Graphic: Shep McAllister

Is there anything better than hiking, biking, or climbing a mountain? How about hiking, biking, or climbing a mountain in another country or state?

Adventure travel is one of my favorite methods of exploring a new area, but luggage is a critical component. I can’t climb a mountain in New Zealand if I don’t have my gear, but getting everything from here to there takes some effort. That’s why I’ve rounded up five of the most rugged and burly luggage choices that can handle anything from excessive amounts of clothing to skis and bikes. Now, all you have to decide is where you want to go!


OGIO Alpha Convoy 522S Travel Bag 
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Best Carry-On: OGIO Alpha Convoy 522S Travel Bag 

If you’re traveling light and only want to bring a carry-on suitcase, the Alpha Convoy is a great option. Built from CORDURA EcoMade fabric, it’s environmentally friendly (made from recycled plastic) and ultra-durable with a high tear strength so nothing will permeate its shell. And, buyers can choose from a single or divided packing space with two mesh panels. I opted for the latter, and the amount of organization in this thing is unreal—it even has a separate sleeve for your laptop. Four wheels means the Alpha Convoy is easy to navigate in the airport, especially if you’re sprinting to catch the next flight. Downside: it’s pricey for a carry-on suitcase.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel
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Best for Large Loads: Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel

Sometimes, adventure travel is less about the nooks and crannies of gear and more about needing a gigantic bag that you can rely on to hold absolutely every item. If you’re looking for the latter, I highly recommend the 120-liter Transporter (it’s also available in a 90-liter and 40-liter size). Built from an 840-denier, TPU-coated nylon, this thing is burly personified. The water-resistant shell means your gear stays dry should you be lugging it through a misty morning, and the high-clearance design makes off-road wheeling a breeze (because who wants to pack a gigantic wheeled duffel only to carry it down a fire road?) Really, your only challenge will be finding enough gear to actually fill it to capacity.

The North Face Stratoliner
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Best for Organization: The North Face Stratoliner

While this 75-liter rolling suitcase may not be as large as others on this list, it more than makes up for its (relatively) smaller size with a super roomy clamshell design. Gone are the days of rummaging around for a tiny item swallowed in the dark corner of your gear hauler. Instead, unzip this bag boy and evaluate your gear as easily as if you’re looking at an open-faced sandwich. Additionally, the Stratoliner includes one cube for shoes storage, a large external front pocket for dirty-clothes storage, and an easy-to-access pocket for your passport. A rubberized bumper and 900-denier polyester make the Stratoliner a no brainer for rugged adventure.

Best for Bicycles: Thule Roundtrip Transition

Thule Roundtrip Transition Bike Case
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After four knee surgeries between my husband and myself, we’ve set our sights on adventure biking as a means of exploring new locales. But there’s one catch: we need to get our bikes there. I don’t know about you, but my bike is my baby and I want to make sure it arrives scratch-free after a long flight! Enter the Thule Roundtrip Transition, a hard-sided travel case that makes bike transportation a breeze. An integrated stand keeps your bike upright, but also doubles as a bike stand so you can easily tinker with your ride upon arrival. Nylon wheel bags are included to prevent wheels and frame from banging together. Sure, the Roundtrip is pricey, but you’ll never need to buy another bike case again.

High Sierra Deluxe Single Ski Bag
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Best for Single Skis: High Sierra Deluxe Single Ski Bag

Taking your skis on a plane is risky, a lesson I learned all-too-well a few years ago. Upon my arrival in Park City, I learned the baggage handlers had knocked my ski bag off the luggage cart and dragged it a few miles across the tarmac. My skis were shredded, my poles snapped in half, and all of my ski clothes were covered in holes from the high-friction burning through the fabric. It was a mess. Thankfully, I don’t sweat it anymore because the High Sierra ski bag keeps my mind at ease. The 600-denier Duralite nylon fabric is super durable so your gear should be fine, unless an actual airplane runs over the case. Copious padding on the interior protects your bindings, and long-ish straps are big enough to throw the entire thing over your shoulder like a purse. Added bonus: all this protection is actually affordable.