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RS Rolling Backpack

Hubby and I are still able to carry our backpacks but sister would prefer one that rolls with the option of being carried short distances if/when she has to. She has chronic asthma so I don't see her doing to much of this unless something happens to the wheels. Then I foresee me with a backpack on my back and one on my front. We will be in London, Paris, and Amsterdam this fall and I am worried about the effect of cobblestones on the wheels of whatever bag she chooses. Most of what she is looking at seems to have plastic wheels. Is that typical? We will be doing taxi to apt. in both London and Paris but will walk from train station to apt in Amsterdam. We are planning on carry on only unless the electronics rule extends to all European flights. She will have a wheelchair for gate to gate in the airports.
1] Do any of you use the RS Rolling backpack or have advice for any other favorites? I'm sure she'd like to stay in the $150 or less price area.
2] If she gets one with wheels should it be a roller or spinner?
I greatly appreciate any advice you can give.

Posted by juliehayfork
44 posts

I don't have the RS rolling backpack, but do have the smaller RS rolling carry on bag. It did fine over cobblestones, but we were only going short distances (several blocks). I think the roller wheels do better on the cobblestones. They also don't stick out like spinners do.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
1068 posts

Hi. Don't have any spinners but have and have used the RS Rolling Carry-on and RS Rolling Back Pack. I like both bags, but tend to gravitate to the RCO for the extra room. In many many trips of using a rolling bag (vs the trips where I used a backpack type) I have never had to carry the bag more than 3 times. So I figure if you figure what you save by rolling it versus carrying it vs the extra 2 pounds when you do carry it, the wheels are worth it (although as I have said many many times, IMHO there is no right way to travel and you should do what is right for you.) I still pack light, so the few times I carry the roller, it is not a burden. I usually chuckle when I read you "can't use roller bags on bad roads or cobblestones." I've used them on cobblestones from York to Turkey to India and everywhere in between. They do make noise on cobblestones, but roll just fine and all of mine have a plastic based wheel.

Posted by Maria
Ontario, Canada
735 posts

I find affordable good volume rolling backpacks hard to come by. Most, like the one you are considering, forego a good waist belt and that is what takes the weight off the shoulders. That won't help her asthma. In order to save on weight, they minimize or remove the belt and sometimes compromise on the durability of the handle. Otherwise you are soon maximizing your carry on weight allowance before it is even packed.
If she gets wheels, I recommend a 2 wheel with roller wheels, or I saw one the other day that had rollers on the back and spinners on the front. It means you can't 'walk' it beside you but you can push it on 4 wheels or pull it on 2. Less likely to roll away on you like all spinners, but is easier in the airport.
When do you think you will have to back pack luggage? I am sure you aren't going to convert to a pack every set of metro stairs. Chances are you will find the occasional place you would benefit from a pack, but it most likely will be more frustrating having to stop, zip out the straps, but them on, walk the stairs then take it off, rezip the straps...etc. and then repeat.
I recommend a 20 or 21 inch roller with handle on top, bottom and side no more than 6 pounds....and have her limit weight to 20 - 22 pounds.
I have a 21 inch 2-wheel roller from Riccardo of Beverly Hills that suits me well and will be coming with me to Spain for 3 weeks in the autumn. It would be pretty inexpensive in US$, but I can't seem to find a similar one.

The eBag 2.0 Motherlode 21" mini gets good reviews, is a 2 wheeled roller wheel but slightly more than the $150 cap at eBags. It is also close to 8 pounds, which could become problematic. It is often recommended, so you can at least use it to compare other luggage to.
I do also suggest you work down the forum posts as some are finding Rick's new manufacturer is not as durable as luggage made even a few years ago. Others find it fine.

Posted by Nance OP
Orange Park, Fl
816 posts

Thank you Julie, Ray, and Maria.
Maria - I'm sure a carry handle will see her up and down stairs at both apartments or getting on/off trains. I was only thinking about her having to use it as backpack should something happen to the wheels.

And yes - I have seen some things recently about the RS bags. All of our bags are RS but they were purchased at least two years ago - 2 convertible, 2 Appenzell, 3 Civita. Since there are no reviews on the Shop Online site it leaves on wondering how many negative vs. positive reviews there are.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
1068 posts


Unfortunately, as far as I know (or can guess) there is no "great" way of getting reviews of products on the net. Aside from fake reviews to pump up a product, most people who use it and like it don't bother to review it (check the research.) Sure, RS luggage has some problems and I have had it with them too (a broken carrying shoulder strap in S. America was decidedly inconvenient) but they replaced it with no problem (after I got home.) If I were really worried about breakage of wheels I would say to myself "Self, if I want wheels and this piece of #*$&% luggage breaks, I'll have to buy a new piece in Europe....I'm pretty sure they sell luggage there too!" Sure, luggage shopping is not a high priority tour highlight, but in an "emergency"......

Posted by Wray
Quincy, MA, New England
1771 posts

In my many years of my family's travels, and with many brands of suitcases: 3 RS, 1 Sherpani, 1 Hartman, 1 Atlantic, 1 Briggs-Reilly(huge and a truck for expat uses), and two I can't recall and too lazy to go look at the brands...We've NEVER had an issue with wheels. This is on many cobblestones, rutty streets, messy sidewalks, even through woods and snow as independent travelers. It's my impression that wheels have pretty much been mastered. I would not buy a backpack because of the fear of failing wheels. If the wheels failed, you can easily get another bag, which you could then make a backpack in Europe. Don't over think this...I say...this from a suitcase addict.

Posted by JJ-nowVoyager
490 posts

I recommend two bags, one 15" roller with two wheels, it works better than spinners on cobblestones.....and a medium day pack.
Let me tell you that I was a backpack and messenger bag designer in the 90's when bags were king! :) So I have dozens of bags, suitcases, wallets etc..and I am always looking for a better mousetrap! Wheeled back packs are heavy and not comfortable on the back as they dig in...especially on women who are built differently, all luggage is designed with men's bodies in mind btw.

My idea of two bags may not make sense at first..but consider that this breaks up the weight and if one of you needs to help your sister you can take her roller bag by the handles or roll it as you will have backpacks.

I travel with these bags no matter if it is one week or one month. Laundry is my friend. In fall, boots are worn on the flight and second pair of shoes and slippers/flip flops are packed.

I am not endorsing a brand or profiting by posting this information. This is the exact bag that I own and took to Italy last fall... but there are other brands. I did not use packing cubes in the roller, I just put everthing into a tall trash bag to keep it all together and used it as a laundry bag. About $75- $90
Tavelon 15" underseat roller ( they make a few sizes, 15" is the one I have) back pack 30 liter

you can get a soft version of this style bag, I needed to use cubes due to lack of interior straps to hold items in place....but you get the idea, a medium sized pack that you should not load with more than 10 pounds or so. You can always pack a soft folding daypack into this bag for daily use for touring cities.

In the 15" Travelon underseat roller...I fit all my electronic gear: cords chargers, pocket sized camera, hair iron, clothing iron tiny 4 inch one, converter and plugs, plus a 13" laptop computer , compact unbrella,2 guide books small notebook, 2 pair glasses, pens, deck of cards and other misc items.

clothing 2 long sleeved shirts, 1 swimsuit, 4 pair underwear, 1 bra, 3 socks, flip flops, flat water shoes, 2 shorts, 1 jeans, 1 ligthweight capri pant, 5 tee shirts, 1 windbreaker rainjacket, 1 cotton sweater, 1 hat, 1 scarf, liquid carry on plastic quart bag, 1 magazine, and possibly a few more items.

My backpack had just a few items in it and my carry on food bag, and puffer jacket squished into a stuff sack.

When you think about the cubic space of a 22" roller, some of it is taken up by wheels that are far from the actual suitcase bottom..and the bar that supports the handle takes up 7" smaller really is not much cubic space lost as there is no room sacrificed by the retractable handle on this model and there are just two wheels that are recessed.

The weight that you can pack into a 22" roller can be very heavy plus the 6- 8lbs or so of the case itself! By breaking up the weight and having two managable bags, the roller will only have to be lifted onto trains, and put underseat or inside the overhead bin...easy!

I hope this works out for your lovely trip!

Posted by joe32F
Edmonds, WA
3392 posts

My wife uses the previous generation ( maxlite 3 business bag) and has done well over irregular surfaces.

I use a different Travelpro which is above your stated budget

I prefer 2 wheel roller over a spinner. With the spinner the wheels use up part of your "size" allotment but have no storage.
For uneven surfaces I think the bigger wheels of a roller do better.

Posted by aquamarinesteph
362 posts

I have the RS rolling carryon bag (not the backpack), and it handled some very rough terrain in Costa Rica and managed it beautifully! We went up. Down. Rocky roads. I was quite impressed.

Posted by Frank II
6965 posts

I have owned numerous RS wheeled bags over the years and most had handle problems. (I never had a problem with wheels.). I had two rolling backpacks. The first had handle problems and was replaced by RS. On a recent two week tour, the top handle of the Ravenna rolling bag broke off after the first week and I had to buy another bag.. I was able to pick up a Samsonite Upllite that measures 21.7 x 13.8 x 9 and weighs 3 lbs, 12 oz. It held up the second week of the Village Italy tour, an entire Villages of South England tour and is still going strong. It has been through all different terrains. Unfortunately, it is not available in the U.S.

The guide on our Village Italy tour used a spinner and said it has held up for years. And is was not an expensive bag.

This whole notion of wheels not doing well on cobblestones is mostly continued by those who don't like wheels. Unless you buy a really cheap, no-name brand, you will probably not have any problems with wheels. That's not a guarantee against problems but the odds are very slim of you having issues.

At less than $150 is is going to be tough to get a good quality bag. My suggestion would be to go to a discount store like TJ Maxx or Marshalls where they mostly carry discontinued models at lower prices. Take a tape measure.

Posted by Nance OP
Orange Park, Fl
816 posts

Excellent advice from all of you, just as I would expect. I have personal bags for all of us. I like the Laurel Burch zippered shoulder totes and have three of those. They are the right size for us, have a plastic lined interior to keep things dry, and are easily carried for a day bag should one want. I don't do day bags, just my little cross body, but we may want to do some little picnics on this trip necessitating some kind of bag.
In addition, sister will need to carry her cpap. She checked into a travel size cpap but they are several hundred dollars and her insurance will not pay for it so she will need to carry her regular one, so she will have three bags. She has never curtailed her bags to carry on only (I don't think) so we will be doing a practice pack when she comes soon for a visit. We're not going to have a problem should she decide to check bags, but she won't be carrying them through the airport anyway as she is getting assistance. She will be responsible for them when we catch trains, although we will help of course should she need it. I'm trying to keep her in the 21-22 inch total length range so there is no problem with carry on. Hubby and I do get two free checked bags each so could check hers under my name if push comes to shove. I like the idea of downsizing her bag but at the same time want to buy one that doesn't require her packing part of her clothing into my bag. I'm going to do a practice pack of my own clothes and see if they fit into my Appenzell.
I am now looking at the Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible Carry on Ebags for $143 but will also check out the links that have been provided by y'all.

As ever, thank you so much for your participation. Good info., good advice, and kindly given.

Posted by Sharon
35 posts


I have an EC Lync 20" bag, and it can be used as a wheeled bag or carried on your back with wheels attached. There is also an option to completely remove the bag from the wheels and use it as a regular backpack. It's a great bag - light, versatile and durable. It's my favorite bag for trips and it fits easily as an international carry on. The only problem is that it retails for about $250. I have seen Ebags sales for 30% off that brings the price down quite a bit. The one I have is a roller, but I know Eagle Creek is making some of their bags as spinners and rollers.

Good luck with your search.

Posted by Nance OP
Orange Park, Fl
816 posts

Thanks Sharon. That's way out of line for what I know she would pay but I might check it out for myself.

Posted by akros
45 posts

Something else she might consider is what I used when we traveled right after I had a bout with pericarditis. I used the Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender, which converts to a backpack, although I didn't use it that way. It is very light (under 2 lbs. I believe). It has a slip pocket which slides over the handle of the Eagle Creek Wheeled Tote. The advantage for me was that the Weekender was light enough for me to lift up to put in the overhead bin, while the tote fit nicely under the seat in front of me. The tote has 2 very sturdy wheels and for the few times I had to lift it, was much lighter than a full sized carry-on. I believe the Weekender was $120. I got the tote for $60, as it was a discontinued color. Orange! Not what I would have picked, but I could deal with it.

Posted by Nance OP
Orange Park, Fl
816 posts

Thanks Akros, and thanks again to everyone else. She looked through all of the suggestions and liked the rolling Eagle Creek Convertible Carry on best. We'll see how it performs for her.

Posted by doric8
806 posts

Of course the cpap needs to be in the bag that does not get checked under any circumstances. If you are going to check her bags on yr ticket, make sure there are not tags w her name still on the bags. I learned that one the hard way in 1987

Posted by Frank II
6965 posts

If you alert the airline ahead of time, and you carry the CPAP in its own bag with nothing else in it not related to the CPAP, they will make a note on your reservation so the gate agent will allow the third item on board without a hassle.

Posted by Nance OP
Orange Park, Fl
816 posts

Oh yes, Doric, I would definitely have my name tag on the bag.

Frank - I know she has traveled once with the cpap, but I was unaware she needed to contact the airline about carrying it on. I will let her know to do this. Thanks so much for letting me know.