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Load Warriors

Outfitter
By Bevin Wallace
posted: 06/16/2005

If you're straying beyond your home hill, you need travel gear that lets you tote your ski stuff without a struggle. We gathered some of the best luggage we could find, crammed it until the zippers groaned, flew it to Europe, and dragged it across tarmacs, train stations, airports, and snowy parking lots. Then we grouped the seven surviving pieces into three categories: Mega Rollers, which are capable of carrying a monthlong ski vacation's worth of gear and clothes; Hybrid Packs, which convert from pack to duffel and include removable daypacks; and Ski and Board Bags, to protect your planks (and some clothes) during transit. All seven will ensure that equipment abuse happens where it should: on the slopes.

Mega Rollers

Patagonia Freightliner Max$325; patagonia.com
Dakine's Split Convertible may be bigger, but there's still ample space for puffies and Sorels in the 4,590-cubic-inch Freightliner. A zippered top pocket separates your essential smaller items—like books and toiletry kits—from getting swallowed up in the main compartment. An internal combination mesh pocket/compression panel keeps your stuff densely packed, while a molded-foam bottom protects everything, enables the bag to stand up when you're checking in, and should last through thousands of frequent flyer miles.

gripes: At this price, it should check itself. And we'd like a compartment for boots.

props: The high-end inline skate wheels won't wobble or break like cheaper rollers do.

Dakine Split Convertible$150; dakine.com
This bombproof, 7,300-cubic-inch trunk-on-wheels unzips into two suitcase-like bags. If you're over the airline's per-bag weight limit, simply divide the bag in two to avoid fees. The tarp-lined top bag is tough enough for muddy shoes, ski boots, shovels, crampons, or ice axes. Need more room? Dakine's 60/40 Convertible ($190) has even more hauling capacity (9,700 cubic inches) and the same split design.

gripes: Accessing stuff in the bottom compartment in cramped quarters may require contortionism.

props: External compression straps are easy to cinch—and will keep the halves together in the event of a zipper blowout.

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