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Civita day pack or similar

Looking to purchase a day bag for upcoming Italy trip this spring. Is the Civita sized bag discreet enough to avoid having to be checked at the major tourist sites/museums? I would prefer to keep my belongings with me. I always seem to end up schleping water bottle, snack, map, etc. for the family.

Posted by
248 posts

I have both kinds of Civita bags: the small back-pack (worn on the back but it's small) and also the shoulder bag. If you have the back-pack, you'll probably have to check it at a number of places, depending on their rules. The shoulder bag I've had to check sometimes at places that are more strict, but not in most places. Of course it's difficult to accurately generalize because different tourists sites/museums have different policies. Many museums, especially art museums, will not allow you to bring beverages, not even water, and not a snack either.

I bought the back-pack recent but the shoulder bag I bought many years ago and I haven't checked to see if Rick still sells it. Many tourist sites/museums have their policy on their website, some go into detail with maximum dimensions that will be allowed.

Posted by
486 posts

Love the backpack. We call it “Rick” and it has been everywhere. I carry it by the handle not on my back in places where you can’t carry a backpack. That usually works but not always. My first one has lasted 12 years and has been used on family outings every vacation and who knows what else. I could do a commercial. Enjoy

You can checkout eagle creek wayfarer mini backpack. The key to not having to check your bag at museums is 1) keep it small and 2) carry it under your arm - not on your back. So, stay with 18 liters or less.

Posted by
8650 posts

The thing about the Civita pack is that the photos are deceiving. In the photo it looks like a fairly stiff, thick skinned pack like kid would use for school. But its actually very soft and unformed -the consistency of a pillow case, and you can scrunch it up (empty) to where it would fit in a coat pocket. So, it's (size) visibility all depends on how much stuff you put in it. If empty, it just hangs like a plastic shopping bag.

This is not a slam - just an explanation. I was just surprised when I first got one. We use them on all our trips.

Posted by
6378 posts

My DH uses his Civita bag as his daybag; stan is right - it's very soft. My guy (another Stan!) has used his Civita for 10 years; no complaints. He does have to check it at museums most of the time, however, a minor nuisance. It may depend on how much you have in it. My DH tends to pack a jacket, guidebook, map, at least one water bottle, and whatever else he thinks he (or we) might need. He generally carries it over one shoulder.

Posted by
156 posts

I've heard good things about the Civita daypack, but I went with the Ravenna backpack because of the attached trolley strap. I like to be able to attach backpacks to the handles of rolling luggage, though with a pack as small as those, it isn't that big a deal.

I notice that the newest versions of both of those packs replaced the mesh/compression cord water bottle holders with smaller zipup pockets. Maybe the mesh ones were more prone to damage or something. I prefer to carry a fairly good sized water bottle with me, and those pockets don't like they'd accommodate any bottle other than a small one. OTOH, with a good non-leaking bottle, those could always go on the inside, I suppose.

I like the sale on the Civita going on now. $19.99 is a nice deal.

Posted by
1662 posts

Hi Darlene,

I usually travel with a Kipling tote/purse - can be converted to a cross body - but I don't fill it up when out and about during the day. I had it with me when I went to the Vatican and Saint Peter's; it was not questioned. If you're going there, security will have you put your bag, coat/jacket on the belt to be scanned. In addition, I either wear a money belt or wear my Hedgren little cross body with valuables.

I saw most backpacks of a "small to medium" size be allowed. (This was in December during the Feast of the Immaculate Mary, so it was very crowded. Walking sticks, canes were allowed. Large umbrellas had to be checked or left at the security station. So don't bring a large umbrella.

Another reason to not carry a big umbrella or large backpack is if you check it, you must retrieve it at the end of your visit to the Vatican. So, this will impede your going straight to Saint Peter's. You will then have to queue in line again. You can keep your water bottle with you, but it must be put in your bag.

If you are going to the Borghese, they definitely do not allow any bags. You would have to check even your purse - so if you are going to the museum, plan ahead for that. "Some have been allowed to keep their little cross body under their clothing." I think the general policy is the staff gives you a clear plastic bag to carry your valuables while "checking" your other bag(s.) Things may change though. But, best to go with the mindset in mind anyway - you will check any bag.

If your visit takes you to the Pantheon, (beautiful by the way), most bags are allowed. Other churches I visited, I had no problem with my tote/purse. And, I observed some visitors with back packs.

In looking at the Civita shoulder bag, it seems it would fit your daily needs and be allowed to most churches and attractions. The Civita day pack is a back pack of course and a little bigger in dimension. But the material is soft and pliable, so if you got the shoulder bag, you could still fit your dailies in there and also carry it cross body.

Posted by
582 posts

I really like the Civita day bag. I've taken it to places in Scotland and many museums in Florence and Milan. Never had to check it. It's lightweight but holds a lot if you need it to. Yes, it's thin, but that is part of the appeal to me. I pack it empty in my carry-on for the plane flight, then put just my necessities in it when walking around all day.

Posted by
372 posts

I a big believer in not wearing anything too different from what I wear at home. I don't wear a backpack at home (unless on a hike) so I don't use one when travelling. At home I use cross body purses, so that's what I travel with. I know where everything is in there, and don't feel like I"m fumbling - which would make me a pickpocket target. I am a fan of Baggellini bags and have several. Durable, washable, with exterior pockets, clip in wallets and roomy capacity for water bottle, camera, map etc. At home I can fit my lunch in it. Lots of fun colours if you are into that. I use black in the winter, tan in the summer - both the "Everywhere" style. For me, this is what works. I've never been asked to surrender it at a museum. I have a Civita day pack, but have never used it as it just didn't feel like "me". Perhaps it would be a good thing for your kids to carry? Lightweight - and they can then carry their own snacks and a jacket or whatever. Happy travels!

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you everyone for responding. I’m leaning toward a cross body bag now if anything.

Posted by
1450 posts

I recommend the piazza day bag by ebags, especially if you can find an original model on Ebay or sumpin. Updated style is smaller and pocket configuration is more meh. Has a designated water bottle pocket.

I just want to throw out there Ameribag purses ( These are comfortable purses with lots of useful organizational features. For travel - I recommend the size small or medium. For a comparison - I use an extra small at home to carry stuff to work and around town. For travel - I have bigger and extra items like a map, iPad, light rain jacket, travel book, etc.. Lots of choices.

Posted by
824 posts


I have the civita shoulder bag and it was accepted in all venues I visited in Venice, Vicenza, Padua, Florence and Rome. However, I saw people wearing the civita day back directed to the luggage check. Perhaps, if they had been wearing it slung over one shoulder, it would have been different but I don't know. I do think museums are much more concerned with backpacks of any size/style because their wearers sometimes forget the pack is there and bump things. I have even seen venues force people to wear their backpacks across their chests...

One other note - I purchased the civita day pack in plum for both my mother and my sister and BOTH bled color onto their clothing, even when dry. My spruce colored civita shoulder bag hasn't demonstrated that problem...

Posted by
1259 posts

Folks here have suggested a sling bag or cross body configuration may get you past more security and attraction entries without being required to check your bag. PacSafe makes a large selection of such: stylish women’s bags, utilitarian camera slings, beefy laptop bags. The security features of PacSafe’s range appeal to some folks. I happen to have a PacSafe shoulder bag because I found it at an REI garage sale at a huge discount.