Hard vs. Soft Luggage

Many travelers grapple with choosing the right suitcase for their needs. With so many soft-sided options on the market, you might think a ripstop nylon or cordura satchel is the way to go. But hard-sided luggage has come a long way since the days of oversized and cumbersome metal-framed heavyweights.

At Roam luggage we have a combined 100 years of experience in the travel industry. If we've learned one thing, it's that choosing the right suitcase can make all the difference between a worry-free trip and an exhausting one. Here is our take on the hard versus soft luggage debate.

The Soft Sell

With technical advances in materials like ballistic ripstop and nylon, the 1980s saw a flood of soft-sided luggage coming into fashion. Bright colors and unstructured designs in so-called "parachute material" became the vogue, and travelers everywhere jumped onboard the soft-sided fad.

These kinds of materials offered the flexibility of an expandable bag that was (mostly) waterproof and lightweight. Backpacks and duffles could be compressed to squeeze into tight spaces.

The downsides to soft luggage materialized quickly, however. A zippered closure offered little security for the contents of a nylon or ripstop bag, and few soft-sided options included a lock. Even with a lock, any knife would make short work of even the highest-denier fabric.

Another shortcoming of soft luggage is the lack of protection from damage to the contents. If we're totally honest, we all know luggage handlers can get pretty rough with checked bags, and even carry-ons suffer bumps and dings. If anything in your bag is fragile in the slightest - think spare glasses, duty-free liquor or perfume bottles - soft fabric simply cannot protect it from breakage.

Soft bags are still excellent for road trips and times when you are carrying your bag with you -- just be wary of checking a soft bag at the airport.

The Hard Truth

If you're still thinking of hard-sided luggage as heavy and cumbersome, think again. Between state-of-the-art materials that are super strong yet lightweight and thoughtful design elements that make packing and handling your case an absolute breeze, hard-shell wheeled suitcases are a 21st-century marvel.

Roam has been at the forefront of these innovations. We handmake our shells from 100 percent virgin polycarbonate that is saturated with color all the way through. These materials yield an exceptionally durable case that is surprisingly lightweight.

But we didn't stop at great materials. Our wheeled cases roll smoothly through airports, hotels and cobblestone streets as a result of our best-in-class ball bearing wheels, and our aircraft-grade telescoping handles make traveling a breeze. Whether you travel light with our Carry On that is sized to meet all major U.S. airline requirements or you're an over-packer who needs the two extra inches of space our Large Carry On affords, you'll stay organized with the interior compression system, accessory pockets and water-resistant, washable lining.

The biggest advantage of a hard-sided case is solid protection for your belongings. Our cases take protecting you a step further with a water-repellent zipper and fully integrated TSA-approved lock. Our two checked-baggage options, the Check In and the Large Check In, offer maximum space that won't weigh you down.

Customize your Roam luggage with over a million possible color combinations - and you'll be roaming in style. Take it from us, a custom Roam hard-sided case may be the only luggage you'll ever need.