When it comes to snowboard luggage there’re a lot of options. However, I think the primary choice is between an all-in-one boardbag approach and the boardbag plus separate case approach. This article will take a look at the pros and cons of each, then give some consideration to how the carry on bag might fit in the mix…
The all-in-one snowboard bag
The bag that does it all, sometimes called a locker, it takes your board(s), boots, bindings and clothes. It’s for everything! A classic example is the Burton Wheelie Locker – but there are many other good contenders too. This is going to be a beefed-up board bag with significant capacity; wheels and a handle at the opposite end are likely.
Pros. Simplicity. All you need is one bag. You might be walking through the airport with your backpack, but apart from that, it’s just one bag! There’s definitely something satisfying, not to mention, convenient, about only having to move one bag around. It’s awesome that you can fit everything in to one piece of luggage.
Cons. If you fill them up, they can be pretty heavy. Further, due to the capacity of something like the Burton Wheelie locker, you can start to approach the single item weight limit for planes, and in some cases, go beyond it.
Who’s it for? The all-in-one bag is for the snowboarder who wants to keep things simple, all in one place, with good capacity, but they don’t want to take everything including the kitchen sink…
Boardbag plus case
Let’s start with the boardbag – everyone has seen them, they’re a cut down version of the “all-in-one” bag described above. As you’d expect there is a bit of variation. At the “lightest” end of the spectrum you’ve got what is essentially a sleeve. A material bag that a board fits inside, without any padding. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got significant padding, significant size and maybe even some wheels.
In the middle? A padded board bag, decent capacity and probably a shoulder strap and handle. See the Tour Bag in the picture below. Something padded is highly recommended!
Cases have been around forever. As for the snowboard-brand designs, they’re often referred to as rollers, and it’s common for the case to be split into two halves. Wheels, long handle and big capacity.
Pros. More allowance – if big capacity is high on your list, you’ll find that in this situation, two bags are better than one. The problem with the “all-in-one” approach is that the bag approaches the single item weight limit, which tends to be in the region of 32/33kg.
With two separate bags, having 15kg in your boardbag is doable, and the case can take 20kg, with 25kg probably being fine, depending on the airline. This keeps you well clear of an absolute item limit. Yes – I’ve been asked to take stuff out of my wheelie locker, at the boarding gate, because it was too heavy. With two bags, if you want to, you can manage 35kg without questions, maybe even 40kg…
More flexible. Two bags means splitting up the load, which makes things a little more flexible. If you’ve packed a lot of gear, you avoid having a single bag that’s very heavy to pick up. Putting the weight to one side, you’ll probably find the two, smaller bags a little easier to manoeuvre, for fitting in vehicles, getting up flights of stairs etc.
You may also score in the non-snowboarding scenario, when you need luggage for some other kind of trip, like a summer vacation. It’s pretty unlikely that you will use a massive, all-in-one locker for your summer trip. The roller on the other hand, is more applicable to other situations.
Cons It is two bags! That’s more hassle right? How are you carrying these, boardbag on the shoulder, pulling the case? It’s two bags to carry and move around. On the simplest of levels, that’s more hassle than a single bag.
Too much space? Some people like to travel light. If you opt for a padded board bag they tend to be fairly spacious. When you add a roller to the equation, that’s a lot of capacity that you might not need. In which case, you’ve got the problem of padding things out so they don’t rattle around. [Note: you can get smaller rollers if you don’t pack loads of gear].
Who’s this combo for? Two bags definitely suits someone who wants to carry the most gear possible. However, you might find yourself in the situation where you’re looking to get your new snowboard away with you. You already have a case and it does the job just fine. Getting one of the smaller, but padded, boardbags to add to your existing case is much cheaper than shelling out for an all-in-one locker.
What about a carry-on case?
Usually I take my backpack with me on the plane. It kills two birds with one stone – I don’t need to pack it in my case, and I can use it for stuff like my passport, a book, a camera, maybe even a laptop…
…And it’s some of the larger, more valuable devices that have attracted me to the idea of a specific, carry-on bag. Bags like the Dakine OverUnder
Who’s it for? I think the carry-on case/bag can be a good option for the snowboarder who has a single, all-in-one boardbag, but also carries a laptop and sizeable camera. With just the single board bag you’ve still got a free-hand to pull/push the carry on bag around.
When I bought the Burton Wheelie Locker, I got it wrong. I thought: wow, I’ll get everything in there. And I did – but it was so heavy. Too heavy at times.
I like to take a lot of gear with me, and, having recently added a second board to my setup, splitting up the weight of my gear is more important still. For this reason, having two bags suits me best. You can read a review of my luggage setup.
At the end of the day it comes down to your own, personal preference. Broadly speaking, the two approaches you can take are designed for different needs. There isn’t a right answer, just something that’s right for you.
If you want to carry as much gear as possible, I think you can get more mileage from two bags – the boardbag plus roller. If you travel a bit lighter the simplicity of a single, take-everything boardbag is very appealing.
Get hooked up. If you’re in the USA, or close by, Evo has an excellent selection of rolling snowboard cases and snowboard boardbags.
If you’re in the UK or mainland Europe – then Blue Tomato has loads of good snowboard luggage!