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Rick's convertible backpack/suitcase

Can Rick's convertible backpack/suitcase (non-rolling) be stuffed under the seat on an international flight, or is it too big and inflexible?

Also, is it comfortable to wear as a backpack for walking, say, through the CDG airport to take the train into Paris? I'm a skinny senior female, fit but not super strong.

Thanks for your responses.

Posted by
795 posts

We've taken ours with us on international flights and if you are in first class, it is no problem. Business class will be fine too. I have no idea about economy since I have never flown in economy. I don't think I would want to wear it though.

Posted by
14288 posts

It would not fit under the seat unless it was empty. Unless I overload it it is pretty comfortable as a backpack when you are going from place to place. I am mid-60s and appreciate being able to walk hands-free in an airport or train station. I do have to sometimes gate-check it when leaving from my small local airport but it fits fine in the overhead in the larger planes.

Posted by
23473 posts

We are in our 70s and unfortunately we can claim that we have never flown first class so have no idea about luggage storage in that area. But lots of experience with economy class. We have older models, about 15 years old, that fit well in overhead. We wear them through train stations, to and from hotels, etc. because we like to have our hands free. We keep the weight under 20 so that they are not too bad. A standard recommendation is to load the bag with 20 lbs of flour or sugar and walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes or so.

Posted by
14288 posts

When I read Frank's response, I thought of another thing. I will add is that I did overload my RS convertible when I traveled for 8 weeks last Fall. I started out at about 22# and wound up at about 27# (darn scarf vendors in Florence/Assisi/CT!) and Frank is right about keeping the weight at 20# or less. I did find I could still easily carry the backpack on my back even that heavy but where I had problems was in picking it up and slinging it around in to position. At the end I was having to lift it to a desk or counter and put it on that way. I usually check my bag on the way home.

This year my plan is to cut down the weight AND work more on upper body and hand grip strength.

Posted by
7468 posts

That's a LOT of scarves!

Whichever suitcase you're planning, definitely take that advice to walk around with the weight you're planning to pack - seriously. My hubby had the non-rolling type and switched to the carry-on roller after a couple of trips.

Posted by
5837 posts

Re: ...stuffed under the seat on an international flight?
Depends on the equipment and if you stuff the bag to maximum capacity. Check Seat Guru for seat and storage configuration. For example, the Seat Garu United 747-400 caution note reads in part:

In First and Business class, there is very limited floor storage due to the configuration and design of these premium seats.

or on a United 757-200 international configuration, the caution note reads:

In Economy Plus and Economy Class, seats in rows C and D may have an
entertainment equipment box under the seat, limiting the legroom and
the storage space underneath the seat in front.

The general assumption is the max legal carry-on should fit the overhead unless the aircraft is packed with carry-on only passengers and that your personal item should fit under the seat unless you are a bulkhead passenger.

Posted by
16894 posts

If possible, a backpack is a good thing to try on and test for comfort and where the straps fit on you. (In our Edmonds, WA store, display bags are already packed with 20 pounds of junk for you to try.) A waist belt is important to me to distribute some of the weight. Even in an airline carry-on sized bag, it's easy to pack more than 20 pounds (especially of shoes, toiletries, books, liquid souvenirs), so be vigilant. CDG has free luggage carts, so grab one as soon as you see one, if your bag does not have its own wheels. You can end up walking much farther than you expected at CDG.

I have used a backpack as my main travel bag for years and appreciate it's advantages when navigating stairs and rough roads, but also end up carrying it more than necessary, especially when I stand in a line that I think will be short and it turns out to be long. Wheeled bags are used by the majority of Rick's customers and by the majority of European travelers, too. Carrying a backpack through CDG, you will find yourself in a minority, but at least it won't be the group with the huge suitcases.

Posted by
19171 posts

I have to agree with Ginger. I've had an RS Convertible bag since 2000 and used it 6 or 7 two-week trips, and it was fined. As I learned to pack less and less, it started to be too big and heavy for what I needed. Then I switched to the slightly smaller, lighter Essential Carryon bag and used it for
Europe 3 or 4 times, plus at least four domestic trips. I really liked the lighter weight but I was only half filling it, and it was floppy. I recently bought an eTech Weekender Convertible Jr from eBags, and, although I haven't used it for a trip yet, I know I will love it. It's only a little smaller, but with the internal and external cinch straps, I can tighten the load. I've packed it and carried it, and I like the feel. I never thought I would care about a waist belt, but it takes the load completely off my shoulders and puts it on my hips.

Posted by
32273 posts


If you think you might have to carry the bag for longer distances between the station and hotel, and that it may be on the "heavier" side when loaded, I'd suggest using a Backpack that allows for torso range adjustment. That will put the majority of the weight on your hips rather than your shoulders, and will be more comfortable overall.

Posted by
103 posts

My wife, adult son and I have each used Rick's convertible packs on trips to Italy and Ireland. My wife keeps her pack under 20 pounds. Son and I are big guys and can handle more weight. Although I am approaching 70, I can still handle the weight (typically 25-28 pounds). That said, I'm pondering getting the wheeled version but then there're those cobblestones to deal with. Our bags won't fit under airplane seats in economy but we've always found room in the overheads.