Travel Gear

Traveling light can only carry you so far. For some travels, you simply need to check in your luggage at the airport. That brings up the next point—you hope it arrives safely and in one secure piece. What can you do to make that happen? Start by selecting the most rugged, durable, TSA friendly luggage you can buy. Here are some suggestions to guide your checked luggage shopping journey.

Soft Versus Hard Shell

No, this isn’t Taco Bell ready to take your order. Soft versus hard shell is one of the first qualities of luggage you will have to contend with. While you may think that hard shell luggage hits the most marks for durability, the truth is the hard shell selection has a drawback. 

Hard shell suitcases can crack, which causes them to fall apart more rapidly than soft luggage. To avoid this concern choose a suitcase made from polycarbonate ABS that stands up to the rigors of travel. The FERGE brand makes a TSA-lockable suitcase on wheels using polycarbonate ABS. Another option, albeit more costly, is a lightweight aluminum frame suitcase made by Merax. By the way, all of the checked baggage made with hard shells come with wheels, which is a selling point for most travelers.


On the other hand, soft shell luggage is less likely to feature these convenient wheels. Yet you never have to worry about cracking with this type of suitcase. In addition, soft shell suitcases are capable of overstuffing and packing those odd shaped items. Travelpro makes a Maxlite suitcase featuring 100 percent polyester and telescoping handles that does come with four spinner wheels. However, the American Tourister Fieldbrook set is one of the more affordable options, allowing you to purchase a four-piece luggage set with a fabric lining and ultra lightweight construction for a quarter of the price for one piece of hard shell luggage.

How do you choose between the two? If you have fragile items, such as camera equipment, or items you want to keep waterproof like a wedding dress, go with the hard shell. If you simply want to get your goods to your destination without spending a fortune on luggage, opt for soft shell suitcases.

Confessions of a Baggage Thrower

Before you make your final purchase, find out how your luggage will be treated when in the hands of a baggage thrower at the airport. They do, literally, throw the checked bags onto the airplane all in the name of expedience. Two of the areas that get broken the most often are wheels and handles. If you don’t want to hobble along with your suitcase, consider the material and design of these two features right along with whether to go hard or soft shell. Here are some words of wisdom:

  • Preferably you want a retractable handle that tucks into the bag along with sturdy fabric handles for baggage throwers to utilize. 
  • As for the wheels, double-check that these are firmly attached.
  • Better yet, choose a piece of luggage with four spinner wheels as this helps luggage throwers to actually roll your luggage along rather than throwing it. 
  • Also, invest in luggage that has removable, and replaceable, wheels in case your wheels get beat up or broken in transit. 
  • Tuck in all loose cords, strings, and other dangly features as these can get caught in the conveyor belt when transporting your luggage to and from the airplane. 

Finally, choose a check-in bag that is built to last using quality materials and smart design techniques. This is the tried and true way to ensure your luggage arrives intact at the airport each and every time.

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