travels, causing you to run all over town trying to find a suitable replacement. Because we don't want to put you in that predicament, we did our best to include only the most durable options. Luckily, we were still able to find a few budget-friendly options that should suffice for periodic travelers, like the Rockland F151, Kenneth Cole Out of Bounds, and Nautica Ahoy. For the road warriors though, we do recommend something a bit sturdier, yet still reasonably-priced, like the Travelpro Maxlite and Delsey Helium Aero. If you don't ever want to have to invest in another piece of luggage again, then the Briggs & Riley Sympatico is the way to go. It features a unconditional lifetime warranty that even covers airline-caused damage. The Tegra-Lite Max may not have such an impressive warranty, but the build quality should ensure that you never need to worry about one anyways. It also features some very ingenious features, like the front U-zip pocket and Tegris construction. While on the topic of smart features, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the exterior-mounted telescoping handle of the Samsonite Etude, which ensures you get the most possible packing space from its dimensions. For maximum protection of interior contents, the all-aluminum TravelKing TG-24 is worth checking out.
What To Consider When Buying Luggage
For those who will be carrying their luggage for brief periods or loading it into cars, an extra couple of pounds can make things significantly more difficult.
Buying a piece of luggage is like buying a pair of shoes. No one piece will be right for every application, but the right one can make a world of difference. A budget traveler who often hoofs it for miles between hotels will have very different needs than a luxury traveler who always has a taxi or hotel car waiting for them at the airport. Careful consideration of your needs will ensure you get luggage best suited for your travels.
Size is one of the first, and most important factors that must be taken into account. For those who prefer carry-on to checking bags, it is vital that a bag's dimensions are checked before purchase to ensure it meets the average airline's carry-on requirements.
The weight of the luggage being considered should be factored into the decision making process. If your luggage will always be rolled from place to place, weight won't matter. For those who will be carrying their luggage for brief periods or loading it into cars, an extra couple of pounds can make things significantly more difficult.
Color can be another important feature. It is not uncommon for people to have trouble recognizing a black suitcase when it is on the luggage carousel sandwiched between a dozen others. Consider choosing a brightly colored or patterned option to overcome this.
Finally consider organization and accessibility. It can be helpful to have one or two exterior pockets to keep certain items where there can be accessed quickly. For those who travel often on business, luggage that has space for a suit or a separate area for shoes or documents can be handy.
Benefits Of Hardside Luggage Over Softside Luggage
Hardside luggage is more effective at protecting your belongings than softsided luggage, which can easily be compressed. If you will be transporting fragile items like electronics, bottles of liquids, or glass and wood souvenirs, hardsided luggage offers you a better chance of getting your items to their destination in one piece. Many of them feature cushioned interiors and have additional pockets for dirty items like shoes or worn cloths. Some may even include an interior garment bag or sleeve, making them more suitable for business travelers who need to arrive with wrinkle-free clothing.
Hardside luggage is more effective at protecting your belongings than softsided luggage, which can easily be compressed.
Since hardside luggage is made from synthetic impact and tear-resistant plastics, as opposed to a woven fabric of some kind, they will generally last longer than comparably-priced softside luggage. It is not uncommon for a frequent traveler to use the same set of hardside luggage for nearly a decade of travel, whereas softside luggage can become worn or get ripped within just three or four years.
Hardside luggage also offers a higher level of security than softside luggage. Most come with an integrated TSA-approved lock, which will keep the contents safe, even if accidentally grabbed off the luggage carousel by another traveler. Many people don't bother buying a TSA-approved lock for their softsided luggage, and even if they do, the luggage can easily be cut open by a nefarious person looking to loot your belongings.
Types Of Materials Used In Hardside Luggage
Hardside luggage is most often made out of four types of material: acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polypropylene, polycarbonate, or Curv.
ABS is an opaque thermoplastic and amorphous polymer that has many qualities beneficial to luggage applications, such as its light weight and reasonable impact-resistance. It also holds its color well, so you won't have to worry about your luggage fading over time. ABS is extremely easy to manufacturer and mold, which makes it a cost-effective material, but it doesn't have the sleek look of some other materials. For this reason, it is often found in luggage where price is more important than style.
For this reason, it is often found in luggage where price is more important than style.
Polypropylene is an oil-based plastic that is extremely tough. It has a higher chemical resistance than ABS and is more impact-resistant. It is a good choice for those who will be packing fragile items and are worried about rough handling from airline employees. Polypropylene also deals with drastic temperature changes well and there is very little chance of it cracking. Although somewhat more flexible than ABS, polypropylene is significantly heavier and wouldn't be suitable for those who will be carrying their luggage around often. It is a good choice for those who prefer a classy look and plan on rolling their luggage.
Polycarbonate also has a high impact strength, but unlike polypropylene, its chemical resistance is poor. Polycarbonate hardsided luggage is extremely rigid and lightweight, so it will do a good job of protecting your belongings without compromising portability. Also unlike polypropylene, polycarbonate luggage is not flexible and cannot be compressed to fit into overhead bins or stretched to accommodate large souvenirs. It also scratches easily and will show wear after just a few uses.
Hardsided luggage made from Curv, while generally costing more than other types, has an ideal mix of properties for the average consumer. Curv is a thermoplastic composite that combines the impact-resistance of fiber-reinforced composites with the flexibility of thermoplastic. It is lightweight, highly shock absorbent to protect fragile belongings, resists scratches, and has a fashionable sheen.