By Steve Kopitz
Traveling to a new or favorite ski and snowboard destination? The correct ski or snowboard bag is a must for skiers and snowboarders trying to get their precious ski equipment to their skiing or snowboarding destinations in good condition. Air travel can be especially troublesome without the proper ski, snowboard, and gear bags.
Types of Ski and Snowboard Bags
As simply as possible there are five types of ‘bags’ for carrying skis and snowboards.
• Wheeled Ski Bags – Wheeled Ski Bags are typically padded to protect your skis and feature wheels on one end to make them easier to travel with. They are typically larger to carry two or three pairs of skis and ski poles.
• Non-Wheeled Ski Bags – Non-Wheeled Ski Bags may be available in padded and non-padded versions. Model names are typically followed by ‘single’ or ‘double’ denoting how many pairs of skis the bag can carry.
• Wheeled Snowboard Bags – Wheeled Snowboard Bags are also typically padded to protect your snowboard. There are wheels on one end to make travel easier. Wheeled Snowboard bags are sometimes available in single or double versions.
• Non-Wheeled Snowboard Bags – Much like Non-Wheeled Ski Bags, Non-Wheeled Snowboard Bags are available in padded and non-padded versions. While most Non-Wheeled Snowboard Bags only carry one snowboard with bindings easily there are a few Non-Wheeled Double Snowboard Bags on the market.
• Travel Cases – Hard plastic Travel Cases are available for both skis and snowboards, as well as carrying multiple pairs of skis or snowboards. These plastic Travel Cases do the best job protecting your equipment and are best used for air travel.
Fabrics for Ski and Snowboard Bags:
When shopping for a Ski or Snowboard Bag it is important to read the product description and look for the key phrase durable. Many of the bags are made from Polyester fabric which has a numerical rating for thread count. The higher the number the more durable the fabric, try for 600D. Some companies use other synthetic fabric which do not provide numerical ratings thread count. Most straps are made from high quality nylon. These types of fabrics are resistant to ripping and tearing, so your new ski or snowboard bag will continue to look nice for many trips to come.
Padding is important for skiers and snowboarders who are concerned about keeping their gear protected during travel, especially on air planes. If you are just looking for a bag to transport your gear from the parking lot to the local hill a non-padded bag will be fine.
The higher quality bags have lined interior compartments. The fabric used inside the bag is a water resistant material similar to a tarp. This feature is really handy as it allows you to easily wipe out the inside of the bag if your gear gets put away snowy. This also keeps your bag from absorbing moisture which can cause the bag to mold or mildew.
Features of Ski and Snowboard Bags:
Interior Gear Straps: Interior Gear Straps are really nice when carrying multiple pairs of skis or snowboards. The interior nylon straps allow you to secure your gear inside the bag to prevent your gear from shifting during transport.
Exterior Compression Straps: Exterior Compression Straps are typically nylon straps with run around each end of the bag to help keep equipment secured in the bag. For ski bags which are too long for the pair of skis inside, the fabric can often times be folded and tucked under the exterior compression straps to shorten the ski bag.
Padded Straps: Padded straps are a great feature, especially on double ski and snowboard bags. Even wheeled bags may need to be picked up and slung over your shoulder to get across the snow or up stairs.
Pockets: Many of the larger ski and snowboard bags have plenty of pockets for storing gear. These pockets are a great place to store waxing kits, gloves, goggles, etc. Additionally when flying with your skis or snowboards, it is best to fill your ski or snowboard bag with additional gear to maximize travel space.
Large Wheels: It might sound crazy but some of the best wheeled ski and snowboard bags actually use Inline Skate Wheels to give consumers the best roll. Other top quality bags use other styles of large sized sometimes “heavy tread” wheels to help with traveling in snowy parking lots.
Differences between Ski and Snowboard Bags:
Ski and snowboard bags use many of the same materials and have very similar features. The major difference between ski bags and snowboard bags is the dimensions. Ski bags are typically rather long. Most models are at least 185cm long with some even being over 200cm in length to accommodate long skis and still leave room for some extra gear in the ski bag. Snowboard bags are much shorter typically about 165cm and wider to accommodate the additional width of a snowboard. While some of the larger ski and snowboard bags have gear pockets, typically only snowboard bags have large enough pockets for the snowboard boots to fit into.
Can I use a Snowboard Bag for my short skis?
I don’t see why not, however, it could be a little cumbersome to carry skis in a snowboard bag. Snowboard bags are typically about 3 times the width of a ski bag. If you have shorter skis we recommend you looking for a shorter length ski bag. There are models available in lengths as short as 150cm long to accommodate women’s and children’s skis.
Can I use a Ski Bag for my snowboard?
Snowboards will not fit in a single ski bag, as they are much wider than a single pair of skis. Some double ski bags might work for snowboards however they will typically be much longer than necessary making them more difficult to carry.
To wheel or not to wheel?
The decision to buy a Wheeled or Non-Wheeled Ski Bag can be a tough one. If you are going to be flying to your resort destinations it is important to consider weight, so you won’t get nailed with overweight bag fees at the airport.
Wheeled Bags are more convenient in many applications. These are ideal ski bags for traveling at airports since you will need to carry (or in this case, roll) your luggage for long periods of time. The Wheeled end of the bag is typically reinforced with plastic to keep the bag from being damaged while being wheeled about. This extra material on Wheeled Ski and Snowboard Bags tends to offer better protection for your gear, but they are typically much heavier than a Non-Wheeled Ski or Snowboard Bag. Depending on how heavy your skis or snowboards are you might not be able to keep the weight of a fully packed wheeled multi-ski or snowboard bag under the airlines weight limits.
If you have rather long skis or snowboards, fat powder skis or race skis which are heavier you might need to stick to a Non-Wheeled Bag. You can always pay the 50 cents to get a cart at the airport, if you are worried about breaking your back before you hit the slopes.
It is important to know what you need from your ski or snowboard bag to ensure you buy the most appropriate one for you specific needs.