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Petite women, backpack carryon with hip belt??

Edited title to say "petite." Some hip/waist belts are too long for me.

I've gone back and read the posts on this site for the past year, and I've gotten some great advice about the best carryon backpack. We're traveling internationally in December and prefer carryon only. My husband has the RS Convertible Carryon. I think that will be too big for me (I'm 4'10"). My son and I both have old wheeled bags, and they are too large for my airlines' limits (55cmx35cmx25cmx8 kg). I'd like a backpack, and I'd prefer a hip belt and sternum straps if possible. The ebags etech jr looks like it has a waist belt, but no padding for the hips. One that opens like luggage (the RS bag does not) would be best for me--unlike DH I prefer to keep my bag neat and organized. Any advice? I've checked out ebags, Eagle Creek, and RS websites, and I'm undecided. $100 would be my budget.

On another note, son prefers a wheeled bag. Is RS the best choice out there, given the 8 kg weight limit? Do the IT bags hold up?

Posted by
1277 posts

I'm 5'2" I remember seeing about 6 months ago on some other luggage makers website a table that showed very specific height ranges for each pack......hopefully someone else here could help you find that information.....

Posted by
13097 posts

Considering your price point, there are no other bags that I know of that offer a padded hip belt.

As far as wheeled bags go, there are other bags that weigh less than the RS one and built fairly well.

RS Wheeled backpack is lighter and smaller. I think it is better made.

Lipault Foldable 22" Two Wheeled bag hovers just over 5 lbs and measures 21.5 x 14 x 8 (on sale at eBags for $149 but if you use the code VIP until tomorrow it is $119. Look for sales all over the place on Black Friday.) I have one coming to me to review.

Eagle Creek No Matter What Flatbed Duffel is 5 lbs, 10 oz and meausres20 x 13.5 x 8 $175. An optional backpack strap can be added if you want this feature.

IT bags are good if you treat them gently. Very gently. I don't recommend them for anything but car trips.

Posted by
2562 posts

rhondakap, I am going to be contrary here to what you've written. You said that you THINK the RS Convertible will be too big for you. My wife and I travel solely with a pair of RS bags as carry-on, we are 62 and 61. More to the point, my wife is just over 5'1" and has never had any issue with the bag being too big. We have comfortably used this for walks of over 3 miles (e.g. from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse on foot). My suggestion to you is, why not load up your available RS bag with what resembles your typical travel load, and take a long walk with it around your neighborhood. You may find that it will work for you. You can help organize and get extra compression by using one of the large plastic vacuum bags for clothing. AS an added bonus, we have never been asked to size/weigh these upon walking up to any gate with them comfortably on our backs.

Posted by
559 posts

I am 5'4", which is borderline petite, and I am happy with my Osprey Porter 46. It is lightweight, comfortable, and pretty much indestructible. I believe that Osprey makes a slightly smaller pack (the Farpoint 40?) that is designed for people with smaller torsos.

When I was choosing a pack, I went to my local REI and tried on several packs. They let me wander around the store with a pack loaded with sandbags so that I get an idea of how the pack felt loaded. Trying out a loaded pack helped greatly with my decision.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Marie and Larry. I will buy a pack and compare with the RS for me. Of course in the attic I have an LL Bean large day pack and an Osprey 45l internal frame pack. Both are sized for a small woman and the right size for carryon but are toploaders so totally inconvenient for the middle aged traveler staying in a hotel. Let's hope I can do some hiking and make use of these!

Posted by
971 posts

I am 5'2". I have managed with the Rick Steves convertible carry on for several long trips but it's slightly larger than I really want. I bought this one for my next trip: lite gear travel pack

It has a padded hip belt but no sternum strap. Total weight 2 lbs. It is not as robust as the Osprey 40 I tried on. The Osprey fit me better but was very pricy and loaded oddly. The external straps had to be unbuckled every time you want to get into the bag. This one is a smidgen smaller and lighter than the RS so I hope it will be a smidgen better. It won't be perfect but I am resisting a wheeled bag a while longer so every little bit helps. I considered both of the ebags Jr. Packs but they were quite a bit heavier. Sorry I can't report real life results yet but take a look. It's $100

ETA: well it's not smaller - I just checked the specs. But it is 11 ozs lighter. I wish it were a bit smaller.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the tip on that lite gear bag. It's available at ebags, and with the free returns, I'll probably order the etech 2.0 jr and this bag and try them both out. Silly design flaw on the lite gear bag--the compression straps go over the water bottle pocket, rendering the pocket useless.

Posted by
971 posts

eBags didn't have it in stock when I bought it, so I'm glad they have it for you to try. I notice they have the wrong description and weight for it - it's for an entirely different bag. You might mention that to them and get them to confirm the actual weight. (And I'd be curious what they say, since the manufacturer says it's 2 lbs even.) I hope one of these works out for you!

Posted by
31828 posts

rhonda,

You could also have a look at Osprey Packs as they have some smaller model Backpacks with hip and sternum belts. I'd suggest shopping in a "bricks & mortar" store, so that you can be properly fitted according to your torso length. Overall height is not the most important criteria when choosing a Backpack. They also offer both panel load and top load models (I find panel load more convenient for travel, and also like features like a detachable daypack and stowable harness system for air travel).

Posted by
28 posts

Just thought I'd jump in to say to Rick/Kiva Designs : sternum straps on your bags, please. Thanks.

Posted by
2248 posts

I tried that lite gear travel pack in a local brick-and-mortar store and found it no smaller, and maybe a little bulkier, than the RS convertible carry-on, and the quality in terms of fabric, seams, zippers, and webbing were not in the same league as the RS. It helped convince me that the RS is a good deal in its size and price range.
[I still agree that the RS is a little bigger than necessary for most of my travel situations, though. I like it, but I have it cinched down]

Posted by
18690 posts

I have an Etech jr bag. No, the waist belt is not padded, but if you're only packing to 8 kg, I don't think the unpadded belt will give you a problem. I bought the etech bag for the cinch straps and the sternum strap; I wasn't looking for a waist belt, but I found it fully supported the bag on my hips without discomfort.

"One that opens like luggage (the RS bag does not)"

I don't know what you mean by "opens like luggage". The RS bags open from the end, but they all open fully, like luggage, not like a backpack.

Wheeled bags weigh around 6#. With a weight limit of 8kg (17.6#) that gives you less than 12# of contents. If he puts that same 12# of contents in a 1¾# Essential Carryon bag, he won't need wheels.

Posted by
7 posts

True, about the wheels, weight, etc. My son sometimes travels with a cello on his back, Then he totes one or two wheeled bags. I know we can save our old wheeled carryons for his domestic flights.

Posted by
31828 posts

rhonda,

" One that opens like luggage"

Are you referring to a bag with a three-sided zipper that is completely open when the lid is folded back? That sounds like a panel load pack design.

Posted by
18690 posts

"sounds like a panel load pack design"

Whatever. Still sound like "luggage" to me, i.e., it opens fully for placing items in it, unlike a backpack (like the Appenzell bag), where you have to shove everything in from one end.

Posted by
7 posts

"opens like luggage" means, to me, what they call a butterfly opening. Like a book with two sides.

Posted by
1766 posts

I appreciate your situation (I'm just a smidge under 5'). I have an older version of the eBags Mother Lode TLS weekender and it works for me - no padded waist belt, but I've never had to hike very far with my bag. I find it easy to carry, love the pockets, especially the front top one that I use for my TSA liquids bag. Because it is soft sided, it squishes in the sizers (and honestly, I've never had to, most flight crew were amazed it was my only bag). And it has plenty of room with an expandable zipper, though by the end of my trip I'm usually glad to check it home. It is about 2 inches too long for my back, but I've adapted. eBags didn't have the "junior" version when I purchased my bag, but it looks like it might even be better size wise. The bag is almost always on sale (currently $99, use coupon code "VIP" to get 20% off)

Posted by
13097 posts

When a bag is referred to saying it "opens like luggage" means it opens on three sides with the "hinge" on one of the longer sides.

When the bag opens from the end on three sides, like the RS Convertible, it is referred to as having a "clamshell" opening.

Posted by
7 posts

Great explanation. Then "open like luggage" is what I said and exactly what I meant.

Last few times I've flown domestic, I haven't had to take out my 311 bag. Shoes on, belt on, everything kept in luggage. Is this the new system?

Posted by
11914 posts

Last few times I've flown domestic, I haven't had to take out my 311 bag. Shoes on, belt on, everything kept in luggage. Is this the new system?

No. If you have a TSA precheck (or one of the Global Entry passes) you can keep your shoes, belt and jacket on. I guess the 3-1-1 bag depends on your departure airport since in September (and always before) I've had to take out my 3-1-1 going thru my tiny 2-gate/1 waiting room airport. I also had to take it out when coming back thru security at SLC after clearing Immigration and at the other end of my domestic flights over the last year. It should be standard but unfortunately is not.

Posted by
13097 posts

In the past, some travelers not part of the Trusted Traveler program were allowed to use the TSA Precheck line. That "privilege" is being phased out since the ranks of the TT programs have have swelled and too many people who should have had more serious bag checks got through easily.

And with the current terrorist situations going on, expect security to get even tighter.

Posted by
943 posts

FWIW, having a backpack longer than your torso is much better than having one shorter than your torso, as long as the length complies with the airline carry on limits. And with the carry on limits, keep in mind that the soft pack is squishable so as long as you do not over pack you should be okay (On the other hand, even a 20" backpack can easily swell to 23-24" if you overstuff).

If you are shorter, the extra length can actually make it easier to carry assuming you have a good hip belt and some sort of structure to your pack to transfer the weight to your hips. With a proper hip belt and an internal frame, the pack is lifted off of your shoulders and almost all of the weight is on your hips. A little nylon hip belt is not going to be much help (you are better off just unclipping it and not bothering with it at all). The hip belt on the RS convertible belt would be the minimum that I would recommend although I do not own that bag. That belt appears to be wide enough to spread the weight over your hips. My only criticism is that that pack does not have an internal frame. However, if you pack it tightly and cinch up the compression straps, you can create the necessary structure and weight transfer to the hip belt. What I mean is that if you loosely pack, the pack will sag while it is on your back and the weight will then be transferred to your shoulders instead of being over your hips.

My own choice is an SOC Bugout bag which has a fully padded belt and two built-in aluminum stays to ensure that all of the weight goes to the hips. Of course, it weights a bit more with all the extra features compared to the RS bag.