Continuing on with our luggage glossary, this week we explore the different types of hard sided bags, the different wheel types and explain different bag styles.

Hard-sided Luggage

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (or ABS for short) frequently combines with other materials to bring strength and durability to many brands of luggage sets. A synthetic plastic material easily molded into hard-sided luggage, it is usually added to other materials such as polycarbonate, creating strong shells designed to protect their contents. On its own, ABS is cheaper than polycarbonate, although polycarbonate offers higher-level strength, heat and impact resistance (in terms of impact resistance, ABS tops only PVC.) When looking for luggage, consider purchasing ABS in combination with another, stronger material for long-lasting support.


EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate) is a softer, flexible type of thermoplastic usually combined with other materials to reinforce hard or soft-shelled luggage sets. It is typically used in soft plastic goods such as sports and shoe padding, and as a replacement for many traditionally rubber items such as hoses (the texture is similar to rubber, but without the odor.) Cheap and easy to mold, EVA is best considered as a reinforcement material in your luggage set.


For the benefits of hard-sided luggage sets with as little extra weight as possible, you may want to explore lightweight materials such as polycarbonate. A molded type of thermoplastic, polycarbonate is durable, lightweight, and extremely impact-resistant – the material, although not soft-sided, flexes upon impact, making it resilient to potential rough handling. Tough and nearly impossible to break or shatter, polycarbonate appears in items such as CDs, eyeglasses, sports materials, and even bulletproof glass. While more expensive than other plastics such as ABS or PVC and slightly heavier than polypropylene, polycarbonate offers the highest level of impact strength with lightness, keeping the contents of your luggage safe under any circumstances. It is an ideal choice for frequent travelers who need a higher level of protection, particularly if they are transporting easily breakable items.


Polypropylene, the lightest of all thermoplastic products, preceded polycarbonate as a material for hard-sided suitcases. Molded into coverings for hard-sided luggage sets, the material is very resilient and offers extra protection for your belongings. Despite being lighter, it is topped in impact-resistance by polycarbonate (but continues to surpass ABS or PVC.) It tends to fall into a more expensive price range than either ABS or PVC, and makes an excellent purchase for those who want the protection of hard-sided luggage in an extremely light form.


A lighter, more flexible type of moldable plastic, PVC is a resilient material frequently used to reinforce luggage sets. It offers less impact resistance than ABS, polycarbonate, or polypropylene, although it has the benefit of cheaper prices. Because of its higher levels of flexibility and elasticity, it effectively combines with other materials such as polypropylene or polycarbonate for support in hard-sided luggage sets.



A more traditional take on wheeled luggage sets are two inline wheels that travel only forwards or backwards. Although they may be less maneuverable than the spinner sets, these wheels drastically increase the ease of luggage transport, and have simplified the lives of travelers worldwide.


A spinner set uses four wheels, one at each corner of the bottom of your bag, which help to evenly distribute the weight of your luggage. The wheels can “spin” in any direction, maximizing maneuverability and allowing you to easily squeeze through tight spaces or aisles. Luggage with spinner wheels might roll both tilted like regular inline wheeled luggage or pulled using a handle or leash.

Types of Luggage

Duffel Bag

Duffel bags come in a variety of sizes, from carry-on to larger. They are cylindrical shaped and usually have straps for over-the-shoulder carrying, but some more recent versions also feature wheels. Duffels commonly accompany luggage sets as accessory pieces.

Garment Bag

Travelers with special pieces of clothing, such as a nice suit, find a perfect solution in a garment bag. The long, durable bag covers and protects your articles of clothing and prevents wrinkles during a long flight. Once at your hotel a garment bag should fold open and hang in the closet keeping clothes protected from damage and wrinkles.

Rolling Upright

Rolling uprights come in a variety of sizes and <luggage materials>, from carry-ons to 30” pieces. Also referred to as wheeled luggage, they travel upright, or vertically as you pull them by handle behind you. These bags represent the type of primary luggage used by most travelers.


Typically a variety of rolling upright, these softsided framed luggage sets come with bonus material behind an additional zipper constructed so that when the traveler needs a little larger suitcase rather than just that little extra stretch the packer merely unzips to access the expansion area and suddenly gains 1 to 3 inches of new packing room.

Toiletry Kit

A toiletry kit is a small bag, usually divided into compartments, designed to hold personal or necessary items during your flight or vacation like grooming supplies. Many zip shut or fold over onto themselves, making them small, compact, and perfect for carrying to any location.

Tote Bag

A tote bag usually resembles a large purse with straps for carrying over your shoulder, and frequently comes as an accessory piece to luggage sets. Tote bags are usually the perfect size to use as carry-on or personal items.

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