Are you a hard case or a duff?

Are you a hard case or a duff?

Bear with me here. With all the travelling I do my suitcases take a battering and now it is coming up to the time when I need to do a replacement. But what do I choose? There are so many options. Do I do hard case? Two wheels or four? Duffel with wheels? Duffel that converts to back pack? Ultra light weight or not so much. Goodness – the choices are endless.


One thing I have learnt is that smaller is better. Down in my basement I have two monster size suitcases and I cannot for the life of me understand what I was thinking when I bought those. They are too big, too awkward and frankly usually bring home clothes that I never wore. As a woman I pack too much – I know. Always going through the “what if” scenario. What if I wear these pants and then this top is the only one that looks good but what if it is cold and then this top looks ugly with a jacket so I might not use it. What if I don’t pack it and then get to the other side of the world and of course that would be the one item I would “need”…. ladies are you with me?


So apart from smaller – hard or soft? Hard cases were very popular at one time but I don’t see so many of them these days at airports. They are good for preventing crushing but then don’t have that stretch factor that soft cases have. They also don’t often have the magic zip – you know that one. The zip that gives you two extra centimetres of space so that you can cram in even more stuff that you have bought on your trip. “Stuff” you probably won’t need but sometimes you have to buy – and of course let’s not forget the gifts for family. The anticipation of grandchildren wondering what you have brought home for them makes that zip stretch very important.

Two wheels or four? Well there are wheels and then there are wheels. Sometimes those four wheeled cases are not that easy to move around and if you are getting from one terminal to another quickly two wheels is way better.

To duffel or not to duffel – that is the question. I have seen a lot of these cases around. A duffel bag in soft material that can be carried by the handles or stood up on one end and towed on two wheels. For me the jury is still out on this one. I am not sure how I would pack something like this. I notice that some of them even have straps on the back so you could hoist the whole thing on your back like a proper backpack. That might be handy in places like Venice where it is a real pain to tow a suitcase with wheels over cobbled streets and up and down the steps of the many bridges there. I would have to go and try that out at the shop and see how comfortable it might be.

A common theme of necessity through all the above seems to be the wheels. Anyone who can remember dealing with old suitcases with no wheels will agree with me. You absolutely had to find a luggage cart in a case like that especially if you have short arms.511E3E57-64FF-4E04-BFCD-A1ECBE884B27

I am going to be looking into these options in more detail and trying some out to see which would work best for me …. what’s your recommendation?


Get Outlook for iOS

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. We like soft top with 2 wheels. We don’t cut back and do carry-on but we take one bag each with the weight being about 16 to 18 kg for our 2 to 3 week trips. We need to find a laundromat at least once during our trips and that can be interesting. Doing individual travel, not groups, we’ve had to man-handle our bags up and down 3 or 4 storeys to AirBnB apartments, up and down stairs to change train platforms, climb onto trains from low platforms and lift the bags up onto the luggage racks. We go for one major colour, layers and mix & match.
    Yes there is a temptation in the luggage store to get a bag that is too big but measure your old bag, take the measurements and a tape and don’t go bigger.
    Keep travelling.


    1. Brilliant advice Hugh…. I noticed on my return yesterday from Barbados that my wheels are looking a bit ragged and there are lots of fraying areas on my bag as well as lots of oil stains. (I have a soft case four wheel style bag). I am going to do exactly what you suggest, measure and then look at the 2 wheel option. Thanks for your help ….. here’s to the travel bug!


  2. 2 wheels take up less of the size requirements for carry-on luggage. I would rather have room inside the bag and less on the outside! Soft-side is my preferred choice.


  3. The lightest possible soft case is best for me. I have learned to pack light. I avoid packing anything that is “just in case” or “what if…” – you can always buys those things if needed. Being over-weight always ends up being the biggest concern for me. Yes, we are still talking about luggage … maybe 😉

    I only bring carry-on size luggage no matter how long I am gone, but sometimes I check it in so I don’t have to haul it around or if I am travelling with someone who will be waiting for a checked bag anyway. Bringing only a carry-on size suitcase (and a very large personal item) keeps your packing light and provides you more flexibility.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s