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Best Hardside Luggage Material

  • Post author:Suvankar Das
  • Post last modified:June 16, 2021
  • Reading time:11 mins read

Before ordering a hard shell suitcase, we always trace the durability and prefer to pick the best hardside luggage material; but, most people become confused in choosing the right one, mainly due to lack of clear knowledge and materials’ properties.

If you are suffering from the same problem, you are most welcome to read this article. Here, you’ll get a detailed idea of all the materials that are used to prepare hard-shell suitcases. This article will make it absolutely easy to choose a perfect suitcase as per your requirements and budgets.

Why Should Search for the Best Hardside Luggage Material?

There are many criteria to choose a suitcase, but shell material is one of the most important matters that you should consider first, especially for hard side luggage. Size, compartment decoration, wheel type, handle, etc., are important too, but shell material controls the durability, which is most crucial. Just think, how will you feel if your suitcase breaks down in the middle of your tour!

So, read carefully and choose the best hardside material before ordering your new suitcase.

Materials Used in Best Hardside Luggage

Best Hardside Luggage Material - 1

People always look for three major criteria to compare the shell type:

  • The ability resistance impact
  • Weight
  • Cost

These 3 facts depends on quality and type of material. There are mainly 6 types of material used for making hard-shell suitcases.

  1. ABS
  2. PVC
  3. Polypropylene
  4. Polycarbonate
  5. Tegris
  6. Aluminum

Among the above 6, aluminum is almost rare nowadays, because other polymers proved themselves much harder or lighter.

In the following sections, the facts are described including the details of chemical components, which may help you to pick the right one.


The term ABS stands for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a thermoplastic synthesized from Acrylonitrile, 1,3-butadiene, and styrene. Sometimes other ingredients are mixed with pure ABS to make the material stronger.

This is relatively cheaper than other materials and the level of strength flexibility is low. Pure ABS is lighter, but not harder than polycarbonate. But often it gets combined with other materials such as polycarbonate to make it more durable; the combined material becomes much harder but cheaper in cost, and hence popular too.

The following parameters may be considered for pure ABS:

  • Strength: ABS < Polycarbonate and Polypropylene; but ABS > PVC
  • Weight: ABS < Polycarbonate; but ABS > PVC and Polypropylene
  • Cost: ABS < Polycarbonate and polypropylene; but ABS > PVC

If you are looking for a budget suitcase, ABS-made hard shell is not a bad choice, but you should look for combined ABS polymer rather than pure ABS. The Cost may be a bit higher than pure ABS, but that’ll be much more durable.


PVC, a chlorine-containing long-chain hydrocarbon polymer and was discovered by Eugen Baumann in 1872. This is a popular material as an alternative to leather due to its flexible nature and lightweight. PVC often used in the preparation of water pipes.

A few cheaper and smaller hard-sided suitcases are available in the market, but to be frank this is not a great choice for hard-side luggage used on a long trip. Those are okay for travel within a shorter distance, and for regular use because PVC is lighter in comparison to others.

The following parameters may be considered for PVC:

  • Strength: PVC < ABS, Polycarbonate, Polypropylene
  • Weight: PVC < Polycarbonate, ABS, Polypropylene
  • Cost: PVC < Polycarbonate and polypropylene, ABS


Polycarbonate is one of the most popular and best materials for hard-side luggage. The thermoplastic is made from the condensation reaction of bisphenol and chloroformate. Nowadays few companies adopted a newly developed method to derive polycarbonate, where carbon dioxide is used instead of chloroformate. This new method is a really sustainable one. Do you know why?

On one hand, this new method does not produce contaminated water, and on the other hand, it utilizes the carbon dioxide that produces in petrochemical or in other industries in excess.

Anyway, let’s walk back to the main fact. Polycarbonate is a high impact-resistant, extremely durable and lightweight thermoplastic. Because of such characteristics of polycarbonate, in 1955 NASA had chosen it for the preparation of helmets and visors. So, you can realize the safety of your stuff inside a polycarbonate-based suitcase. These are actually hard to break and also scratch-resistant.

However, several grades of polycarbonates may be prepared by combining with other ingredients. The combined materials may be less impact-resistant, high or low scratch-resistant, more lightweight, cheaper etc. So, check this carefully before buying.

The following parameters may be considered for pure polycarbonate:

  • Strength: Polycarbonate > ABS, Polypropylene, PVC
  • Weight: Polycarbonate < ABS; and Polycarbonate > Polypropylene, PVC
  • Cost: Polycarbonate > PVC, ABS, polypropylene

It is recommended to buy 100% polycarbonate-based suitcases. This is the best material for hard-side luggage in terms of durability, impact resistance power, cost, and also weight (though there are lighter materials).


Polypropylene is another very lightweight and flexible material for hard side suitcases, in fact, this is the lightest among impact-resistant materials. Though the toughness of polypropylene is a bit lower than polycarbonate, still this thermoplastic wins the battle against ABS and PVC. Not only luggage but many other lightweight products get prepared with polypropylene (chair, table, rack, etc.).

Polypropylene gets prepared from a monomer of propylene over heterogeneous catalyst particles. The long and branched hydrocarbon chains provide the toughness of polypropylene, while the absence of relatively heavyweight molecules (Chlorine, Oxygen) offers the lighter weight.

Pure polypropylene starts to degrade above 100 degree C temperature, the long chains start to break down from the reaction with aerial oxygen. Pure polypropylene also gets affected by exposure to UV-ray / sunlight. To overcome these problems protection procedures often applied during the preparation of polypropylene suitcases. To save it from UV rays, UV absorbing additives, antioxidants, polymer stabilizers are used as protecting materials.

From the above discussion, there is no need to be worried about polypropylene. Industries know, a suitcase must be exposed to UV rays, raindrops, high pressure. So, they prepare a suitcase hard shell by considering all these, and always add the required additives and take all the required precautions.

If you are looking for a lightweight suitcase with high impact resistant ability you can choose polypropylene-based hard-side suitcase without any hesitation.

The following parameters may be considered for pure polypropylene:

  • Strength: Polypropylene < Polycarbonate; but Polypropylene > ABS, PVC
  • Weight: Polypropylene < Polycarbonate, ABS; but Polypropylene > PVC
  • Cost: Polypropylene < Polycarbonate; but Polypropylene > ABS, PVC


Tegris is a modified polypropylene polymer that has been evaluated for its ballistic performance. This is an extraordinary material discovered by Millikan and company, while the high-end luggage manufacturer ‘Tumi luggage collection’ used tegris in their product for the first time in 2012. Tegris material is very much durable and also lightest.

To prepare Tegris a polypropylene tape yarn embedded into a lower melt polymer matrix. Further, via the combination of that two polypropylene, a composite material forms, which is known as tegris.

Nowadays tegris used in various serious items such as luggage, vehicles, watercraft, helmets, outdoor furniture, Aero splitter bumper, etc.

Without any confusion, tegris is the best material for hard side luggage, but the luggage is expensive too. If you are looking for a great piece of the suitcase when money doesn’t matter, you can check in Tumi luggage collection for tegris based suitcase.

So, among 4 major types of materials, sequences can be set as follows:

  • Strength: Tegris > Polycarbonate > Polypropylene > ABS
  • Weight: Tegris < Polypropylene < Polycarbonate < ABS
  • Cost: Tegris > Polycarbonate > Polypropylene > ABS

Best Hardside Luggage Material: Conclusive remarks

I tried to offer an in-depth idea about the hardside luggage materials. Hope this helps you in choosing the right one.

However, you have to decide based on your budget and basic needs. You can visit the following link for exploring a compact list of the best suitcases in the market.

Thank you for visiting us. if you have any further queries, don’t hesitate; just post your question in the comment box below, I’ll get back to you to help you out. If you like this article and find this one helpful please share it to let others know the actual fact.

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Dr. Suvankar Das is a scientific advisor by profession, associated with a CRO organization. He pursued his doctoral degree in Chemistry in 2015. Later, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher & scientist in a couple of institutes/companies.

Besides his scientific journey, Dr. Das is also a passionate traveler and travel blogger. He loves to share all his travel experiences with other travelers so that everyone can enjoy hassle-free holidays with their own tour plans.

He believes, the most beautiful thing in this world is the WORLD itself. so there is no way to live like a clock; rather live it like a compass!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. lidia longobardi

    hello1 it’s a very complete report about suitcase if i will need buy any baggage for sure i will camback here to have some suggestions! thank you

    1. Dr. SD

      Thank you for your interest and I am delighted to know you find the article interesting.

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