Best Soft Sided Luggage for Travel in 2023

by Albert Varkki updated 01-19-2023

best soft shell luggage

Travelers have different liking and varying luggage needs; some prefer soft sides for carry-on travel.

So, if you’re looking for a dependable, lightweight option, browse our top picks for the best soft suitcase, as well as essential features when buying.

Best Soft Shell Luggage for 2023

Here we go over our top picks for soft luggage by style and size:

Best Soft Sided Carry-On Bag with Wheels

voyager leather carry on bag with wheels in brown

Winner: Voyager Leather Carry-on with Wheels


  • Full grain leather
  • Hand luggage compliant.
  • 16 inch laptop sleeve.
  • Luggage tag included.
  • Two exterior pockets for easy-to-reach items.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Designer travel bag.
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Soft Shell Weekender Travel Bag

leather weekender bag

Winner: Weekender Leather Travel Bag


  • Full grain leather
  • 16 inch internal padded laptop sleeve.
  • Internal zipped pocket for travel essentials like your passport.
  • Plenty of space for all your gear.
  • Adjustable shoulder strap.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Perfect overnight bag.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Large Soft Shell Garment Bag

grand leather garment bag

Winner: Grand Leather Garment Bag


  • Full grain leather
  • Dedicated garment carrier.
  • Carry a suit and shirt without creasing.
  • Large main compartment for other items.
  • 16 inch laptop compartment.
  • Adjustable shoulder strap.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Lightweight Soft Shell Backpack

10x leather laptop travel backpack

Winner: 10X Leather Laptop Backpack


  • Full grain leather
  • Dedicated compartments, perfect for travel.
  • Can convert from backpack to shoulder bag for ease of access.
  • Top and side handles for when moving through airports.
  • Fits up to 15.6 inch laptop or tablet.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized
  • Available in brown, tan, black, or red leather.
  • Unisex.

Click here to check the price

Best Soft Shell Laptop Carry-On Bag

city leather laptop messenger bag

Winner: CITY Leather Laptop Messenger Bag


  • Full grain leather
  • Detachable shoulder strap
  • Fits up to a 15.6 inch laptop (also a 17 inch version here)
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Dedicated laptop compartment
  • Additional zipper pockets

Click here to check the price

Best Soft Shell Tote Carry-On Bag

elegance leather laptop tote bag brown

Winner: Elegance Tote Bag


  • Full grain leather
  • Compartment for up to 14 inch laptop.
  • Spacious main compartment
  • Internal pockets for essentials like your phone.
  • Reliable YKK zippers.
  • Durable cotton lining.
  • Available in brown, black, red, and tan.
  • Can be personalized.

Click here to check the price

Soft Shell Luggage Buying Guide

While traveling is an adventure, it typically comes with a few setbacks or challenges. Make sure your luggage isn’t one of them. Find a piece of baggage that works for you among the many possibilities available today. More individuals opt for soft-shell luggage for a more comfortable travel experience. These bags come in a variety of styles and offer several benefits.

Benefits of Soft Shell vs Hard Shell

Consider some of the advantages of using soft-shell luggage.

A soft-shell suitcase is normally made of fabric and has a structural frame inside. The versatility you’ll find while packing in a soft-shell bag is a big plus. A soft-shell suitcase has many more pockets and compartments than a hard-shell bag. Soft-shell suitcases take up less room than hard-shell luggage due to their flexible bodies. As they are lightweight, they’re also easy to transport.

Soft-shell suitcases are also an excellent option for duffle bags or backpacks, which don’t often have wheels or handles for getting through airports straightforwardly. Carrying packed luggage on your back or in your hand through a crowded and enormous airport requires a lot of strength and endurance, so having wheels will make your journey that much easier.

If you plan to travel internationally, you should invest in soft-shell bags. The range of sizes ensures you have enough room for anything you’ll need while away from home. Three rolling suitcases and two duffel bags are included in some five-piece sets. When traveling with a family, sets like this might be pretty cost-effective.

An easy-to-use soft-shell suitcase will make traveling much more fun. When you don’t have to carry the weight of your bags through airports, your back will thank you. And if you choose a soft-shell suitcase, you’ll enjoy comfort and convenience.

A bag vs. a set

Would you rather have a single bag or a set of bags? While you can get a single piece of soft-sided luggage, you may find that getting a set of various-sized bags gives you more versatility on your travels. Luggage sets typically consist of two to four pieces and contain both big and carry-on luggage. A duffel bag is included in some soft-sided luggage sets, and it’s an attractive option for short overnight traveling. If you plan to buy more items in the future, getting a set of soft-sided luggage now will save you money in the long term.


Soft-sided baggage is lighter than hard-sided luggage when empty (by two to five pounds on average). Although, the weight varies even among soft-sided bags, ranging from less than four pounds to about 10 pounds. The bag size and material are both factors that can affect the weight of a soft-sided bag. Since airlines have severe weight restrictions for luggage, you’d better consider this when comparing soft-sided bags.


While soft-sided luggage sets come in various sizes, single bags typically range from 20 to 28 inches in length.

When purchasing soft-sided baggage, the size is an essential feature. If you get one too tiny, you may not have enough room to carry all your clothes and other belongings. If you buy one too large, you risk having space in a backpack that’s more difficult to carry around. We recommend more oversized luggage for longer travels, but if you’re traveling for business and need to bring a range of outfits, a compact bag may not be sufficient even for short excursions.


Your soft-sided luggage should withstand a certain amount of damage from both you and airline baggage handlers.

Weight: Depending on the material used, a heavier bag may be more durable. You’ll have to decide whether you’re willing to make that trade-off.

Zippers, seams, and corners are all things to look out for. Examine classic weak places, such as zippers and seams, to ensure they’re in good shape. To withstand being dropped or pulled along the ground, bumpers or corners should be padded or otherwise reinforced.

Water resistance or waterproofing will assist in safeguarding not only your luggage but also your personal possessions.


When it comes to design, soft-sided baggage ranges from traditional to contemporary. While these bags aren’t as fashionable as hard-sided luggage, they can come in various colors and designs. Choose a retailer or manufacturer that offers a variety of colors and designs to choose from for the most alternatives.


Soft-sided luggage uses various approaches to help you organize and secure your items.

Two or more compartments, as well as compression straps to keep everything safe, are prevalent in this form of baggage.

Many bags have mesh or other sorts of pockets on the inside for shoes and other items you wish to keep separate from your clothes.

External pockets are prominent in soft-sided baggage as well. Exterior pockets allow you to quickly access travel documents, your phone, and other valuables without opening your entire suitcase.


Polyester is used in specific soft-sided luggage. However, nylon is the most prevalent material. Ballistic, ripstop, and Cordura are the three primary varieties of nylon.

Ripstop nylon, often known as parachute nylon, is a lightweight fabric commonly used in backpacks with little or no structural support.

Ballistic nylon is smoother and shinier than other varieties of nylon.

Cordura is a softer, more textured nylon that is more abrasion resistant than ballistic nylon.


As previously stated, the zipper in soft-sided luggage might be a weak point. Nobody wants to deal with a broken suitcase zipper on the road, so research how long the zippers on any baggage you want to buy will last. Check out user reviews to see how well the bag holds up in real-world situations.

Choosing a chain zipper over a coil zipper is one approach to increase your chances of finding a long-lasting zipper. Polyester teeth on coil zippers can be readily peeled apart. A chain zipper is more secure because it has interlocking metal teeth.

Straps and handles

Soft-sided luggage with wheels usually incorporates a telescoping handle to make it easier to move the bag. The best handles are contoured to suit your hand perfectly and are padded for enhanced comfort. The luggage should also include handles on the sides so that you may carry it like a regular suitcase.

Some smaller soft-sided bags come with a shoulder strap, allowing you to carry it over your shoulder and free up your hands.


While not every soft-sided luggage comes with wheels, many do. And this is a feature to look for if you know you’ll be carrying your bag over long distances. Soft-sided luggage usually has two or four wheels, and depending on how you’ll use your bag, each variety comes with advantages. Spinner wheels on some bags may spin in any direction.


While some bags come with locks, soft-sided luggage doesn’t always include them. Locks can help you better secure your belongings, but ensure the locks are TSA-approved if you want to fly with your bags.

Is soft-sided luggage preferable to hard-sided luggage?

Each type has its benefits, which you should examine carefully before buying one.

Luggage with a soft side: These bags are usually lighter than hard-sided bags and have more storage options, such as exterior pockets. Soft-sided bags are also more adaptable because they’re often extendable. Due to its reduced weight and softer structure, soft-sided baggage is usually the preferred choice for carry-on bags.

Luggage with a hard shell: A hard-sided suitcase has the advantage of being more robust and protecting your possessions. It’s also more secure and provides better protection from the elements and spillage. For checked luggage, hard-sided luggage may be the better choice.


What is a TSA-approved lock?

These days, all luggage on commercial airlines must be checked, which frequently requires opening them up for inspection. You want security officials to have access to your bags, but you also want them to be safe against theft. A TSA-approved lock secures your bag while also allowing authorities to access it with a master key without causing damage to the bag or the lock. Numerous baggage manufacturers follow this standard. And locks of this sort are required on flights to and from many countries, including Canada and the USA.

Which is better for soft-sided luggage: two or four wheels?

The majority of wheeled backpacks feature two or four wheels. Roller bags have two wheels that are often recessed and better at handling obstacles, such as curbs and uneven ground. Two-wheeled bags can create arm, shoulder, and back pain if you need to transfer your luggage over extended distances because you’re essentially dragging it.

As four-wheeled bags may stand on their wheels, you can roll them through airports more easily than two-wheeled bags, making them both straightforward and more suitable for navigating tight spaces. These wheels, often known as spinners, aren’t the best choice for rolling over carpeting or uneven ground. Besides, if you’re on an elevation, you must maintain a firm grasp on your bag, or else you’ll be watching it roll away.


Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our best soft sided luggage post.

If you ever need any help with anything to do with travel, bags or fashion, feel free to contact the Von Baer team, at

Browse our other travel pages here.

Author: Albert Varkki
Albert Varkki is the co-founder of Von Baer. He understands leather products as a consumer, supplier, and a manufacturer, helping you with the inside knowledge you need, to choose the perfect leather product for you. Connect on Linkedin

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