Originally Posted by swinokur
Mac, several years ago Consumer Reports tested different kinds and brands of luggage even using a huge tumbler to simulate typical abuse a piece of luggage would receive during travel.
Guess which one fared the worse? The hard sided luggage. Apparently the hard side protects your clothing but if dropped or manhandled, it failed but the sof tsided luggage did not. Guess the soft side plus your clothing acted as a shock absorber.
When I stand at the carousel I don't see much hard sided luggage any more I think the advances in nylon and other fabrics have pushed soft sided sales because of their durability and shock resistance.
That's my observation anyway.
I'd agree on the consumer grade stuff. The kind you just find in shops.
Two MAJOR exceptions, though. I have a Zero Halliburton hard sided luggage case that has been amazing for me. I can put a laptop and camera gear in it and it comes out fine, and I'd never do that otherwise. It's my favorite to fly with.
The other exception is that hard sided luggage made of some of the new composites, and especially those that latch closed, have been shown to take MUCH more abuse than soft sided luggage and are much more secure. However, you have to buy the good stuff and it's not cheap. But you can travel with gear or glass and be alright. Big articles all over the photography world on the debate. The downside is that space is less flexible and it's heavier. If you really pack it you'll almost always pay an overage fee. There are many research pieces done in it, though, mostly among travel sites and photographers.
You can break into any soft sided, zippered bag in seconds, it's undetectable, and all you need is a bic pen. I've shown friends this trick over and over and it always shocks them. I'm sure it's on youtube. (update: just googled it, watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5mvv...1C761&index=29
). When I take gear or I want more security, I take a hard sided case. If it's just clothing and a firearm, then I take the soft case and use the locking system I detailed in the OP.
Definitely fervent debate on the topic, though.