Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skate Bags

As an adult skater, you have something that child skaters don't have: a credit card! You can buy your own skate bag so what do you buy?

ZUCA--The Dark Side
You may see the kids in the rink with their Zuca bags trailing them like faithful dogs. Now look around; Do you see many adults using them? Probably not (your mileage may vary). There's a reason most adults don't go the Zuca route. It's the weight.

Kids love the Zuca so they can pull all their things around the rink. But it's Mommy who's taking the Zuca in and out of the car. Imagine how much stuff you can get in that locker on wheels. Imagine putting it in the trunk, then out. In. Out. Feel the back pain yet? Right. That's why I went another route.

Duffels Can Be Evil
 In general hand carried duffels (I'm not talking about the rolling duffels) can be a useful answer for the adult skater. They're anonymous, nothing says 'Skater'. The duffel just says 'athlete'. (Or in my case 'athlete wannabe'.) Duffels come in an amazing variety of sizes, so if you have really big skates you can find something to meet your needs.

But, like a Siren of Greek mythology calling you to a shipwreck, duffles can be beautiful--but evil.

They're widely available, and the quality widely varies too. I've had them that came apart at the seams in a few weeks. The zippers come apart or get stuck in the cheaper varieties. The pockets can be too small, if you don't select carefully. Better quality duffels don't have these problems, but with that big single compartment, even if the bag is well made, all your stuff is mixed higgledy piggledy in there.

As a general rule, duffels come with a soft bottom, and don't have feet, so when you set it on the floor everything just bangs down. The lack of feet means that if there's any water on the floor, it soaks in.

Yoga Totes
If you're a woman, certain totes can be useful for skating. But there's usually ties or or a flap, designed to hold a mat. These can get in the way. I think yoga totes aren't big enough for men. Also, yoga totes don't often have enough space in them to carry more than a pair of skates and some rags.

Rolling Suitcases
I've seen some people bring in suitcases (of varying sizes). Usually these are coaches who carry their lives in there (I've seen a small boom box appear out of one). Ice dancers also seem to accumulate an amazing amount of stuff.  These potentially have the weight problem of the Zucas, but if you need the space and the organization, you need it. These are almost always cheaper than Zucas and can carry more stuff.

Gym Bags
There's gym bags other than duffels. A lot of sports have specialized bags. I've met one skater who used a bowling bag. So if you have something and it fits, no reason you can't use it. Or explore Amazon, eBags or Zappos and see what's offered there.

Do you need a bag at all?
Actually, no. I've seen a couple of high level skaters (not elite skaters), who just used shopping bags. One woman I met used a reusable grocery bag. Adult skaters are usually more impressed by your skating than by your stuff. Pick what you need. 

What I use
I wish I could say I have the magic answer. I'm a 'bag junky' and I want my bag to be perfect. Here's what I want:

Big central area for skates and a light jacket
At least three big pockets for gear
Handles (not shoulder straps)
Stiff bottom
Feet to keep it off the floor

Is it too much to ask for? Apparently so, as I can't find a bag with everything.
Right now I carry my freestyle boots in a duffel with handles and three big pockets. 
My dance boots are in a yoga bag with the mat straps cut off (Not enough pockets) Grr! but it has feet (and a hard floor). Also too small.
I also have a small carry on roller suitcase for when I take my skates on the road. Not enough pockets. Weighty.

I'm eyeing the bowling ball bags now. Someday my skate bag will turn up, like Cinderella's prince.

No, not Prince Smarming. Prince Charming!


  1. I'm an adult with a zuca! I walk to the rink most of the time (about 30 minutes walk), so being able to pull it rather than lug it on my bag or shoulders is really helpful. It also has loads of pockets to keep spare screws (although I forgot I put them in it and thought I'd lost them til I found them by accident), spare laces, ibuprofen gel and assorted bits and pieces that I don't need all the time, but need occassionally or I might need one day.

    Considering it's been dragged up and down a lot of stairs, through stoney paths, and generally thrown around for a year, it's pretty tough. The insert could do with replacing, but it doesn't NEED replacing yet.

  2. I have your dream bag!! Big central area, three pockets for stuff plus a special "pocket" where you can put your shoes to keep them separate from everything else (think about how gross shoe soles are!), handles, stiff bottom, feet, lightweight. It's perfect! Here's the catch -- it was a gift from the Washington Capitals for season ticket holders. I was amazed at how nice it is. It's incredibly durable. The perfect bag. I checked mine out to see if there was a tag or name of the manufacturer I could pass along to you, but there wasn't. Still, maybe you could check out some hockey sites and see if you can find something? This bag really is awesome. Good luck finding the perfect bag!

  3. I use a Transpack skate bag with the backpack straps. I bought the smaller one (advertised as the 'kids' bag) because my skates are a size 7 so they fit. I can carry my skating clothes plus a ligt weight jacket in the middle section....but I skate in a warm shopping mall rink so if you're skating in a cold rink there probably wouldn't be enough room for cold weather layers. When it needs to be replaced I'll probably get another one, but the larger size.

    Most kids at my rink have Zucas, but I've only seen a couple of adults with them.

  4. How did you miss the backpack!

    I really want a Zuca (yeah, most of the adults at our rink have them too) but it is not worth the money to me, plus sometimes in the summer I like to bike to the rink, so a non-backpack is out. Instead, I decorated my backpack with rhinestones. It makes me happy. Money saved!

    I can't imagine not having a bag... Mine is stuffed full!

  5. # Anonymous. Being able to walk to the rink, how super! I don't blame you for using a zuca.

    @Nancy. I forgot about the Transpacks. I've never seen one in the wild so it slipped my mind.

    @Mer. The way I figure it, if I had that bag you're talking about, some nice man at the rink would come up to me and say "So you follow the Caps?" I'd say I missed the last time they played, could he give me a run down. Then he'd ask me out for dinner. We'd start dating. I'd ask him if he wanted to improve his edges for hockey. He'd say yes. I'd get him into ice dance. Then I'd finally have a partner!!! and possibly a husband. Isn't life mysterious. I'm obviously destined to marry and do the Argentine Tango with a Caps fan.

    @Jessim Backpacks are okay. When I used to bike to a former rink, I had bags mounted on the rack. That was sweet.

  6. I've got a cheap transpack. Love the mesh ventilation for skates (a must) and large capacity for everything else. Although mine is breaking down after two years of use, maybe I need an more expensive one for better life.

    On the other hand, I occasionally use a generic gym bag if I have to carry skates around in my muggle life (lol @ skittl). Semi-undercover AOSS.

  7. I have a wheely backpack! I mostly use it like wheeled suitcase but within a couple of seconds (undoing a zip and clicking the straps in place) it is a rucksack. It expands too - so the days I need to carry my skating clothes everything fits in with room for my lunch too!

  8. I have a very large, lightweight, wheeled bag that I got in the luggage section at Marshall's (or TJMaxx, can't recall). It's only got one interior pocket (big enough for two pairs of adult skates, plus stuff), so I use one of those mini purse-organizers to hold my tights, gloves, wrist guards, etc. But it does have a stiff bottom, retracting handle, and two mesh exterior pockets, perfect for slipping in a travel coffee mug, damp skate rag, etc. It was only $15, so I was willing to sacrifice the lack of multiple interior pockets. Point being: try the luggage sections of these kinds of discount stores. There were several good options there to choose from in different styles (with or without wheels) and so much cheaper and lighter than a Zuca.

  9. The bag I use was a give away from the legislative branch of the Spanish government when I visited during a study abroad in Madrid. Nothing fancy, but it works. Thanks Spanish taxpayers!

  10. I'm an adult with a Zuca! And many of the adults at my rink have Zucas, or the rink bag you get at group lessons (a massive sports bag, I suppose you'd call it a duffle). I take public transport to the rink for work and skating, and having an extra seat on the tram/ tram stop is really handy. Zucas also hold A LOT of stuff, but I've never found it too heavy to lift up the stairs of a tram or into the boot of a car. They're also amazing for travelling (with or without skates), and for competitions.
    However, if you're just driving to the rink, walking a short distance, etc., then take a look at sports bags offered by Nike, Puma, etc- I use a huge puma sports bag during skate camp to carry all my on and off ice gear, and they come in a multitude of sizes.

  11. Most of the "cool kids" at my rink have switched from Zuca's to transpacks, because more of the latter fit in a car boot for group trips to other rinks o_0

    1. Although many people use ZUCAs

  12. Babbette -- You crack me up! If I notice any men ice dancing in hockey skates, I'm going to assume it's your influence. They'll have beautiful edges! ;-)

  13. My favorite bag is the LL Bean skate bag. ( ) I love that it has a padded divider, so the skates are separated and not scuffing each other up. I want a shoulder strap, not short handles or backpack straps, and this bag has the shoulder strap. With ladies size 6 skates there's plenty of room to get in a light jacket and quite a bit of miscellaneous stuff. My daughter has size 3.5 skates and can get her helmet in the main part of the bag (along with her skates). The smaller side pocket has lots of space, for things like CDs, your phone, socks, gloves, etc. There's a small zippered pocket which is great for your keys and change.

    Unfortunately, the this year's colors aren't quite as nice as last year, but it's still a very practical bag at a very reasonable price. Other skaters report that it wears very well - five years old and still looks new, according to one person.