I'm thinking about getting the RS Rolling Backpack for the 21 day Europe tour. Does anyone have experience with this bag? I like the idea of being able to roll, hand carry or backpack a bag based on what I'm reading about the trip. As a woman who is planning on bringing some nice outfits and necessities, will it be large enough? Thanks for your input in advance!
My wife and I have each used the rolling backpack for 5 RS tours, and they will be going on # 6 in Aug. I think they are perfect for the style of travel of a RS tour where you roll or carry your own bag. You may have to walk a few blocks over cobblestones and up / down subway entrances with the bag as well as stairs at the hotels, so this is a good size bag for managing those challenges efficiently. We use packing cubes (set of 3 made by Samsonite, purchased at Dillard's) which fit perfectly and allow for easy packing and organization.
In regards to your "bringing some nice outfits and necessities" I am not sure what you are planning. I would recommend that if those things won't fit in the rolling backpack, rethink what you are taking! Check out the packing recommendations on this web site (for men and women) and watch the video on "packing lite" that one of the female staff has presented at ETBD seminars. I promise you will regret taking more things in a larger suitcase the first time you have to manage 3 flights of narrow stairs or a subway full of people! Also, anything larger will have to be checked baggage on the airplane. It is sooo much easier to pull this rolling backpack out of the overhead and walk straight through to passport / customs. In Chicago there is even a " fast lane" for passport and customs if you have no checked bags and I believe more airports are ( or will be) doing this as well. It was the easiest return to the US we ever had coming back from Germany last year.
A female may have different thoughts, but I have been very happy with this bag when I carry both mine and my wife's bag up a long set of steps out of the subway.
I have used the RS Rolling Backpack several times, including his Baltic Tour Last year, followed by a cruise to Moscow. So I basically packed 3 1/2 weeks of stuff in it (plus a small under seat bag with my electronics.) Also used it in Central Mexico for 10 days. It does a good job and seems to hold enough. If not packed with the heavier items to the bottom and especially to the bottom rear, the bag tends to fall over. That wasn't a problem after I figured that out, but it is a criticism that some people have about that bag. As I like luggage I have several rolling bags and several backpack bags. The "hardcore" will often rant about the problems with rolling luggage but after years of hoisting stuff on my back I'm glad I switched. I will say I only used the backpack straps on the RS a few times. I've never minded grabbing a handle and going up a few flights with a bag or had problems rolling one over cobblestones. But the straps are a nice option. It is a bit smaller than his other rolling bag and may fall over.
There may not be many cases when you carry the bag on your back, but that is a better carrying option when your hotel doesn't have an elevator (or there's a waiting line for it), or when the walk to your Cinque Terre hotel also includes some stairs. It is large enough and even this size of bag will hold more than you can comfortably carry, so pack judiciously.