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Beasts of Burden

Nov. 5, 2001 (SKI)--Dismiss the Zen philosophy that the joy of a journey is found in each step: You want to arrive at your ski destination quickly, efficiently and without tweaking your back. Here's a start. Padded shoulder straps, ergonomically designed day packs and wheels, wheels, wheels will get you rolling. A successful ski trip? The first step is packing smart. A-Atomic
Boot Bag
The Boot Bag ($35) is your one indispensable piece of ski luggage. Your ski boots go in the middle; gloves, goggles, a hat and a few energy bars go in the two zipped side pockets. Whether you're skiing Mad River Glen on weekends or Jackson Hole for the winter, the bag stays packed by your front door all season. 800-258-5020; www.atomicski.com

B-Swiss Army
E-motion
This Swiss Army looker ($325) is the gold standard for wheeled bags. The rounded pack forms comfortably to your back. Its telescoping curved handle comes with a swivel grip, and a detachable front compartment makes a perfect carry-on. 888-658-0717; www.swissarmy.com

C-High Sierra
U.S. Ski Team Duffel
If you need to transport a ridiculous amount of gear, this giant, wheeled duffel ($199) is your ticket. The zipped drop-bottom stores two pairs of ski boots, and the main compartment stows more stuff than you should ever bring on a ski trip, outside the World Cup circuit. One oversight: no internal pocket for valuables. 800-323-9590; www.hssc.com

D-Deuter
Quasar
At 2.4 pounds, the Quasar ($95) is small enough not to be a lift-ride buster but plenty big for day trips. A hidden rain shell covers the pack when weather moves in. The "aircomfort system" acts like a mini-trampoline to keep the pack off your back. If you only own one day pack, this is a wise pick. 303-652-3102; www.deuterusa.com

E-Boblbee
Megalopolis Sport Pack
This flashy ABS-plastic hard-shell backpack ($159-$300, depending on accessories) offers a waterproof haven for valuables, such as photography equipment or a bottle of 1989 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Surprisingly comfy, the lower portion of the hardpack supports your back and easily carries skis and other gear. 773-830-7225; www.boblbee.com

F-Rossignol
DLX Duplex
If you ski and you don't own a wheeled cargo bag, you must have a servant. The DLX's ($125) zipped boot-hold keeps ski boots separate, and the top compartment is the right size for a single skier. An external pocket for traveling papers, however, would be a savvy addition. But from concourse to car to condo, this classic makes ski-tripping a snnap. 800-457-6771; www.rossignol.com

G-High Sierra
A.T. Wheeled Double Ski Bag
Lugging two pairs of skis is hard work. This wheeled double bag ($135) gives you a fighting chance. Internal tie-downs and a padded divider prevent ski-bang. An external shock cord takes your coat off your hands, while a cinch-down stops the top from flopping. A rubber pull-handle works well, but a long shoulder strap would help. 800-323-9590; www.hssc.com

H-Hydrapak
50-50
Don't be fooled by the 50-50's ($55) streamlined look: This baby's loaded. An insulated hose thwarts ice buildup, while a wide-mouth reservoir opening makes for easy cleaning. A locking spout system prevents leakage-if you remember to lock it. 800-776-5677

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