I like to ski as much as the others, but I admit that the logistics are ridiculous from start to finish. Getting your feet stuck in stiff boots and scrambling around the terrain to find a parking spot at the resort is just the price of a day on the slopes, and the nightmare only intensifies as you drag your gear through the country on a plane. Packing it all up and carrying it through airports is a difficult situation I’m lucky enough to find myself in often, and this winter the Thule RoundTrip Rolling Bag ($300 for the 192-centimeter length, $280 for the 175 centimeters) made trips to shred powder much less of a hassle.
Prior to this season, I used a standard Dakine padded bag ($99), but there was only room for a set of poles and skis, plus a few layers of clothing wrapped around the skis. I liked it, but needed something big enough for two pairs of boards when my wife decided to join me for a few excursions. The RoundTrip caught my eye because of the wheels and the promise of more storage. So far it’s been spacious while being easier to handle than my small bag.
The RoundTrip also satisfies all my weird organizational needs. It contains two sets of skis and poles, plus a few shiny stuff sacks that you can pack with clothes before slipping them over the skis to fill up the unused volume at either end of the bag. I put my street clothes in one bag and my ski layers in the other. There is also an interior zipper to keep your gloves, hats and gaiters in one place. Interior straps wrap around each pair of skis to keep them from moving around inside the bag, and a dedicated pocket keeps your poles separate. Two exterior compression straps buckle to create a nice, tight fit. And, as mentioned, the RoundTrip has wheels, so you can drag it through the airport like a roller bag.
There’s so much room and it packs away so well that the RoundTrip has become the only bag I use when I fly to ski. On a recent trip with my wife, I stowed our skis, poles, and all my clothes in this bag. Its padded exterior, with reinforced panels, compression straps and extra stiffness from the stuff sacks, made me feel extremely confident that my gear would be secure, even when I watched baggage handlers carrying it.
A plastic pad to keep your skis separated is included, but I found it unnecessary; if the bag is full and your skis are properly strapped on, there should be no ski-on-ski rubbing.
I was wary of the S-zipper, which seemed like a design quirk at first, but it helps the bag maintain its tubular shape. In my old straight zipper bag, my things always slipped down when I carried them. With the RoundTrip, everything from the zipper to the padding is designed to maintain its structure and keep my gear in place.
The only thing stopping the RoundTrip from being an ideal bag is its lack of a shoulder strap. Yes, it’s designed to be rolled up, but sometimes I wanted to sling it over my shoulder to navigate crowded airports. Grab handles are useful, but their placement forces the bag to be carried like a suitcase, which can be cumbersome when loaded. However, that’s a minor gripe for a bag that makes traveling with skis less of a suck.