At our house, going skiing often means getting up early and going straight to the car. While you’d think we might have outgrown our desire for “first tracks” we haven’t. We also like close-in parking. This means that we have to be super organized (or at least aspire to be super organized). For years, we’ve checked out bags, trying to find the most efficient way to store and efficiently transport our boots, helmets, gloves, goggles and all the other items we need for a day of skiing.
Bags, Bags and More Bags
We’ve tried shoulder bags, large wheelie bags that hold everyone’s gear, simple cubes that hold everything but boots, and backpacks that hold the boots externally. Each of these has worked, but with shortcomings. Shoulder bags are awkward and hard for kids to carry. The large wheelie bag was too big — we could’ve put a kid in it. Things got lost and it took up too much room in the lodge. The cubes are awesome for packing in the car and storing our gear year-round. But we have to transport our boots separately. As for the backpacks, they are designed for ski camp and work really well transporting everything on a bus for several miles. But the boots are attached on the outside, which means they can’t be checked for air travel and they get caught up on stuff. Still, of all the options, they were the best.
A Roomy and Comfy Backpack
I say were the best, because we’ve now discovered Transpack backpacks. Designed to keep everything tightly zipped up and safe, Transpack bags combine the best features of our cubes with our backpacks. Designed to minimize bulk, the packs have what they call the “isosceles storage system” which means the toes of the boots meet together in the front of the pack — away from your back. This design helps distribute weight to the sides, so that it doesn’t all pull on your neck and shoulders. Which is good, because when I packed my Transpack, it weighed in at 19 pounds.
Speaking of packing, the Transpack XTW bag holds a lot. In addition to dedicated ski boot pockets on each side, there is a large central compartment where I put everything else (more than I really need) 2 pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of liners, 2 beanies, 2 pair of goggles, a neck gaiter, a face mask and a shell. I put my sunscreen and hand warmers in the small outer zip pockets, because I was afraid they might get lost in the main compartment. And that is one shortcoming. Because the main compartment is black, I need good light to find all of my black gear. I would seriously consider packing a tiny flashlight, just to look into the dark recesses of the bag.
The main compartment closes with a drawstring and then a flap buckles over the top. This top flap has a pocket, which I didn’t use, but would be handy for small items. There is also a zipper pocket inside the main compartment for things you don’t want to lose.
Pack It Right
I was testing the Women’s XTW Special Edition pack with a groovy purple and electric green floral pattern. Aesthetically, I like the look. The bag is big, but surprisingly compact. While you don’t want to turn quickly in a crowded room when wearing it (you’ll take somebody out), it doesn’t stick way out. The first time I packed it, I put my helmet in and then everything else on top. This was a mistake. When I put the pack on, the helmet hit me squarely on my spine and was really uncomfortable. Repacking, I put my shell against the back and then added the helmet. This time around, the Transpack was surprisingly comfortable. The straps are padded and adjustable, so that you can wear the pack with or without the bulk of a coat.
It addition to a good, generous design, the Transpack has grommets in the front and back of the boot pockets to allow air to circulate. The material is quite durable and water-resistant and the zippers and drawstring seem sturdy. The total volume of the XTW Special Edition is 2400 cubic inches or 40 L. And when not in use, the bag folds flat. All-n-all, I really like this bag.
My husband and sons also got Transpacks to try. My husband claimed the glam silver XT Pro Mogul (and loves the look) while the boys each tried the TRV Pro. These packs are different from what I tried in some really cool ways. Turning first to the XT Pro, it is a medium-sized bag with 3000 cubic inches of volume or 49 L. Built with most of the same features as the Women’s model, the XT Pro has an ID pocket and small zipper pocket on the back. Rather than just shoulder straps, the XT Pro has a sternum strap and a waist belt for extra stability. Also on the back, is a zipper that allows access to the main storage compartment. This would be good for letting in some extra air to dry out damp items. Best of all, the XT Pro Mogul has a fleece-lined goggle pocket inside the top flap. I wish the goggle pocket and the outside access were included on the women’s model.
Hit the Road with the TRV Pro
As for the TRV Pro bags, they are the largest with a volume of 3300 cubic inches or 54 L. They are built for traveling and are taller to accommodate larger boots and more gear. My son packed his coat, his baselayers, a sweater — everything but his ski pants in the TRV Pro. There are no drawstrings. Everything closes with a zipper and there is a back zipper pocket, with a place for ID, in which to stow the straps so that they don’t get damaged in transit. The external pockets are solid, not mesh. The top flap has both an outside and inside pocket and the inside pocket is mesh, with a fleece lining for your goggles. There is a zipper on the front which allows access to the main compartment without having to open the top of the bag. Like the XT Pro Mogul, the TRV Pro has a sternum strap and a waist belt for extra stability. As an all around bag, the TRV Pro is a functional and versatile choice. You can go take it anywhere.
A Better Ergonomic Choice
While we all really like the Transpack bags and think they are definitely a step up in form and function from what we’ve been using, they aren’t for everyone. Ski boots are heavy. And while the Transpack makes the load as comfortable as possible, if you don’t like carrying things on your back, you won’t like this bag. But, if you’ve been carrying a shoulder bag, give Transpack a try. Distributing the weight evenly on both shoulders and your back is ergonomically much better for you. Same for those of you who velcro your powerstraps together, sling the boots over your shoulder and let them hit you as you walk. Transpack will make your life much easier. Not to mention that these bags keep your hands free — to carry your skis, or to take the hands of your little ones, as you head up to the lodge for a great day of skiing.
Speaking of Kids
While we didn’t test a junior model, Transpack does make several junior models that would be perfect for smaller kids. My son is 12 and he has no problem carrying the TRV Pro, although we don’t overpack it. The junior models are similar in size to the XTW Women’s bag and a bit smaller. If you child can carry a school backpack, they should be able to carry a Transpack.
Transpack also make a lightweight backpack that allows you to carry your boots outside (perfect for ski camp!) and ski bags, as well as skate bags and a couple of nifty rolling bags.
Transpack TRV Pro Giveaway
Transpack has graciously offered a TRV Pro bag as a giveaway. To enter, leave a comment. One winner will be chosen in a random drawing on Friday, December 16 at 8:00 a.m. MST.
To facilitate this post, Transpack provided me and my family with the bags which were reviewed. As always, all opinions are my own and are exactly what I would share with my family and friends.
Congratulations to Steven, winner of the Transpack boot bag! Steven has his a hiking website: mylifeoutdoors.com. Check it out!
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