On The Fly: The Case for Hard-Sided Suitcases

Aug 13, 2013 - 3:15 PM
I have always coveted the hard-sided candy-colored luggage carried by my European colleagues—it looks so indestructible and impossibly chic. However, I was raised by practical parents who favor soft nylon suitcases and I always assumed hard-sided luggage would be difficult to carry. Turns out I was wrong. ­Today’s hard-sided suitcases are made from polycarbonate materials and are often lighter than their nylon counterparts. They are also spacious, durable and waterproof and come with surprisingly reasonable price tags. “Some of the confusion about hard-sided baggage comes from the way it used to be, but a lot has happened from a materials standpoint that has provided innovation along the way,” says Sedef Albrecht, director of strategy for Victorinox Travel Gear. “Polycarbonate has a tremendous ability to bend and cave, so if there is a direct impact on the luggage, it will not crack or break.” Victorinox’s Spectra 1.0, one suitcase I recommend, comes in a range of sizes up to 21.3 by 32.7 inches and includes inside zippered mesh divider walls and Y-shaped compression straps to maximize packing space. An eight-wheel 360-­degree rolling system means you won’t have to wrestle with your luggage and can easily pull it in an upright position with a smaller bag stacked on top. Victorinox will be launching Spectra 2.0 this October with several added features, including an outside compartment with room for a laptop. Briggs & Riley’s hard-sided Torq suitcases, another excellent option, range in size up to 20.4 by 27 inches and come with lifetime warranties. Features include an outside lockable front pocket for a tablet or laptop, an inside wet/dry pocket and several zipped mesh pockets and a 360-degree rolling system. Also, while most hard-sized luggage requires you to pack half the contents on each side of the opening, Torq suitcases allow you to put 80 percent on one side, which makes packing easier.