What To Look For When Buying Hardside Luggage?

If you're looking for new luggage, you've probably seen hardside luggage being marketed in stores all the time. You're probably curious as to why travelers prefer hardside luggage, wondering what they look for when buying one. Fortunately, we're here to help and we have the answers to your questions.

When buying hardside luggage, there are five important things you should look for:

  1. Luggage sizes
  2. Weight of the suitcase when empty
  3. The material of the suitcase
  4. What additional features does it have?
  5. Check the wheels, handles, and pockets of the suitcase

Buying a suitcase is not a one-size-fits-all rule, hence we're here to make it easier for you. Keep reading because, in this post, we will be listing down some tips on choosing the right hardside luggage for you. We'll also include some suggestions on the best kinds of hardside luggage you might want to consider.

woman hands lady buying luggage selecting best luggage for the trip check inspects luggage wheels, What To Look For When Buying Hardside Luggage?

What To Look For When Buying Hardside Luggage?

Over the last couple of years, hardside luggage has risen in popularity with many travelers. It has proven to be a favorite because of its durability, especially when protecting fragile items inside bags. They also became the top choice for travel luggage because of their colorful styles and designs.

photo of a colorful family bundle hardside luggage suitcase on the display of the luggage store of mall

While hardside luggage can be found everywhere, it is safe to say that not all of them are created equal. Some of them are more durable than others, while some have more additional features that aren't available with the others. Here are some things you should look for when buying luggage.


Before going out and buying your luggage at the store, it is important to note that there are various sizes that you can choose from. There are hardside luggage options for carry-on suitcases, as well as for checking in. It's important to choose sizes that you will be using frequently.

Check out this 2-piece hardside luggage set on Amazon.

For many travelers, a carry-on and medium-sized hardside luggage are enough for short trips that can last about a week. These suitcases would do well for a traveler who would like to bring a week's worth of clothing with enough space for souvenirs after a trip.

Get this 4-piece luggage set on Amazon.

Some people prefer getting full luggage sets. These sets of hardshell luggage are great investments, especially for people who travel frequently for more than a few weeks at a time. The large suitcases are great for families too because it lessens the luggage the adults have to bring with them.


One common misconception about hardside luggage is that it is heavy. While it is definitely going to be heavier than the standard softside luggage, most hardside luggage available on the market is now pretty lightweight.

See this lightweight carry-on spinner on Amazon.

For airline travel, every pound of luggage counts, including the weight of the suitcase itself. Try to get the lightest, most durable hardside luggage you can find so that you'll have more weight to allocate for your items rather than the suitcase.


Hardside cases are made of different materials. Nearly all of them are made with various kinds of flexible polymer plastics, with the exception of aluminum hardside luggage. When choosing hardside luggage, it is important to consider the material of the luggage because of its price and durability.


Like any other piece of luggage, hardside suitcases boast many features that promise security and durability to their users. The most common feature that has become quite standard with this luggage is anti-theft zippers and TSA-compliant locks right on the suitcase itself.

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However, you might also find some hardside luggage that comes with additional features. Nowadays, some hardside luggage has an integrated USB port that can charge mobile devices. They also include a cup holder—a nifty addition for travelers who need their coffee right up to the boarding gates.

Wheels, Handles, Pockets

When choosing hardside luggage, it is also important to check on the functional hardware of the suitcase. Since you will be traveling a lot and the luggage will be subject to constant abuse and handling in the airport, it is important to have sturdy and durable hardware.

Choose hardside luggage that has sturdy, easy-to-roll wheels that won't break even in the most uneven terrain. There is nothing harder than maneuvering a suitcase with wheels that cannot move on rough ground. Also, make sure that it won't break easily under the weight of its contents.

The handles are also equally as important as the wheels. Check the handles of the luggage beforehand if they are easy to pull up and push down without getting stuck. It should also be easy to move around with the handle at varying heights.

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Most hardside luggage does not have pockets because they are inside the suitcase. However, some hardside carry-ons have an additional pocket that travelers can use for their electronics. Consider checking them out if you often fly out for business so you don't have to bring a laptop bag all the time.

Which Material Is Better For Hardside Luggage?

photo of a black hardside luggage on the middle of the airport terminal ready for departure

There are four common materials that manufacturers use when producing hardside luggage. Polymer plastics like polypropylene, polycarbonate and ABS are quite popular and easy to find. However, aluminum hardside luggage is also a favorite, especially for frequent travelers.

Depending on the kind of travel lifestyle that you have, the material of the hardside luggage that you will choose should be able to keep up with all the packing and handling. Here is a rundown of the common hardside luggage materials to help you choose which one suits you best.

1. Aluminum

Aluminum hardside luggage is gaining popularity because of its style and durability. Arguably, this material is the toughest out of all the hardside luggage because it won't easily crack or break down. Instead, aluminum hardside luggage might get dented, but it can be fixed with a little hammering.

This luggage is a classic and it has been around for many years. Because of the material that is used, it can be quite expensive and people who consider purchasing this luggage really take this as a travel investment. Popular aluminum luggage brands are Rimowa, Away, and Tumi.

2. Polypropylene

The lightest out of all the plastic materials manufacturers use for luggage, polypropylene or PP is also one of the least common you'll find in the market. This material is quite flexible, but it often feels cheap in real life. However, its durability is comparable with polycarbonate and ABS hardside luggage.

One of the benefits of PP luggage is its temperature resistance. Unfortunately, PP luggage also has its pitfalls because while it can resist varying temperatures, it will also degrade quickly under UV exposure.

photo of a colorful hardside luggage on the display of the mall for sale luggage

3. Polycarbonate

The toughest and heaviest out of all the plastic materials, polycarbonate or PC is also one of the most common hardside luggage you will find on the market. It is prized by manufacturers for its flexibility and resistance to cracking, which is very important for hardside luggage.

While PC luggage is durable, it can also come off as quite expensive, considering it is made of plastic. However, this expense is justifiable as PC luggage lasts a lot longer than its counterparts.

4. ABS (Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene)

Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene or more commonly known as ABS is the most common hardside luggage you'll find. Nearly all brands of hardside luggage use this material because it is affordable and lightweight. ABS is also waterproof, which a lot of travelers look for in their suitcases.

Unfortunately, ABS is also the least durable of plastics. It is quite rigid, so it breaks and cracks quickly if the impact is quite severe. This is also the reason why it is the cheapest out of all the luggage you'll find—you'll most likely have to get a new one every once in a while.

Final Thoughts

woman hands lady buying luggage selecting best luggage for the trip check inspects luggage wheels

A set of hardside luggage is always going to be a well-thought investment. Purchasing one suitcase is easy, but it is always better to take a deep look into the features and functionality of the hardside luggage to get your money's worth. In the end, it will also save you time and worry while traveling.

Are you looking for more information about which luggage to bring on your travels? We have some articles that might interest you:

Which Carry-on Luggage Holds The Most?

How Many Suitcases For A Family Of 4?