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Hard sided luggage

I'm past my back packing days so I'm considering one piece of rolling luggage. Nothing to big (21" or so) with recessed wheels. Any thoughts on the pros and/or cons of hard sided luggage? We generally have a car or, if not, use the trains.

Posted by Lori
Coffeyville, KS, US
42 posts

My daughter has hard sided luggage and she loves it. When empty it's lighter in weight than mine. We flew to Italy last year and while waiting to board our flight we could see our luggage sitting out on the tarmac in the rain. Upon arrival my luggage was soaked through and hers wasn't. I've since considered getting myself new luggage.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
16871 posts

"When empty it's lighter in weight than mine"

Not mine! Until last year my bag was an OPEC bag @ 1¾#. How much does your bag weigh?

My next to latest acquisition is an Appenzell Day bag, at 1¼#, 18x13x6.5. It holds everything I brought back from Europe in September, and weight a little less than 10#.

I became concerned when Spirit announced that they would start charging for carryons more than 16x14x12. I won't fly Spirit, but what if other airlines follow suit? Spirit's limit, in cu in actually bigger than my Appenzell bag, but the Appenzell bag is stuffed and will exceed the 16" height dimension. So I got a Velocé bag, which is much bigger volume wise, but will not be stuffed, so it will easily squish down to the 16" limit.

"we could see our luggage sitting out on the tarmac in the rain".

What's wrong with this scene. If you had not packed so heavy, and hard sided luggage contributed to that, you could have carried on, and your luggage, hard sided or not, would not have been out in the rain.

Posted by Marie
Wilmington, DE, USA
698 posts

I looked at buy a 21 hard sided luggage for our last trip, but I bought a 21 inch soft-sided spinner (i.e. - it has four wheels). Loved it. Liked having 4 wheels instead of 2. easier on the arm --- rolling, not dragging behind on 2 wheels. The soft sided could expand more for the trip home. It was more forgiving when packing. I did love the different colors of the hard sided, but the space inside seemed smaller when I looked at both of them side by side in the store.

Posted by LL
Michigan
78 posts

For many weight is not a big concern. For others it is very important. You need to decide if a few extra pounds is a big deal or not.

If you aren't in the best health or need to lug your bags around on trains a lot then you might want to avoid something hard-sided.

I'm young, healthy and always have a rental car as it's cheaper for my family. Having a super light bag is a very low priority for me.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2606 posts

Can you purchase 2 suitcases? I have a big hard sided one that I use on car trips and a RS 21" roller carry-on when flying. Both work well with their uses.

Posted by Lori
Coffeyville, KS, US
42 posts

Lee, I prefer to check my luggage and when we did check our luggage in my daughters weighed 18 lbs and mine weighed 21 lbs so I don't see that as over packing, where as the friend traveling with us had luggage that weighed in at 55 lbs. To each his own I say, I wasn't the one hauling that sucker around.

My daughters luggage weighs 4.6 lbs empty, mine weighs 6.2 lbs empty and both are 25", hers is a hard shell with no frills, mine on the other hand has lots of frills with all the added pockets, pouches , compartments, etc....in fact I do believe it comes with the kitchen sink.

Posted by Rachel
Westside, RP, Germany
109 posts

I dislike hard sided luggage because it's difficult to carry on the plane. You can get seperate wheels for soft luggage that you just strap on.

My parents and grandparents still carry backpacks when they travel. I'm a fan of the rick steves convertible carryon which has the waist strap as well as a luggage strap to carry it like a duffle bag. Both my parents and my husband and I carry them without a problem. It also eliminates the problems with wheels and cobblestones and stairs.

Posted by Frank II
Freedonia
6965 posts

Marie, one of the reasons you don't see much hard sided carry-on luggage is due to the advancement in soft-sided material. Not only is it lighter, but much stronger and easier to repair.

As an example, Land's End just came out with a new line of carry-on bags called Flightline. They have a wheeled duffel bag, 22 x 14 x 9, that weighs only 4 lbs. 11 oz.

They also have a non-wheeled convertible for $80. (22 x 14 x 7 (expandable to 9") 2 lbs, 14 oz.)

I'm not endorsing either of these bags, or the line, as I've not yet gotten my hands on them...I'm just using it as an example of how bags are getting lighter and lighter and the prices are coming down due to advancements in new materials.

Now, I know to some, 2 lbs 14 oz, is a lot especially when they brag about their anti-gravity bags that actually weigh less than nothing, but it seems newer bags are getting lighter and lighter.

Posted by Wray
Quincy, MA, New England
1771 posts

Marie, Hard sided luggage has gotten much lighter. The Container Store has a very light 7 lb. carry on. Luggage choices are so personal and fun to make. I also think that we will always be seeking the perfect piece of luggage. We may never find it but the search is great fun. Considering you are traveling mostly by train and car, the hard sided luggage would provide greater protection. While many people insist that carrying their luggage on their back is best, I've been there, done that, and I will never go back. However, that doesn't make their choice wrong-for them. While I have never owned hard sided luggage, I would love to know how it works out for you. I love my wheelie, it still can be hands free when needed with the shoulder strap, which is seldom needed. No lugging and hands free when necessary, that's for me. I'd be interested to know what you decide.

Posted by Elaine
Landstuhl, Germany
631 posts

While we're on the topic, I need a wheeled bag that's VERY light, that I can also carry on. It will be used mostly for trips to the US, from Germany. But just in case I use it in Europe, I fly Ryanair and their carry on limit is 22 pounds. ANy suggestion?

Posted by Frank II
Freedonia
6965 posts

Landor & Hawa Sub-0-G comes in different sizes.

L & H Sub-0-G Collection

The smallest bag is only available in Europe.

Posted by Marie OP
San Diego, CA, United States
864 posts

Thanks for the feedback re soft or hard sided luggage. I'm still quite fit but choose not to backpack anymore so comfort and weight were my big drivers. And so, really lightweight soft luggage finally won out. Again, that you all and happy travels.