One thing scares me about flying, and that is flying with expensive gear checked as luggage. Besides the prospect of a big trip getting hijacked by lost luggage, there’s the fear of gear being damaged. And while a good duffle usually protects gear very effectively (especially if packed with soft goods padding hard goods), skis have always seemed highly vulnerable to the machinations of airport luggage handlers—particularly in the flimsy, soft ski bags that have dominated that gear category for years. Now I worry no more, since I picked up the Douchebag Snow Roller, an adjustable, reinforced ski bag that’s like a flak jacket for your boards.
I used the Douchebag ski bag as well as the Douchebags Hugger 30L, a carry-on that piggybacks on the Douchebag, while flying for a recent trip to backcountry ski in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. Besides offering far better protection of my gear than any ski bag I’ve ever seen, the Douchebag has several unique qualities. For starters, it easily adjusts to fit any length of skis or snowboard up to 200cm/82.7 inches. Adjusting the length is very intuitive: Roll up the end of the bag until you’re up against the end of your skis; then simply remove the handle from the bottom end of the bag and attach its non-adjustable buckles to the connection rails (burly daisy chains) on the bottom side of the bag, and the adjustable buckles to the rails on the top side of the bag. Then pull the handle straps to snug them tight.
Once rolled tightly, the bag is rigid (unlike other ski bags), with only the wheels, and no fabric, touching the floor when you lift the bag’s top end to wheel it. The wheels roll smoothly, so transporting this long ski bag across an airport is a breeze. It also rolls up to the size of a stuffed, large-ish sleeping bag for easy storage.
A lightweight but strong ABS rib cage and 900-denier polyester fabric protect skis and other gear inside. Here’s another unique quality of the Douchebag: Its voluminous capacity. Measuring 38cm/15 inches wide and 18.5cm/7.3 inches deep, the Douchebag has up to 150 liters of space for boots and other gear, along with your boards. It’s actually larger than many gear duffles—you may need only this and a carry-on to fly to your next ski trip, which can save you money on airline luggage fees. Use nothing but the Douchebag on five round-trip flights (rather than another ski bag and a second checked piece of luggage), and this ski bag may pay for itself.
The Douchebags Hugger 30L may be your ideal carry-on to pair with the Douchebag. With 30 liters of volume, it has a deep, rectangular main compartment that swallowed a jacket and vest, water bottle, tablet, book, and my DSLR and its carrying case, with abundant space to spare. A side zipper accesses a sleeve that holds even a large laptop computer, and protects it behind the back pad.
The separate, zippered top pocket is small, but roomy enough for wallet, phone, and other personal items. A tough, 600-denier polyester shell and 200-denier inner lining, plus a protective ABS rib cage and a polyethylene back plate, protect contents from anything you could conceivably do to the bag while traveling through airports. It has adjustable, lightly padded shoulder straps for carrying backpack-style, or attaches to the top of the Douchebag ski bag for transport. While there’s no waist belt, the back padding helps it comfortably carry 10-12 pounds while walking between terminals.
Oh, about that name. Awkward, certainly. Apparently, the company held an online contest to come up with a name; and when that name got the most support, they decided to embrace non-conformism.
Flying with my skis has become a much less stressful experience. Now I can just focus on skiing.
Tell me what you think.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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