Q. What material is best for a hard-sided case?
A. The difference between aluminum and polycarbonate cases is more than aesthetic. Use the following variables to guide your selection.
The beauty of certain plastics, such as polycarbonate, is that they’re incredibly durable while being extremely light. Aluminum, on the other hand, may be heavier, but it often lasts longer.
If you plan to travel with camera equipment, electronics, or other tech, it may be worth it to invest in aluminum. No matter how durable, plastic will always be more flexible than metal, and may not protect fragile contents as well.
If you plan to store your luggage in a garage, attic, or other non-climate controlled space, opt for aluminum. Prolonged exposure to heat and cold weakens polycarbonate, though high-quality cases may be treated with temperature resistant finishes.
Green travelers, take note: aluminum is one of the most sustainable substances in the world, with roughly 75 percent of all aluminum ever processed still being in use. That said, polycarbonate is no slouch—it has a service life of over a decade or more, making it one of the more environmentally friendly plastics.