Justin Reiter’s ski season isn’t over yet. After the Olympics in Pyeongchang, he’s finishing out the competitive season coaching World Cup snowboard athletes who include now-household name, Ester Ledecká, who won gold in both snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom and alpine skiing Super G. In his down time Justin loves sleeping with Big Agnes, and we love considering him a part of our family.
For the past 18 years I have traveled over 100,000 miles each winter competing—and now coaching—on the World Cup Snowboard tour. In that time I have had good bags, great bags, and sh!t bags. Over the past eight months I had the pleasure of packing my life into Big Agnes’s new line of luggage and putting it to the test all over the world.
To put it simply, it is the best luggage I have ever used. Strong, light, durable, efficient are the cornerstones of any luggage I choose to use. Big Agnes’s new bags execute each of those to perfection. Prior to going off and buying new bags, however, consider this: I am NOT a fancy pants bag guy that wants his luggage to match his Ferrari and French bulldog. I want my luggage to handle huge amounts of ever-changing gear: Be able to fall out of the cargo hold of a 747. Withstand years of travel to different environments. When not being used, the bags need to pack down small so they don’t take up excess space. The bags need to be BRIGHT and stand out amongst the sea of other bags so the throwers (luggage handlers) never overlook it. And, finally, they can’t weigh a ton by themselves causing you to leave behind essential gear like that last pair of special clean undies for the 30-hour travel day home. If you know the importance of each of these elements then these bags are for you. If none of that made sense then its best you stick with a couture duffel bag with somebody else’s name on it that I can’t pronounce.
25, 25, 10, 10. That’s my life for the better part of seven months a year. It breaks down to this: Duffel Bag 25kg, Board Bag 25kg, Boot Bag 10kg, Camera Bag 10kg. In that 70kg is everything I need to travel over 100,00 miles during the winter coaching on the World Cup and shredding on the seldom days off in between. During the remaining five months, it makes random trips with random gear from mountain biking and fishing the San Juan’s of Colorado to motorcycling the world’s highest motor-able passes in the Himalaya.
I prefer to travel light and fast bringing the bare minimum—but coaching doesn’t allow for that. Coaching requires a lot of extra gear that most days will never be used or even thought of. But on the days when an athlete has a boot that malfunctions at the Olympics, or your radios explode due to a power surge at a Serbian hotel, the extra weight is worth it. The ability to “MacGyver” your way out of a problem is often the difference of winning and losing. This season I upgraded to the Stagecoach and Big Joe duffels to hold the extra gear. The shape and durability of the Big Agnes bags are perfect for accommodating more gear. The rounded zippers hold well despite the increase in load. The water resistant construction of the bags does not allow for any stretch in the fabric, and as a result, I would suggest sizing up a bit so you aren’t struggling to make sh!t fit. The water resistant coating is BOMBER, and you can throw your gear on the top of an open truck bed in a rainstorm without worry.
Part of success for me as a rider, and now coach, is truly based on the ability to organize my life each day. During the winter, the longest stint we spend in one location is typically five days. As a result, the routine is typically pack—travel—unpack—sleep—train—compete—re-pack—travel. This constant state of movement and stress creates a prime environment for things to be forgotten. The design of the Big Agnes bags allow for better organization. When laid flat, the top completely opens so gear is easily displayed and loaded. You can organize based on priority, weight, protection, and truly customize the layout. Included in the Stagecoach is the Two Timer day pack with straps which makes for a fast and light pack if need be. I use it to separate undies and socks. Because the bag opens entirely, you never have to fully unpack, either. You can always access gear on the bottom—avoiding the rookie move of fully unpacking for a three-day stay.
As for durability, these bags have gone from my home in Steamboat, CO to India, back to the US, Italy, back to the US, to Italy again, back to Steamboat, to the Czech Republic, Austria, Ukraine, Slovenia, back to Austria, back to Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, back to Steamboat, Korea, Japan, back to Korea, back to Steamboat, back to Germany, Switzerland, back to Austria, Northern Germany, and while I’m writing this back to Austria all with ZERO issues, tears, zipper blowouts, or wheels blowing off! The bags have been tossed into countless rental cars, jets, trains, and busses with little show of wear. Their burly nature is only outdone by the forethought of the Big Agnes designers to build the bags with fully replaceable hardware, so when the star-studded cast of Denver International Airport decides to drag a bag from the runway in Kansas back to the luggage claim you can replace what they damage.
There are a lot of bags out there, and to be honest, I am a bit of a bag snob. I was hesitant to put some of my trusty bags aside this season to try Big Agnes’s new gear. I am more than happy I made the switch. As with all of their products, they took the time to research the key points in a good bag, executed the construction perfectly, and created a great line that anyone who values efficacy and integrity in their gear will appreciate. Thank ya’ Big Agnes for making 100k-mile years much better.
See the entire duffel collection HERE.
Follow Justin’s travel and coaching adventures HERE.