Assessing the pros and cons of soft luggage typically requires that a potential user consider her frequency of travel, the kinds of things that she typically packs, as well as her budget. Soft luggage has several advantages, including its price, weight, and ease of storage. On the other hand, it may not protect items as well as hard side luggage and is often susceptible to both stains and tears.
Soft luggage is typically less expensive than hard luggage, though the price can vary according to quality and brand. As soft luggage is made of flexible material, it is typically fairly easy to store, with many pieces lying almost flat when empty. In fact, many soft luggage sets are designed so that all the smaller pieces can fit into the largest piece, which can make for very easy storage. In addition, the soft design makes it easier to cram pieces of luggage into tight quarters such as the trunk of a car. The material also lends itself well to the addition of outside zippers on the sides of the luggage, which can make it easy for travelers to access needed documents and items while traveling with packed luggage.
Many travelers have significant concerns about the weight of their luggage. This is due, in part, to the fact that lighter luggage is easier to carry and handle during travel as well as because many airlines charge travelers additional fees if their luggage exceeds a certain weight limit. Soft luggage is typically lightweight, which makes it easier for travelers, particularly those with bad backs or who do not have a lot of upper body strength, to move. It can also reduce the risk of overweight luggage fees.
Although soft luggage has numerous advantages, it also has some disadvantages. As the sides are thin, soft, and flexible, they simply do not provide a great deal of protection for packed items. In addition to lacking a hard shell that can keep fragile items from breaking, the fabric is not as water resistant as hard luggage, which means that the contents of the luggage are more susceptible to water damage. In addition, soft luggage does not offer much protection against theft. Even if someone uses a lock to secure the bag, it is very easy for someone else to cut a soft-sided bag open and steal its contents. Finally, while hard side luggage can crack and break, it is generally easier to clean and is more stain resistant than its soft counterparts.