A schlep is often unavoidable, especially if you live in a city (and even more so if you live in New York City). Every week, I schlep — i.e. carry or haul — my laundry to the washing machine in my building’s basement and my groceries home from the store, which is several blocks away. I also constantly schlep boxes to and from the office, since we’re always trying new products at NBC Select.
After months of shoulder strains and breaking handles, my large reusable bags were no longer cutting it. Even the most spacious ones weren’t roomy or strong enough to hold what I needed to stuff inside. I also tried rolly carts and wagons, but they took up too much space in my apartment.
That led me to the Hulken bag, a giant tote on wheels that also folds flat. But if you’ve ever talked to a Hulken owner, you know that description just doesn’t do it justice. I like to think of the Hulken as my personal U-Haul truck — I fill it to the brim and roll to my destination. Chores and errands? No problem. My Hulken has conquered city streets, subway platforms, trips to the park, elevators and car rides. And every time I use it, someone stops me to ask where they can buy one.
Now, it’s time for me to spread the word. Although I rely on the Hulken in a city environment, I believe more people (even beyond city dwellers) need to know about this glorious bag and all its wonders. Read on to find out why it’s the best $100 that I’ve ever spent.
What is the Hulken bag?
The Hulken is a rolling tote bag designed to make transporting items easier. You can throw anything in your Hulken — almost. No toting people or pets inside the bag please, according to the brand.
The Hulken bag is available in medium and large sizes, measuring 16x12x20 inches and 20x16x24 inches, respectively. Both sizes have a weight limit of 66 pounds, according to the brand, and come with three handles. There’s one handle on either side of the bag, allowing you to carry it over your shoulder like a tote. You can also use these handles to roll the Hulken alongside you or pull it by its front handle.
Depending on which size Hulken you buy, there are four to five swivel wheels on its base and a cover attached to the top that you can either zip closed or tuck away inside. The Hulken folds down when it’s not in use, making it almost entirely flat other than the wheels. This lets me slide the Hulken bag under my bed or couch to store it, and it takes up almost no space in a closet. It comes in black, pink or silver colors.
How I use the Hulken bag
Since buying the Hulken, I’ve never gone to the grocery store or farmers market without it. I weave it through the aisles, fill it up with food, unload everything at the checkout counter and pile purchases back inside to head home. Without fail, people will stop me to ask questions about the Hulken, or pull out their phones to Google it.
The Hulken also makes laundry — my most dreaded chore — a bit more enjoyable. I can empty my hamper into the bag and roll down to my building’s laundry room — all without breaking a sweat. No more Santa-esque sacks of clothes flung over my shoulder. I throw my laundry detergent inside the bag, too, so all I need to carry is my phone and keys. I also load the Hulken with bags of donations to bring them to Goodwill or my local food pantry. Truly, it does it all.
Lauren Swanson, NBC Select editorial director, also owns a Hulken, and uses it to bring laundry to and home from the laundromat. Lindsay Schneider, NBC Select editor, says her Hulken bag comes in handy when she brings recyclables to the basement of her building. Our Hulkens travel with us back and forth to the post office to move boxes, and one of us typically has a Hulken at our desk to transport products.
Swanson has owned her Hulken for about three years, and over time, has found more and more ways to use it. She lives in a walk-up and once used the bag to get all the pieces of a shoe cabinet up into her third-floor apartment. The cabinet arrived in a large, bulky box she couldn’t carry by herself, so she unboxed all the pieces downstairs, loaded them into her Hulken and carried it up. During a blizzard, Swanson also used her Hulken to transport supplies for a bridal shower. “I wasn’t taking two trips in that weather, and the Hulken is the only reason I didn’t have to,” she says.
Why I love the Hulken
What makes the Hulken so special is its ingenious design. Read on to check out my favorite features and how each one contributes to the many ways I use the bag.
Size and shape
To give you an idea of how much the medium and large Hulkens hold, the brand offers a size guide on its website. The medium Hulken can hold two to three full grocery bags, while the large Hulken can hold four to five full grocery bags, according to the brand.
I own the large Hulken, which is genuinely massive — it’s so huge that some people buy it, realize how big it is, and return it for the medium model, according to the brand. I thought I might be one of those people, but I decided to buy the large Hulken anyway and I’m so glad I did. The large Hulken is certainly enormous, but I prefer the extra space. After all, I bought the Hulken to never do an errand in two trips again, or carry heavy bags that leave me sore the next day.
I wouldn’t give up my large Hulken for a smaller one — Swanson and Schneider say they have no regrets about getting a large Hulken, either. I do, however, have the medium Hulken on my wishlist so I can use it when my large one is filled with laundry I’ve yet to fold.
Beyond the size, the Hulken’s shape also makes it particularly useful. Wagons usually have low walls, preventing you from stacking items inside. Rolly carts, in comparison, often have higher walls, but they’re narrow, so you can’t fit anything wide inside. The Hulken bag, however, is rectangular, wide and has high walls. The deep, roomy structure makes it suitable for transporting large, heavy or bulky boxes that would otherwise be difficult to carry. I stack multiple boxes inside my Hulken when I’m taking them to the post office or bringing them up to my apartment from my building’s lobby.
The four walls of the Hulken are made from polypropylene, a type of water-resistant plastic that I clean with a multi-surface spray. The material is rigid enough that the bag holds its shape and stands up by itself, yet flexible enough that it folds down when it’s not in use. The walls of the bag are also quite forgiving — I can overstuff the Hulken, making it look lumpy and bumpy, which I can’t do with a cart that has steel or hard plastic walls. Its base is a stiff board made from recycled materials, providing a sturdy foundation for the bag and everything you pack inside it.
To say the least, this bag is durable. I beat this thing up — I drag it up and down the street in the heat, rain and snow, and I’ve bumped into walls and curbs with it. Other than a frayed stitch or a little scuff, my Hulken hasn’t shown signs of wear and it works as well as when I took it out of the box. I also use my Hulken more than I store it away, and despite days left standing upright while filled with a week’s worth of laundry, its walls don’t start to collapse.
The first model of the Hulken — which is what Swanson and Schnieder own — is made with what they find to be a less durable material. Swanson says her Hulken started to flop over instead of standing upright after a few months of use, and Schneider says hers wants to revert back into a flat position after taking it out of storage. I own the most recent Hulken model, which is made with a sturdier material that maintains its structural integrity better over time, according to the brand. And even though they take some time to find their shape again, Swanson and Schneider’s Hulkens are still functional after years of use.
The swivel wheels, located on the bottom of the bag, spin 360 degrees. If you’ve ever owned a suitcase that has these wheels, you know that maneuvering is a breeze — quick turns, direction changes, forward and backward. Since the wheels can roll in any direction, getting the hang of navigating and steering the large bag can take a couple tries, especially if you’re rolling it on uneven pavement, Schneider says.
The Hulken’s wheels are small — they’re 2 inches high, so they barely lift the bag above the ground. Even so, the wheels roll well on bumpy streets or grass, in my experience. I just give my Hulken an extra tug if it gets stuck momentarily.
Because the Hulken has small wheels, you can’t pull it up or down stairs like something with larger wheels. Hulken opted for small wheels to make its bags foldable and easy to store, according to the brand. To ensure you can bring it up and down stairs or lift it over high curbs, Hulken added handles to either side of the bag that convert it into a tote, in addition to a pulley handle on the front. The side handles are 14 inches long, and the front handle is 16 inches long. The long handles make them comfortable for people of varying heights, but if you don’t hold them taut enough, you’ll have less control over steering the bag, Schneider says.
Being able to alternate between rolling and carrying the Hulken makes it much more versatile than other wagons and carts I’ve tried, which I could only roll. I roll my Hulken to the subway, put it over my shoulder to go down the stairs and put it down once I reach the platform. I also usually carry the Hulken to my destination if it’s empty, and then roll it after I fill it up.
Instead of having an open top like the original model, my Hulken bag has a cover that you can zip closed or fold inside when it’s not in use. The cover prevents my items from falling out or getting wet — and trust me, I’ve tested this feature during many rainstorms. I was recently leaving the store with a Hulken full of groceries and it started pouring right before I stepped outside. I zipped my Hulken closed and rolled it home in the rain. I didn’t have an umbrella so I was soaked, but my groceries stayed perfectly dry.
I opt to not use the Hulken’s cover if I want to overstuff the bag (usually when I’m doing laundry) or if I’m transporting a tall item that peeks out the top a little bit. The cover folds flat against the inside of the bag and stays put, so it never gets in the way when I’m filling my Hulken up.
What’s Hulken’s return policy?
If the Hulken isn’t right for you, you can return or exchange it within the first 30 days of purchase. Learn more specifics about Hulken’s return policy by visiting the brand’s website.
Why trust Select?
Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at NBC Select. She wrote this article about her experience with the Hulken, which she bought and has been using for over four months. Malin also interviewed other Select staff members who own the Hulken.