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Crossbody day pack vs. traditional day pack

I'm not sure if I need the added security of a crossbody day pack or whether I should go with a backpack day pack. I plan on packing most of my clothes in an eBag TLS Mother Lode but want an additional bag for the day trips. Any recommendations? I will be over a week in Sicily and 4 days in Rome and probably will be carrying stuff for my wife in the same pack.

Posted by
2768 posts

It’s up to you. A lot of people prefer using a backpack. I personally don’t understand and strongly prefer crossbody, but I don’t know that it is more than a preference issue.

Pros for crossbody:
-easier to secure, keep visible, keep a hand on

-easy to access. If you will be getting a camera/phone/anything else out of the bag often it’s a HUGE hassle to stop, take off backpack, get your item, put the bag back on...with a crossbody you can access it while walking.

-with a backpack luggage how would you carry the day pack? One can easily wear a backpack suitcase and a crossbody at the sane time. With a daypack you are stuck either carrying it in your hand or having it take up room inside
your suitcase.

Posted by
1221 posts

There are also some museums that ban backpacks and allow modestly-sized crossbody bags.

I use a Tom Bihn Co-Pilot. Pretty unisex , works well as an airline personal item, holds a large amount of stuff in its well-organized compartments, and is close enough to A4 paper dimensions that it typically passes the eyeball test for museums that use that size to determine if it needs to be checked into the cloakroom or not. Not cheap, but will last nearly forever

Posted by
2768 posts

Sometimes I use a purse, usually a simple one from Target or similar. Sometimes a basic messenger bag, also generic or jansport/other common brand.
Criteria for a good bag, to me:

-Medium size
-Zips closed. Can have a flap over the zipper or just a zipper, but must NOT be open or snap top
-Inside zipper pocket sized for a passport, with a zipper that can be safety pinned closed to the lining.
-not too heavy. NOT “anti-theft”
-unobtrusive color like black, gray, brown
-padded or otherwise comfortable strap
-ideally zippered outer pocket for easy access.

Posted by
5837 posts

Moderate sized cross-body bag (meeting airline "personal" size) advantages;

  • Use as air travel personal size underseat bag with travel essentials that you don't want gate checked.
  • Lighter weight than backpack day pack (because it carries less volumne
  • Can be carried in front (visual security and easier access), back or side as cross-body or as a shoulder bag

Backpack day bag advantages:

  • If properly sized it can serve as your air travel personal size underseat bag
  • Small travel day backpacks can be lighter than a sturdy cross-body messenger bag
  • Can be more suited to carrying bulkier jackets, rainware and/or purchases
  • With load disributed between two shoulder straps a backpack day bag can be more comfortable than a single strap bag
Posted by
907 posts

It kind of depends on what you plan to put in the bag. My choices have evolved over time and depend on the tour I'm on. Last trip I used a small Travelon bag worn around the waist for money, credit card, phone ( kinda of a cross between a fanny pack and money belt). Then most days used a very cheap Wal-Mart fold into itself backpack for non valuable extras like - rain jacket, water bottle, tissues, sunscreen. Things I might want during the day but not a crisis if something happens to them. Amazon has a slew of foldable backpacks that can easily be crammed in your luggage if not in use.

As others have mentioned, some sights can make you check backpacks or wear in the front (Versailles).

Posted by
2 posts

This is almost exactly the question I came here to ask! I had already purchased a perfectly-sized personal item backpack ( for an international trip then was gifted the eBag TLS Mother Lode. I absolutely loved the versatility of the Mother Lode and now am on the hunt for a crossbody bag that's the max size of a personal item so I can carry them at the same time without a backpack on the front. Any recommendations? (I'll be looking up the couple mentioned it above!)

Posted by
73 posts

I just ordered the new RS crossbody travel bag. I wanted something slim enough to wear under a coat, something lightweight, and something that would carry a small sketchbook for urban sketching. This checked all those boxes.

For a day backpack I really like Riut Crush or Patagonia Travel tote, but the RS Civita day backpack is certainly nice and much less expensive.

Posted by
14 posts

I prefer a crossbody bag for all the reasons others have mentioned above: Easier for me to access things; you can lay your forearm/hand on it for better security (plus it's not out of sight on your back where you can't see if someone's getting into it); I've never had problems being allowed to carry it with me inside museums; easier to instantly sit down on public transit and other places without having to first take the bag off my back.

That said, for my leisure travels, I've tended to use a combination crossbody/backpack (a crossbody that can be converted into a backpack) -- mainly because I like the size and features of the two I bought. I use either the Rick Steves Veloce bag or an Eagle Creek one I bought years and years ago that's smaller. For me, they're the right size to serve well as both personal item on the plane and as a daybag once at my destination. For both of these bags, I took out the extra laptop padding since that just added bulk -- I don't carry a laptop with me when I travel for fun, and if I ever do, I already have a sleeve for my laptop that protects it.

Most of the time, I use them as crossbody bags. But occasionally, it's been nice to be able to use them as backpacks -- on light hikes, for instance.

Posted by
393 posts

I just purchased a Pacsafe Metrosafe LS100
I like that I can have it in front of me when in a pick-pocket zone.

Posted by
290 posts

Although OP has probably already decided, here is another vote for the Tom Bihn Co-Pilot. I use it far more than any of my backpacks, and I have several. Really, the only trip I use a backpack for is when I know I will be doing a lot of mountain hiking with loads more gear than just walking around a city.