Up until Covid I did a lot of traveling with my skis. I suppose this isn’t the time to be reviewing a ski travel case since nobody will be in a rush to fly anywhere with skis until Covid relents 10 years from now, but I thought I’d put a review up anyhow because it’s such a great case.
I’ve always used soft ski bags in the past. But the last few years I’ve been running trips to Svalbard and it gets really expensive to fly with more than two bags so I needed to figure out a way to consolidate my cargo. The main issue was my polar bear rifles. Flying with rifles is surprisingly easy, but you do need a hard case for them. In the past I’ve used a burly rifle case along with my ski bag and a huge duffel. But this costs almost $400 extra each way (since I need to switch carriers in Oslo the fee doubles) for the third bag. That adds up.
Then one day it struck me that I could probably fit two rifles and two pairs of skis in the same bag. I did some research and discovered the Sportube Series 3 Transport Case. The one caveat was that the box specs state that it fits skis a maximum of 183 cm long. Well, my quiver includes a pair of Fischer Hannibal 96 in 183 cm, which I was confident would fit, but also a pair of Fischer Hannibal 106 in 185 cm (which seemed honestly about the same length as the 183 Hannibal 96) and a pair of big 188 cm G3 Sendr (which surprisingly seemed about the same length as my 185 Hannibal 106s…) So I ordered it anyhow, from MEC, figuring I could always return it if it didn’t work.
It arrived quickly and in a very large cardboard box. I eagerly ripped apart the box and immediately grabbed my “longest” skis, G3 Sendr in 188 cm. They fit no problem with room to spare. After a bit of messing around I discovered that indeed you can fit 4 pairs of ski touring skis and 4 pairs of poles, or two pairs of touring skis and two rifles. Bingo!
If you have really long skis, you might consider removing the styrofoam padding inside the ends of the box to make at least another 5 cm of space.
Next was to make it locking. The Sportube 3 comes with a little clasp but the holes for the clasp don’t accept a decent lock. I wanted either option — locking or clasping — so I drilled an extra hole alongside the fastening clasp that comes with the Sportube 3. I had to make it fairly wide to accept a decent lock, but the end result is that I can now lock it. It now meets all the requirements for rifle AND ski transport on airplanes! And I like that it has two fastening mechanisms, that give me a bit more confidence in the system.
I never got to use it for my Svalbard trip, since Covid kiboshed all of my spring trips. But I did bring it with me to Japan in January during those blissful pre-covid days. It was a joy to use in the airports and the public transit, Shinkansen, railway stations, you name it. The box has two great wheels with bearings that glide effortlessly across most surfaces. Even maxed out to its longest configuration it’s plenty stiff enough to carry skis. The new orange colour has me a bit jealous — I have a black model, which isn’t quite as visible in the dimly lit airport oversized baggage zones.
I just realized one of the reasons I’m drawn to writing this review. It has me dreaming of, once again, travelling to far-off ski destinations. Morocco and Sweden spring to mind as they don’t have any major restrictions to incoming Canadian travellers. I just have to wrap my mind around the 14-day quarantine returning to Canada!
Sawback Alpine Adventures