Road Tests :: Rip Curl Global F-Light Wheeled Bag
We put a big value wheeled bag through it’s paces
In the world of big wheeled bags, action sport brands offer some pretty rad value. Guys like Burton/Gravis, Dakine and Rip Curl build feature rich sandwich bags that let you haul a heap of hear around the globe, and they usually go for sub $200. We picked one of our favorites, and dragged it through a couple of trips…
The travel range from Rip Curl
Everything the Curl do is meant to be inspired by the Search, so it’s a good thing that they make lots of bags and travel gear. The F-Light range is a selection of luggage that offers a bunch of features while keeping the weight and the price pretty low. They buffed us the bigger Global Wheelie to test, which is also available as a girls focused bag.
This is a 105 litre sandwich construction wheeled bag that retails for $160 in the US, and weighs a pretty svelte 3.5kg (7.7 lbs). There are higher quality bags that cost lots more, or cheaper bags that fall apart much faster. This is aiming to be a solid middle performer that will survive many trips without breaking the bank. So how did it go…?
Organizing was sorted
Sandwich bags work great for traveling with lots of gear. You have 2 big sections, and can usually squeeze around helmets and oddly shaped sports gear. If you are a neatness freak, you should supplement it with some packing cubes.
The above image was a last minute pack for a family surf trip. There’s a potty, all sorts of kid chaos, and even a cot in that bag, and it all fit no prob’s.
It stands up
The major downside to poorly built sandwich bags is that the front half of the sandwich needs enough structure to keep the bag standing upright, both when full or empty. The Global does this with a bent collar of honeycomb structure, which means it won’t be flopping forward in an endlessly frustrating airport dance.
The telescoping handle is very generic, but it’s fine, it works, and because it’s internal, it shouldn’t get dinged and stop working.
And it squashes flat
Most of a travel bag’s life is spent in storage. This is the biggest issue with hardcase luggage, as it takes up a big volume even when trying to hide in a cupboard. The Global works for many different load sizes, and then squeezes into tiny spaces when you don’t need it. Yay.
There’s enough pockets
I love external pocketing on a carry-on bag, because you often need to drop in pocket contents to slip through security. On check-in bags, I don’t use them much. The Global has a couple of external pockets in case that’s your thing. There’s not really any protection with them, so they’re sufficient rather than amazing.
The build quality works
In engineering, they talk about quality as meaning ‘fitness for purpose’. That means a Ferrari is a shit quality off-road vehicle, and IKEA furniture is good quality for the price. The Rip Curl F-Light series is the right level of build quality for the price. All the key load points are well reinforced, the buckles stay closed even when grabbing the webbing (rather than popping open), and most of the high abrasion points have been designed out through sensible panel placement and the moulded floor. Yes, you might get the odd loose thread that you wouldn’t on a trillion dollar bag, and yes it will start to break apart if you travel like Ryan Bingham, but for most of us, it’s totally sufficient for our needs.
The wheels and frame are appropriate
Hard wheels scratch floors (when a pebble jams under them), and make lots of noise. These are soft enough to avoid those issues. Also, cheaper wheel systems that place on the outer corners of wheeled bags are more susceptible to breakage. Placing these wheels in a touch avoids that (harder to bend axles when they are pinned on both sides).
I’ve also taken a shot of the internal frame (sand included), so you get a feel for the simple but effective reinforcement. Once again, this is
Looks count, and these are solid
As with all surf companies, you’ll see different logos and colorways used through the seasons. For instance, the girls version of this bag is already running a fun pop color check that will get lots more attention. If you’re not into black with pop yellow, just wait a few months and there will be other options.
So what’s missing?
Split abilities: If you travel a lot through the US, it can occasionally be an advantage to have a split roller, as often US carrier weight restrictions are per bag rather than overall.
Dakine has a good option for this [oops, turns out they've recently discontinued this model]. The downside is that the weight of these split bags is usually higher (around 5kgs).
Mega warranties: In travel, you can get long and even lifetime warranties. Rip Curl has 12 months on their gear, and are generally good in their support of this. You can definitely get longer though, so if that’s a big thing, check some of the more expensive brands.
Epic waves: They still can’t guarantee those.
Similar luggage to check out
The Dakine split roller is worth a check, but it is kinda heavy. Gravis are solid, with their Trekker being the most similar, but again, it’s almost 5kg (the Burton equivalent is also a bit on the heavy side). There’s some neat hybrids that can wheel or be carried from Osprey, but for this type of sandwich bag, we kinda like the Rip Curl.
So yeah, it’s a good wheelie…
If you need to fork out some hard earned cash to buy a solid wheelie bag that will bounce around the world with you, the F-Light is a darn good place to start. It’s hard to find big wheeled bags that weigh less than 8lbs. To then also get one that is quick to grab, looks good, and doesn’t make many mistakes is even harder. We’re stoked that Rip Curl gave us this, but we’d very happily have paid for it. It’s well worth the coin.