There are two basic categories of ski carriers on the market today: those made of high density polyethylene (Sportube) and those made of well-padded ballistic grade nylon cloth (like Dakine).
There are also disposable varieties available from your neighborhood Big 5 or comparable “beer cooler and folding chair emporium,” but the less said about these the better….
You were hoping I wasn’t going to say this, but of course there are going to be trade-offs depending on which variety you go with. And your choice may say more about you and the sorts of things you worry about, than about the relative merits of these products.
If you’re the kind of person who flinches at the sight of a ticket agent hucking your ski bag onto a belt, and wrenches when you hear baggage jockeys play what sounds like polo in the bowels of the plane, the Sportube may be just the ski carrier for you.
The Sportube is a hard shell case that is ideal for traveling skiers who want maximum security against the unavoidable dings and knicks of travel, as well as protection against crushed equipment that may be inflicted by those who are bitter because, unlike you, they themselves aren’t going skiing somewhere.
Here’s the downside of going rigid: A hard case carrier like the Sportube offers impregnability at the expense of flexibility.
There comes a point on most trips when you need to force a ski carrier in to where it doesn’t want to go, such as a taxi, or a rental car that doesn’t have a ski rack.
You may find yourself (as I did in Chile) unpacking the skis in order to get them to fit into a trunk pass through, then struggling to find a place in the car for the now empty but still bulky Sportube. This might be the time when you wish you had a soft, crushable model.
Pros: The Double ski case is expandable up to 212 centimeters, and will accommodate wide powder skis (2 pairs of skis in the Series 2).
Cons: The Sportube comes in two pieces, with one sliding inside the other to establish the desired length. The problem is that it is virtually a two man job to coax the inner unit to initiate its slide into the outer.
The Lindsey Vonn Signature Edition is a distinctive grey and comes with an Easy Pull Handle , a TSA padlock, and a Nic Nac Pack that holds sundries and fits inside between the skis. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
I could never get the TSA lock to engage, but I know others who have used the Sportube who haven’t had any trouble getting the TSA lock to close on the case. Furthermore, the Nic Nac Pack seems to want to go where the poles absolutely have to go.
A ski carrier of any kind demands space and attention (stares and glares) in an airport. You will be tempted at times to stand the Sportube on its end to make it blend in. Be aware, however, that hard plastic is slippery and naturally prone to pratfalls, so don’t get overly clever.
There is one indisputable feature offered exclusively by a hard-side carrier like the Sportube. It offers billboard-size expanses for applying stickers from the resorts you’ve been to and the equipment you use. It’s like Facebook on wheels. This may or may not be an unpaid promotional gig you’re excited about taking on, but you’ve got the option.
Sportube’s pitch to prospective customers is, “Plan Ahead. Ship instead!” and if you’re intrigued by that idea, then this is your case.
Furthermore, the Dakine Concourse Double that Will Brown reviewed is enormous, which is fantastic if you need to bring tons of gear, but it might be overkill if you basically just need to pack 2 pairs of skis and some poles. In that case, the Sportube is certainly worth a look and will get the job done.
(Especially if you can steer clear of those tiny little taxis.)