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Packing skis for airline or general shipment

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I normally use a sportube and pack my skis tip-tail, binding in.  Brakes off, of course (have been using rubber bands for this but just got the idea of using plastic zip ties, seems a good idea).  Wrap them to hold them solidly together and stuff spaces with all the other stuff one takes on ski-trips.


When using soft bags, how do you all pack your skis?  I would still go tip-tail, bindings in, wrap and stuff but someone I know insists bottom to bottom - the way we typically put them together for carrying and ski-racking with brakes out.  


I think they are better protected tip-tail; especially the bindings.  Thoughts?

post #2 of 10

Timely topic for me, since I just purchased a Sportube for a ski trip in Feb.


While the solid tube provides much more protection than a soft case, my worry was that the recommended position - tip-to-tail with the bindings facing in - the routine jostling they'd get as airline baggage would wind up gouging things. I was planning on using some scrap closed-cell foam, taped in place around the bindings, to prevent that. Stuffing other softer items that would normally be packed in your suitcase in the tube with the skis also seems like a good idea.

post #3 of 10
biggest issue I have experienced with the sportube is that on 4 trips the TSA has opened up the tube every single time and not once did they put it back together correctly. It is apparently too complex or too much hassle to put the locking pin back through both holes in the tube. Last time I used a TSA lock and they just kept it. Miraculously my gear has always made it nonetheless and the tube never came apart. However, this makes me very nervous. They just can't deal with anything that is not a zipper. very frustrating.
apart from this major issue I have been happy. I don't think anything else comes close in protection. I do not use any additional padding and put the skis in according to instructions ie tip to tail, bindings facing inside.
post #4 of 10

I use a soft, pretty heavily padded bag. For airline transport its rubberband brakes in, wrap bindings, tip, and tail with extra padding (usually bubble wrap, but really anything works), bindings in, tip to tail. Secure together with 2 ski straps. One tip I will add is dont bother with "TSA approved" locks. They tend to just cut them off if they want to inspect your bag. Use a ziptie instead. Its a lot cheaper, and just as secure for a soft bag. Upon arrival you can find a sharp object to get the zip tie off (which sometimes ends up being a steak knife from the hotel restaurant in times of need). 

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have some (now 6 year old) bubble wrap that I keep in the empty sport tube when not using it.  A quick wrap around each pair of skis and I've never had any damage to either the skis, sportube, or other contents.


I also use two ski wraps (provided I can find them at the last packing minute) but the wraps provided work as does cellophane.  Better than a few wraps of cellophane is the thicker stuff you can find at any office supply place, even Lowes IIRC.  Takes two people to start this type of wrap though.


The locking pin thingie supplied with the sportube disappeared on the first flight 6 years ago.  As with docmartin my tube was then unsecure but it was together and everything was in it.  I now use a wire type small TSA lock that has survived 4 trips.  Haven't found one of those "we looked in here" notes in the tube.  I also run a thin zip tie through another pair of holes.  I always toss a small pocket knife into my checked bag for the other side.  


BTW, to get the family to and from the airport the tube gets strapped and bungied to the roof rack.  Poor thing sits in the basement unused most of the year.  I go visit it every now and then to let it know it is loved.


Are there any tools you normally carry?  I take an multi-allen wrench in the carry-on boot bag and toss a cheap multitool into the check bag.  


BTW, we fly Southwest so all this baggage is, at least so far, free.  

post #6 of 10
For the past 9 years, I travel out West each year with five or six skis. I bring one for each of my 3 kids, one for my wife, and two for me (depending on the conditions). As such, I would consider myself an "expert" ski - traveller. I own two sportubes (single and double) and multipe types of soft ski bags. I have owned expensive ski bags and also cheap ones. I have also tried mailing the skis and bringing them with me on public land transportation from the airport and back. The best way to travel (in my opinion) is using the cheapest, lightest, flimsiest soft double ski bag with wheels. Here is why:

- Sportubes don't fit in car rental trunks or even in SUV rental trunks. They end up in roofs and if the roofs have no cross racks, then you have a headache figuring out how to strap them.
- Sportubes (the double ones) are quite heavy and can't handle additional skis more than the double. Sometimes they can't even handle poles.
- Cheap and flimsy ski bags are - well cheap! I wouldn't worry if they get gouged, scratched, ripped, or dirtied (is that a word?) because I can easily replace them.
- I have owned expensive ski bags and they didn't last any longer or function any better than my cheap ones. Eventually they have gotten trashed as well.
The only reason expensive ski bags make sense if you want to show other skiers in the airport that your ski bags are expensive. I am not like that. I like to show other people in the airport that my ski bags are cheap.
- Soft ski bags can be tied to the top of rental cars - even those without cross racks. I always bring small ropes with me for this purpose.
- Because the bags are "flexible" they easily follow the curvature of the roof. Otherwise they can fit inside an SUV and since they are soft and flexible, I am not worried that the kids will bang their heads on the bags (unlike the hard sportubes).
- I pack my skis inside the bags and wrap them with old big beach towels and strap them together with old belts. Of particular importance are the ends of the skis, which I wrap with smaller towels.
- If you put two skis in a bag then wheeled bags are better. if you only have one ski per bag (rare for me) then I opt for no wheels.
- I have lost skis before (Delta Airlines) and recoverred them after a week back at home. They were undamaged but their feelings were hurt as they missed the skiing in Heavenly. I apologized and promised to make up to them the next year.
- I have also mailed skis via Fedex and UPS. Fedex was cheaper.
post #7 of 10

I use a Swix roller bag with 2 sets of skis and poles inside. I use a pair of typical velcro straps to strap each set of skis together base to base, with the brakes interlocked as normally packed in the car or roof box to go skiing. 4 velcro straps for 2 pairs of skis, 1 around each pair's tips and 1 around the tails. Then I wrap the skis with a layer of clear plastic bubble wrap packaging, with a second layer over the bindings. The bubble wrap is pretty loosely wrapped and NOT taped so TSA can unwind and examine if they want to (they don't seem to bother as it's pretty see-thru and evident it's just skis). I place the two sets of skis next to each other with the poles in between them, and then strap them inside the bag with the bag's internal straps. I never put clothes inside for padding, and have never had trouble with the airlines over-charging me nor TSA - who always leave their card inside the bag, but never mess anything up.

post #8 of 10

I have a Dakine double bag.  Best way to pack skis in that bag is to rubber band the brakes up and put pair 1 flat on the floor of the bag (as in side by side).  Pair 2 has one ski on it's side on each side of the bag.  Clothing goes on top of the flat pair to pad everything.  Poles go in the cover sleeve.  Never had any damage traveling when packed that way.

post #9 of 10
I'm similar to cyclist and use cheap soft bags, one wheeled for two pairs of skis, one adult and one child's; and one without wheels for the other pair of adult skis. The rationale is very similar to cyclist. Sport tubes don't fit easily into rentals or shuttles. Cheap bags perform as well as expensive ones. Each pair of skis is placed bases together and secured with two Velcro straps. I use ski clothing (outerwear and baselayers),socks and gloves as padding. The socks and gloves are placed between the tips and tails of the skis and the ends of the bags to provide additional protection. All of this is secured by internal and external compression straps. Neither bag is overstuffed or dangerously close to the weight limit.

We've used this method for more than one hundred domestic and international flights with only one incident. The bags have routinely been opened by TSA and customs agents and we have had no problems there or with as any check in staff.
post #10 of 10

Level 9 sells a nice padded bag for $24 that will hold 2 pairs of long skis. 

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