Improvement of stability of thin isotropic shell in the presence of soft elastic filler has been investigated. Critical buckling loads for empty and filled cylinder have been studied both experimentally and theoretically using FE analysis. Various percentage of cross sectional filling are examined as a parametric variation. Nonlinear analysis with proper geometric imperfection modeling is carried out to represent correct behavior of soft elastic filler. The experimental results and FE analysis corroborate well to establish this improvement in buckling strength. It is observed that critical buckling load of the cylinder subjected to external pressure improves upto an extent of five times depending upon percentage of filling. It is concluded that improved strength can be utilized for more efficient design of thin tubular shells. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.