Polycarbonate Or Polyester Trolley Bag – Which Is Better?

Considering the vast range of materials while choosing a trolley bag is undoubtedly a wise decision. You might find yourself deciding whether to buy a polycarbonate or polyester trolley bag. While a polycarbonate luggage bag has a hard shell, a polyester bag comes with a soft and flexible body. Although the two materials are entirely different in nature, they both are great choices. They have their own benefits and drawbacks, which you must consider before making the purchase.

While a polycarbonate bag is more suitable for some travellers, others might find polyester to be a far better choice. Ultimately, you will have to choose the suitable travel bag material depending on your travel habits and requirements. Once you have decided between hard-shell polycarbonate and soft-shell polyester trolley bag, you can narrow down your options further based on other parameters.

Polycarbonate Trolley Bags

Packing a Polycarbonate Trolley Bag before Travel

Let us start by getting a detailed understanding of polycarbonate trolley bags. This will help you decide whether a polycarbonate hard shell bag is a suitable choice for you at all. For example, while the extra protection offered by the hard shell of a polycarbonate trolley bag can be helpful, it lacks the flexibility of a polyester bag.

What Is Polycarbonate, And What’s A Polycarbonate Trolley Bag Like?

Polycarbonate material for trolley bag

Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic, often used as the most preferred material for the best trolley bags for travelling. One of the most important properties of polycarbonate is its durability, which is much higher than most other plastics.

Naturally, such toughness makes this thermoplastic an excellent choice as a material for luggage bags. About 42% of hard-side luggage bags are made of polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate trolley bags have a hard outer shell to protect their contents from impact damage.

A polycarbonate suitcase, therefore, is robust and resistant to damage. At the same time, its rigid shell doesn’t allow a lot of flexibility. While polycarbonate is still more flexible than most other hard-shell travel bag materials, the level of flexibility isn’t enough to allow much change in its shape when trying to squeeze the bag into a tight spot.

Advantages Of Polycarbonate Trolley Bags

There are reasons why polycarbonate is such a popular material for trolley bags. Polycarbonate trolley bags offer several perks that travellers find to be convenient:

1. Impact Protection

As the shell is very tough and rigid, it can effectively protect fragile items and electronic equipment. This makes a polycarbonate trolley bag especially suitable for travellers carrying cameras, souvenirs, etc. You can easily pack the bag with all the necessary items for your trip.

2. Water Resistance

Another prime perk of polycarbonate is its waterproof nature. Water can’t penetrate through the hard plastic, which is yet another reason to carry electronic equipment in a polycarbonate suitcase. It will also help keep your other belongings from getting wet in the rain.

3. Highly Affordable

Polycarbonate is on the more affordable end of the price spectrum among different plastics used in making trolley bags. This makes polycarbonate travel bags particularly pocket-friendly.

4. More Durable

When it comes to choosing between a polycarbonate vs polyester trolley bag, the former dominates in terms of durability. Polycarbonate trolley bags are highly resistant to damage, especially during rough airport handling.

5. Crack-Resistant

When it comes to the hard side or soft side luggage, the latter wins in terms of crack resistance. However, polycarbonate is still much more resistant to cracking than other hard-shell alternatives. The flexibility of polycarbonate travel bags allows them to sustain higher pressure and impact without cracking/breaking.

6. Easy To Carry

Most hard-sided bags, including those made of polycarbonate, have four wheels. This allows one to handle polycarbonate luggage bags at airports and railway stations easily. A polycarbonate bag is much less likely to flip over or lose balance compared to a polyester bag. These perks have led to the widespread popularity of polycarbonate trolley bags.

Disadvantages Of Polycarbonate Bags

While the hard polycarbonate bags offer unique perks, they also have several downsides. Make sure to consider them all before you decide to buy a polycarbonate trolley bag.

1. Lack Of Flexibility

Firstly, although polycarbonate is flexible enough to resist cracking, it’s still relatively rigid compared to polyester. You may have trouble fitting a polycarbonate bag in the overhead bin in an aeroplane cabin as you can’t just squeeze it into a thinner shape.

2. Poor Accessibility

One of the biggest problems with a polycarbonate trolley bag is poor accessibility. Due to the material’s rigidity, it’s impossible to add front pockets. You’ll have to store everything in the inner compartments, including items you might need frequently.

3. Limited Space

The rigid material will also prevent you from stretching the bag beyond its usual capacity. If you go shopping during your travels, you may have to get additional bags because your polycarbonate trolley bag is full.

Polyester Trolley Bags

Carrying Polyester Trolley Bag at Airport

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of polycarbonate bags, let’s check out what a polyester bag can offer you. Although there are plenty of reasons to buy a polycarbonate trolley bag, you might want to get a polyester trolley bag instead if you find the latter option to be more convenient. Without much ado, let’s go ahead and explore this material.

What Is Polyester, And What’s A Polyester Trolley Bag Like?

Polyester material for trolley bag

When it comes to luggage bags made of fabric, polyester is the most common material. In fact, more than 70% of the fabric luggage bags out there are made of polyester.

Polyester is a synthetic textile fibre consisting of various ester group compounds. It finds application in a variety of fabric products and is quite popular due to its affordability.

Although polyester is a strong and damage-resistant material in general, it has earned a reputation for poor durability. This is because most cheap and low-quality luggage bags use polyester as the material is very affordable, and it causes people to associate polyester with poor quality.

A polyester trolley bag essentially has a flexible body due to being made of fabric. These bags also happen to be very light as polyester is one of the lightest fabrics used in luggage bags. Polyester trolley bags usually come in a variety of designs and styles, as the fabric body allows a great deal of customization.

Advantages Of Polyester Bags

Polyester trolley bags have earned popularity among travellers due to the various perks they offer, such as:

1. More Pockets

One of the most significant advantages of a polyester travel bag is that it would likely have more pockets than a hard-shell bag. As the body consists of fabric, it’s easy to design external pockets where one can store various items for quick access.

2. Better Flexibility

If you were to decide between hard case and soft case luggage bags, this is another area where the latter turns out to be the winner. Being a fabric, polyester is highly flexible. This will allow you to squeeze your bag into small spaces when it isn’t full, or stretch it for some extra storage space.

3. No Cracks

Although the soft polyester shell isn’t as strong and durable as polycarbonate, you won’t have to worry about cracks. Thanks to the flexible nature of the fabric, the material can simply adjust to pressure instead of cracking apart.

4. Scope For Customization

As polyester is basically a fabric, it’s possible to print various colours and designs in polyester trolley bags. This will allow you to choose from a vast range of options in terms of styling and aesthetics.

5. Water Repellant

Polyester is naturally hydrophobic, allowing polyester trolley bags to repel water. Hence, unlike most fabric bags, a polyester trolley bag can protect your belongings from the rain. If these perks appeal to you, you may consider buying a polyester trolley bag.

Disadvantages Of Polyester Trolley Bags

Unfortunately, polyester trolley bags have some disadvantages too. These include:

1. Less Durability

While polyester is a rigid material in general, it’s not as strong and durable as polycarbonate. The fabric is particularly prone to tearing or cutting against sharp objects. This may also allow thieves to cut open your bag with a knife.

2. Lack Of Protection

Unlike hard-shell bags, a polyester bag can’t offer much protection against impact damage.

Which Trolley Bag Is Best, Polycarbonate Or Polyester

Polycarbonate Vs Polyester Trolley Bag Comparison

Point Of DifferencePolycarbonate Trolley BagPolyester Trolley Bag
Shell typeThese bags have hard and rigid shellsThese have soft, fabric shells.
No. of compartmentsUsually, they have only 1 or 2 compartments.Polyester bags have more compartments and pockets, including external and internal pockets.
Colour optionsAvailable in a variety of colours.Available in a similar variety of colours, but with more design options.
FlexibilityOnly flexible enough to bend slightly and resist cracking.These bags are very flexible.
DurabilityVery strong and durable.Durable but not as much as polycarbonate.
WeightSignificantly heavierMuch lighter
Water resistanceCompletely waterproofWater repellant surface
Protection of fragile itemsExcellent protection of fragile itemsPoor protection unless the bag has enough internal padding.
Scratch resistanceSomewhat vulnerable to scratchesMore scratch-resistant than polycarbonate bags.
Ease of cleaningVery easy to clean, as you can just wash the body or wipe it with a wet cloth.Harder to clean as washing and drying fabric takes more effort.
SecurityOften has TSA-approved 3-digit combination locks that are more secure and easy to unlock.Rarely has a modern locking system.

Alternatives To Polycarbonate And Polyester Materials

While polycarbonate and polyester are the most common material for trolley bags, there are other materials like nylon, polypropylene, ABS, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), etc. While ABS and nylon are the most affordable, they are not much durable. Compared to all materials, polypropylene is the best alternative to polycarbonate and polyester with high flexibility, lightweight, affordability, and crack resistance.

Apart from these preferable materials, some brands also use aluminium, oxford cloth, ballistic nylon, Cordura nylon, canvas, leather, and ABS/polycarbonate composite to manufacture different types of travel bags.

Polycarbonate and Polyester Trolley Bags

So, Which Trolley Bag Is Best Polycarbonate Or Polyester?

Well, now that you have gone through a very detailed overview of either material, you should find it easier to make a choice between polycarbonate and polyester. Both materials are good in their own ways, and both have disadvantages. Based on the pros and cons of your options, you’ll have to choose the one that suits you the best.

Frequent travellers would be better off with a hard-sided polycarbonate trolley bag as it is durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. The same goes for business travellers, especially if they have to carry laptops or other electronic equipment. If you are travelling with children and need to keep items such as diapers, toys, pacifiers, snacks, etc., within easy access, a soft-sided polyester trolley bag with external pockets will be a good choice.

Hence, it all comes down to your needs and preferences. You’ll have plenty of options regardless of which one you choose between hard and soft luggage.

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Author, NatureDiary
Soumya is an avid traveller, founder, photographer and chief editor of NatureDiary. A nature lover by heart, he writes and edits articles on various travel destinations, attractions, and gear on NatureDiary from his vast experience of travelling, trekking, and camping across India.

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