Are there any disadvantages of hardside luggage? Of course, there are, like anything you will see. There are benefits and there are disadvantages.
In this post, I will highlight the disadvantages of hardside luggage but I will also reiterate the benefits too. I will also discuss the alternatives available to you.
At the end of this post, you will be in a better place to decide on what luggage you should buy.
A little more about hardside luggage
Hardside luggage is the most popular luggage on sale today, mainly of the perceived protection it affords the owner. The hard case gives the feeling of security, of both the contents and the actual luggage.
Generally, there are three types of hardcase on the market. ABS, polycarbonate and aluminum.
When buying luggage, it is worth finding out what it is made from to determine what you are buying and the qualities it has.
ABS is the cheapest of all the options and is the weakest out of all of them. It is rigid and it is prone to cracking as it can be brittle when mishandled. It therefore has relatively low impact resistance.
It is a blend of three plastics… Acrylonitrile, Butadiene and Styrene. Together they form ABS which has many applications over lots of industries.
In terms of luggage, it is the cheapest material in use. It is the lightest of all the materials however, there are question marks over the durability.
It is generally accepted that Polycarbonate luggage is the best plastic that can be used in luggage. It is lightweight and can be molded into shapes quite easily.
Breaking it is near impossible and therefore is the strongest luggage. Any dents can be pushed back into place and the durability of polycarbonate is excellent.
The heaviest material of all the hard cases and also the most expensive as you would expect. It is however, the strongest of all the materials.
Luggage made from aluminum is premium standard as well as premium prices with companies like Rimowa specializing in them. It is a small part of the overall market but an important one nonetheless.
As strong as they are, they do not particularly fair well against rough handling. They scratch easily given the softness of the metal and they are dented easily.
Disadvantages of hardside luggage
- They are not flexible thus there are issues when you have a limited opening such as airplane overhead lockers or car boots. If the space is not large enough, you cannot squeeze it in like you can a soft case
- They are limited to their capacity internally. Soft cases often have expander sections and outer pockets. Hard cases do not have this feature
- Storing them is problematic if you have limited space. Their rigid nature means that you cannot squeeze them into spaces
- They are easily scratched and scraped. A new case can lose its luster relatively quickly
- Accessibility can become an issue especially if you are staying in a small room. To access it, you have to open the whole case as most are a 50/50 opening. You therefore need a large surface area to remove items from it. With soft cases, you can simply unzip a small area and remove an item
- They are more expensive than their soft case counterparts in a large number of cases
- The quality of the plastic is variable. ABS is prone to cracking and damage
- They are particularly vulnerable to damage during carriage on an airplane while being loaded and unloaded. They do not like being thrown around as many baggage handlers will do.
- Most hard cases are four wheeled. This is fine on smooth surfaces but a hindrance on rougher terrain. On rougher terrain, two-wheel cases are more practical.
- The lack of outer storage may be inconvenient to some. Pockets are incredibly handy for keeping things at hand such as passports and documents. You are essentially forced to carry another bag with hard cases.
These are the disadvantages but keep in mind that other forms of luggage will also have their disadvantages. It is easy to focus on them. We also need to reassert the advantages of hardside luggage.
But…there are some advantages
The main advantage is the protection they afford the contents within the luggage. The rigid nature of the case means they are better protected than anything a soft case may offer.
You can therefore rest a little easier knowing that your souvenirs and mementos are more likely to come through a flight unscathed.
Hardside cases are also considered more secure and a deterrent to thieves. With softside cases, they are vulnerable as they can be slashed and opened. The zips are also a vulnerable access point. Hardside cases sometimes don’t have zips and are secured using TSA locks.
They also offer better waterproofing than softside cases and they also won’t go moldy and smell if not stored correctly.
I hope you find our list of disadvantages of hardside luggage useful and help you in your decision making. As always, it is better to be informed before you make your buying decision.
You should now have a more realistic expectation of hardside luggage and I hope the decision you make is as you expect.
If you would like to add to the content of this post, please leave a comment below. As always, I love to hear from people and their real experiences. Lets see if we can add a few more disadvantages based on our readers experiences.