By the time you've finished rounding up all of the things that you'll need for your next ski vacation, it dawns on you that you have a lot of gear. Somehow you're going to have to get it from your bedroom to the mountain. Cheer up. There are lots of great gear bags to choose from - bags that make toting your things as easy as cruising down a green run.
When it comes to buying gear bags, there are three general categories of bags: ski bags, boot bags and travel bags. Some even perform double duty. Most airlines require that you transport your skis in durable containers that will protect them during transit in the baggage compartment. To make sure that your skis get to the mountain in one piece, choose a bag that's made from durable material, like heavy duty canvas. The ends and the bottoms of the bags should be reinforced with a special tarp material that stands up to the abuse of sharp metal edges and bindings. Most ski bags are available in 1 or 2-pair designs.
There are a number of enhancements in ski bags that make it easier to load and drag them through the airport. First, be sure that the bag has a full length zipper so it's easy to get your skis in and out. Look for bags that have "cinch" or "compression " straps at both ends of the bag - maybe even one in the middle. Cinch straps hold your skis securely inside the bag and keep them from jostling around.
Next, check out the straps. While all ski bags come with the standard carrying handles, a number of models like the Dakine Concourse single ski bag also have a detachable shoulder strap that comes in handy when carrying your skis over long distances. Models like the High Sierra Pro double ski bag come with small, exterior zippered pockets that are good places to store ski wax and other small items that are likely to get lost in your luggage.
Take a look at the SporTube hard shell ski carriers, for the best in protection,. The SporTube Series 1 Hardshell Single Ski Case offers all of the benefits of traditional soft shell carriers and with the added benefits of ergonomic handles, locks and even wheels.
Boot bags are designed to safely transport your ski boots, but often double up on duty to provide more space for gear. Almost all major ski and outdoor gear manufacturers make good quality boot bags. Some of the best are made by Atomic, Dakine, Head, Fischer, Lange and High Sierra. Like good quality ski bags, boot bags should be made from durable canvas with bottoms and sides that use tarp to keep your boots from wearing through the bag. All boot bags feature carrying handles, but look for models that have shoulder straps, "backpack" type straps, several exterior pockets and easy access to the center section of the bag.
The Atomic Beta Heated Boot Bag even has an internal heating system that lets you plug the bag into any standard outlet in your hotel room or the 12 volt receptacle in your car, so you can warm your ski boots before putting them on. For the budget-conscious skier, Transpack bundles a single ski bag with a boot bag for only $49.99.
Finally, check out the wide variety of ski travel bags. Unlike other types of luggage, ski travel bags are designed to transport not only your ski gear, but also clothes and accessories you'll need for a night on the town. Prices vary depending on capacity and features. The Atomic Beta Double Tank bag features a telescoping handle, large main compartment, a special ski boot compartment, four external zippers and two shoulder straps - all for around $100.
Young girls will like the Dakine Girls Split Convertible Bag in fashionable plaids and retractable handle. It even splits into two, separate bags. The Technica Jumbo Travel Cargo Bag can carry huge amounts of gear and features a "split level clamshell design" that allows easy access from top to bottom for all of your gear.
When you're packing for your next ski trip, don't be tempted to leave important gear at home to conserve on space. Try one of the great looking and functional ski bags to haul your things to the mountain.