Ok, so I’ve booked flights with KLM and I’ve never flown with them before. This got me thinking about the airline’s rules for baggage allowance; how much is it going to cost me to take my snowboard? Now, I’ve got one of those swanky Burton Wheelie Lockers and I think a review of which will be of use to some people. Here goes…
First things first
I’m gonna start this review by saying that I love my Wheelie Locker. Remember that when you get to the end of the review. Here’s why:
- It’s huge. You can get so much stuff in there. I’ve packed three snowboards, my gear and half of my girlfriend’s gear into the thing. Everything kept in one place!
- It’s tough. The spiel on Burton’s website is true. It’s built to last and Burton back it up with their support (I’ve had a new replacement)
- The design is great. Separate sleave for the boards. Separate compartment for clothers. Tough external pocket for handy access. A removable bag for your boots and another for your bindings… If you’re a tidy freak it makes it easy to pack; if you just want to chuck stuff in, there’s loads of space. See my photos for more on the features
But is it practical?
Unfortunately I think you have to ask this question. I love the idea and I really like the design of the bag – but is it practical for lugging around airports? I’d have to say the answer is no. Read on.
Maximum weight allowance
I’ve found that most airlines (well, the ones that I have used) operate with a maximum weight allowance of around 32kg, for a single bag. That is, each item of luggage must weigh less than 32kg. I know this to be true as I was called to the front of the line on an Easyjet flight and asked to take stuff out of my wheelie locker. I ended up removing my boots (with their own dedicated bag, sick) which the stewardess insisted would be sent separately. You can imagine my frustration when waiting in Geneva airport, all of our bags collected except the boots…
So, the fact that the wheelie locker allows you to pack so much stuff becomes a little irrelavant as you’re constrained by 32kg.
What are you talking about? 32kg? That’s madness, you don’t need that much stuff!
You’re probably right. So why have a bag that’s that big? Also, don’t forget that when you start adding your mates board to save on costs, the extra jacket, the waxing iron – things start to add up. To me, that’s the point of the wheelie locker – there’s loads of space.
Note also that you don’t save on the fact that you’re only taking one bag. Explanation. Your friend has his regular suitcase with an allowance of 20kg and he’s paid a flat fee to take a snowboard in a separate bag. They weigh this bag to make sure it’s not super heavy, but they don’t seem that bothered about its exact weight. You on the other hand have you single wheelie locker. Let’s say that you’re travelling light and the total weight is less than 20 kg. Do they offer you a discount? No. You pay the same.
Forget the airline’s weight allowance, the damn thing is heavy!
I’m not the strongest person in the world but I’m not the weakest either. When the wheelie locker is rammed full it is heavy. Simple as that.
So you’ve flown to Geneva and as usual it takes the board bags ages to arrive. It’s getting tight for the last train. Your wheelie locker finally arrives and now you’ve got to run to the train station…
It’s not easy! Dragging 30-odd kg while running is hard work! I’m not being sexist here: Ciara can’t lift the wheelie locker when it’s full. It’s heavy.
It’s not just the airport though. Not all apartment blocks have lifts. My first trip to Tignes, we were on the top floor. Having all of your gear in one bag no longer seems like a good idea when you’ve got to carry it up 3 or 4 flights of stairs. The length then also becomes a problem. Stairwells aren’t always wide. At 1.8 meters or so it can be hard to get the wheelie locker around narrow corners.
It’s worth adding though that the wheelie locker does have good quality hand holds on the top of the bag, and a shoulder strap.
- If you take the board out of the bag and leave the rest of the gear in (for whatever reason), pulling the bag on its wheels becomes a problem
- I’ve found that I don’t use the bag on road trips – it’s too big for the roof rack
- You can’t really use the wheelie locker in other situations, e.g. other holidays
Burton Wheelie Locker vs. Burton Wheelie Double Deck
So what’s the alternative? Well, take a regular shaped suit case and a separate board bag. Enter the Burton Wheelie Double Deck. Ciara uses one of these in combination with a board bag, or, sometimes she off-loads onto me and I carry her board as well. The Double Deck shares a lot of the clever design features of the Wheelie Locker and is made to the same high quality.
…And you can fit a lot of gear in this thing too! I’m certain that using a decent travel bag along with a board bag is a more comfortable, easy to operate solution. Also, overall you can probably take more gear (if you feel the need) as you’re not limited to 33kg. It doesn’t have to be the Double Deck, I’ve seen the Dakine Split Roller and that seems really good too. However my experience is with the Burton travel gear and I know that it ‘feels’ really good – that quality comes through.
Summary – So what am I using for the Deux Alpes trip?
I hate the thought of leaving my Wheelie Locker behind, but I’m gonna use the Wheelie Double Deck travel bag, and take my board separately. In comparison, the Wheelie Locker just seems to much of a struggle to move around. I guess I’ll let you know the final verdict when I get back.
Get hooked up!
If you’re looking to get hold of the Wheelie Locker or any other snowboard luggage for that matter, there’s a great selection of board bags at dogfunk.com. They re-stock regularly and have one of the best selections when it comes to different colours and sizes. Go check them out.