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Dakine Split Roller 85L Review

A highly flexible and easily packable rolling duffel with useful organizational and structural extras and a stand-out look
dakine split roller 85l suitcase review
Credit: Myrha Colt
Price:  $285 List
Manufacturer:   Dakine
By Myrha Colt ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 7, 2022
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Storage & Organization - 25% 8.0
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 7.0
  • Reliability - 25% 7.0
  • Weight - 15% 6.0
  • Style - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Dakine Split Roller is a creatively designed clamshell wheeled duffel built of a hard-sided bottom paired with a soft top half. It has a patented Split-Wing Collapsible Brace that provides optional structural support when needed and flexibility for storage when you don't. Three interior storage compartments include one water-resistant section perfect for dirty clothes or shoes and another stretchy neoprene-mesh-covered section that can accommodate overstuffing. A pair of exterior compression straps help to reduce the bag's overall bulk once sealed, and two outer pockets make it easy to stash your day-of necessities on the go. The wheels are solid and large but lack the tread and clearance we'd prefer. Still, this is a solid suitcase to consider.
REASONS TO BUY
Extensive organizational components
Rolls with ease
Flexible design
REASONS TO AVOID
Split-wing feature difficult to employ
Sticky zippers
Low clearance
Poor water-resistance

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Extensive organizational components, rolls with ease, flexible designDurable construction, large capacity, rolls with ease across mixed terrainSmooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great styleCavernous main compartment, scratch- and water-resistant, easy-roll spinnersInexpensive, rolls easily, large capacity
Cons Split-wing feature difficult to employ, sticky zippers, low clearance, poor water-resistanceLimited interior organizational features, easy to overpackZippers could be smoother, low clearanceTough to transport on mixed terrain, easy to overpack, limited organizational featuresLow-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 lookThe perfect all-terrain rolling duffel with substantial storage capacity and useful organizational extrasA durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travelAn oversized yet lightweight mega-bag with spinner-tight roll and control over smooth surfaces and surprisingly tough exterior constructionA 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%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Transport (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Reliability (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
8.0
Style (10%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
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 9.4 lbs 10.3 lbs 11.6 lbs
Volume 85L 109L 80L 145L 127L
Liters per Pound 8.9 11.1 8.5 14.1 10.9
Construction Clamshell, soft-sided Zip open, duffel Clamshell plus topside u-shaped zip access, softshell Clamshell, hard-sided Clamshell, hard-sided
Measured Packed Dimensions 30" x 14.75" x 13" 33.75" x 16.25" x 14" 26.5" x 14.5" x 13" 30.5" x 20.5" x 13" 30.75" x 21" x 12
Expansion Zippers? No No No Yes Yes
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"
Mid: 42"
High: 45"
42" 40.5" Low: 36"
High: 41"
Low: 36.75"
High: 40.5"
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.

Performance Comparison


dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - with several thickly padded handles placed around the outside of the...
With several thickly padded handles placed around the outside of the bag, the Split Roller is easy to grab and load.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - the top side of the dakine split roller is a soft duffel while the...
The top side of the Dakine Split Roller is a soft duffel while the base is hard-structured and protective. A zipped clamshell opening connects the two and external compression straps stabilize the package.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - the hard-sided bottom half of the bag has a mesh panel made of...
The hard-sided bottom half of the bag has a mesh panel made of neoprene. Stuff it as full as you need and the stretchy material will provide plenty of give to get things sealed up again.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - thick straps with equally hefty latches allow you to compress the...
Thick straps with equally hefty latches allow you to compress the Split Roller back down once you've stuffed it full.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - perfect for long weekends with lots of activities since you'll have...
Perfect for long weekends with lots of activities since you'll have storage options for all the gear and big wheels to help you haul it.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

Just pull the split braces apart and slide each end into its...
Just pull the split braces apart and slide each end into its corresponding pocket along the case's inner liner below.
The braces are held in place using velcro strips.
The braces are held in place using velcro strips.
Once secure, the split wings provide stability and a hard outer edge...
Once secure, the split wings provide stability and a hard outer edge to the front bottom compartment of the Dakine case. This helps to protect more delicate items inside and helps to keep the bag upright when standing.

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - although the split wings are meant to bend and slide easily into the...
Although the split wings are meant to bend and slide easily into the corresponding pockets of the interior of the bag, they didn't perform as intended during testing (proving quite challenging to line up with the pocket below).
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - three separate interior compartments help to keep you organized...
Three separate interior compartments help to keep you organized while ensuring your belongings don't go flying when you open up the bag.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

At over 3 inches in size and a full inch thick, these wheels are...
At over 3 inches in size and a full inch thick, these wheels are ready to tackle the rigors of many common roads, even without tread for more all-terrain territory.
With large, thick wheels the Split Roller performed decently when...
With large, thick wheels the Split Roller performed decently when asphalt turned to gravel, cobblestone, or even grass. But without tread, it was still best-suited to smoother paths.

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - three handle height options means the short and tall among us will...
Three handle height options means the short and tall among us will have an equal chance at comfort.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Reliability


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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - although the compression molded bottom gives the impression of...
Although the compression molded bottom gives the impression of bumpers, the base's structure is one complete unit so there is nothing added to protect that surface from everyday bumps and bruises on the road.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - the split roller offers three height options and a comfortable grip...
The Split Roller offers three height options and a comfortable grip to ensure day-of travel is as comfortable in hand as possible.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

Every compartment of the Dakine Split Roller proved vulnerable to...
Every compartment of the Dakine Split Roller proved vulnerable to water when tested.
We found quite a bit of water pooled in the top exterior pocket.
We found quite a bit of water pooled in the top exterior pocket.
Even the compartment built specifically to handle moist or dirty...
Even the compartment built specifically to handle moist or dirty items didn't prove remarkably water-resistant, showing a considerable mount of water inside after testing.

Weight


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 split roller 85l suitcase review - at 9.6 lbs and only 85l, this bag isn't the lightest nor does it...
At 9.6 lbs and only 85L, this bag isn't the lightest nor does it offer the largest carry-load. But with great organizational features and a convenient midrange size, it makes a useful option for long weekends and other shorter getaways.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Style


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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - the dakine split roller is not a bag you'll have trouble spotting at...
The Dakine Split Roller is not a bag you'll have trouble spotting at the airport. And although not every pattern is for every traveler, there are several options to choose from including solid colors for the less adventuresome.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

dakine split roller 85l suitcase review - the all-terrain wheels have no trouble on dirt and the handles and...
The all-terrain wheels have no trouble on dirt and the handles and lash points provide options for latching items while rolling down the road.
Credit: Myrha Colt

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.

Myrha Colt
 
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