Best Ski Bags and Cases
Skis are terrific, and a good pair of skis provides years of enjoyment and exploration. What is not always terrific, though, is lugging those skis around! Sure, one always had the option to go with the over-the-shoulder approach when it comes to carrying skis from place to place, but this ultimately is inconvenient and obviously will not suffice when it comes to transporting your skis long distances (via an airplane, for example). Such is where ski bags come in! Available in a variety of sizes and models, ski bags provide an easy and reliable method of transporting skis anywhere you need. In fact, once you get one, you will most likely wonder how you ever lived without it.
Before getting into what ski bag to buy, it is important to take a look at two important characteristics that will be extremely beneficial in your selection process. After all, everybody is unique in where and how often they use their skis, and it is therefore crucial to find a ski bag that will best suit your lifestyle.
What to Look for in Ski Bags
Here is what we recommend looking at while checking out all of the different options out there:
Though it is fairly obvious that your ski bag should be easy to move around, it is still very helpful to make sure that the bag contains features that actually contribute to its ability to be transported. Some ski bags are outfitted with smaller handle loops on the top of the bag, which are nice for carrying skis short distances, but not much else. Imagine yourself walking through an airport with a ski boot bag on your back, and luggage the skis in their bag by hand. Will it be a comfortable trek?
It is always best to seek out a bag that has two large loops or straps attached to the top or side of the bag, as these are used to sling over the shoulder and/or onto the back. This makes it much easier to carry the skis over somewhat longer distances, and are incredibly handy to have if you are traveling and need your hands to be free for other luggage. Another feature of ski bags that can be nice (but is not necessary) is a wheel component. Having a wheeled ski bag is very useful for anybody who sees themselves traveling a lot for skiing, and also is just plain nice if your back is either sore from carrying other luggage or you have a backpack of some sort on already.
Contrary to what one might think, it is not always necessary to have a ski bag that is heavily padded with a military-grade protective shell and top-tier drop resistance. In all honesty, as long as your ski bag is made with a strong and tight-woven material (as a good amount are), you will be good to go. Of course, any ski bag that is simply a large worn burlap or tough-woven cotton sack is generally not a reliable option, as these are too weak and risk tearing at the slightest bump or tug. All of this is not to say, though, that it is pointless to have a padded bag. Additional padding can be nice on a ski bag if you think your skis will often be transported via slightly rough methods, such as on the bed of a pickup truck, and/or if your skis are especially delicate or expensive.
When it comes to having a protective shell encasing your ski bag, it is really only necessary for those who do the vast majority of their skiing on ski vacations and therefore routinely transport their skis via plane. Otherwise, having an extremely padded and/or shelled case is not needed in most cases because of how much bulkier and heavier they can be. It should be added that all high-quality ski bags are water resistant.
3 Types of Ski Bags and Cases
Now that we have gone over a few things to look at in ski bags, it is time for a quick description of the three main types, which were shortly referenced above. These types of ski bags, being unpadded, padded, and shelled, all excel in their own ways and are sure to cover all of your transportation needs:
Unpadded ski bags are the most common and most affordable type of ski bag, and are a personal favorite of mine. Easily compactable and extremely lightweight, unpadded ski bags are always a good bet if you are looking to get your hands on a tried-and-true ski bag. Though these are good ski bags, they do offer the least protection, so it is best to use these types of bags while driving somewhere with the skis actually inside of your car or on a ski rack/top bin. If you plan to check your bags for air travel, consider upgrade to padded or shelled for best protection.
Very much like unpadded ski bags but with some added cushion, these ski bags are best for skis that are going to see a lot of use and might be subject to some rough-and-tumble transport conditions. Slightly bulkier than unpadded bags, padded ski bags are not quite as easy to fold up and pack away. However, they rarely weigh much more than unpadded bags, and therefore are almost always a good bet. If you are checking your bags as airline luggage, we suggest using at least a padded option in order to better protect your bindings.
Shelled ski bags, or ski cases, often made with a pair of wheels at one end, are ideal for anyone who is going to be moving their skis around very often and, as aforementioned, will see lots of travel on planes. Shelled ski bags are also padded on the inside, offering additional protection. The three main drawbacks of shelled bags, however, are that they are heavier, more expensive, and much harder to pack away than padded and unpadded bags. Still, if you want maximum protection, shelled bags are definitely the way to go.
Recommended Ski Bags and Cases
You now know everything there is to know about ski bags and what makes them good (or bad)! Just for you is one of each type of ski bag, all top picks of ours:
Top choice overall, and best padded bag.
Find it here. Athletico’s Mogul padded ski bag is a great and affordable ski bag option for anybody who wants a top-of-the line ski bag that is padded throughout for safe and carefree transportation. Crafted with waterproof material, this bag is sure to keep your skis safe through every step of your trip and give you total peace of mind. Athletico also specializes in their handles, allowing for easier and more comfortable carrying of your skis wherever you go.
We are big fans of this bag, and it is our #1 overall choice if you just need something that will work. We like the compression straps that help keep your skis from moving around inside the bag, and the two length options (170 and 185cm) should generally work for most people — although we would love to see them make a 195 or 200 too (Athletico, if you are reading this, that is our only request!)
Sportube Cabin Cruiser (case)
Best hardshell case.
Find it here. The Cabin Cruiser ski case by Sportube is state of the art in protection, and is as sleek and compact as shelled ski bags come. Well-suited for a pair of alpine skis and a pair of poles, this shelled ski bag is sure to keep your skis in tip-top condition for as long as you use it. Available in orange and black, the Cabin Cruiser also does not fail to deliver when it comes to pairing style with safety.
This is a nice option for people carrying more expensive skis that they need to protect. It fits a pair of alpine skis and poles, or perhaps two pairs of nordic skis, but that will ultimately depend on the style of your skis and bindings.
It might seem like a lot of money, but if you are trying to protect $1,000 skis, it is worth it.
PENGDA Eco Alpine
Best simple, inexpensive, unpadded bag.
Find it here. The PENGDA Eco Alpine ski bag is the perfect example of a high-quality, lightweight, protective ski bag. Made of high-density polyester, this ski bag will do well to keep your skis safe while at the same time making them extremely easy to move around. What’s more is that this ski bag is even waterproof! Because this ski bag is unpadded, it will also always be an easy and reliable option to pull out on the ski day.
The only issue we have found with the PENGDA is that it is short. If your skis are 180cm or longer, they are probably not going to fit well. For skis shorter than 180, this bag will do a nice job if you need something simple.
Paul Miller is the Founder of Family Skier. He is an advanced skier and has extensive experience with family travel and ski schools. An accomplished skier, he has skied in 15 states and provinces and 6 countries. In addition to FamilySkier, his writing can be found on many ski-related websites, and as curriculum for many ski clubs in North America.