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RS Luggage

Hi everyone. I did a search of the forum and didn't discover this particular topic. We will be taking one of Rick Steve's Italy tours this coming spring and wanted to know about luggage. In particular: do any of you use Rick Steve's luggage? if so, which one? And do you recommend it? There are so many previous travelers that monitor the forum and provide terrific information, so I am hoping for some really good information on Rick Steve's luggage.

Posted by
5157 posts

Clif I have gone through many, many bags. There are plenty of good ones out there. For business travel I use different ones than on my overseas trips, as the stuff I pack is different. I have both the RS Civita day bag, and the classic Back Door Bag. I think they are both excellent, and good values.

Posted by
53 posts

My husband and I just came back from the RS Prague & Budapest tour. I used the RS convertible carry on. It was a perfect fit for me. I prefer a backpack type bag rather than a rolling bag. It had enough compartments and using packing cubes helped me not to over pack.

Posted by
684 posts

I just ordered the RS rolling convertible bag. I plan to use it next month on a trip to Ohio/NY so I will report back!

BTW, the above mentioned backback/rolling suitcase is 20% off until this coming sunday :)

Posted by
1352 posts

I own, the RS Rolling Carry-on, the Convertible Carry-on, the Civita day bag and the Appenzell back pack. I also own an Osprey Porter internal frame pack with a zip on day pack. Have used them all for different trips / reasons. I have only taken 1 RS tour for which I used the Rolling Carry-on which was perfect for that trip. The most I ever had to carry it was up / down stairs at Hotels, and to and from the bus, and felt it was the perfect bag for that trip. I usually travel using mostly public transportation and find that having a back pack is much more convenient in that case. For my first 2 big trips I used the Convertible Carry-on, but for my last trip and probably for my upcoming trip I will use the Osprey as it is much more comfortable for carrying longer distances such as between train station and hotels. I also really like that the day pack zips on. I found in previous trips that near the end of my trips my Civita day bag would no longer easily fit in the top of my convertible carry-on so I was forced to carry it separately which was a hassle. I like having my hands free. My Osprey also has a pouch for a hydration bag which was very helpful as we were doing a fair bit of hiking and bike riding. I have used both the rolling carry-on and the convertible carry-on many times for domestic travel also. Just got back from a trip yesterday with my rolling carry-on and realized it is really starting to show some wear. The zippers all still work fine, but the material is just beginning to show some wear. The Appenzell is great for short weekend trips. My husband has also used it as his personal item for business travel as it has a pouch for a laptop. Hope this helps!

Posted by
3696 posts

I had the rolling RS bag for a number of years and loved it till I wore it out. Now I have an IT bag and it weighs about 4 pounds and has the 4 wheels so it is easy to roll and I love it too. I have had dozens of suitcases and a Travel pro set that I used until I decided it was too heavy. IT was found at TJMaxx for about 50.

Posted by
613 posts

My husband and I both have the Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On with packing cubes. I recommend it!

Posted by
1737 posts

Luggage is luggage. Find something that is the correct size, good value and you are set. You don't have to be pulled into a "celebrity" brand. You can find great carry on pieces at Costco, TJMaxx, Marshalls and Target. If you take 1-2 trips a year and already have luggage that is the correct size and in good condition, I'd say don't run out and buy new stuff just for a "special" trip.

Depending on your budget ---Osprey makes some wonderful really lightweight travel luggage, as does Eagle Creek.

Of course you want to bring a carry on size, wheels are always a good idea if you aren't in good shape, and have a lot of walking with luggage. (however on a bus tour, I can't see that happening!) I use packing cubes, they add weight, but sure help to organize the inside of my luggage.

There are lots and lots of brands out there to choose from....perhaps check on for size and features. It's a lot about weight, if the bag weighs a lot empty, imagine another 10-15 lbs of clothing/accessories in it. I found carry on luggage at weighs 6 lbs empty (and I believe there is newer luggage that weighs less now!) and that is what I use for trips where I know I'll be walking from train stations and in airports with my luggage in tow.

On short trips, I take a bag that has hidden backpack straps, hands free for running for quick connections.

Posted by
4 posts

After having my checked bag lost for 5 days while I was in Rome, I too will look for a nice carry on sized bag. The RS stuff looks very good.

Posted by
7752 posts

And just so you know Clif, not everyone on the RS tours have RS luggage. The guides always do and perhaps fewer than half of the tour members on my tours have had RS luggage. It is always interesting to see what others have as well.

Posted by
1054 posts

I use the Convertible Carry on and love it. Everything fits in mine nicely. I took Rick's advice since i"m young and can carry my bag so I don't need the one with wheels. I like the bag on my back so I have 2 hands free while walking around the city and not have to worry about draging my bag.

Posted by
2243 posts

My wife uses the Convertible Carry on and I have the Rolling Backpack. This was handy in Italy as it allowed me the opportunity to carry her bag, with mine on my back, up to the top of that hill over there. It was a legs day.
Celebrity or not, the stuff is quite well designed and manufactured, imo.

Posted by
484 posts

Take a look at the following: eagle creek - wheeled backpack, load warrior or flatbed: Eddie Bauer rolling luggage: RS. Eddie Bauer has a nice carryon on sale right now. Buy the RS luggage the week of Thanksgiving. I learned the hard way that RS stuff goes on sale and is much cheaper. (I made Rick a bit richer.). Things to consider: weight of luggage, dimensions - check with your airline, frequency of use (once in a while or travel often), train travel or rental car, backpack or rolling or both, cost. There's lots of options that will work. How much stuff you are packing needs consideration, as well as, ability to lug it. LL Bean has a nice carryall handbag that attaches to top of suitcase and fits under airplane seat. REI has some good options as well.

Posted by
1467 posts

When we dropped our luggage size from 24-27", we went with an RS rolling carry-on. There is also an RS 24" that he doesn't sell on his website. We've had them both for 6-8 years and they go everywhere. The first carry-on that my husband bought developed an issue within the first year and the RS store sent him a new one. We bought them, not because they were RS, but because of: the weight, the expandability, and the number and location of the pockets. When you travel light, we found all the pockets came in handy for organizing. I'm not sure we wouldn't chose something else next time, but we're still rolling...

Posted by
752 posts

I used the new RS International Rolling Carry-On luggage both last year and this year, and I hate it. Last year I had a problem with the bag pitching forward to the floor hard and fast. I solved that by removing two small paperback books and keeping total weight at or under 17 pounds.

This year I got terribly ill in Rome the day before I was to leave. All the buses I rode that day got inreasingly hotter, the last bus felt like an oven and did me in.

The RS Rolling Carry-On has only two wheels, meaning that the entire weight of the bag is on the person. 17 pounds felt like 17 tons in my condition. I honestly could not pull that bag, and I had to pull it a very, very long way to make two flights in two different airports.

My next trip I will have a 4-wheeled carry-on bag. I need a bag that carries its own weight. Just in case I can't.

Posted by
11613 posts

@ Sandra, if you haven't used four-wheel luggage before, I have noticed people struggling on cobblestones because the wheels are tiny. Make sure you get a good wheel size.

I like the RS rolling carryon but usually I carry less than 12 pounds in it.

Posted by
5543 posts

My wife's RS rolling carry-on (roll-on?) doesn't seem to have the instability problem that Sandra reports.

We went with the RS roller because the wheel systems of the 4 wheel bags added extra height and seemed less robust than the two wheel bags that use wheels that looked like roller skate wheels. If your 2 wheel bag's handle is the right length weigh shouldn't be a problem on flat ground.

But them my personal bias is no wheels, just back pack straps as in RS Classic Carry-on. No stability problem. Cobbles and stairs are easy. Train on and off also easy.

Posted by
110 posts

The newer RS bags (rollers, backpacks and day bags) have zipper heads that do not have locking rings or holes in the pull tabs. They are very difficult (and some are impossible) to lock. I have an older bag that can be locked, my sister has a new bag...When you take a look at the website roll the curser over the pics for an enlarged view.

Posted by
5543 posts

Re: ...very difficult (and some are impossible) to lock....

I suppose the crooks are to kind enough not to have and use knives or razor blade to enter a locked backpack.

Wouldn't it be better to have the thief just unzip your pack to check out your dirty underwear than cut your locked pack that screams "steal me, I must be carrying something of value"?

When in crowded public transport, move your backpack around to the
front of your body. If that isn't practical, think about buying a
secure pack. Don't put anything of the slightest value to you in
outside pack pockets (emphasis on "value to you" - thieves steal stuff
"by accident" - the address book with every contact you've made in the
past fifty years may not be of value to a pickpocket, but you'll
surely be sorrier to lose that than to lose three twenty euro notes).
"Fanny packs" are especially easy for pickpockets to access.
Pickpockets particularly favour anyone whose hands are full.

Very skilled pickpockets can slit open the bottom of your bag with a
razor blade
to steal your purse.

Posted by
4356 posts

I own - and use - pretty much all of RS' bags (plus a few others). I like all of them, except the Rolling Backpack. That bag does pitch over in a heartbeat (with or without a smaller bag riding on top), and many others here have complained about that (but the one time I took it on an airplane was a turn-on; so much smaller than my other legal carryons). I have used and abused the 'regular' Rolling Bags and only once have I ever come close to it tipping over - it was expanded by the 2", and was stuffed with very heavy books, etc. That's asking ALOT of ANY bag!

As far as 2 vs 4 wheels - a 17 lb bag will weigh 17 lbs whether it's on 2 wheels, 4 wheels, or 18 wheels. As badly as the previous poster felt, she would have still had a miserable trip if she had been carried in a litter. Being that ill really colors your perceptions!

Whatever the brand, if you choose 4 wheels, be sure to choose the kind of bag with 2 (typically larger) wheels on the back and 2 (typically smaller) wheels underneathe. This allows you to pull it like a traditional 2-wheeled rolling bag. Otherwise, you'll have a heck of a time with it on uneven surfaces, and can pretty much assume you'll be carrying it through most of Europe :-(

I won't mention the trail of tiny, broken-off wheels...

If you can physically handle it, I'd strongly suggest a backpack. They allow your hands to be free for shopping, handrails, carrying packages or another smaller bag, you can grab food and drinks on-the-go...and you won't accidentally leave your bag unattended if you're wearing it. Rolling bags are fine, though. You will be carrying them more through Europe than you would in the USA - waaay more stairs, cobblestones, etc to maneuver.

Whatever style and brand you choose, be sure it's carry on sized.

Posted by
28 posts

I have to agree that beyond the basics, luggage is luggage. I bought mine at Costco and it has held up well. My only desire is for my carry on bag to somehow fasten to the bigger bag I check in. In that way I can easily roll both together as one unit using the bigger bag's wheels. I only have to separate them when I check the bigger bag.

Other than that, my biggest baggage problem is packing to much stuff. At times I wish I was only about 4 1/2 feet tall. All my clothing, shoes, etc. would be so much smaller and lighter, I'd have plenty of leg room on CattleCar Airlines, and I might be able to get children's price on admissions to many sites.

Posted by
110 posts

A locked bag is a less attractive target than an unlocked bag, besides sometimes the zipper heads migrate apart and the lock keeps them together.
And when in that hostel, or on the train, the bag can be attached to something but that precaution is useless if the bag itself is not locked. Yeah, they could just take the bag and open it when and how ever the thief wants but if you want to stretch reality the theif could shoot me and just run off with it using the noise and confusion as a cover...Egdar, how many mystery/crime novels do you read?

Posted by
5543 posts


For those travelers still concerned about an ISIL terrorist unzipping their backpack and sneaking in an IED or pouring in an Ebola contaminated liquid, or a stereotypical Roma stealing their underwear, here is a backpack zipper security webpage that tells folks almost every possible zipper security defense available:

Personally I don't sweat the lack of zipper locks on my RS Classic pack. After all, it's a carry-on bag and I just rely on situational awareness and keeping watch on my pack to keep strangers from slipping in something dangerous.

Posted by
8 posts

Just got back from a 3 week trip to Germany, Italy, and France. I used RS's day back pack and loved it; took it everywhere. What I love the most are the packing cubes. I just took the cubes out of the suitcase and put them on the shelves. Reversed it when ready to go. Everything stayed organized. These were particularly handy in some of the very small rooms where a suitcase would take up a lot of space. Once the cubes were stored; the suitcase went under the bed or wherever I could find a storage place.

Posted by
16788 posts

Sturdiness is a key feature of luggage, and for travel in Italy, sturdy wheels are important for tackling cobblestones and otherwise uneven paving. Packing light is also important, because there will be times when you can't wheel your bag, for instance on stairs in hotels, train stations, and other locations. Unless you're traveling with porters (not on a Rick Steves' tour), be sure that you can handle your own bag easily. You will deal with both cobblestones and stairs on the Italy tour. Some hotel elevators are very small, or don't start at the ground floor, or go out of service - anything can happen.

Rick Steves' tour guides are not required to use the company luggage, but they do get it for a good price. After 18 years of frequent use, my Eagle Creek backpack finally developed a problem this year - the waist buckle broke. Since I did not get it repaired in time, I joined the vast majority of travelers with wheeled bags. Rick's latest Rolling Carry-On was ideally similar to my old bag in many ways, except that I had to get used to wheeling, and worked great on tour, and did have lockable zippers. This line of luggage is sturdy and has been "tested" by thousands of tour members. When I was on my own and had to walk further in some hill towns, I missed my good old backpack.