Pros and Cons of Hardside Cases

Uniforms, toiletries, electronics, and personal equipment are the travel necessities of any military member. Every single day of the year, countless military members find themselves traveling through airports in both the United States and throughout the world. However, not all of them travel with the same type of luggage. In fact, there have been a number of debates regarding the benefits of softside versus hardside cases. One side argues that the flexibility of a soft case makes it indispensable for any traveler, while the other notes that the protective capabilities of a hardside are crucial for the safety of important items such as souvenirs and presents. If you’re a military traveler, seeking to protect your equipment should be the top priority. But, does that mean you’ll automatically need a hardside case every time you travel?

In order to determine if a hardside luggage is the correct choice, it is important to look at both the benefits and downsides before making a purchase.

While the general consumer might be under the impression that the durability of the hardside cases are the only difference between them and the softside, it’s actually even more nuanced. In fact, if you pay careful attention to both, you’ll start noticing some pretty substantial variations between the models. For example, there are actually two types of hardside luggage: hard cases and hardsides. Softsides, on the other hand, will always be soft. So, it is really important to understand what defines a hardside case to be really informed.

Hardside Luggage

A hardside is luggage that has a shell casing made from solid materials that are less likely to bend, fold, or flex whenever other pieces of luggage are placed on top of it. They also tend to differ from their softside counterparts by being more colorful and aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, because their outer materials are hard, they offer better weather protection and keep moisture away. As a bonus, you can clean them easily as they won’t absorb liquids and odors. Yet, none of these other benefits outweigh the fact that their level of optimal resistance is extremely important to travelers who are bringing fragile equipment onboard a plane as they need the added protection. But, even though a regular hardside luggage is fairly solid, that doesn’t mean it won’t budge in the slightest. They’re simply meant to flex less than the alternative. Furthermore, a hard impact is still as liable to cause some damage to the contents within bag regardless of how strong the manufacturer claims it to be.

Hard Cases

On the other hand, hard cases like Pelican Cases are quite inflexible by design. They’re made from polycarbonate (which is fairly strong material) and the shell absorbs the energy from impacts much better than the hardsides. They also usually have padding inside that fits snugly around the contents. These are the types of cases you’ll want for equipment that is sensitive, or souvenirs that might break.
Basically, both hardsides and hard cases are strong, but one offers slightly more flexibility while the other offers better protection. Regardless, protection means nothing if you can’t fit all your gear in it, and this is where hardsides show their downsides.

Cons to Hardside Luggage

For example, compare a softside bag with a hardside and you’ll notice that that the softside has additional pockets on the outside. Hardsides and hard cases don’t offer these pockets, which are helpful for carrying small items such as phones, chargers, passports, tickets, and even your wallet. In fact, the only way to obtain anything from a hardside is to open it completely and dig through all the items.

Another difference between softside and hardside bags is, since hardsides are rigid, they don’t feature additional zippers that allow you to expand its size. Hardsides are only one size, which can be inconvenient for travelers who are coming back with gifts for the family as many military members often do. Additionally, if aesthetics are important to you, an additional difference between soft cases and hardsides is the wear and tear tends to be demonstrably more noticeable on the hard ones. Scuffs, dents, bangs, and scratches are going to mark your luggage.

Ultimately, hardside cases are essentially the go-to case for the military, since they usually travel with limited equipment and have prior knowledge of what to bring or leave behind. Hard cases, on the other hand, are used to bring servers onboard ships and to land based deployments, and for the most part they serve their purpose well. All that matters is that the equipment stays safe and in working condition. All in all, it saves you money investing into a solid hardside that will provide the utmost security. Perhaps a hardside won’t look as good on the outside, but as we all know, it’s what is inside that truly counts in the end.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emmanuel "Dash the Bomber" Barbosa

Emmanuel Barbosa, AKA Dash The Bomber, is currently serving in the 7th fleet, and has over 8 years of experience in the military. A writer with a penchant for the humorous and informative, he loves to share his stories with those who would be willing to listen. Having served in deployments that have taken him around the world, Dash has seen and heard about many things that would be hard to believe. A loving father and a faithful husband, he is dedicated to protecting his family and country. For fun he enjoys cosplaying, videogames, and writing for online magazines.

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