With the news of American Airlines eliminating extra fees on oversized items like skis, musical instruments, and bikes, it’s time to take another look at which specialty bags are best for keeping your prized equipment safe and sound when flying. Now that oversized items are charged as a regular checked bag on most airlines, compared to previously tacked-on fee of $150, you’ll have an extra $120 to spare. So put those savings to good use and upgrade your travel gear to one of these top-rated bags
Top Travel Bags by Category for Sporting Gear and Oversized Items
Using a combination of customer reviews, rankings, and bang for your buck, here’s a list of the top travel bags for sporting and oversized items broken down by category. Keep in mind that while all these bags are fit to fly by their size guidelines, any luggage tipping the scales at more than 50lbs/23kg may be subject to additional fees as an overweight article.
Best Ski Bag:
Make your next trip to the slopes smoother than the first run of the day snow with the Athletico Padded Ski and Boot Combo Bags. This two-piece padded set will protect your gear from the stresses of air travel and keep them in tip-top shape for your next powder run. The roll-top adjustable length feature can accommodate skis up to 200cm and is roomy enough for gloves, goggles, and other gear to go along. The boot bag should fit most ski boots up to size US13, and for under $50 this two bag combo’s price tag will be cheaper than your lift ticket.
Amazon User Review: “Flew southwest and packed new set of SKIs in this padded bag. No issues at all, despite being worried they would get banged up by the airline. They aren't going to do more damage than you would cruising down the mountain."
Best Snowboard Bag:
From A to Z, Aspen to Zermatt, Burton’s Wheelie Gig Snowboard Bag will make your next snowboard trip as easy as the bunny slope. This fully padded bag can accommodate multiple boards with room to fit your gear to boot and helmets and jackets. Skate wheels at the bottom make for smooth rolling through the airport right up to the mountain lodge. Bags come in a range of sizes from 146cm through 181cm to fit any size snowboard.
Amazon User Review: “Great all around. Used for flights to Tahoe and back without issue. Plenty of room for board with bindings (I ride a 162 and have room to spare), boots, pants, jacket, a backpack with personal clothes, and a few other items.”
Best Golf Bag:
Having a travel-tested bag is par for the course for any golfer looking to fly around to hit the links. CaddyDaddy’s Golf Travel Bag Cover provides yours sticks with a sturdy shell protecting them from the banging around of baggage handlers. As one of the best selling golf bags on Amazon and a one-year full bag replacement warranty, including damage caused by the airlines this CaddyDaddy you'll be confident that your clubs will be properly covered. Padded nylon handles and base wheels provide easy transport from the baggage carousel to the country club.
Amazon User Review: “My husband used this for his annual golf trip with the guys. Easy to pack up his golf gear and then put in luggage bin for airlines. No issues!”
Best Guitar Case:
Tune up your guitar’s travel protection with this TSA approved flight case from Gator. This case’s features will be music to your ears. Constructed of a solid military grade plastic and an interior of EPS foam covered in a thick plush lining will guarantee that your ax will stay secure when taking to the skies. With nine different shapes to fit the style of your guitar, you’ll be sure to find a snug fit for your bass, acoustic guitar, or Les Paul to keep the jam session alive on the road.
Amazon User Review: “This case is strong and sturdy enough to endure the harshness of United Airlines baggage services... My guitar has traveled as checked luggage twice and survived w/o a scratch. Love it!”
Best Surfboard Bag:
Wave goodbye to dents and dings on your longboard with this stylish surfboard travel bag from Curve. With "boost" padded protection in all the right places, especially on vulnerable areas like the nose and tail, you'll be even more confident when your board catches air. Featuring a TPSS (tail protection strap system) that wraps around the tail of the board will keep it firm inside the bag for long-haul travel. With seven size choices, you’ll be sure to find a snug fit for your board when you’re taking a trip to catch some barrels.
Amazon User Review: “I've had many longboard bags over the years and this one has surpassed them all. The padding on the nose and tail give peace of mind from dings and minor bang ups. Though my walden is epoxy and super tough, this bag adds another layer of protection when traveling.”
Best Fishing Rod Case:
Looking for a reely good case to store your fishing rods when flying? With a name like the Airliner Telescoping Rod Case, Plano one of the top names in the industry is sure they've got the best solution, and so should you. The airliner case extends to 88 inches in length, allowing it to store up to eight 7-foot fishing rods in its telescoping design. When not in use the case condenses into just 47 inches, making for super easy storage.
Amazon User Review: “Liked that the case was sturdy, durable, and easily accommodated 10+ rods inside of it. Flew two different airplanes to vacation destination and rods made it safe and sound.”
Best Multi-Use Bag:
The NorthStar Tuff Cloth Duffle Bag is your go-to option for toting along oversized items on your next trip. Most airlines limit oversized bags to carry select sporting equipment, and this enormous duffle from NorthStar can fit the bill. Large enough to store camping necessities, baseball or hockey equipment and even scuba gear (sans tank), the only thing you’ll have to worry about with traveling with this bag is not going over the 50lb weight limit assessed by airlines. Available in three colors, and smaller sizes are available.
Amazon User Review: “Bought this bag to use as checked luggage for a softball tournament. Put our chairs, umbrellas, cooler, jackets, shoes, etc in here. Plenty of room for everything. Lockable (lock not included) and sturdy. Went through baggage check several times and survived our flights intact.”
Best Bicycle Bag:
If you are passionate about pedaling, then you'll need to be serious about the bag you pack your bike in. While the price of the Evoc Bike Travel Bag is on the high side, its features are well worth clicking up to next gear for. Only requiring the handles, wheels, and pedals to be dismounted it’s one of the easiest storage solutions for taking your bike abroad. Constructed from rigid aluminum and utilizing a sturdy strap system, all your parts will stay safely in place when stowed. Choose from five different color combinations to best compliment your ‘cycle.
Amazon User Review: “So I was very hesitant to take my hard-earned bike and a) trust it to baggage handlers at the airport and b) trust it to a bag of any kind for transport. All I can say is, my gear made it cross-country without a scratch.”