Polypropylene vs Polycarbonate

If you’ve been considering purchasing hard-side luggage, you may keep seeing the words polypropylene and polycarbonate and wonder what they mean. Well, they are two types of plastic materials that hard-side luggage is made from. In order to help you make an informed decision between the two, here are some facts about each. We also take a look at the best luggage manufactured from each type of plastic. Each product has advantages that meet specific travel needs.

Here are the best luggage options of each type that we will be reviewing:
Polypropylene

Polycarbonate

Polypropylene vs Polycarbonate: A Guide

Endurance, versatility, and style are just some of the attributes to be considered when choosing the top hard-side suitcase materials. 

Important Features

Here are the most common features of these two high-performance plastics.

Polypropylene:

  • One of the most commonly produced plastics in the world: used for ‘living hinges’ (as on ketchup or shampoo bottles) and electrical insulating materials 
  • Low density: can be very lightweight
  • Chemical resistant: resists spills from chemicals such as alcohol or cleaners
  • Elastic: moderate flexibility
  • Called the “Steel” of the plastic industry because of its versatility for many purposes

Polycarbonate:

  • High-tech plastic used in items such as motorcycle helmets, protective gear, and electronic storage discs such as CDs
  • Water and stain-resistant
  • Heat-resistant
  • Impact-resistant
  • Pliable at room temperature

Advantages of Each

Polypropylene (PP) PP is the lightest and most versatile of all the hard-side luggage choices. The ubiquitous availability of this material helps keep it in the moderate price range. It is fairly durable for normal use, resisting spill damage, and a fair amount of rough treatment. Being easy to inject into a mold means lots of color and style options are also available.

Polycarbonate (PC) PC is a bit heavier than polypropylene. It is the most durable of the luggage plastics and is highly impact- and scratch-resistant. This plastic is also available in a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns. PC can take a lot of abuse and continues to maintain its integrity over the long haul. 

How to Choose Between PC and PP Luggage

For travelers who take the occasional vacation or business trip, or for the young, elderly, or those with disabilities, PP would be a great choice for its lightweight, economical, and durable attributes.

For frequent travelers, PC will give you extended use of your luggage, making it a better buy. This is the best choice for anyone who must depend upon their luggage as part of their daily livelihood. PC will keep you going and looking good through all kinds of weather and abuse.

Man walking in rain with suitcase

General Precautions

Both PC and PP are safe, durable, recyclable thermoplastics. PP is more subject to UV degradation and is more flammable than PC plastic. It is also less resistant to solvents and aromatics that it may come into contact with.

Some brands of PC bags are more likely to be found in black, white, or gray colors, as PC is slightly more difficult to dye.

Product Reviews: Top Polypropylene (PP) Choices

Samsonite Freeform Hardside Carry-on – The Lightest

The Samsonite Freeform Spinner case features a zipper closure, fabric lining, and a recessed TSA combination lock. This carry-on is ultra-lightweight at 6.5-pounds and fits the carry-on requirements for most domestic airlines. Its comfortable-grip, aluminum telescoping handle, and four 360% spinner wheels mean lots of maneuverability in tight spaces. This bag is durable enough for regular use and is also available in a medium case that’s 24-inches and a large case that’s 27.6-inches.

>>Find the Samsonite Freeform Hardside Carry-on on Amazon<<

Pros:

  • Lightweight at just 6.5-pounds, great for packing more and maneuvering more easily.
  • Retracting top/side carry handles that stay out of your way when not in use.
  • TSA-approved combination lock built-in for faster airport security checks.
  • Expandable.
  • Sleek looking and scratch-resistant exterior.

Cons:

  • Some customers complain about a lack of durability in the wheels, most recommended for use on smooth surfaces.

>>Find the Samsonite Freeform Hardside Carry-on on Amazon<<

TUMI Tegra Lite Max Continental – The Exclusive

The Tegra Lite Max Continental case features a front zipper pocket for extra accessibility (a rare feature in hard-side luggage), an optional 2-inch expansion, a zip-around opening, and a TSA-approved integrated lock. The bag has four double-spinner wheels with protective bumpers to help them last longer, and an adjustable telescoping handle that stops at different heights. Inside are extra organizing components such as three zipper pockets and a hanger bracket. This could be a great bag for frequent flyers.

>>Find the TUMI Tegra Lite Max Continental on Amazon<<

Pros:

  • Extra-durable tegris PP plastic – used in Nascar race cars – only TUMI are allowed to use it for luggage.
  • External front pocket, not often found in hard-side luggage.
  • Dual-spinner wheels for increased mobility with protective bumpers to help them last longer.
  • TSA-approved combination lock built-on for faster airport security checks.
  • Excellent for frequent travelers because of its durability and organizational packing features.

Cons:

  • May not conform to all airlines’ carry-on dimension requirements – check your frequently used airlines.
  • Heavier than the Samsonite Freeform carry-on above at 11.1-pounds.

>>Find the TUMI Tegra Lite Max Continental on Amazon<<

Product Reviews: Top Polycarbonate Choices

AmazonBasics Premium Spinner – The Leisure Traveler


This hard-sided spinner case is ideal for weekend leisure or business trips. It features the durability and flexibility of a PC hard-side case plus it has a built-in TSA lock for security. The fully lined interior includes dividers and three zipper pouches. Features eight spinner wheels with a telescoping handle that locks at different heights. This case is available in a total of six different colors and can be purchased as part of a full luggage set.

>>Find the AmazonBasics Premium Spinner on Amazon<<

Pros:

  • Highly durable, flexible PC shell for when it’s overstuffed.
  • Expandable.
  • 8 spinner wheels and a multi-stop telescoping handle to suit different heights.
  • Nice interior organization features to help keep things separate and organized.
  • TSA-approved combination lock built-in for faster airport security checks.
  • Available in 6 different colors and in 3 different sizes that can be purchased as a matching set.

Cons:

  • Some customers have commented that the zipper or top handle broke quickly.

>>Find the AmazonBasics Premium Spinner on Amazon<<

Samsonite Winfield 2 – The Tried and Tested


The Winfield 2 is a reliable case, tested by thousands of travelers, with effortless mobility on its four spinner wheels. The bag features an oversized zipper for ease of use and interior dividers with organizing pockets and compression straps. This flexible, high-impact molded PC case can take rough handling for frequent flyers. The bag comes equipped with a TSA combination lock, is expandable, and is available in other size and color options.

>>Find the Samsonite Winfield 2 on Amazon<<

Pros:

  • Reliable construction and used by thousands of happy travelers.
  • Oversized zippers for ease of use, a surprising comfort when traveling.
  • Expandable.
  • Good internal organization features to help keep all of your items organized.
  • TSA-approved combination lock built-in for faster airport security checks.
  • Elegant brushed pattern hides scratches and keeps it looking great.

Cons:

  • May not meet all carry-on size requirements, check your frequently used airlines.
  • May see many other travelers with this case as it is very popular.

>>Find the Samsonite Winfield 2 on Amazon<<

Briggs & Riley Sympatico – The Biggest and Toughest


Backed by Briggs & Riley’s legendary warranty, this case features a 3-layer PC construction for extra strength and resilience. The unique, ergonomic aluminum telescoping handle system allows more interior space for wrinkle-free packing as it is outside of the case. The case is expandable, with a built-in TSA compliant lock and stylish finish. The exterior resists showing scratches and dings and is available in a variety of colors. This is a strong case that can reliably carry extra weight, such as books, and could be your travel companion for a very long time. You can also find it in different sizes or as part of a full luggage set.

>>Find the Briggs & Riley Sympatico on Amazon<<

Pros:

  • Covered by Briggs & Riley’s lifetime warranty that even covers airline damage (rare!)
  • High-quality PC plastic for extra durability in all aspects of the case.
  • Meets carry-on requirements of most domestic airlines, always check with your local carriers.
  • Resilient and water-resistant.
  • TSA-approved combination lock built-in for faster airport security checks.
  • Generous capacity and expandable, with industry-leading compression technology.
  • Telescoping handle is found outside of the case, giving you more space inside.
  • Available in numerous colors and different sizes or as part of a matching set.

Cons:

  • No side or bottom handles can make it tricky to lift into cars or onto the airport scale.

>>Find the Briggs & Riley Sympatico on Amazon<<

CHESTER Minima Carry-On – The Young and Beautiful


The CHESTER Minima case meets carry-on requirements for many domestic and international airlines. It’s constructed of lightweight, durable, water-resistant Makrolon polycarbonate that can be easily wiped clean. It features a built-in TSA-approved lock on a beautiful zipper system. Along with two spacious interior compartments, the case includes three organizers and a nylon laundry bag for dirty clothes. Quiet spinner wheels with an ergonomic adjustable handle increase the ease and comfort of traveling with this highly-rated case.

>>Find the CHESTER Minima Carry-on on Amazon<<

Pros:

  • Beautifully designed case in 7 different colors, great for traveling in style.
  • Resilient PC materials that are durable and lightweight, weighing only 7-pounds.
  • Convenient interior organization, double-sided packing, and pockets for everything.
  • Multi-stop telescoping handle is 100% aluminum and comfortable to use.
  • 4 spinner wheels are almost silent when you are wheeling your case next to you.
  • TSA-approved combination lock built-in for faster airport security checks.

Cons:

  • May be too large for small international planes’ carry-on restrictions

>>Find the CHESTER Minima Carry-on on Amazon<<

Conclusion

No matter how often you travel, there is a durable, lightweight hard suitcase that will meet your needs in comfort and style. The versatility of today’s high-tech plastics is making traveling for business or pleasure an even more pleasurable experience.

We must always give an honorable mention to Briggs & Riley for their industry-leading products, including the Sympatico case above. All of their products are backed by a truly outstanding warranty that covers airline damage where most only cover manufacturer defects.

Like this article? Show some love and share it with your networks.

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

1 thought on “Polypropylene vs Polycarbonate”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *