By: Joe Parkin
Photos: Anthony Smith
They say home is where the heart is. While I believe this to be true, I also know that for those of us who travel, house can oftentimes be a suitcase. In my case—having been a road warrior since I was in my late teens—my suitcases have often really been my houses, carrying my possessions all over the world.
Until recently, my favorite had been an old Samsonite Oyster, a hard-sided and simple suitcase that could really take a beating. I traveled throughout Europe with the Oyster for more than three years before bringing it back to the States and retiring it for a seemingly more-appropriate-for-a-bike-racer duffel bag. Big mistake. Not only was the Oyster much easier to organize, it was easier to handle, and had lasted longer than my peer-approved duffel would.
Enter the Dakine Split Roller: An almost perfect marriage of hard-sided sensibility and soft-sided stuff-ability, my Dakine Split Roller has been traveling and living with me since December of 2009. Dakine's Split Roller zips open revealing a large, mesh panel-enclosed bottom half and three mesh panel-enclosed top half compartments.
The bottom half handles pants, shirts and even the odd suit jacket easily. But then again, the top half can do the same, save for the suit jacket. Since I live out of mine, I have one of the smaller zippered compartments stuffed full of socks, while the other houses an extra belt and toiletries. The larger middle section in the top half of the bag holds jeans and shirts. The bottom half has come to be home for my riding gear, hoodies, extra shoes and various other overflow items.
Since the first of February this year, I have used this suitcase almost every single day—seriously. It has been used and abused, tossed about and has been in more rental cars than most people will see in a decade or more. Its fabric and zippers have been stressed and stretched. Its handles and wheels have been thoroughly beaten, scuffed and neglected. It has even gotten lost a couple of times. And while a luggage test of just under a year may seem less than complete, consider the numbers:
40 or so flights between San Jose, California, and Orange County
4 trips to Seattle, Washington
3 trips to Europe
3 trips to Las Vegas, Nevada
3 trips to Bellingham, Washington
2 trips to Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 trip to Durango, Colorado
1 trip to Portland, Oregon
1 trip to Moab, Utah (including 4 days of camping)
1 trip to Augusta, Georgia
1 trip to Salt Lake City, Utah
and a few others I have surely forgotten
No, you can't buy the one like I have anymore, since the good folks at Dakine have improved it. Check one out at: www.dakine.com
Bottom line: This is a well-built, thoughtfully designed and extremely versatile piece of luggage. If you travel even just two or three times per year you will be well served taking a look at one of these. Mine shows only minimal wear after nearly a year of hard use.
My advice: Choose one of the brighter fabric patterns—not only will you be able to easily identify your bag on the carousel, the idiot who won't allow you to get close to the carousel will forever remember the color of the bag you, umm, accidentally drop on his foot.