Our most popular blog post, our most frequently asked question and our first question to our customers – what are you looking for a soft or hard suitcase? Both come in various sizes, both have a range of quality options from entry level to premium, both have broad price points and functional features and both get the job done. So, which is better? It depends on personal preference, travel plans and sometimes budget.
The choice of hard suitcases now outnumbers the soft ranges by about 4 to 1 (on average for major brands), so the consumers have overwhelmingly made a preference for hard suitcase clear. But there are other factors at play on this, there is more opportunity to incorporate tech and new innovation in hard suitcases, soft suitcases have a ‘sameness’ to them so that there are only so many ranges one brand can have without it being repetitive and unnecessary. That, however does not necessarily mean a hard suitcase is the right choice for you, for example, still to this day, I am ‘team soft’.
So just as we did in our original post, we’ll look at the major pro’s and con’s of each (read the original post here), with an updated perspective on the latest built in features.
Before launching into our list, it is worth outlining the following rule regarding weight;
A soft suitcase will typically be lighter at comparable prices. So for a $120 cabin suitcase, normally a soft one would be lighter than a hard suitcase in this price bracket.
Ultra-light hard suitcases exist and are often the lightest on the market, however, it is premium materials that get them this light, so the prices start from about $250 upwards for a cabin in the ultralight category.
So to summarise the list and put it into the context of travel; for a normal business or leisure traveller a soft suitcase might be easier to pack, live out of and generally just manage whilst in transit. The pockets, organisation, ability to partly open the case to add or remove items and the fact that they take up less space when they are open is typically just easier. Soft suitcases also offer great value for money for lightweight options.
However, generally the soft suitcases, whilst they vary in quality, don’t have unique travel features like the hard suitcases do that may make them more suited to specific travellers. Features such as ultra lightweight materials, built in scales, expanders, interior organisation, personalisation, business compartments and so on that mean there is a huge range to choose from so you can find the perfect model for you.
So, the top factors to consider which might influence what works best for you;
Top Picks Soft Suitcases:
Delsey Montmartre 2 Air: Perhaps not the most eye-catching suitcase, but the Delsey Montmartre 2 Air gets the staff vote for striking the right balance between quality, value and functionality. The oversized security zip and solid wheels make this suitcase easy to use, even when fully loaded. It’s also terrifically lightweight for the quality presented.
Samsonite B-Lite 4: Samsonite’s flagship soft suitcase has recently been relaunched in edition 4. Offering a beautifully lightweight suitcase with quality finishes and an understated stylish aesthetic.
Top Picks Hard Suitcases:
Samsonite Lite-Cube: From Samsonite’s ultralight Curv range, the Lite-Cube’s are exceptionally light and well built, and the Lite-Cube model features the double handle and double wheels, which is why we give preference to it over the slightly lighter Cosmolite and Lite-Shock models. The Lite-Cube is now also available in the premium DLX model with leather trim and the Lite-Cube Prime which is a deluxe matte finish model.
Delsey Turenne: Stylish, available in a range of colours and 4 sizes the Delsey Turenne delivers big on quality with double security zips and solid wheels making it easy to close and push/pull even when fully loaded. It presents good value too for it’s quality construction and impressive light weight figures.
Best of Both Worlds
So whilst there is a general acceptance that soft suitcases are typically more ‘user friendly’ they are most certainly falling behind their hard counterparts in terms of innovation. The designers have been addressing this by releasing hard model suitcases with various user friendly packing features, find our favourites below.
Samsonite Polygon 80/20 Suitcase: Often people want a hard suitcase but not the 50/50 style packing, the Polygon by Samsonite has mixed it up with 80/20 packing, delivery a more ‘soft suitcase’ style of organisation with the benefits of a hard suitcase.
Lojel Cubo Expandable Suitcase: Delivering functionality in both it’s expandability and the way it packs through the front like a soft suitcase would. An unusual design that tackles the trickiest aspect of hard suitcase packing.
Victorinox Spectra Expandable: Offering 1.5 x the capacity when the expander function is utilised, the Spectra expandables are essentially 2 suitcases in 1, offering better versatility for those that travel frequently and need different sized cases but don’t wish to store or invest in many different models.
Images via 1&2 @delseyofficial and 3 @samsoniteaustralianz with thanks