Dakine Split Roller 85L Review
Compare to Similar Products
Dakine Split Roller 85L
|Price||$178.46 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$202.29 at REI
$287.10 at Amazon
$146.99 at Amazon
$132.52 at Amazon
|Pros||Extensive organizational components, rolls with ease, flexible design||Durable construction, large capacity, rolls with ease across mixed terrain||Smooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great style||Cavernous main compartment, scratch- and water-resistant, easy-roll spinners||Inexpensive, rolls easily, large capacity|
|Cons||Split-wing feature difficult to employ, sticky zippers, low clearance, poor water-resistance||Limited interior organizational features, easy to overpack||Zippers could be smoother, low clearance, exterior metal frame shows scratches||Tough to transport on mixed terrain, easy to overpack, limited organizational features||Low-grade materials, poor craftsmanship, sticky zipper|
|Bottom Line||A highly flexible and easily packable rolling duffel with useful organizational and structural extras and a stand-out look||The perfect all-terrain rolling duffel with substantial storage capacity and useful organizational extras||A durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travel||An oversized yet lightweight mega-bag with spinner-tight roll and control over smooth surfaces and surprisingly tough exterior construction||A low priced expandable suitcase with enormous storage capacity but dubious durability|
|Rating Categories||Dakine Split Roller...||REI Co-op Big Haul...||Timbuk2 Copilot||Samsonite Omni PC H...||Amazon Basics 30" H...|
|Storage & Organization (25%)|
|Ease of Transport (25%)|
|Specs||Dakine Split Roller...||REI Co-op Big Haul...||Timbuk2 Copilot||Samsonite Omni PC H...||Amazon Basics 30" H...|
|Measured Weight||9.6 lbs||9.6 lbs||10.1 lbs||10.3 lbs||11.6 lbs|
|Liters per Pound (higher is better)||8.9||11.1||10.7||14.1||10.9|
|Construction||Clamshell, soft-sided||Zip open, duffel||Clamshell, soft-sided||Clamshell, hard-sided||Clamshell, hard-sided|
|Measured Packed Dimensions||30" x 14.75" x 13"||33.75" x 16.25" x 14"||28.2" x 15" x 15"||30.5" x 20.5" x 13"||30.75" x 21" x 12|
|Number of Wheels||2||2||2||4||4|
|Number of Large Interior Compartments||3||1||2||2||2|
|Interior Storage Features||1/2-clam zippered mesh enclosure; other half has 2 zippered sections, a smaller mesh compartment up top and a larger neoprene mesh enclosur eon other. Waterproof section features the split wing supports below too||2 mesh organizational pockets on inside of opening panel (one with key hook), 2 internal compression straps||2 mesh clam panels with 2 organizational pockets||Elastic restraint straps in one-half clam, zip enclosure over opposite half; hanging zipper accessory pocket||One-half clam with elastic restraint straps, one-half large zip enclosure with 2 zip mesh pockets, hanging zip accessory pocket|
|Number of Exterior Pockets||2 frontside exterior pockets||1 side exterior zip pocket. 1 small top zip pocket with piggy-bag strap attachment, plus daisy-chain gear loops||1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve||None||None|
|Compression System||2 external compression straps||2 external and 2 internal compression straps (4 in total)||No||2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression||2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression|
|Handle Height from Ground||Low: 39"
|Built-In Lock||No||No||No||Yes, TSA Approved||No|
|Main Exterior Material||600D Recycled Polyester, Plain weave with print and water repellent finish, bluesign® approved material.||Recycled 400-denier nylon/recycled 1,680-denier nylon (bluesign®-approved)||Nylon and polyester||Polycarbonate||Extra-thick ABS, hard shell|
|Unique Features||Split wing supports for added stability at bottom of bag when desired; clamshell opening on roller duffle; 3 interior sections; 2 exterior pockets; replaceable urethane wheels; compression outside||Oversized wheels, rugged chassis, full-length bumpers, 2 internal and 2 external compression straps, stopper-stand, carry-on piggyback clip, 6 haul handle options, daisy chain lash points, water-resistant||Liquids pocket and padded front pocket to fit 13" laptop; skateboard wheels||Built-in TSA-approved lock; large packing capacity; impressive water resistance, expandable, anti-scratch exterior||150D-polyester zippered clamshell enclosure, 3 organizational pockets|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Straddling two luggage worlds, the Dakine Split Roller combines the protective structure and durability of a hard-sided clamshell suitcase with the flexibility and easy storability of a soft fabric roller duffel. So, while it doesn't stand out as a top performer in either individual category, it has an unusual mix of organizational and transport features that will appeal to active travelers hauling gear between city and sporty destinations.
Storage & Organization
On first look, it's easy to get excited about the Split Roller. With its unusual combination of a hard base plus a soft-sided duffel top, this split-level case seems destined for hauling gear on active adventures.
A standard clamshell opening reveals three interior compartments, each closed by a zip restraint panel. The soft duffel side features two mid-sized compartments, the larger of which is constructed of water-resistant polyester to keep moisture and dirt from crossing over into the rest of your bag (making it a great option for shoes or other wet and dirty items). On the hard side, you'll find a bag-length neoprene mesh restraint panel with just enough stretch to allow you to over-stuff the section whenever needed. Given the bag offers no other internal compression or expansion options, this comes in particularly handy when you've grabbed one too many souvenirs before heading home.
Once the two clam halves are zipped back up, you can now take advantage of a pair of sizeable compression straps wrapped around the width of the bag to help reduce the bulk of your items and increase stability when the bag is set to standing. You'll also find two good-sized exterior pockets along the front side, each with just enough space to stash day-of necessities like charging cables, toiletries, a book, or even a slim pair of shoes or a warm layer for the road. A small tuck-away ID pocket is found along one side for a bit of added security.
At 85 liters, the Split Roller is not the largest case in our test group, but it is certainly big enough to accommodate all you're likely to need for an average week away. And for longer journeys, you'll find a larger 110-liter version available.
The most distinguishing feature of the Split Roller is its patented Split-Wing Collapsible Braces. Built into the front-side bottom compartment, each "wing" slides into a pocket inside the soft fabric. Once secured, the pair creates a secondary structural support protecting the contents within the duffel side of your case and adding upright stability. When you land at your final destination, just unpack and disengage. With the wings flat, you can then compress the entire bag into its hard base — from a 13-inch depth to only 8.5 inches — and easily store it away inside narrow spaces.
While we found the Split-Wing feature to be smart in concept, in practice, it proved less than perfect. A considerable amount of effort was required upfront to slide the wings into their assigned pockets for use (the alignment just wasn't quite right). Once forced into place, the increased structure made it harder to zipper the bag shut around its base. And given the initial headache in setup, we were then hesitant to disengage the feature later.
That said, after several rounds of use, we can report the wings loosened up, and the setup process became less labor intensive — although the zipper never stopped hanging up around corners, even over time. Also, although there are numerous compartments for organizing gear inside and out, we don't love that the only way to access the inside of the bag is to flop the entire thing wide open. With so many pockets, it would be ideal to have a top-level access point to the bag's core, as seen in some other options in our test group.
Ease of Transport
The Split Roller is designed for versatile and gear-heavy travel, so it makes sense that the wheelbase is large and well-reinforced. And at just over 3 inches in diameter and nearly a full inch thick, the case's inline wheels do appear well-ready to tackle rugged and city-slick terrain alike. But without any notable tread to the wheel design and with only a one-inch clearance at the bag's base, we found the final result less than ideal for the task whenever rocks, leaves, or potholes featured in the mix.
The high-grade retractable handle (with a choice of three height settings) made easy work out of navigating tight quarters and lengthy pathways whenever the going ran smooth. And the combination of split-wing braces with exterior compression straps ensured a stable ride no matter how much we overstuffed the bag. Not once did we encounter issues with tipping. Nor did we have trouble keeping the bag closely aligned with our steps when on the go. Plus, with five grab handles (including the stand at the base that doubles as a hand grip), there are lots of options to pull from when loading and hauling.
Constructed out of a Bluesign-approved 600D recycled polyester with a water-repellent finish, thick corner guards, hefty #10 lockable YKK zippers, and large, road-ready wheels, the Split Roller seems designed to take a beating. But its unusual split-level structure does leave some room for pause on the subject of durability. Specifically, there are no protective bumpers along the compression-molded bottom, so when the case hits the ground, that surface takes the full force of those encounters. It is also covered in a fabric-like textured material that suggests a level of vulnerability to scuffing and abrasions. While we saw no indication of significant wear under testing, and can only speculate as to what the future may hold, we'd keep still keep a watchful eye on it.
Both wheel and telescoping handle housings proved sturdy in use and under duress, with no signs of breakage or impact from road, stair, or throw testing. And the heavy-weight, well-padded load handles appear heavily stitched and well-locked into the top and side structure of the bag.
Where we saw less optimistic results was in the water testing. Although the exterior fabric claims to be water-repellant, and the bag is built with hefty #10 YKK lockable zippers for all exterior openings, this didn't appear to be enough to keep water out once a consistent shower was applied. In the end (after subjecting the bag to constant water for 4 minutes), we found water inside both front pockets as well as inside the bag's main compartments, pooling in great quantities and soaking the contents within. Even with protective flaps over the pocket zippers, each front-side pocket quickly filled with water. Meanwhile, no flaps protect the primary zipper around the clamshell opening, and unsurprisingly, all central compartments showed similar results. So if wet weather and outdoor exposure are in your future, this is a design deficit to take note of.
At 9.6 pounds, the Split Roller is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to weight. Yet at only 85 liters of carrying capacity (and with no expansion feature), it also ranks low regarding its weight-to-volume ratio. So it's hard to argue this is the most efficient option for packing. Yet the Split Roller is highly functional and reasonably sized to carry an average week's worth of travel items, and it is likely to be a particular favorite among those who like to keep some gear separated from the rest of their bag's contents. It's also an easy choice if you want to be held to the airline's 50-pound checked weight limit, as it would be harder to overfill a case of this size.
Dakine is known as an adventure sports brand, and its gear is often associated with a trendy, youthful vibe. The Split Roller certainly fits that bill, coming in various colorways and patterns, including classic shades like black or heather gray and other bolder options such as floral, tropical, or camo patterns. And the casual yet gear-focused design brings a bit of a skater/snowboard energy to the luggage carousel and demonstrates a solid resistance to the classic marks of travel in transit. If you want to stand out a bit — or a lot — among the airport crowd, this bag will do the trick.
Should You Buy the Dakine Split Roller 85L?
If you want something casual, sport-ready, organizationally effective, and durable enough for trips through mountain dirt, sandy beach boardwalks, and city streets, this is an excellent and reasonably priced suitcase to consider. While there are others in the test collection that might deliver a superior presentation of any one individual feature, the Split Roller offers a great balance of the key elements that make a solid casual suitcase, and it comes in a wide enough variety of colorways to suit the preferences of nearly every type of leisure traveler. It won't be a top pick for business travel, and it isn't water-resistant enough to handle rugged outdoor adventures, but it is likely to be a favorite among younger, active travelers who require flexibility and high functionality on the road and have limited storage space when returning home.
What Other Suitcases Should You Consider?
Do you like the creative split-level design of the Dakine Split Roller 85L but prefer something a bit less sporty? The Timbuk2 Copilot offers a similarly effective soft-sided clamshell design but with a more modern, streamlined look. It weighs about the same for its 80-liter size (although larger and smaller options are available), and as an added bonus, it offers top-side access to the main compartment so you can more easily add and remove belongings during transit. For a solid roller duffel without the split-level clamshell construction, you can't go wrong with the REI Big Haul. Or, for maximum organizational features and gear-hauling extras plus top-tier durability, consider the Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 30.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More