If you are like me and like to make the trek once or twice a year across the country to hit the fresh powder, you know how important it is to invest in good travel gear to protect your ski and snowboard equipment. Here we review some of our favorite ski bags, snowboard bags and boot bags & backpacks for 2012. With the new airline and baggage fees, we have also put together a few tips to help save you time and money when you travel.
Our favorite ski bags for 2012 include a hard-shell case from Sportube and a soft-shell bag from Dakine.
Made of high-density, extra-strong polyethylene, the Sportube Double Case is one of the coolest products on the market today. A few years back, they redesigned the models to accommodate parabolic and wider shaped skis. Equipped with an easy pull handle and double wheels that pull like a suitcase, the SportTube provides maximum protection for your gear and is super easy to maneuver. The Sportube has elastic bands that help hold the ski bindings in place so the skis can be velcroed to prevent them from sliding around. There is padding at the end of the tube, as well as a clip that locks the tube to its desired length. Since these cases are becoming more and more popular each year, I would suggest adding an identifying feature to yours (ie: ribbon, sticker etc.) to help it from getting mixed up in the airport.
The Dakine Concourse is the ultimate ski trip bag with fully padded protection for two pairs of skis, pools and three interior pockets with plenty of room for your boots, clothes and other gear. It has two adjustable velcro straps that allow you to safely secure each pair of skis. There is also a padded flap that lays over the skis and adding an extra layer of protection. The Concourse is equipped with full-length zippers, making it exceptionally easy to load and unload your skis. For extra convenience, the concourse double has heavy-duty urethane wheels that are very easy to maneuver through an airport. One neat feature of this bag is that the exterior access to the center pocket without having to open and unpack the entire bag. Overall, the Dakine Concourse is super durable and reliable, just be conscious that if you fill it to the brim, you will likely exceed the airlines 50lbs weight limit.
Our favorite snowboard bags for 2012 include a hard-shell case from Sportube and a soft-shell bag from Dakine.
Similar to the Sportube Double Case, the Series 3 is made of high-density, extra-strong polyethylene to provide ample protection for your gear. In general, a plastic shell is stronger and more durable than a soft nylon bag and will last you significantly longer as it does not endure the same type of abuse. Equipped with an easy pull handle and double wheels that pull like a suitcase, the Sportube Series 3 is very easy to maneuver through an airport or ski resort parking lot. The Sportube has elastic bands that help hold the board in place and also has padding on the ends for extra protection. This case can easily fit two snowboards and two sets of boots, just are careful not to exceed the 50lb weight limit that many airlines restrict you to without an additional charge. Sportube can be securely locked using the ‘TSA’ approved 3-digit combination lock when flying or shipping.
If you are looking for a cheap and easy solution to transporting your snowboard gear, check out the DaKine Pipe bag. Equipped with a full length two-way zipper and an adjustable and removable shoulder strap for carrying convenience, this bag can fit up to a 165cm snowboard, as well as your boots and other gear. While there are many other bags on the market today that may provide a little extra protection, you definitely cannot beat the price of the Dakine Pipe Bag. I would suggest stuffing clothing around the board just to ensure that it doesn’t endure any scratches or bumps along the way. This bag comes in a variety of cool colors and prints, which comes in handy when you are trying to find it on the baggage claim conveyer belt.
When purchasing a boot bag, the most common mistake is to purchase an inexpensive bag with poor construction that is likely to rip or wear out within a season or two. A high quality boot bag with self-repairing double-locking zippers is definitely the way to go. I have always preferred boot bags that have ample room for additional equipment including my helmet, clothes and an extra layer of clothing.
The Athalon Everything Boot Pack is a worthwhile investment that is sure to last you for years. This bag converts easily from a shoulder strap to a backpack and has 4 padded, lumbar back pads for additional comfort. It is constructed of high-density water resistant polyester with two separate, side-entry zippered boot compartments. The center compartment expands an impressive amount and has ample room for your helmet, jacket or other accessories and equipment. There is also a bungee cord on the front for excess gear that you do not want to stuff inside. The boot section is vented to keep the bag from stinking up after a day on the slopes and the bottom is waterproof PBV and has drainage grommets allowing the snow or excess moisture to drip away. Overall, I have been very pleased with the durability and quality of this bag and impressed by how organized it allows me to be.
The Marker Wheeling Everything is essentially the Mercedes of boot bags. With separate side entries to store you boots, the bag as the ability to both insulate and keep your boots warm on a cold day and aerate your boots after a day on the slopes. The middle compartment has the necessary room for all your other ski gear including your helmet or jacket. If your boots happen to be wet or covered in snow when you put them in your bag, the waterproof bottom construction helps to keep the bag and the rest of your gear from getting wet. This bag is super versatile with 3 different transporting options. The back has four padded lumbar pads for comfort and carrying ease when used as a backpack, while the wheels and pull handle make it essentially effortless to trek through an airport. This bag really does remove the hassle and annoyance of lugging all of your gear. Plus, it is small enough to fit in a planes overhead compartment.
The High Sierra Pinnacle Over/Under Duffel Bag is great for traveling equipped with an upper and lower compartment allowing you to separate your wet and bulky gear from your more delicate items. Although this bag may appear on the small side, you will be surprised how much stuff it can actually fit. The easy-access ventilated u-shaped ventilated drop-bottom compartment has drainage grommets and easily fits your wet ski boots, helmet and other damp or large items. The zippered front accessory pocket is perfect for hats, gloves, goggles, tickets or clothing. For ease of carrying, High Sierra has created a neoprene padded detachable and adjustable shoulder strap, as well as neoprene padded handles.
The Transpack XT Pro Boot Bag Backpack is the winner of the competitor's choice award and a go-to pick for skiers and snowboarders alike. The bag is designed with the traditional Transpack features, plus additional space and accessories. The Isosceles Storage System has two side pockets with air and water drainage grommets designed to fit your boots, while the larger triangular cargo area in the center can fit your helmet, gloves or clothing. The fleece and mesh goggle pocket inside the top lid is a great bonus feature that helps prevent your goggles from getting scratched or beat up. There are smaller zippered pockets located on both the inside and outside of the bag that provide ample room for your valuables, wallet and other small accessories, With an adjustable belt and sternum strap, a contoured yoke with neoprene comfort shoulder straps and a foam padded mesh back, this bag is extremely easy and comfortable to carry.