How to Choose the Best Hard and Soft Ski Bags for Travel

There is nothing quite like hitting those powdery slopes on a clear, crisp day. Of course, first you have to actually haul your skis up the mountain and many times, even travel with them. This is why having the right ski bag on hand can come in handy. They will help to keep your skis protected and make it easier to move around with your oddly shaped skis.

Now, buying ski bags isn’t really like choosing other backpacks. You first need to understand all of the key features of a ski bag to figure out which one is actually the best choice for you. We make it easy by providing you with all of the information that you need.

Tips for Picking the Best Ski Bag

When you are skiing down the slopes, your skis are absolutely perfect. Their immaculate design makes them the best for speed and maneuverability. When you actually have to carry these pieces of equipment around, though, it is an entirely different story. It is only then you realize just how cumbersome skis can actually be.

As long as you have a good ski bag, though, you will not have much to worry about as carrying the skis around will be an absolute breeze. So, as you can see, it will pay off to make a bit of an effort when choosing these bags. Here are some guidelines that can help you out:

Types of Ski Bags

There are actually several types of ski bags that you can choose from, depending on your requirements:

  • Ski Sleeves: These are lightweight bags made from thinner material. They offer minimal protection but are great if you want to minimize the weight that you want to carry. Ski sleeves are often used by people who have to travel short distances (often by vehicle) to get to the mountains.
  • Single/Dual Ski Bags: The single ski bags are ones that have just enough space for one pair of skis. The dual ski bag, on the other hand, can carry up to two pairs of skis in it.
  • Wheeled Ski Bags: As the name suggests, a wheeled ski bag is one that has wheels attached to the bottom of it. This type of ski bag makes it a lot easier for you to move your skis around, especially if you are traveling through airports.
  • Travel Cases: These ski bags are made from harder materials, often plastic so that they are better able to protect your skis.

If you are going cross country skiing, you are going to need a bag that is suitable for those type of skis. So, keep an eye out for a cross country ski bag which looks like a typical ski sleeve but is usually a bit narrower.

Single vs. Dual Ski Bags

Now, if you only ever go skiing by yourself, it would stand to reason that a single ski bag is all that you will ever need. On the other hand, there are many skiers who prefer a dual ski bag solely because of all of the extra room that it affords them. They prefer to pack other items with the space that is left over.

The best thing for you to do, however, is to only choose the bag that you really need. This means that if you ski alone, you should stick with a single ski bag. So, why should you do this instead of opting for additional space? Well, the whole point of ski bags is to keep the skis secure inside. If you try to store just one pair of skis in a double bag and then try to stuff things in there, you may be compromising the safety of your skis.

Soft Cases vs. Travel Cases

Most ski bags are of the soft variety which means that they are made from some sort of fabric. The travel cases are made from stronger materials that aren’t as flexible. When it comes to down to the matter of which one you choose, it is often related to your mode of transportation.

The benefit of travel cases is that there are incredibly durable. As such, there are able to create a protective barrier around your skis and ensure that they are not damaged or scratches in anyway. This is why they are typically used by people who have to fly a great distance or who need to check their skis in as luggage. This increases the likelihood that the skis will come out the other side in good condition. Also, airlines will usually only reimburse you for damaged skis if they were packed in a hard case.

The argument for soft cases is that they are quite light. This makes it a lot less hassling for you to trudge up a mountain carrying this type of bag. Of course, at the same time, they don’t offer you too much of protection, should the bag make contact with another surface. The soft cases are a good choice if you are traveling with your skis by vehicle and you need cases that are a little more flexible.

Ski Bag Materials

As you can imagine, the soft cases and the hard cases are actually made from two very different types of materials. Let’s take a closer look at these:

Soft Ski Bags

The most common material for ski bags is polyester and nylon. The more budget-friendly options are usually made from polyester. If you want to get a bag made from this material, you should look for those that have a denier count of around 600D and over. This will prove to be of a higher quality and have a greater durability.

The more premium ski bags are usually made from nylon. Even here, though there can be variation between the materials. Some bags are made of ballistic grade nylon which is quite strong and is also easy to clean. There are other ski bags still, that are made from rip-stop nylon. These are quite resistant to abrasions and limit the amount of tearing that can occur.

The better quality ski bags will usually have an interior that is made from a water-resistant or waterproof lining. This will prevent the moisture from seeping in and getting into the skis.

Hard Travel Cases

The hard travel cases are most often constructed from polyethylene material. This is because it strikes the right balance between durable and lightweight. It is also resistant to impact which means that it can withstand a bit of rough handling. Cases made from this material are also protected against very cold temperatures.

Snowboard Bags

There are also bags that are specifically designed for snowboards. Due to this, they tend to be shorter and wider than the typical ski bags. These bags also have more exterior pockets. They, however, are often made from the same materials as the ski bags.

Many people wonder if a snowboard bag can be used to carry skis. Now, because of the clear differences between the dimensions of the bags, you can’t transport regular skis in a snowboard bag. This is possible for smaller skis, however. Still, it isn’t really worth it as these bags can be quite cumbersome due to the extra width and space inside.

Padding for Ski Bags

There are a few things to consider when deciding just how much padding you need in your ski bags. You have to think about your mode of transportation is, your main concerns, and just how weight you are willing to shoulder.

If you are traveling by plane, it would make sense to get a well-padded ski bag, particularly if you are opting for a safe case. This will help to prevent the skis from being damaged. If you will not be driving or walking all that far, however, you may not actually need so much padding. This is especially true if you will be covering most of the journey on foot. Here, you are going to need a more lightweight ski bag and extra padding is only going to make the bag heavier.

Additional Features

There are several features that can take a basic ski bag and make it a lot better and easier for you to use. Now, you may not need all or any of these features but you should be aware of them:

Exterior Pockets

Ski bags that are a bit larger will tend to have pockets on the outside. This is so that you can store small pieces of equipment or gear. There are some snowboard bags that actually have pockets for snow boots. While this may work for skiers who don’t have to travel too far, flyers should look for ski bags that are as lightweight and compact as possible. It is better to get an extra ski boot bag instead.


Now, clearly, the main purpose of a ski bag is to carry around your skis. However, how you choose to do that is entirely up to you. Some people prefer to carry their bags parallel to the ground while others like to sling their bags over their shoulders. So, make certain that the straps on the ski bags are well-suited to both of these movements. It is also a good idea to look for wider straps with padding on it. This will prove to be more comfortable when you have to walk a great distance.

Gear Straps and Compression Straps

The best way to ensure that your skis remain protected is to make sure that they are fixed to one spot. This will prevent them from moving around. Having the skis secured is particularly important with dual ski bags. If this is something that you require, look for gear straps on the inside of the bag.

Compression straps perform a similar function except they are on the outside of the bag. They, too, prevent the skis from moving around. They also help to minimize how much space the skis and the bag take up.

The next time you need to choose a ski bag for yourself, you should first look at all of the details provided in this guide.

Top 10 Best Ski Bags

1 – Sportube Series 1

Sportube Series 1 Special Edition
  • Designed to protect one pair of Alpine skis and poles or two pairs of Nordic/Skate skis and poles
  • Fits all ski types and binding systems
  • Wheels improve maneuverability
  • Adjustable in Length
  • Easy Pull Handle, TSA Lock, Nik Nac Pac and Lifetime Warranty Included

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Sportube Series 1:

Reviewers like these things about the Sportube Series 1

  • Users said that Sportube has several key advantages one of that being able to fit ski pants, hat, and goggles in the case, besides skis & poles.
  • It has been reviewed that the case is telescoping, so one can leave as much free space as they like at either end for stuff.
  • This case has wheels and detachable pulling handle for easy transporting around which has been appreciated the most by the users.
  • Many of them like it for the telescopic design which makes it easy for storage and it is wide enough for skis and both sets of poles to stay in the soft bag and insert right in.
  • Reviewers said it is heavy duty and fits a lock with ease.
  • Some of the users said the tube is very adjustable.
  • They said that one of the sleeves fits into the others and there are notches on the top of the tube which can fit it as needed to the full length of your skis.
  • Users are happy as it well serves the purpose of protecting skis for airline travel.
  • Several users said that using the velcro straps to keep the skis and poles together really helps when placing the gear inside the case.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some of them mentioned that it will not fit through the trunk access hole in sedans.
  • A few said that the only negative would be the pin that was included to secure the tube for traveling was a bit on the cheap side which they will be replacing.
  • One or two of the buyers complained that there are areas that are gouged and scratched after few travels.

2 – Thule Roundtrip

Thule RoundTrip Ski Roller Bag, Black, 192cm
  • Protect your skis and outerwear and stay organized with the padded, cinch top ski sleeves
  • Minimize sagging with structural reinforcements at the top and bottom of bag
  • Comfortably transport and navigate with smooth wheels and multiple grab handles on ends, top and side of bag
  • Separate skis with removable, padded divider that also doubles as a standing pad
  • Fit two pairs of alpine skis up to 192 cm in length plus poles

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Roundtrip:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Roundtrip

  • Reviewers said that the wheels are solid.
  • Reviewers also said that it is definitely a good case for protecting the bike.
  • One great feature praised by many users is that when traveling one can break it down and slide it in a closet or under a bed.
  • Most users said that there are plenty of grab handles on the bag so no matter what you are doing you can get a secure hold on your bag.
  • Users appreciated that it is very narrow hen moving around an airport.
  • Several other users said that there is plenty of room for bicycle accessories.
  • They also said that the padded sides and wheels pockets are perfect for keeping everything in its place.
  • Some reviewers said that it has lots of straps inside to secure a bike.
  • Reviewers also said that it has a place to securely bolt front fork too.
  • Another great feature praised by most users is that the bottom of the case has metal rails to prevent the case from sagging when you are wheeling it.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that there are two inserts that you have to put on the front and back of the bag to help reinforce it, these are almost impossible to get in and out.
  • Some other user complained that relatively narrow wheelbase which sometimes allows the bag to tip over when you are wheeling it through the airport.
  • One user said that it would be better if it had wheels at both ends and they could be multi direction.

3 – Dakine Fall Line

Dakine Fall Line Double Ski Bag
  • Urethane Wheels
  • Lockable Zipper Cars
  • Padded Ski Bag

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Dakine Fall Line:

Reviewers like these things about the Dakine Fall Line

  • Most users of the pack said that the wheels are ultra smooth.
  • Reviewers mentioned that there is plenty of room for boots, helmet, and clothes.
  • Travelers said that all their gear survived the flight unharmed.
  • They also said that it fits a lot of stuff and is padded the roller wheels are nice.
  • Many travelers also mentioned that this bag is everything they need for their trip.
  • Users said that this durable and spacious case is wheeled, which makes it super easy to transport.
  • They said that this pack is good looking.
  • Many reviewers said that it holds way more than they thought.
  • Most users agreed that it’s solidly constructed.
  • Buyers said that it is the perfect bag for traveling with your skis.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that there are no internal straps to tie down the skis inside.
  • Another user complained that it gets a bit floppy through the middle.

4 – Athalon Single 314BAK

Athalon Padded Single Ski Bag, 160cm, Batik
  • Perri's Is Best Known For The Most Complete Line Of The Finest Amish Made Products Available Anywhere
  • Matching lead available
  • Top quality, Amish made in the USA
  • Available in many colors
  • X-Large is 1.25 inch wide x 31" long and fits necks that measure 20-25 inches

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Athalon Single 314BAK:

Reviewers like these things about the Athalon Single 314BAK

  • Some users thought it’s a great padding for the price and enough room to wrap snow pants and ski gear around.
  • Quality material, good padding, eye catching design are cited as some of the best features of the bag.
  • Some users thought quality of material is good and seems it will hold up for quite some time.
  • A lot of users are happy to find this bag nicely sized and padded.
  • The fact that this ski bag is padded is a huge bonus at this price point according to many users.
  • Some revieewers are surprised with how it held up for their entire trip with no visible damage to skis, poles, boots and all gear.
  • A number of users said that it’s simply built with very high quality padding, zippers and carrying handle.
  • A lot of users find the graffiti design awesome.
  • Many users noted how comfortable the straps feel on the shoulders.
  • Some users thought it looks good and is constructed of tough, durable materials.
  • Many users like the presence of zip ties on either end to cinch the bag tighter so skis don’t jostle around.
  • Cool looks and good distribution of weight load are lauded by a lot of users.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user said the only downfall on this bag is that it doesn’t have a shoulder strap.
  • Some revirwers are disapointed with how the latch simply snapped in half on first use.

5 – High Sierra Combo

High Sierra Ski Bag & Boot Bag Combo, Black/Black
  • Ski bag has a 3/4 length zipper and holds up to 200 cm skis; one end can fold to secure shorter skis.
  • Boot bag holds a single pair of ski boots up to size 13.
  • Durable water-resistant fabric. Self-repairing nylon coil zippers.
  • Ski bag has a 3/4 length zipper and holds up to 200 cm skis; one end can fold to secure shorter skis.
  • Durable water-resistant fabric.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the High Sierra Combo:

Reviewers like these things about the High Sierra Combo

  • Some users liked that it’s got an adjustable length at one end to secure shorter skis.
  • Attractive, well made and smooth zippers are cited as some of the best features of the bag.
  • Others like how the straps let them really tighten the bag down.
  • MAny reviewers thought it’s a good bag to use to store skis at home and to take to and from the trails.
  • A lot of skiers like how it fits boots comfortably, with room left over for other things, gloves, socks, etc.
  • Pretty easy to wipe inside and leave to dry as observed by some users.
  • Others noted that the carrying handle is balanced in the middle of the bag.
  • Having boots and skis in these sturdy bags makes travel so much easier as confirmed by a number of skiers.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A few users wished it had some side pouches and shoulder straps.
  • Others are disappointed that it has no padding.

6 – Grayne Deluxe

Grayne Deluxe Padded Ski Bag New Travel Ready
  • Accommodation: 1 Set of Skis and Bindings and Poles up to 183 cm The Grayne Deluxe Padded Ski Bag easily accommodates any set of skis with bindings attached up to 183 cm, and poles, making it a near 100% universal fit!
  • Exterior: Ballistic Nylon Double stitched ballistic nylon ensure the exterior of this bag is near bomb proof. Bags are subjected to heavy abuse, sharp edges of skis and more, it's important to have a material that can stand up to the abuse.
  • Padding: Full 360 Degrees Plush Padding A fully wrapped 360 degrees of ultra plush padding protects your skis and bindings from drops, whacks, slams, and more. Beat your skis up on the slopes, not in your car!
  • Warranty: 3 Years A three year warranty against manufacturer defects means this bag will stand up to season after season of abuse.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Grayne Deluxe:

Reviewers like these things about the Grayne Deluxe

  • Most users mentioned that they can hold snowboard, boots, multiple hats, gloves, and still have room for extra shoes, extra clothes, etc.
  • Users said that it is perfect for transporting all their gear for snowboarding.
  • Most reviewers mentioned that it’s heavy duty by nature and has padding throughout.
  • Reviewers also said that it has a padded shoulder strap as well.
  • Several users mentioned that it has quality zippers and additional storage pockets for other things you want to throw in the bag.
  • Most buyers said that it served its purpose quite well and was fairly inexpensive.
  • Users also said that it feels sturdy and has lots of room.
  • Some reviewers mentioned that it is well padded on all sides.
  • They also said that this bag is very durable and seems to be of good quality.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that after a single trip the seams around the handles are starting to wear.
  • One user complained that it lacks some straps to compress and secure the gear inside.

7 – Swix Nordic

Swix Ski Gear Nordic Ski Bag, Black, Single
  • Basic ski pair bag designed for Nordic cross country skis
  • Black nylon fits skis up to 215cm
  • Keeps skis clean
  • The perfect bag for the activities you do
  • Based in Lillehammer Norway Swix is a worldwide leader in ski and snowboard product innovation and quality

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Swix Nordic:

Reviewers like these things about the Swix Nordic

  • One user thought it was a great bag for the price as he was able to jam 8 pairs of skis + a pole tube into it for a flight.
  • A fishing enthusiast said it’s one of the longest bags he’s found to fit his longest fishing pole perfectly.
  • A reviewer who’ve used it to store his fishing poles was pleased that he was able to put 6 rod and reels in the bag.
  • Some users thought it’s durable and good for downhill skis.
  • Reviewers agreed it works great and priced reasonably.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that his 3 pin bindings barely fit in the bag.
  • Some reviewers said they were expecting a snug fit but it came out too big.

8 – Dakine Boundary

Dakine Unisex Boundary Ski Roller Bag, Field Camo, 185 cm
  • Holds 2pr skis and 1pr boots, poles and outerwear
  • 360 padded ski protection
  • End handle pairs with rolling luggage for one-handed operation
  • Removable boot bag
  • Removable outerwear bag

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Dakine Boundary:

Reviewers like these things about the Dakine Boundary

  • Most reviewers said that this bag will fit more than you can check on a flight without getting charged for an oversized bag.
  • Users said that there is room to put lots clothes which is great for car trips.
  • Some users said that the extra handles are super convenient for manhandling.
  • Some other users said that the upper handle makes it easy to shorten the effective length when moving through crowded airports, train stations.
  • They said that the wheels made it easy to pull around.
  • Many users said that it is clearly well thought out.
  • They also said that there is room for skis, boots, and outerwear with removable modules.
  • Buyers said that it seems beefy and well padded.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that some new version of the pack lacks some feature.
  • Another user complained that it’s a bit costly.

9 – Brubaker Carver

Brubaker Carver Pro Single Ski Bag Padded with Zip Fastening
  • Carver Pro Skibag 67 inch or 75 inch
  • Strong double zipper, adjustable side straps
  • Reinforced shiny silver inner lining to prevent the bag from being cut by the ski
  • Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Original Brubaker

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Brubaker Carver:

Reviewers like these things about the Brubaker Carver

  • Users said that one pair of skis, poles and some clothes fit perfect in the pack.
  • Many users said that it is made of durable canvas.
  • Reviewers have mentioned that the hand straps are long enough to make a shoulder strap.
  • Many users said that the pack provides great protection to skis.
  • Several users said that it even survived the airport handling.
  • Some other reviewers said that the handle is adjustable.
  • Most reviewers agreed that the pack is lightweight yet sturdy.
  • Most users said that it is a great pack at a reasonable price.
  • Reviewers who have used the pack said that it’s nice and strong with tough zipper.
  • Users also liked the cinch straps and the padding.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that one handle strap ripped off.
  • Another user said that the zip tore open on first use.
  • Some users complained that the bag is not fully padded.

10 – 5th Element Bomber

No products found.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the 5th Element Bomber:

Reviewers like these things about the 5th Element Bomber

  • Users said that each boot goes into its own compartment.
  • Many users said that it has got extra pockets for money, snacks, etc.
  • Several users said that it has room for every ski equipment.
  • Some other reviewers said that it survived the baggage handlers’ abuse at the airport.
  • Many users praised the fact that the back straps can be stashed in a zippered compartment.
  • They’ve mentioned that it’s perfect for carrying by hand or as a backpack.
  • Reviewers have mentioned that the zippers are strong and hold everything.
  • A great feature mentioned by users is that it has well ventilated zippered compartments for wet boots.
  • Most reviewers agreed that it is a Great bag at a great price.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that one of the grommets broke off.
  • Some users complained that Zippers are not heavy duty.

Selected reviews

Bike Radar reviewed the Thule Roundtrip

Despite these three negatives, we still have plenty of praise for Thules RoundTrip Traveler and its likely many will be looking to compare this to the Evoc. Frankly, they’re extremely similar and its tough to go wrong with either.

Posted 2 August 2015 by David Rome – Read full review

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Last update on 2018-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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