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The never-ending daypack quest

Because I have been having so many back issues, I have decided to get a small, low profile backpack not only for my upcoming trip to London, but for my everyday carry. I much prefer a shoulder bag but at the moment, no can do.

I plan to pack it in my suitcase, flat, so it must be squish-able.

Bags I have in mind: Rick's Civita backpack, Eagle Creek's Travel Bug Mini, and Tom Bihn's Daylight Backpack. I don't think I'd want anything larger than any of those. The TB bag I'm not sure about because the straps are not padded, the idea being that you won't have enough stuff in there to make padding necessary.

This also has to fit over a coat/jacket, so the straps are very important.

Any thoughts on these brands?

Thanks!

Posted by
2261 posts

No experience with the brands you mention, but for a small pack, I bought an earlier version of this REI Tarn "kids" pack and it works great and fits fine, even with a jacket on-I'm 5' 8", 175 lbs. Lots of pockets and places to stow things, waist and chest suspension straps, emergency whistle; just a very functional small pack, and it's only $40.

https://www.rei.com/product/870884/rei-tarn-18-pack-kids

Posted by
6346 posts

Sandra, we have the Civita packs. My DH uses his as a daypack when we travel. He tends to just sling it over one shoulder. I've been using my Civita pack recently as we're gearing up for our South England trip. I have it full of books (about 14 lbs - just for practice!) and it is holding up well. It's very comfortable, with padded straps, and the straps are adjustable for length so it can ride low, in the small of your back, on your hips, or higher up (which I prefer.)

I did see a post last year that said the quality of the Civitas may be lower than what it was when we bought ours, about 6 years ago. However, RS will exchange shoddy merchandise.

P.S. When are you going to London? We're heading that way ourselves soon.

Posted by
228 posts

We each have the Rick Steve's Civita backpack from the days when they gave them out for taking the tour. I have carried it as my day pack on four RS tours. I am able to get a light jacket or fleece and also rain shells along with collapsable umbrellas for my wife and I in the main compartment, the guide book in the front, and bottled water in the side holders. I find it fairly comfortable though the straps dig in once in a while if snugged up. I enjoy the size and have not found another bag that I would use to take its place. It is not terribly waterproof but does stay pretty much under an umbrella if you use one. I pack it in my bag on the flight, using a larger backpack as my carryon and then use it everyday as our day bag.

I bought a Merrell Rouge pack from ebags. I am an under 5'5 woman. This is a comfortable pack and not large. The RS civita pack lacks structure and organization. I am not fond of the vertical pocket on the rouge - but it's good for a map and granola bar. The water bottle side pockets are nice. The main zipper pocket inside on the organizer panel is not deep enough for a mini- iPad. But, the organizer panel is still good for a cell-phone and other items. While not "perfect" - the Merrell rouge makes a good, smaller daypack. I am taking mine to Italy. It packs flat enough.

Posted by
18 posts

Take a look at Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Backpack Daypack on amazon ($18.96). This is what I'm taking to Ireland this summer.

Posted by
4059 posts

My solution was to give up backpacks. I'm happier with a carrier-style bag strapped across my chest. Others are happier too since I do not swing my backpack into their road in crowded stores or streets or buses any more. And it is more secure.

Posted by
753 posts

I'm really pleased with the Rick's Civita backpack I bought last year. Super soft fabric that folds up easily. The shoulder straps are comfortable and the size is just right. I got mine in plum and it matches my carry-on.

Posted by
20 posts

I have been contemplating very much the same thing.... wanting a good day pack. My plan is to wear a shoulder bag while my husband wears a backpack, but I'm concerned about theft from the back pockets. I mean, with all I was reading about wandering hands in Rick's book, I wonder how a daypack can even work unless the back of it is under constant surveillance when in crowds? This fear has brought me to look at PacSafe backpacks but perhaps I am going overboard. I love the softness of Rick's Civita and it sure makes sense as it can be used as a pillow. But wandering hands? What about theft? Cheryl

Posted by
32231 posts

Sandra,

If you don't mind something a bit larger, you could also have a look at the RS Ravenna Pack, which has a more robust construction than the Civita pack, and nicely padded straps.

Posted by
20 posts

Just looked at Eagle Creek's Travel Bug Mini and see the safety toggles, lockable zippers and the RFID blocker. Nice. Especially on a backpack where you can't see what is going on behind you. Love the simplicity of the Tom Bihn pack but I think you might miss shoulder padding when it is loaded up.

Posted by
14 posts

Fjallraven Kanken is a European made packpack originally made for Swedish school children. It is a little spendy. Comes in various sizes and colors. Do not own one but they do look interesting. I like the way they open up. Amazon carries them and some reviewers say to watch out for knockoffs.

Posted by
15381 posts

If you are worried about wondering hands with a backpack, you could get these. They will slow down a thief long enough to make them move on to easier prey:

cable key ring

Posted by
5697 posts

I have a Civita bag bought at the local hospital thrift store for about $4 (my husband was volunteering there and saw it when it hit the rack) Use it at home, commuting on public transit, and while travelling. But I do NOT put valuables in it, mostly the aforementioned rain jacket, fleece, water bottle and tour book pages. Fits over a coat, folds down to nothing. What's not to like?

Posted by
210 posts

I have used the Civita BP on 9 of my 10 tours. It has been a VERY reliable work-horse for me……guidebooks, water, cameras, extra lens, etc…..everything I needed for walking tours, hikes, etc. ….and lightweight.

Last year I purchased a "PacSafe" bag. It was a little more sturdy, but that is what I wanted. My tour involved several large cities with lots of public transportation systems. I opted for a more "secure" anti-theft bag due to all of the buses, trams, metros, trains, etc.

This year I am packing both…..my tour has a blend of large and small cities. Large cities (using a lot of public transportation) = PacSafe / Smaller towns = Civita.

Posted by
71 posts

I really like the Tom Bihn Daylight backpack. The Halcyon version is similar in weight to the version I have (I think they called the fabric something else when I got it), and it's very packable. The straps aren't as much of an issue as I would have thought, for the same reasons you've mentioned: you shouldn't be carrying too much in the bag anyway! Even with a heavy load, they still seem to work well.

Since it's such a lightweight bag, you also have to be creative to create your own internal structure since it lacks one otherwise. I've found that a book or jacket works pretty well to get the bag ready to go for the day.

Posted by
66 posts

Sandra,
We've gone through about 15 different bags over the years and have narrowed day bags down to these:

We both use the Veloce Guide Bag for I-pad as our day bags. Carry them cross shoulder with zippers facing us and, if necessary to remove a rain jacket or fleece jacket we just drape it over the bag. But that's not exactly what you asked about!

Small backpacks. We're leaving in 2 weeks for Italy....again.

My wife will be using, as personal carry-on, the Veloce Backpack. It has both backpack straps and a shoulder strap. It works for her to carry any "overages" from her RS Original Rolling Carry-on.

I'll have the RS Convertible Back Pack and the RS Euro Flight Bag.

In the past we both carried RS Appenzell day packs for our personal carry on. Way to big. Makes you want to cheat and fill all possible spaces. No more!!!

We also have the Civita backpack. In our case it was either too big or too small for the intended use. Also tried an REI Flashpack some years ago as day bag. The one central compartment made it a pain to locate anything.

Have a great trip,
Gene

Posted by
809 posts

I've used the RS Civita daypack for about 10 years and really like it. As others have said, it's soft and lightweight, and I have found it easy to tuck jackets/umbrellas/snacks/guidebooks/hand sanitizer/etc in all the zip pockets, plus a water bottle in the side. To the poster who worried about theft - that's not where I carry anything I would worry about losing. Money, passport, phone, etc. are in a money belt or in deep, zippered pants or shirt pockets.

Posted by
680 posts

Thank you for all the great suggestions and advice. I really do wish I could use a crossbody bag, but my back protests.

Jane, I'll be going to London the first week of June.

Before you buy a bag, write down features that are important to you and cost. Then, visit ebags.com and RS site and use the filters and compare to get an idea of what you need. In Italy, a simple luggage lock on one compartment with stuff you really want to protect is enough to stop sticky fingers. Also, don't set your pack on the back of your chair where a walk- by and grab thief can easily get it. don't get too hung up on pickpocketers. Just take a few precautions. Keep your most important stuff in a neck pouch under your shirt. Have fun pack shopping.

Posted by
680 posts

Found another one for the running: The REI women's Agility Pack.

Hard to find reviews for it, though, as it's been discontinued.

Posted by
2261 posts

^^^ The fact that it's discontinued, and there are no reviews for it, does not bode well for desirability...

Posted by
8980 posts

Think about what you want to carry inside your bag. Will it be things that you will want to access all day long, like a camera, guide book, water? If it is a back pack, you will have to remove it every time you want something out of it. Take it off, unlock zipper, remove camera, take photo, put camera back in bag, re-lock zippers, put back-pack on. Do this all day long. Is this really what you want to do? While you are taking your photo, what do you do with your back pack? Sit it on the ground, or put it back on? This is too much work.

Wear a messenger bag cross body and you never have to remove it. Get one that has a a zip top and with a flap that covers the whole top and that fastens at the bottom. You don't need a lock for this. Comfy sitting in restaurants or on public transportation and easy for you to access, but not for pick-pockets. No need to lock it up like a back pack requires and you don't have to remove it to get items out of it.

Have spent too many days sightseeing with people wearing back packs and it drives me crazy having to wait each time for this whole process to remove a camera or their guide book 100 times a day.

Posted by
680 posts

Ms. Jo--I totally agree with what you are saying, and I do not really like backpacks for those reasons.

However, as I said in my original post, I am having some problems with my back, more specifically, bursitis in my left shoulder. It bothers me even when I am not carrying a bag, and can be worse when I do. When I wear crossbody bags, I feel like I am being strangled by the strap and it does not relieve my back at all.

I'm really not sure what else I can do. I will be wearing a jacket but it does not have enough pockets, and what if the weather gets warmer?

Posted by
250 posts

I bought an AmeribagHaven't used it yet, but the hype is it distributes weight to help with back issues, it looks like a crossbody bag, but doesn't swing forward when you bed over, stays on your back. I love the organizational capabilities and that I can put my iPad in it. Check it out and see if it will work for you.

Posted by
1238 posts

I have used an Ameribag for years as my winter commuting bag. I wear it in the back or front to get on the train and keep my hands free. Sometimes, I just grab it and sling it on one shoulder. I especially like that it zips entirely and has lots of nooks and crannies - some with internal zippers. I find mine very comfortable and adjustable and am able to wear it over coats of different weights. Whether you would feel strangled or not, I don't know. The strap is wide and the underside has some kind of traction so it does not slip like many do. It comes in different sizes. I have carried a laptop in it. It can hold a lot. Hmm. I am looking to take an overnight bag into London this summer. I wasn't thinking of this bag, but I might reconsider.

Please report back on your decision and (let's hope) success.

Posted by
680 posts

I have ordered an Ameribag from ebags. They were having a great sale.

I think I had one of these years ago (before I had any back problems, LOL). I'm sure it could only have been improved since then. Thanks for all your help!

Posted by
680 posts

Well, the Healthy Back Bag didn't work. I'm returning it. The strap really needs to be padded and wider, IMHO.

Maybe I'll just take my Tom Bihn Copilot, as originally planned, and try to keep the load as light as I can.

Posted by
173 posts

I usually use a discontinued Vera Bradley double zip backpack for all day touring. Its best feature is a zippered pocket on the back of the bag so that wallets/valuables stay secure next to my body. It's just big enough for my husband and I to share the space for jackets, iPad, snacks. There is a pocket on each side for water bottles/umbrella. Also keep in mind that for your suitcase, you can stuff the backpack like a packing cube.

We are going to Venice in Sept and I have heard that backpack are not allowed in some of the museums, so I may rethink this!

Posted by
680 posts

OK, I am getting desperate. Bought a single strap sling bag at Dick's Sporting Goods over the weekend. Beautiful, wide strap, not too large pack-wise. Put my everyday carry stuff in it and went to a local craft fair for about a half-hour. My back began to hurt. I swear to Whoever I do not have more than 5 lbs. in that bag. Luckily the really bothersome back pain I was experiencing has stopped, but I do not want it to flare up again.

My trip is nine days away. I am at the point where I'm thinking of throwing stuff into my Tom Bihn Small Shop Bag and calling it a day. I have a tiny Baggallini purse for my wallet (I take it on shopping trips). I honestly think the culprit here is my camera. It's not even a big camera--it's a Panasonic Lumix. I just don't seem to have the ability to carry any kind of load for any longer than about 15 minutes.

Sorry for sounding so grumpy. I'm just sick and tired of the whole issue at this point. I just want to go on my trip and have a good time.

Posted by
680 posts

I'm back. :)

Upon a suggestion from a poster on another forum, I bought a Mountainsmith Tour lumbar pack. Not sure if it will work out but at this point, I don't have a lot of options. I'm leaving in three days. It does seem to poke into my tummy a bit (the buckle part) when loaded, and I wonder if that will interfere with my money belt. I also feel a little weird about having it behind me but I can swing it around to my side and attach its shoulder strap if necessary.

Not an ideal solution, but then, there doesn't seem to be one.

Posted by
1265 posts

I just picked up a cheap day pack from Eddie Bauer for $15. It folds into about a 5" X 5" square for storage.