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How to Carry Two Bags When Neither Have Wheels

I'm looking for two bags for a four week trip and want something that's overhead sized (22x13x9 or 40 L) and don't want wheels so I can move freely in airports, train stations, city streets, etc. I like the idea of Rick's backdoor bag or equivilant sized rucksack. I know I can pack a collapsible day bag for use in each destination city for day trips.

Do ya'll keep your iPad, headphones, snacks, and other inflight goodies in your big rucksack when you fly/train between cities or do you unpack your daybag to hold all of that? If you use a second bag in those situation, how do you wear it? Do you do front/back backpacks, carry it in your hand, or specifically select a shoulder bag for daytrips and inflight? Do you have a recommended brand of convertable daybag that can fit both roles?

Thanks!

Posted by
9921 posts

I've done that with the RS convertible and the RS Veloce. I put an Optech strap (WAY more comfortable than the strap that comes with it) on the Veloce and wore it cross body. In general. I use the Veloce as my day bag on a train or, when I am on an RS tour, as my bus bag. I pack a cross body purse to use in cities as I don't need as much stuff as the Veloce holds and it is a pain to have to check it in certain museums.

Having said that I am eyeing a Chico brand day pack that only weighs 7.2 or so ounces. I need to look carefully at it to see if I can attach the OpTech strap before I buy. It's so light and packs down much smaller than the much sturdier RS Veloce.

Posted by
4125 posts

Is this specifically a question about handling your stuff in flight?

I have a convertible soft bag, a bit smaller than yours, and a civita bag for in-flight incidentals. I usually pack the small back inside the big one and unpack on the plane. Main bag stays overhead, small bag with me.

Posted by
5789 posts

I've been traveling with a Rick Steves Classic Backpack as my carry-on and a Patagonia Half Mass Messenger bag as my "personal item/computer bag". The messenger bag is suspended by a shoulder strap that I can carry cross-body with the bag positioned in front then the back pack with shoulder straps over the messenger bag shoulder strap to the posterior. That leaves both hand free to pull checked roller bags.

Messenger bag carries electronics, camera, books, snacks etc that I want to access on-board (trains, planes, buses) and the back pack carry-on my extra clothing etc. Roller checked bags carry gear and stuff not allowed in the airplane cabin and stuff I buy while traveling.

Posted by
5 posts

That's such a simple solution. I didn't think about packing the inflight bag and then packing it inside the big bag at all times besides sitting still on a plane/train. Problem solved!

Posted by
5 posts

@Edgar - do you use that messenger bag for any kind of strenous day trips or hiking? I thought about a small shoulder bag but I want to take some more intense day trips.

Posted by
5 posts

@Pam - Do you have issues with two bags on your person at one time? Is it easy to get around cities and subways or does it leave you feeling like a pack mule?

Posted by
308 posts

I do what Edgar does. I have my carry-on size backpack on and use a messenger bag carried cross-body style in front. It is usually pretty comfortable for walking between hotels and train stations on travel days.

My husband has an Osprey backpack with an attachable smaller day backpack. Sometimes he will hang the smaller backpack on the front of his body while the bigger pack is on his back.

Posted by
9921 posts

"@Pam - Do you have issues with two bags on your person at one time? Is it easy to get around cities and subways or does it leave you feeling like a pack mule?"

Hahaha....how did you know? I quit using the RS convertible because I found I could pack it too heavy. It was fine once I got it on my back but had difficulty slinging it around in to position. The last trip was for 8 weeks and the last morning before I headed to the airport I had to put it on the bed, sit down and don it that way. I had bruises up and down my arms as well. I did not travel via subway this way, generally was just airport to taxi to hotel or the reverse as well as on Rick Steves tours.

So...I changed to the RS roller bag (not the convertible one) and do fine with the roller and the veloce as a cross-body carry on.

Posted by
5789 posts

@Edgar - do you use that messenger bag for any kind of strenous day trips or hiking?

My initial response over simplifies the pack situation reflecting tourist travel,

Base camp day trips (skiing, hiking etc): I pack a Patagonia Lightweight Travel Backpack in my gear bag to use for day activities (hiking, skiing etc). It is no longer sold but similar to: https://activegearreview.com/camping-gear-reviews/backpack-reviews/patagonia-lightweight-travel-pack-review/
It weights about 12 oz empty and hold day clothing, food and drink.

However, for more strenuous and equipment critical day trekking such as inn to inn walks: I use a technical Marmot pack with suspension system and load carrying waist/hip belt. The Marmot would replace my Rick Steves Classic. On inn to inn walking holidays I would have my checked roller bag transported by a luggage transfer service. I(My collapsible trekking poles fit in my wheelie gear bag that I check.

For multiple day self-contained hut to hut trips (no luggage transfer): I use a 50 litre technical pack (current being a GoLite pack) and leave my extra gear and city clothing in a hotel left luggage storage. (I stay at the same hotel before and after the hut to hut trip.) The huts provide bedding and meals minimizing what I need to carry.

Posted by
31522 posts

Bob,

I use Backpacks and always check the larger main pack. I don't find that to be an inconvenience, but of course it's important not to load it too heavily. The Backpack I use has a companion Daypack which is what I use for carry-on. I also take a Camera bag as carry-on.

On my last trip I used just two bags. The larger Backpack (with Daypack attached) which was checked, and a Duffle with padded insert to handle both carry-on items as well as camera gear.

If you have a "generous budget", you might also look at products from Tom Bihn and Red Oxx. They're made in the U.S., exceptional quality and they have a wide selection of products.

Posted by
6950 posts

Ever notice how the backpackers you see are often so young? t can get pretty physical hauling a 22 lb. bag and a secondary 8 lb. backpack around.
Why not just get a 21" rolling bag or one with swivel wheels? They're so much easier to deal with.

Posted by
943 posts

I use a Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L backpack for my carry-on and it works very well, then instead of a day pack I bought a Scottevest Tropiformer jacket, this is the Swiss army knife of travel clothing, it converts to a vest in 5 seconds, has 20+ zippered pockets inside the jacket/vest but looks like normal clothing on the outside (not like a fishing vest) and is also my rain jacket (with hood) for the the trip. Like most travelers I have always thought that the fishing style vests with all the outside pockets looked tacky when traveling in Europe but I can put everything I would need in jacket/vest that I used to put in a day bag, also it is great on the long plane rides because I put the things that I will be using in flight in the jacket and then use it as a blanket while sleeping! I'm not affiliated with any of these companies but I like to test different products till I find what I like to travel with.

Posted by
961 posts

Bob - hubby and I each use a RS convertible backpack, XL Laurel Burch tote, and Travelon x-small crossbody purses for daily use.

The backpacks are our main bags. We pack nothing but clothes and such in those bags.

The zippered tote is our personal bag. We just use them during transit, not as day bags while on the trip, but we have used them to pack two days of clothing for overnights when we didn't want to carry everything with us. I used to carry one of the totes as my daily purse, so for me it would be easy to carry something like this as a daybag. They are quite colorful bags so you might prefer something more subdued, but by listing the brand name you can look at it and get an idea of it's features and size. I especially like that the insides of my bags are plastic coated to keep stuff dry or to easily wipe out if something spills. All of our important stuff (meds, tablets, chargers, etc.) go inside the totes. Make sure that whatever you buy for your personal item is zippered or can be secured against easy pick pocketing. You don't want someone to be able to casually stick his hand down in there and get some goodies. We also stuff our purses in the totes during boarding as they only want you coming on with two items. We were using a large pacsafe crossbody as one of the personal bags, but both of us quickly became irritated as the bag was slick and bad about sliding up the side of our necks during transport when the bag had to be carried. I prefer the shoulder bag and am very careful to keep it looped over my shoulder during short jaunts on trains where pickpockets are likely to be.

We love our Travelon x-small purses. More secure with the locking zippers and ours are both very lightweight. I use the signature pouch and hubby uses the classic small tour bag which is plainer and "more manly" lol. Keys, smokes, transit cards, tissues, sunglasses, phones, etc. easily fit in the crossbody purses so we have found that is all we need for jaunts around the cities or out in the boonies day tours.

We also took the RS Civita backpack on a month long trip to use as a daybag and it performed wonderfully for hiking in Switzerland.

Posted by
1353 posts

Bob,

For our first two trips my husband and I used classic RS backpacks and civita day bags for our carry on. We found it a pain to deal with the Civita when hopping on and off trains. We usually tried stuffing the Civita into the top of our RS bag so we would have our hands free. We also found the Civita to be uncomfortable if it had much in it during day trips.

We then went to an Osprey Farpoint with attachable day bag which we both love! The main backpack has internal suspension so is much more comfortable, and the daypack can be zipped onto main bag and worn on back, or can be attached on the front and worn that way. The only problem with the Osprey is that the main backpack is too big for carryon (although we were able to carry it on American Airlines once).

I just want to throw some options out for you. Any small daypack around 15 liters - 20 liters is a good daypack/flight bag. Merrell rouge, Patagonia light weight travel tote/pack (ebags.com), LLBean stowaway pack tote, sea-to-summit pack or STS overshoulder/cross body bag, any pack with more padding and structure that packs flat.

For a travel backpack - check out Ebags brand mother lode and etech bags, LLBean continental, Osprey far point 40, etc.. Anything around 35 liters - 40 liters is good. As others have stated - just use your daypack as an inflight bag. Keep it in your travel pack and pull it out just before you board your flight.
I also recommend ebags brand classic packing cubes or eagle creek packing folder and cubes. Either brand sells a value set which is helpful. You could use a large packing cube as your inflight/underseat "bag." Again, just pull it out of your main bag before flying. I personally use the etech 2.0 ebags bag as my main travel pack and highly recommend it. (note: I don't travel with a laptop computer). Have fun gear shopping.

Posted by
18380 posts

Ever notice how the backpackers you see are often so young?

I'm 73 and I backpack. I assume by "backpack" you don't mean a metal frame pack with sleeping bag and tent attached?

Oh, "22 lb. bag and a secondary 8 lb. backpack"! Maybe you do mean a metal frame pack with sleeping bag and tent attached. :)

If I can do it with 9½# of stuff in a 2½#, sub-carry-on sized, non-wheeled convertible pack and 4#, purse sized, shoulder strap, under-seat computer case, anyone can.

No one really needs a 21" bag or one so heavy you need to add more weight with wheels, handle, and structure.

Ebags.com has a good sale right now on ebags brand backpacks. Use the code word at checkout. Good quality products. Remember to pick-up a set of packing cubes as well. (Roll your clothes like tight logs and line-up tight in packing cube.). Get bright colored packing cubes - easy to see and less likely to leave behind.
LLBean has a sale on the continental travel pack, also.
Great time to buy luggage - store wars.

Posted by
5 posts

I ended up getting an Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20l packable pack for day trips and plane/rail goodies. I'm all but set on an Eagle Creek Load Hauler Expandable duffel. I like the idea of a big duffel/rucksack combo that didn't have lots of exterior pockets to tempt theft and I've never made good use of the exterior pocket organizing features on any bag. The other one that looked good was the Patagonia Black Hole™ MLC® 45L. It's more expensive, doesn't have compression straps or expandability, has a few features I'm not likely to use like padding for a laptop, but does have great suitcase features inside the main pocket. The keys for both of these bags was being as close to the carry-on dimensions as possible, include backpack and shoulder straps, and include features that didn't consume interior storage space.

My plan is to stuff the backpack inside the duffel for most of the coming and going. I'll post back in late September if ya'll are curious on how this plan worked out. Thanks for the advice!

You are so on the right track. Eddie Bauer stowaway is a good choice. I have had both Patagonia and eagle creek products. I prefer the quality of eagle creek, but both are good choices. If you get the EC bag you mentioned above, be sure to NOT use the expander feature. This will make your pack too large. I prefer a pack around 40 liters and a bit smaller than your two choices. Let us know how you do. Remember packing cubes or folder.

Take a look at Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler or LL Bean Continental (40 liter) pack. These are straight forward packs without a lot of bells and whistles.