When you’re shopping for your next suitcase, you’ll quickly notice that most luggage on the market is made from a soft material. Soft luggage is cheaper to produce, cheaper to buy and easier for manufacturers to make stylish. But when you look at it strictly from a functionality perspective, hard shell luggage is much better.
If you want to see why, just do a quick search on YouTube for “Baggage Handling.” Baggage handlers have to move huge volumes with very tight deadlines. Although most airlines don’t want this information to be public, this means that your bags are going to spend a lot of time in motion. Whether they’re sliding down metal conveyors, being chucked into a transport truck, or having dozens of other packages stacked on top of them, there are countless threats to the valuables you’ve got stashed inside.
Hardside Luggage with No Zipper
A zipperless suitcase offers superior protective qualities, more storage space, and a quick and easy way to access your belongings, without compromising security. You could also keep your most valuable belongings in specialized Underseat Carry On Luggage.)
In this roundup, we’ll be taking a look at the five best hardshell suitcases on the market. First, we’ll explore each option one by one. After, we’ll help you decide which one best suits your needs.
Samsonite F’lite GT Spinner 31
As one of the best-selling luggage brands on the market, Samsonite is often one of the first companies we turn to when we’re not willing to compromise on quality. This particular hard side suitcase stands out in three main areas: ease of transport, security, and looks.
With four rotating wheels on the bottom, this is one of the easiest suitcases to lug around. If you’re in a rush, just pull up the extendable handle, tilt it sideways, and hustle towards your gate before they start loading. Stuck waiting in line? Just place it on all four wheels, and slide it effortlessly across the ground as you progress. Featuring a clip-shut mechanism, it only takes a matter of seconds to get into your suitcase. It has a TSA approved lock. This means that TSA security can get into your bag, but would-be bag thieves cannot.
The Spinner 31 suitcase is available in two different sizes, with a total of seven different colors to choose from. It’s modern and stylish but doesn’t make any compromises regarding quality or functionality.
Samsonite Cruisair DLX Hardside Spinner 26
Want to travel with your laptop, camera, or any other valuable (and breakable!) possessions? This non zipper suitcase is among the toughest on the market, capable of protecting even the most delicate items. The shell itself is made from pure polycarbonate, and reinforced with an aluminum frame. By nature, polycarbonate is a flexible material. To get around this, Samsonite created it with an embossed design that adds a ton of structural rigidity, creating a hardened layer that can protect anything you store inside.
You can pick this case up in one of three stylish colors, each of which has an aggressive and tough look to it. It includes all of the features Samsonite has come to be known for, including quad-spinner wheels, a lined interior, and a TSA combination lock.
Merax Travelhouse with Aluminum Frame
Looking for durability on a budget? The Merax Travelhouse is made from an aluminum frame, and covered with a hard shell ABS plastic enclosure. The aluminum frame isn’t entirely internal, either. It extends to the outside of the case, creating a metal bumper on each of the four corners. If you do accidentally bump into something, you can ensure that you’re not going to damage the edges, which are typically a weak spot on a suitcase like this.
But it’s not just the exterior that is well through out. The space-efficient interior is lined with several organizational pockets, allowing you to keep your possessions neat and tidy. Combined with a three-setting handle and four spinners, this suitcase has all the functionality of a high-end model at a low-end price.
Lojel Octa Hardside Spinner
One of the biggest issues with durable suitcases is weight. Typically, manufacturers use tough, dense material to create something sturdy. But all this extra durability comes with a cost, and your tired arms will be the ones to pay the price. We’ve already seen a few unique solutions to this problem, but the Lojel Octa took a very different approach. It’s made from an advanced molded Polypropylene – a special plastic that has several military applications. There is virtually no flex or give; just one incredibly tough case.
There is no zipper to be found here, just an ultra-thick latch that locks the case shut from all four sides. Each latch features a TSA approved security lock, so your valuables are protected from theft just as they’re protected from damage.
NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
This case isn’t for your average traveler. This is for the adventure seeker to wants to bring their gear wherever life may take them. Pelican is already famous for their rotational molding technology. Yes, this is a plastic case. But it’s much more durable than any piece of plastic you’ve come across. The logic behind rotational molding is that several plastic beats are partially melted, then rotated at high speed against a mold. Since the plastic doesn’t become fully liquid, it retains a level of structural rigidity that you won’t find elsewhere. Promotional videos have demonstrated large SUVs driving on top of these cases, and they’re commonly used for weapon storage in the military.
This carry-on travel version has a few key features that serious adventures will appreciate. It’s dual latches push the upper case against a large rubber O-ring, making the case completely watertight. It’s got two metal-bearing spinners, and an adjustable handle that makes it easy to carry. Additionally, the hardcover is protected with a rubber bumper, that will protect your bag from bumps and scratches. It doesn’t come cheap, but if you want the best on the market, then this is the one.
Which Hardcover Suitcase is Best for You?
If you want to keep your luggage protected, you’ve come to the right place. The question is, what are you protecting it from? If you’re just an occasional traveler, all you have to worry about are a few baggage handlers. A simple and affordable option is the Samsonite F’lite GT Spinner 31. This bag is compact, lightweight, and stylish. It has plenty of storage space, more than enough durability for a bi-weekly trip, and comes in several vibrant color choices.
If you’re taking things like laptops, tablets, or cameras on your flight, you might want something a little more durable. For crush-proof cases, there are two options available. The Merax Travelhouse Aluminum Frame Luggage is the most compact option. Meanwhile, the Samsonite Cruisair DLX offers additional storage, and a little more durability. Both options have aluminum frames and plastic shells that have been structurally reinforced, and provide similar levels of protection.
Rough and Ready
Venturing outside of the airport? If you need a bag that is protected from handling a little more aggressive than the TSA, you need something unique. A great option is the Lojel Octa. This is made from an advanced Polypropylene frame and has a robust locking mechanism that will keep everything in place. If that still isn’t enough for you, you can take the elite option. The Pelican LG-BA22-GRYORG case is made from a similar plastic but uses a special rotational molding technology the creates a case with internal strength comparable to metal. It’s fully waterproof, secure, and protected from any environmental risks, so this is the ultimate in luggage for the adventurous traveler.