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Cross-body bag

While we have travelled many times using Rick's Civita daypack, it's not the most convenient to use, since you have to either wear it in front or take it off to get into it. I'd like to hear from other travellers who have used a cross-body bag for day use. What brand do you like and why?

Posted by
16894 posts

The bag that I've carried for at least 15 years is by Eagle Creek, similar to their current Guide Trek. It's very sturdy and keeps everything at my fingertips, with a handy open pocket on the back for quick access to maps, as well as various levels of zippable storage. The strap is a very tough weave, not wire-reinforced and doesn't need to be. It's roughly the same size as Rick's Veloce Guide Bag for iPad when Rick's bag is in expanded mode. If mine did have an expando-zipper, then there would be days that I'd carry it in the smaller mode.

Posted by
14244 posts

I've used the LeSportSac Deluxe Everyday Bag for 3 trips to Europe.

Here's what works for me with this bag:

  • Two main compartments that zip plus some side zipped compartments
  • One of the compartments is large enough to hold a folded Marmot Precip jacket and an umbrella
  • The fabric is lightweight but durable and slightly water resistant
  • It has a horizontal profile rather than vertical so I don't lose so much stuff in the bottom
  • One compartment has an inside zipper compartment. I found that when I was not in crowds or other situations where I needed to be very alert that I could put my money belt in the larger compartment and flip the inside zipper pocket down over it so it was hidden.
  • It's been a bunch of miles and does not look worn at all

What doesn't work

  • No water bottle holder. It will fit in the compartment I use for rain gear but it is pretty jammed esp if I'm carrying an umbrella
  • I can stuff it pretty full so it is hard to hold on my lap in restaurants
Posted by
7072 posts

Before my last trip to Europe I purchased a Travelon hobo style bag. I was a little concerned about the lack of a place for water bottle but thought I could live with it. After about 4 days I knew it wasn't going to work so I traded it out for a perfect bag that I found in Boppard Germany. The brand name is Bag Street but I couldn't find the exact bag on their website so can't show a picture of it. It's a messenger style bag about 10"x 12" made of the same type of material as the le Sport Sac or Baggelini bags are so very lightweight. One thing I liked about it was it had two small gusseted zippered outside pockets on the sides - I used one for my P&S camera and the other for a small water bottle so they were both handy without opening the bag itself. It has a flap over that covers the two zippered main compartments so it makes them harder to get at by would-be pickpockets and on the flap itself there is a small zippered pocket and a semi-open pocket that was perfect to slip in train tickets or maps that I could get at without undoing a zipper (very convenient). It also had a zippered pocket on the back that lies against my body where I could safely carry my daily cash/cc card. It isn't so big as to make it unwieldy but big enough to hold a folded up rain jacket and umbrella, guide book, snacks, etc. The best part was it was only €18. It served me well for the rest of my 5 week trip and will go with me on any future trips.

Posted by
734 posts

I purchased this bag for our trip next spring and plan to try it out on a trip we will be making to NYC later this has room for a water bottle and multiple pockets (i will be carrying an extra lens for my dSLR) is pretty boring looking, I'll admit. I would love to doll it up a bit. I currently carry a big Dooney bag that hubby made me buy on our Disneyland trip last spring (ok, he didn't have to twist my arm too badly).....I love that purse but think a cross body is the way to go.

Posted by
734 posts

Therese, what color of your Travelon bag did you purchase? I wish I had seen that one before purchasing mine.......

Posted by
5697 posts

For several trips I have used a black leather purse purchased at the thrift store for under $5; long strap for wearing cross-body (or as we used to say postman-style), lots of zippers, and room for guidebook pages, coin purse, and miscellaneous stuff. And I use it while at home, too.

Posted by
14244 posts

@Kathy...I actually think boring is a good look for a travel bag! Mine is a b/w houndstooth check and by the end of the big-city portion of my trip I was thinking it stood out too much and wished I had a plain black one.

If you need to dress it up you can buy extra scarves at the street market in Florence!

Posted by
79 posts

I have 3 favorites - I am a little bit of a bag fanatic :)

  1. Old LL Bean vertical bag, black. Has hideaway backpack straps, but is heavy. Removable shoulder strap. Used for the last 20 years.

  2. Eagle Creek Matrix Boron. Black & gray. Square shape. Often available on ebay, reasonable prices, lasts forever. Padded, attached should strap.

  3. Eagle Creek Travel Tote. Black. Has slip pocket on back to fit over handle of wheeled bag. I added d-rings and a shoulder strap. Very light weight. The new design has weird interior water bottle pockets - I have the old style with pockets on exterior.

All have in common:
2 exterior water bottle pockets
large zippered compartment for quick access to jackets, snacks, place to put shopping
buckled or zippered organization/security compartments for glasses, sunscreen, first aid items, etc.

I like a large bag for several reasons - supplies for children when they were younger, can hold a lot of shopping if necessary, can hold rain jackets /beach wear/ or fleece for all 3 of us (we take one bag during the day and take turns carrying it). I had a bag that you had to unbuckle a flap to reach the main compartment and hated it.

Posted by
1976 posts

I use the smaller version of Pam's LeSportSac bag. It has only one main pocket and two smaller side pockets. I like this brand because it's lightweight and wears like iron. It has plenty of room for my water bottle, camera, wallet, map, small souvenirs like postcards or magnets, etc.

Posted by
2630 posts

Chiming in on the virtues of LeSportsac bags--incredibly sturdy and well-made, can be machine-washed and hung to dry and lots of styles to choose from. I personally take my trusty Coach black leather cross-body or a great canvas & leather messenger bag from a Canadian company called Smoking Lily--holds a book, snack, maps, camera, usual purse things and even a light sweater and water bottle, plus it's unique enough to make me happy.

Posted by
71 posts

I've had a lot of luck with Timbuk2 Messenger bags over the years for both general purpose travel and commuting. The small is a great size for a day bag, and medium is excellent if you want a overnight bag. You can also customize them if that's your thing: one of mine has lots of extra reflective paneling so I'm more visible on dark city streets.

Posted by
106 posts

I did purchase a crumpler camera bag for my DSLR and planned to use that as my cross body day bag. I found the camera was very happy but the rest of my stuff was crammed in there and hard to get out. Also, it screams "camera bag". So I bought the travelon cross body hobo anti theft bag (black) and my camera is happy nesting with my other stuff. I also purchased a smaller leather cross body at a thrift store in England back in 2004 and I still use it. Love finding the great leather bags in europe!

Posted by
333 posts

I just bought a pacsafe cross body bag. It's pink and about the size of a medium/large sized purse. After all of the pick-pocket problems experienced during my last trip to Europe (and I was so grateful for my pacsafe backpack- but it was so big to wear all day), I knew I wanted another pacsafe product. My new bag has two compartments, a non secured zipper (with hidden zipper) for easy access items such as maps, quick money. The other zipper is hidden and secured and also has an inner pocket for credit cards that has the RFID (radio frequency ID) safe blocking (anti card reader) material. It's really quite comfortable to wear, even with an accompanying daypack (for longer treks). Last time I had the large backpack AND a neck ID wallet worn under my shirt. It drove me nuts! So I love the fun colors and feel of this new cross body bag!

Posted by
11613 posts

I use a Mandarina Duck microfiber messenger bag, lighter than any of the safety bags. Several compartments, larger bag holds up to four water bottles in two outside compartments, tons of stuff inside.

I recently downsized to a smaller version, which holds one water bottle, iPad mini, p&s camera, phone, notebook and pen, map, and money/passport/credit cards, kleenex. The bag is lightly padded so it's great for electronics without looking like a camera bag. For more security, you would need to attach something to the top zipper and strap, but I've never done that.I think I paid €40 for it on sale in Rome.

Posted by
792 posts

I like Keen bags, I have a Brooklyn and a Brooklyn II bag. My I-pad (or a book) will fit in the main compartment and there are several inner zipper compartments. There are two outer compartments that are convenient for papers/maps. One of my favorite features is that the strap drop is long (25 inches) so the bag hits me just below my hip. I am taller so bags with a shorter strap drop hit me in weird places.

Posted by
2349 posts

I have a Keen Brooklyn II, and mostly like it. I bought it knowing there was no outside pocket for a water bottle but I figured it would be ok. It's not. I really want a water bottle pocket. So I revert to an old nylon hand me down black bag. Not especially pretty but it does the job.

I've decided that I'd rather have a slightly larger (but lightweight) bag. I risk overfilling it just because I can, but it's better than stuffing a too small one with what I must carry. I also carry a RuMe bag, a fold up thingie. The large one. It was very handy recently when the day would start out cool but warm up. I could toss the jacket in the bag.