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Stuffing The North Face Rolling Thunder 30 for big bike trips

When you must mix riding and non-riding activities on your journey, this wheeled luggage can carry what you need

The North Face Rolling Thunder 30

It’s easy to pack for a bike trip. It’s even easier to back for a trip with no cycling. But mix the two, and I need more space. Before this year’s Eurobike, I was headed to the Dolomites for some road riding. Then it was off to the trade show, which is all about bikes, but for me, meant meetings, chatting about bikes and a lot of walking.

The North Face Rolling Thunder 30, with its 80 l of space, has plenty of room for five days of riding kit, foul- and cold-weather support for those rides, two water bottles, shoes, some ride fuel and basic maintenance supplies. I could fit plenty of options for après-bike dining and all the clothes I could need for the bike show. Oh, and there was also 10 kg of Canadian Cycling Magazine copies. Really, everything I could want for a week-and-a-half trip.

The main compartment is spacious. I like the wide-open section, which I can manage with stuff sacks to organize my gear. There are two straps you can use to cinch stuff down against the hard Base Camp bottom. It’s quite durable with its 1680D nylon-reinforced outside and can handle the lumps doled out by airport luggage handlers. The polyester fabric top panels can be cinched with four straps. There’s also a large external zippered compartment, where I’d stuff my dirty clothes. The mesh pockets in the inside of the main flap were good for socks, making it easy to find just the right pair. The main zipper is big and strong, qualities you want when you are filling up the bag and maybe need a bit of strength to seal things up.

I’ve had a luggage with wishy-washy extendable handles. Like a bike, you need good rigidity for solid handling. The North Face Rolling Thunder 30 has a solid extendable handle. Working in conjunction with its large wheels, I could weave easily through busy airports.

Now that I’m back from Eurobike, The North Face Rolling Thunder 30 is empty and my gear has been washed and put away (mostly). But the bag is still out. There are still trips that will mix cycling with non-cycling stuff. I know the Rolling Thunder 30 will be on the case.

(The North Face Rolling Thunder 30, $398, thenorthface.com)