Over the course of the past 10 years, I’ve dragged a Dakine Split Roller 100L around the world-Munich, Paris, Las Vegas, Sun Valley, New York City, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco… I’ve lost track of all the cities I’ve towed the thing through, but I can tell you this-when it comes to packing a godawful lot of gear and humping it from terminal to terminal without herniating a disc, it’s hard to beat Dakine’s old standby.
DAKINE SPLIT ROLLER 100L | $210 | DAKINE.COM
The Split Roller 100L accommodates, no surprise, 100 liters of gear and, yeah, that adds up to a whole lot of chamois, toothpaste and spare inner tubes. What’s more, the bag is smartly divided–one half contains three separate, zippered compartments and the other half is sort of a giant, kitchen-sink affair. The two small zippered compartments are a boon for cyclists-I can fit any helmet (shy of a full face) in one small compartment and my ratty, funk-infested shoes go in the other small compartment. Dirty clothes go in the middle and clean clothes tend to take up the other half of the bag. Well, that’s how I roll anyway, but the point here is that the Dakine Split Roller allows you to neatly divide your belongings and separate the fresh from the foul. Finally, the Split Roller also sports two large zippered exterior pockets-which are great places to stash items that you’ll need quick access to while you’re on the run.
Of course, the problem with packing a ton of clothing and cycling gear is that actually toting the stuff around can be a colossal pain in the arse. Remarkably, the Split Roller makes toting any load under 50 pounds pretty painless. The bag rolls on two rollerblade-style urethane wheels. Just pull out the retractable lever, tilt the bag and you’re off to the races. You can haul ass with this thing full loaded. I’ve carried much lighter loads in less cleverly-designed bags that actually felt a lot heavier than a fully-loaded Split Roller. Kudos to Dakine on making the implausible a reality. After a decade of use, one of the wheels on my first roller bag gave up the ghost (the bearings were fine, but the urethane cracked and spontaneously combusted as I was running from one end of LAX to the other. Fortunately, you can replace the roller wheels-which I did with minimal drama.
The Split Roller gets high marks, in general, for its rugged construction and durable materials. The upper is made from 600 Denier polyester and despite an insane amount of abuse at the hands of Delta, United and Southwest airline baggage handlers, I’ve yet to find a single tear on either bag. I wouldn’t call the bags "bullet proof", but they are tough as nails.
What the Split Roller isn’t, however, is waterproof. If you’re looking for something that you can dunk in a river or leave out in the rain, this ain’t your pony. The Dakine is no dry bag. On a similar note, while the Dakine features several handles that make it easy to grab from any angle, it’ll never be the ideal bag for camping trips or taking off road. It’s too big and the semi-rigid bottom half of the clamshell design rules out trying to put this thing on your back. But, hey, you knew that already. This is a roller bag-their domain is airports, rental cars and hotel rooms. Within that realm, the Dakine Split Roller dominates.