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Rick Steves Convertible Carry-on Help

I use the Rick Steves Convertible Carry-on. When I pack the bag everything lays flat and snug. After lifting the bag and carrying it around, everything shifts to the bottom so that there is a good 10 -12 inches of space at the top and a bulge at the bottom. I use the compression straps inside.

Any ideas on how can I make the bag stay flat and even?

Posted by
6361 posts

You can build structure by using packing cubes. I think that this makes a huge difference.

Posted by
3751 posts

Packing cubes of various sizes will help a lot. Some have a semi-stiff insert that helps the cube keep it's shape. If the cubes are full, and they fill up the empty space, there souldn't be much moverment if at any. If that's not enough, see if your bag has any additional places inside to attach a cord. If so, go to a hardware store and buy some "parachute cord". Use it to keep the packing cubes snugged together so they don't move around.

Posted by
305 posts

I have one of these bags as well. The other thing you can do is cinch up the outer side straps to help compress the bag overall. That should help keep things in place in addition to the packing cubes.

And to help make the bag easier on your body overall, especially if the weight has shifted downward, I recommend purchasing straps to leverage as sternum straps. I just got these:
XTACER Backpack Chest Strap Adjustable Backpack Sternum Strap Chest Belt with Buckle (Pack of 2)

Posted by
11012 posts

I agree with the packing cube recommendation and will add to pack your shoes on the aide that will be at the bottom. I don't use this bag any more but if I were packing it now I would use the cubes that are long and skinny and pack them so they are vertical when the bag will be on your back...if that makes sense.

Posted by
16 posts

I do use packing cubes. Everything in the pack is packed into packing cubes, except an extra pair of shoes. I think that I will try repacking the pack, placing the packing cubes in another order. Love the idea about the backpack chest straps.

Posted by
18553 posts

A Rick Steves Convertible Carry-on (ca. 2000) was my first carry-on bag. It did not have cinch straps, but back then, I packed it pretty full, so it didn't matter. My next bag was what we called the OPEC bag (Outdoor Products Essential Carryon); it also did not have cinch straps. I used the OPEC bag while I was learning to pack light, and by that time I was only partially filling it, and I experienced the same problem you are having.

My latest bag is the eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr from eBags (no longer sold). It weighs a little more than the OPEC bag, but has cinch straps. That has made all the difference in the world.

It looks like the bag you have has cinch straps. If it does, use them. They should solve your problem. (I might also suggest you get a smaller bag.)

Posted by
5131 posts

Hi, I have a similar movement that happens with my suitcase. It has a structured bottom when lying flat on a bed, but the top is a heavy-duty fabric which allows some movement when the suitcase is standing up. Since it’s a wheeled suitcase, it’s not uncomfortable when it shifts (and not doing it to the extent you’re describing.). It’s not a big deal for my roller, but I can understand how it would be annoying for your situation.

Try loading it picturing it in the position of “standing up” on your back, the heaviest item is on the bottom. And above that item is a stack of packing cubes that are one directly above another. So, the packing cubes would mimic a stack of towels on a closet shelf. It would really help if they are the length & width of your bag dimension in that stand up position. That would keep the cubes in order. What’s happening with the current sliding is that there’s enough wiggle room for vertical items to slip in between lower items as you’re walking. And anything extra that’s not in a packing cube is moving downward, too.

Posted by
101 posts

I use this bag and have found success with packing cubes, as others have said. I use the RS packing cube set (one large and two small) and they fit nicely. Then after the bag is packed and closed, tighten the compression straps on the outside of the bag. I think without packing cubes it would be an unorganized mess!