Trying to decide between soft and hard shell luggage can be tricky.
There are a lot of options out there and price points can vary considerably.
But when it comes to your carry-on, there are a number of key advantages to using hard shell luggage.
It works fabulously if you’re looking for a carry-on bag that isn’t going to surprise you at the bag check. Because it’s impossible to over-stuff it, it’ll always fit neatly in the overhead compartment and rarely be overweight.
We’ve weighed up all the pros and cons of soft and hard shell luggage, and listed the key advantages to travelling with hard shell carry-on below.
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, this list is for you.
Hard shell carry-on is famously durable, and its overall quality has improved dramatically in recent years.
Gone are the days in which it was known to crack or break apart.
Now hard shell carry-on is made of softer material that actually flexes to absorb impact while remaining practically indestructible. (We did say practically!)
That means it’s the perfect place for popular carry-on items like laptops, iPads, cameras and other fragile electronics.
Not only does hard shell luggage offer reliable protection from hard knocks and rough handling, it’s much easier to keep dry in rain, snow or puddles.
Another big advantage to taking hard shell luggage as your carry-on is that it’s a cinch to keep clean.
As anyone who has ever had the experience of spilling a takeaway latte on a soft shell case, or carrying a muddy bag from city to city can tell you, traditional suitcases soak up spills and smell like a bog.
Whereas a hard shell case just needs a quick wipe with a wet or dry cloth to be clean again.
Because the space inside a hard shell case is not lined with fabric, it also means that if your toiletries spill inside your bag, there will be no long-term damage.
Hard-shell luggage is notoriously easier to handle, which is exactly what you want in busy airports or crowded train stations.
Most hard shell cases have four wheels instead of two, and this makes manoeuvring them considerably easier.
Since they utilise 360° wheels, it’s nearly impossible to flip, drag or lose the balance on a heavy bag.
This is a huge perk for those who need to move quickly from airport to airport to catch tight connections.
Four-wheel suitcases are simply better balanced overall, no matter how you pack, which means you won’t end up facing the frustration of having your luggage tip off its wheels as you turn a corner.
And they can be pushed in front of you – this is particularly advantageous when it comes to carry-on as you can turn your bag sideways to wheel it down the aisle instead of picking it up to carry it.
Thanks to the integrated locks of most hard shell luggage, you can forget about theft.
The same goes for case-slashing or someone adding something to your carry-on when you’re not looking – the hard shell can’t be slashed easily, and you’ll never see a hard case sitting on a carousel looking like it’s had a Stanley knife taken to it.
In today’s world, theft and smuggling are a very real threat to anyone who takes a bag to an airport regardless of whether it’s check-in or carry-on.
You are legally responsible for the contents of your carry-on luggage so eliminate the worry of having someone get to it while you’re blissfully watching an in-flight movie or dozing between meals by opting for a secure piece of hard shell luggage.
Hard-sided luggage often features a 50/50 split opening, allowing you to pack two sides equally and stabilise the contents with an interior strap or a middle divider.
Furthermore, you get maximum packing space in a hard shell case as space is not given over to folds of fabric and lining.
Hard-shell luggage often comes in bright colours and bold patterns so you can express your sense of personal style with your carry-on, and spot it easily on a baggage carousel if you ever do decide to check it in.
It can even be lighter than some soft shell luggage!
Sturdy, safe, and light? It doesn’t get much better than that.
There are many benefits to using hard shell luggage as your carry-on, particularly if you are a frequent traveler who likes to get in and out of airports fast.
In terms of protecting your valuables, hard shell luggage will invariably do a better job and it will also absorb knocks and jostles.
It eliminates the need to worry about weight limits and you'll never have to worry that your hard shell case is over the carry-on size restrictions.
Best of all, you can guarantee no one will be snooping through your bag or able to access your belongings.
Hard-shell luggage is the way to go for modern travellers, especially the latest ultra-lightweight models.