Roller Ski Bags – the only way to travel
A minimalist at heart, I have travelled for many years with the most basic of ski bags for air travel; a single zip bag with shoulder strap. I’ve looked on with envy at those with roller ski bags as they effortlessly negotiate the airport and car rental counters but have have never bought in, until recently, and I’ll never look back.
Last winter, facing ever stricter airline baggage regulations, I began to see the advantage of a ski bag that could accommodate more gear than my minimalist system. By upsizing the ski bag, I reduced the rest of my bags and got an easy-to-manage roller ski bag in the process. There are a variety of ski bags on the market and, in my opinion, if you are going to a double bag, wheeled is the only way to go. It can even double as the wheeled trolley for your other gear.
There’s no question that it’s easy to max out the weight of a big double ski bag if you’re not careful but, with some packing limits and a good carry-on bag, you can do it. I’ve even been able to run the ski bag as my only piece of checked baggage in some situations.
Here’s a couple of great roller ski bags that I’ve field tested.
The Dakine Concourse is more than a ski bag; it’s a rolling locker room for ski gear. This thing offers all the space and padding you could want for a couple pairs of skis and then some. But the best part of the Dakine Concourse is the extra compartments. The bag is outfitted with three additional storage zones and they are perfect for packing backcountry gear like your shovel, probe, ice axe, skins and such. One compartment is accessible from the outside (or inside) and two are accessible only from the inside. The compartments are designed to accommodate your boots, but I prefer to carry my boots on the plane, so in the worst-case-lost-luggage scenario at least I have my boots.
Given all its space and organization, the Concourse is literally a locker from which you can live while on a ski trip, keeping all your gear where you can easily lay your hands on it. The wheels have been bomber and the bag is well padded with just enough structure to keep its shape.
Of course, with all the space in this bag comes the burden filling it to the tune of too much weight. The bag alone weighs in at 1o pounds on our scale (2 lb less than listed by Dakine), so it’s pretty easy to surpass the 50-pound mark once packed, especially if you are packing heavier alpine ski set-ups. I’ve had good luck running two pairs of lighter backcountry skis plus all of my associated gear and staying well under the 50 pound mark. With a single pair of skis, this bag has enough space for all my stuff, provided I carry-on my boots. This approach saves on baggage fees.
The Dakine Concourse roller ski bag is hard to beat for gear junkies traveling by air. Just be ready to control the urge to throw more than you really need into it.
There are a few small details on the Dakine worth noting: great handles on either end for hauling and lifting, nice wide cinch straps for battening down the hatches, plus a spot to secure your ski poles separate from the skis. This is one deluxe traveling companion.
The Thule Round Trip Double roller ski bag is a little smaller than the Dakine, but no less burly. I’ve used several of the Thule luggage products over the years and they are built to last; this roller ski bag is too. There’s plenty of space to pack two pairs of skis, and it’s got all the right straps to secure them in place for a safe journey.
The big difference from the Dakine Concourse is the Thule has less built-in space for additional gear. That said, it still has enough space to hold your backcountry safety gear and then some, just not all of it in dedicated compartments. There is also a nice large mesh pocket inside the bag with space for skins, a shovel and a probe. If you hope to pack more gear into the this roller bag, it needs to go in the main body. I’ve easily packed in my outerwear, gloves and misc ski touring gear. In fact, you can probably fit your boots in it if you only load a single pair of skis, but everything needs to be layered in the bag with your skis.
As with any large ski bag, it’s still easy to stuff too much in the Thule Round Trip Double Ski bag and risk having overweight baggage. Again, prudent packing and the old trick of carrying your boots on board the plane will help reduce the weight issue. The Thule bag weighs in at about eight pounds, so its a little lighter than the Dakine, which means that’s a couple more pounds of gear you can cram in the Thule.
The wheels are bomber and the bag has plenty of padding to protect your gear from the baggage handlers. It’s a solid option for a double roller ski bag that’s not over-the-top big.