I like skiing as much as the next guy, but I admit that the logistics involved are ridiculous from start to finish. Jamming your feet into stiff boots and scouring the lot for a parking space at the resort are just the cost of a day on the slopes, and the nightmare only intensifies when dragging your gear across the country on an airplane. Packing everything up and lugging it through airports is a predicament I’m fortunate enough to find myself in often, and this winter, the Thule RoundTrip ski roller bag ($300 for the 192-centimeter length, $280 for the 175-centimeter length) has made traveling to shred powder much less of a pain in the ass.
Before this season, I’d been using a standard Dakine padded bag ($99), but it only had room for one set of poles and skis, plus a few layers of clothes wrapped around the skis. I liked it fine but needed something large enough for two pairs of planks when my wife decided to join me on a couple excursions. The RoundTrip caught my eye because of the wheels and the promise of more storage. So far it has delivered on spaciousness while still being easier to handle than my smaller bag.
The RoundTrip also satisfies all of my weird organizational needs. It holds two sets of skis and poles, as well as a couple of brilliant stuffsacks that you can pack with clothes before sliding them over the skis to fill up unused volume at either end of the bag. I put my street clothes in one bag and my ski layers in the other. There’s 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 shifting inside the bag, and a dedicated sleeve keeps your poles separated. Two exterior compression straps buckle down to create a nice, tight package. 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 so well that the RoundTrip has become the only bag I use when I’m flying somewhere to ski. On a recent trip with my wife, I fit our skis, poles, and all of my clothing in this bag. Its padded exterior, with reinforced panels, compression straps, and extra rigidity from the stuffsacks, made me feel supremely confident that my gear would be safe, even as I watched baggage handlers sling it around.
A plastic pad to keep your skis separated is included, but I found it unnecessary; if the bag is packed fully and your skis are strapped down properly, there shouldn’t be any ski-on-ski rubbing.
I was suspicious about the S-curve zipper, which seemed like a design quirk at first, but it does help the bag keep its tubelike shape. In my old straight-zippered bag, my stuff always slid to the bottom when I carried it. 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 holding back the RoundTrip from being an ideal bag is its lack of a shoulder strap. Yes, it’s designed to be rolled, but occasionally I wanted to sling the thing over my shoulder to navigate crowded airports. The grab handles are useful, but their placement means you have to carry the bag like a suitcase, which can be cumbersome when it’s loaded. However, it’s a minor gripe for a bag that makes traveling with skis less sucky.