Update: We’ve returned from our ISSW Europe trip, the Thunder performed flawlessly. Only grip is that fully extending the handle requires two button pushes. That’s by design, to provide a half-way handle extension. But in real-life travel we prefer the simply one-button, extend routine as we’re doing the endless mode changes of modern airline travel.
Elephentine ski bags have been the albatross during most of my Europe travels. As I’m not bringing ski touring gear to ISSW, Innsbruck, time to go small: roller carry on (along with computer backpack). TNF sent a Rolling Thunder for the experiment. At 40 liters capacity (2441ci) this guy will pass carry on inspection for any flying situation I’ve experienced, from commuter to jumbo jet. But it’s indeed not the bloated duffel one sees permissive airlines often allow in their passenger compartments, sometimes accompanied by an obviously downer drugged emotional support mammal. Here you go Fifi, nibble your oxy and be good.
Okay, point taken dear readers, my writing the above makes it certain I’ll be seated next to said fur ball — karma of the airways and all that. In theory, however, my better side will be accompanied by my better half, as Mrs. WildSnow is heading over the pond as well. Yes, the obvious joke my friends: to lend emotional support.
All I can say is we WildSnow humans claim we are better behaved than the common yipper (if you forget the time I got yelled at for accessing the bathroom during landing). To the object at hand…
The TNF Rolling Thunder is beyond burly. Let us switch that adjective to mesomorphic. With wheels. Begin with the half-shell and retractable roll handle comprising the back. The shell wraps up and morphs to “Base Camp” composite-nylon that could possibly wear through the LAX conveyor belts before the belt wore through it. I’d say the same for the wheels; detach and use as the missing spare tire on the scammer taxi you hire in Lima. Buenísimo, senior, we charge you to use your own wheels!
While massive, the 7.5 pound weight of the Rolling Thunder is more about durability than providing an annoying slew of “file cabinet” pockets (I’d rather add weight in the form of extra socks than twenty-five more zippers). You get the main zip-flap and two exterior zip compartments (one on top near the pull handle, for snacks as you roll). A mesh interior sleeve-pocket rounds out the storage. A strap system is provided for lashing another bag to the exterior, for those lengthy treks from the commercial terminal to your private jet FBO.
Best for last: Ball bearing floated polyurethane wheels, and an interior that’s exactly the right size for a downsized napping canine. Heard while flight debarking: “I can’t find Fifi!” We like our new WildSnow mascot. Not Fifi, we gave her back. Just look for the guy and girl deftly dragging their TNF Rolling Thunders.
14 x 22 x 8.5in (Yes Virginia, the art of packing shall be yours.)
7.5 pounds (Heavy, but weight is due to durability not gadgets.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.