The 10 Best Ski Bags
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in September of 2015. The only unfortunate thing about heading off to the slopes in winter is having to lug all that bulky equipment around. But with one of these quality ski bags, you'll be able to travel a little more comfortably and, in some cases, even stylishly, all while protecting your precious gear along the way. We've included compact options as well as larger models capable of holding more than one pair. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 19, 2020:
We removed a few items from the rankings, including the The North Face Base Camp Snow Roller from the Special Honors section, which was no longer available. Numerous reports of poor durability led us to eliminate the Brubaker Carver Pro 2.0; it routinely ends up with holes due to fabric tears and insufficient padding.
We highlighted the vibrant lime green color of the Transpack Hard Case Jet, which makes it easy to identify in baggage claim. We also pointed out that the Thule RoundTrip Roller comes with a padded divider to keep the contents separated and organized. It also features lockable zippers (actual lock sold separately), which come in handy for preventing theft in public places.
Three new items have been added to the list. The AmazonBasics ZH1707003 is a basic, no-frills bag that doesn’t cost much. You won’t find a wealth of roomy pockets or padded carrying straps, but it should transport your skis just fine. Both the Athletico Deluxe and Element Equipment Ultimate are double bags that can hold two sets of skis, plus some poles and additional gear. The Athletico model even has special wet/dry compartments to separate damp clothes from the rest of your stuff. On the Element Equipment bag, you’ll find six handles on four sides, allowing you to carry it or roll it in whatever manner you find most comfortable.
November 18, 2019:
For ski trips both far and near, we've kept a range of options that can handle the demands of air, rail, and car travel. When it comes to flying, it's tough to beat hard-shell options, including the Sportube Series 2 and the Transpack Hard Case Jet. Both accept TSA-approved locks, but the Sportube model's closure pin is perhaps the trickier to use of the two. You can expect quality materials and construction from both, though, which is crucial considering that neither is particularly cheap. The Transpack model can also double as a snowboard bag.
If you'd rather have a soft-sided model, the Dakine Fall Line Double is a good choice to consider. It is rugged, has plenty of thoughtful features, and even comes in a wide range of colors. Its competition includes the Kulkea Kantaja and the Salomon Extend 1P 165 Plus 20. They're well made and highly usable but offer fewer color options. Finally, if the budget is tight, you can look to the High Sierra Deluxe, Grayne Travel Ready, or Athalon Single Padded. They aren't as feature-rich, but they aren't as much of an investment.
The Douchebag The first thing most people notice about The Douchebag is its name, but there's much more to see here. This bag boasts a patented "Rib Cage" construction that protects the contents in much the same way your ribs keep your organs secure. It remains portable and convenient, though, especially since it can be folded for storage. douchebags.com
Backcountry Double With enough width to carry two sets of skis or snowboards, the Backcountry Double is a great choice for outings with a friend. It adjusts to accommodate equipment all the way up to 200 centimeters in length and has beefy wheels to get you where you're going. backcountry.com
Park Accessories Northern Lights Available in black, blue, red or white, this upscale canvas-and-leather ski bag offers a stylish, contemporary look that a basic, utilitarian model can’t match. It’s quite functional as well, with multiple exterior pockets and a system of straps for keeping two sets of skis secure. parkaccessories.com
Getting Your Gear to the Slopes: The Ski Bag
But even the finest skis are highly susceptible to scratches that can have a marked deleterious impact on their performance.
It's no secret that a pair of skis is an investment, and that's before you even have the bindings adjusted and your boots fitted. An even smarter investment would be adding poles, and especially a well-made ski bag to your grocery list, as it will protect your gear during travel and all through the dormant seasons.
When it comes to high-end ski bags, you will find better quality of materials and hardware, extra padding, and special features to boot. Such a bag might be more than is needed for many skiers, however. The first consideration to make when selecting a ski bag is whether or not your gear will potentially be out of your immediate control at any time.
If you live within driving distance of a ski resort and you usually load your own gear into a vehicle or into the rack of a bus or train in the course of your travels, then it is likely that a lower priced ski bag with minimal padding will serve well. Skis are generally resilient pieces of equipment; they are, after all, designed to carry adults weighing hundreds of pounds down snowy, icy slopes at high speeds while enduring turns, stops, jumps, and falls.
But even the finest skis are highly susceptible to scratches that can have a marked deleterious impact on their performance. Thus the need for a ski bag that can protect the your gear from scratches or abrasions easily caused by transport. If you are loading your own gear into the car or bus, you are not going to pile other baggage on top of it, thus thick padding is probably not needed.
For the skier who regularly travels by air, a bag with more padding and protection is an absolute necessity to ensure that your skis are well-protected when out of your hands. Unfortunately, too often airport baggage handlers are careless in the execution of their duty, treating baggage precious to the passenger with no concern. Rough handling of skis can lead to damaged bindings, brakes, or mounting plates that will reduce performance and compromise safety. In extreme cases, a ski can even be cracked or gouged when handled roughly, rendering it unfit for use at all.
Investing in a ski bag with plentiful padding is the best way to ensure your skis arrive at the slopes safely. Once you know how much padding you need, consider other features like bag length, noting that some options have interior compartments with adjustable lengths. In general, you want a pack that can accommodate your skis without lots of extra room, as a snug fit will prevent them from bouncing about. Also make sure that the bag you are considering is suitable weather- and water-resistant, able to protect gear from exposure to rain, snow, and moisture when the bag is sitting on the tarmac, strapped to the roof of a car, or perched outside your lodge.
Accessories For Proper Ski Care
Once you own a good pair of skis, ski boots that fit you well, ski poles of the right height, and a bag that can keep your gear safe when it's not strapped to your feet, there are only a few more accessories that the thoughtful skier should own before her kit will be complete. (This leaves aside snow pants, goggles, a helmet, gloves, a parka, thermals, a face mask, and a few other choice items, of course.)
A ski wax iron is also a great idea for the devoted winter sports enthusiast.
A ski tuning kit is a must-have set for the serious skier who does not want to have to bring her gear into the chalet shop every time a binding comes loose or an edge needs re-honing. These kits will usually pay for themselves in terms of savings within the first few uses, and they will help a skier to better get to know her equipment. Look for a tuning kit that includes an edge tool, a scraping brush, and scuff pads.
A ski wax iron is also a great idea for the devoted winter sports enthusiast. These compact and efficient irons are purpose-built to help apply wax to skis and snowboards. A fine, evenly-applied layer of wax helps your board or ski slide smoothly across the snow, protects the surface from scratches and abrasions, and offers you maximum control and responsiveness.
Other Uses for That Ski Bag
Unless you live in near the Arctic Circle or at an elevation high enough to be glaciated or see snowfall in the summer (or you are a global traveller who can chase the snow all the year round), you will likely have little use for a ski bag for most months out of the year. While of course a ski bag is an ideal storage solution for a set of skis in the off-season, so too can your gear be wrapped in an old blanket while tucked away in the garage or attic. That will free up your ski bag to be used for a number of other clever purposes.
Most ski bags can easily accommodate a range of other outdoor gear, with a fishing pole often being an ideal fit.
Most ski bags can easily accommodate a range of other outdoor gear, with a fishing pole often being an ideal fit. Some poles may need to be partial deconstructed, but the long, tubular shape of the bag and the length of a fishing pole go hand in hand, as does the waterproof (or at least water-resistant) exterior of most such bags suit the proximity to water necessitated by fishing. These bags are especially useful when in their element, as it were, used to protect the gear of the ice fisherman.
Ski bags also make exceptional storage solutions for the often expensive and fragile gear associated with photography and with film and video production. A long, padded bag is perfect for transporting tripods, monopods, boom microphone gear, and even for moving or storing certain types of lights. A wheeled ski bag in particular can make it easier to move such gear to and from a location and about on a set.