Long-Term Review: Kulkea Thermal Trekker Heated Boot Bag

Drahtguy Kevin

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A heated boot bag is a piece of gear that you don’t realize you need until you use one. I first started using a heated bag about five years ago and couldn’t function without one now. Warm boots are one of life’s pleasures. My first heated bag is tattered, torn, and in shambles. It served me well but could have been more durable. Enter the Kulkea Thermal Trekker heated boot bag.

After using the Thermal Trekker for a few weeks, I have some initial impressions. Kulkea did its research on materials and construction. The zippers, tarpaulin bottom, and blend of nylons are bomber. I’ve drug, tossed, and yanked this bag a bunch and can see no signs of wear. One thing that stands out to me is the “performance handle” on the bag’s top. I’ve used it as a grab point the most. I can’t see this handle letting me down like the handle on my previous bag did.

Kulkea also went the extra mile with the adjustable shoulder straps and back support. I’ve found the Thermal Trekker to be easy to hoist and comfortable to carry. I purposely parked farther away from the lodge than I normally would on a few occasions to test the carry aspect. The included sternum strap helps keep the bag centered, and the waist belt kept much of the weight on my hips. Two thumbs up for ease and comfort.

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The Thermal Trekker holds a ton of gear. I bring too much stuff to the mountain, and this bag is up to the task. Kulkea says the bag will hold 3800 cubic inches of gear, and I believe it. The large center opening swallows my midlayers, pants, and jacket with room for extra socks, gloves, base layers, boot gloves, and a few other items I probably won’t need but might. A front pocket includes a fleece-lined goggle pouch and storage space for smaller miscellaneous items. The small top pocket is perfect for passes, glasses, gum, and a flask. An added perk to the heated boot compartments is that heat spills over into the main storage area and warms up my clothing. Score!

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The two heated side pockets run off a 120V wall plug or a 12V automobile plug and have high, medium, and low settings. I’ve used medium and high the most. The heated pockets wrap around the boot much like a taco shell. The heat comes fast and is consistent throughout the pad. The pockets hold up to a 31 mondo boot. I’m a 28.5 mondo, so no issues there. Sort of. I’ve found the heat doesn’t warm the toes of my boots to the same degree as it does the ankle area where I need it the most to soften my ZipFit liners. Perhaps the toe area sits beyond the heat pad? I’ve fiddled with boot direction and monkeyed with the position of the boots in the pockets, but nothing has helped get the toes hot. I was concerned at first, but after many uses I’ve found no negative effect on the warmth of my feet by not having hot toes to start the day. The crucial part is to have the shell warm enough so that I can enter easily and so that the ankle area of the liners is moldable: the bag does those things perfectly. On my last two-hour drive from my house to the mountain, my boots were warm and ready to go when I was. My boots have been dry each morning on the medium setting when plugged in overnight at the condo. Have I mentioned how nice warm boots are?

I will update this review throughout the season as the bag sees more use and travel. So far the Kulkea Thermal Trekker is a winner.

Any questions? Ask away.
 
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Wade

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Thanks for the review. Would this work as a carry on?

I had a Hot Gear bag that I liked, and although I could jam it in to the overhead storage on planes if I really tried, there was no chance of it meeting the carry on regulations, so I stopped using it. I went to a Dakine boot backpack that has a better form factor for my needs, but I miss the heated boot bag.
 
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Drahtguy Kevin

Drahtguy Kevin

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Thanks for the review. Would this work as a carry on?

I had a Hot Gear bag that I liked, and although I could jam it in to the overhead storage on planes if I really tried, there was no chance of it meeting the carry on regulations, so I stopped using it. I went to a Dakine boot backpack that has a better form factor for my needs, but I miss the heated boot bag.
This bag is too big for a carry-on unless the airline looks the other way and you don’t stuff it to the max. The Thermal Trekker measures 18”H x 14.5”L x 20”W.
 
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Started at 53

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For none air travel that looks like a winner

Any bag that stores the boots in a standup fashion will not fit under a seat and likely not in an overhead.
 
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Drahtguy Kevin

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For none air travel that looks like a winner

Any bag that stores the boots in a standup fashion will not fit under a seat and likely not in an overhead.
For air travel I carry my boots on and check my heated boot bag filled with clothes. Gotta have soft, dry, warm boots.
 
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Wade

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This bag is too big for a carry-on unless the airline looks the other way and you don’t stuff it to the max. The Thermal Trekker measures 18”H x 14.5”L x 20”W.
That’s a bummer.

I think there has got to be an opportunity for someone to make a heated boot bag in a form factor that works for airline travel.

The Dakine boot back pack I have is the perfect form factor for my needs, and meets airline carry on regulations (I know because I was made to stuff it into the test frame at the gate when the gate agent thought it was too big) while holding boots and everything I need for a day’s skiing.

Unfortunately even when transferring the heating element from my Hot Gear bag to the Dakine, it doesn’t really work because the bag isn’t insulated to keep the heat in, so the boots just end up being warm right next to the element and nowhere else.

@KULKEA, it looks like you make great ski boot bags. Please make a heated one that works for air travel. You’ll have at least one customer!
 

Philpug

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That’s a bummer.

I think there has got to be an opportunity for someone to make a heated boot bag in a form factor that works for airline travel.

The Dakine boot back pack I have is the perfect form factor for my needs, and meets airline carry on regulations (I know because I was made to stuff it into the test frame at the gate when the gate agent thought it was too big) while holding boots and everything I need for a day’s skiing.

Unfortunately even when transferring the heating element from my Hot Gear bag to the Dakine, it doesn’t really work because the bag isn’t insulated to keep the heat in, so the boots just end up being warm right next to the element and nowhere else.

@KULKEA, it looks like you make great ski boot bags. Please make a heated one that works for air travel. You’ll have at least one customer!
I am sure you can make a heated bag that will work for airline travel with all of the restrictions and space being more limited, I am not sure you will be able to put (adult) boots :(. What I do is I carry my boots on and I check and pack my heated bag with clothes and other stuff.
 

Wade

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I am sure you can make a heated bag that will work for airline travel with all of the restrictions and space being more limited, I am not sure you will be able to put (adult) boots :(. What I do is I carry my boots on and I check and pack my heated bag with clothes and other stuff.
I don't see why not. The Dakine boot back pack works well as a carry on, and while I guess you'd lose a little space by insulating and heating it, that doesn't seem like it would be an issue given the amount of room there is around the boots. Here's a pic of my 28.5 boots in my Dakine bag. There's a couple of inches all the way around. That would be more than enough for heating and insulation, and vertically there's also plenty of room.

When I fly, I don't really want to have my boots separate from the rest of my luggage, giving me something else to carry. Right now, I have my boots + a day's worth of ski clothes in a backpack, and I have a ski bag with my skis, poles and everything else I need. I'd love it if I could travel the same way and the boot pack was heated. Otherwise I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and look at other heating / drying solutions.

My intention wasn't really to argue the merits of form factors and what is or isn't possible for airline carry on. Rather, the Kulkea Thermal bag looks awesome, and @KULKEA clearly has smart, thoughtful designers. I just wanted to find out whether the Thermal would work as a carry on, and if not, suggest that there's an opportunity for those same smart, thoughtful designers to look at designing something for skiers who fly often with their boots and would like to carry them on in a heated boot bag.



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bbinder

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The Transpack heated bag has measurements that fit the carryon requirements of most airlines. I have used mine on multiple flights on Delta and American. It does not hold as much as the Kulkea (the Transpack is smaller) but the Kulkea appears to be much sturdier. I bought the Kulkea bag for my wife and daughter to try out and now they are fighting over it... The Kulkea bag is slightly heavier than the Transpack when empty, and that may be a factor for some folks. I will be carrying my Transpack on the plane when I fly. Like Phil, I will check the Kulkea bag; Marcia likes to carry on her boots in a rolling bag anyway. While not a factor for me, checking the Kulkea with a Ski bag will count as ‘one’ bag with most airlines. It looks like I know what I am getting daughter Daria for her birthday.
 

givethepigeye

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Does the Kulkea get as warm as the HotGear?

BTW - I've been flying for years at least a trip a month Dec-April w/ HotGear Classic - fits in overhead and you just gate check it on a RJ. Never had any issue, side-eye or whatever.
 

bbinder

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And the low, medium, high switch on the Kulkea only determines how fast the bag gets up to temperature. The high temperature is the same whichever level you choose.
 

TimF

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I haven't found a definitive answer or user experience on whether a heated boot bag will degrade the fit of a thermoldable boot and/or liners such as the Salomon Xmax series?
 

Philpug

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I haven't found a definitive answer or user experience on whether a heated boot bag will degrade the fit of a thermoldable boot and/or liners such as the Salomon Xmax series?
Just don't turn them to "broil", set them at "simmer" and you will be fine :)
 

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My wife is rocking one this season. She was interested in this model as it’s the only heated bag that keeps your boots in a separate compartment- others allow all your stuff to mix & get wet on way home.
 

Monique

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@Drahtguy Kevin - so do the toes warm up at all? I don't need a boot softener. I do want something to keep my toes warm.

And the low, medium, high switch on the Kulkea only determines how fast the bag gets up to temperature. The high temperature is the same whichever level you choose.
Just don't turn them to "broil", set them at "simmer" and you will be fine :)
Phil, your post doesn't jive with the post above. If they all hit the same temp, then what?

I put chemical warmers in the toe of my boots while I get ready in the morning, or on the drive. But that shouldn't get the shell too hot since they're sitting at the bottom of the boot. I have both heat molded liners and shells and would hate to mess up either.
 

bbinder

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The Kulkea bag will not affect custom foot beds or punches set at any level per the owner of the company. I only set the Transpack at rye “low” level and have had no problems.
 
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Drahtguy Kevin

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@Drahtguy Kevin - so do the toes warm up at all? I don't need a boot softener. I do want something to keep my toes warm.
The toes are warmer than room temperature but not as warm as the ankle/arch area of the boot. I think the toes of my boots extend past the heat pad. My toes don’t get cold while skiing.
 

Monique

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The toes are warmer than room temperature but not as warm as the ankle/arch area of the boot. I think the toes of my boots extend past the heat pad. My toes don’t get cold while skiing.
Thanks!
 

Philpug

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The toes are warmer than room temperature but not as warm as the ankle/arch area of the boot. I think the toes of my boots extend past the heat pad. My toes don’t get cold while skiing.
Think of the size of his boots (28.5 323mm), I think sub 315mm boots should be fine. I will let you know how my 25.5's do when my test bag comes.
 

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