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Too many luggage choices?

Is it possible that we are getting obsessive with many things nowadays as a result of so many choices? Why this question? I was watching "mysteries at the museum" on TV last night. Many years ago - a 67 year old hiked the entire Appalachian trail with merely a cinch sack over her shoulder. No orthopedic type shoes for this gal either. She made history as the first female solo hiker on the Appl. Trail. I honestly think she just grabbed a laundry bag that was lying around her home and walked out the door with whatever supplies.

Posted by
3211 posts

So true! There is/was a woman from England in the 60's or 70's, I would have to check, who rode a bike across the USA by herself. Same principal. However, I do have a fun time with luggage nonetheless and I will never find the perfect bags.

Posted by
2393 posts

I believe Mary Poppins has the perfect bag! 😁

Posted by
8520 posts

Yes, I'm often tempted to suggest a pillow case or plastic bag when someone asks about daypacks.

Posted by
1194 posts

One could make a fairly strong argument that greater experience = less gear.
The experienced person knows what is truly necessary.

Posted by
1865 posts

I noticed the above poster said "experienced person." I am still working on the "experienced" part! This is where companies that sell stuff "get us." People are marketed for all sorts of " must haves." Then, there is the stuff we simply enjoy buying. Like that 3 rd daypack in a different size and color.

Posted by
24 posts

My wife has threatened to leave me more than once over my ridiculous growing collection of carry-on bags. Continually searching for the "perfect" bag, I have accumulated 2 RS, 1 Eagle Creek, 2 Patagonia, 1 Eddie Bauer, 1 Lipault Paris, 1 North Face, and a couple others I can't recall at the moment. I've promised to stop buying but I still sneak around on-line looking at the plethora of new choices. And I continue to frequently check the packing section of the RS travel forum. My wife has recommended counseling.

Posted by
439 posts

Charles - maybe we can get a group rate, my husband has also banned me from buying anymore. I have 2 RS, Lipault, LL Bean, and Samsonite. Still don't really love any of these bags.

Posted by
2749 posts

If you are a business traveler the search for the perfect bag is never ending. Since I quit traveling I have to remind myself "You don't NEED anymore luggage" every time I see a luggage store or go in someplace that sells luggage.

After all I have two RS, two victorinox, 1 Vera Bradley, three pieces of Lipault (my current favorite 20" and two underseat sized) ), several briefcases, several totes and random other luggage laying around my 1200 square foot condo!

So I can't say being experienced reduces the quest. A lot of us who either were or are professional travelers are still looking for luggage perfection :)

Posted by
23343 posts

You are correct. Too many expensive choices. Personally see no reason to spend more than $50 for a bag. Don't need a lifetime warranty. First - because the lifetime warranty is only good for the life of the company and not my life time. Second, the bag will be wore out in ten years or so anyway. And the warranty doesn't cover wear and tear. After a year long, off and on, search I finally replaced by old rolling bag. The critical requirement was that it had to be at least an inch shorter than old bag and a longer handle. Settled on 2" shorter with 4" longer handle but could not get under $50 - had to settle for $54.95 at Ross. I guess inflation kicked in. For me all the bag has to have is six sides and a good zipper.

Posted by
19116 posts

Frank, I think the zipper is less important if you don't stress it by overpacking. At least I have had several packs with different kinds of zippers and never had a failure, but then I don't overpack.

Same with needing heavy duty (emphasis on heavy) material. If the bag is small enough that you don't have to worry about checking it, it doesn't have to be "heavy duty" to resist the gorillas.

Posted by
1865 posts

Hey Charles from Chico!
Have you checked out the Ebags brand selection...? (I'm joking with you here.)
Whoever recommended the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 daypack on another thread, Shame! Shame! Now, I want one and I really, really do not need another pack!
How much we spend on luggage can be a whole topic in itself - to compare cost, durability, practical uses and demands, etc..

Posted by
32222 posts

barb,

"Whoever recommended the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 daypack on another thread, Shame! Shame! Now, I want one and I really, really do not need another pack!"

Sorry about that, but I stand by my recommendation. I'll probably be making another purchase at TB before too long, as I'm always looking for the "ideal" travel gear.

Posted by
27223 posts

After 3 hours at Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Macy's and back to Marshalls, today I acquired Bags #5 and #6. Only needed one, something between my 20" carry-on and my too-heavy 24-inchers.. Found two light bags but wasn't sure the smaller one would be quite large enough. Being out of time for such dithering, I bought both. If you want funny looks, try walking down the street with one pink suitcase and one burnt-orange suitcase. No other colors were available.

The reason for this otherwise useless post is to confirm what others had reported and I chose not to believe: You are in really serious trouble if you want a bag with two wheels. Everything seemed to be spinner wheels, though I confess I didn't look carefully at Macy's after noting the prices. Marshalls did have some two-wheeled duffle bags, but they looked large and unwieldy to me.

Posted by
18143 posts

One could make a fairly strong argument that greater experience = less
gear. The experienced person knows what is truly necessary.

How do I become experienced?

Posted by
1194 posts

@James E - you become experienced by making mistakes! Travel as much as you can. Become a devotee of onebag.com. Scour the minimalist backpacking sites. Get caught in the rain and the snow. Get lost.

Gear sites are full of gear you don't need for "comfort" or "safety". Here's what you need to know. Most people substitute gear for knowledge and discipline. They carry lots of clothes because they don't want to do laundry. They bring heavy clothing because they don't know how to layer effectively. They bring big first aid kits because they don't know how to make do with duct tape. And so on.

I've found the following helps:

  • Set a low bag weight and try to achieve it. When you start dumping things to achieve less weight you find out what you don't need. Try for 8kg, then 7, then 6
    • start weighing your items.
    • ask yourself if you can make do without it
  • travel to various climates and see if you can still maintain appropriate dress under all temps.
  • take a wilderness medicine course from NOLS. They have a lot of ideas for improvisation.
  • learn about the engineering concept of "good enough". You don't need THE lightest or THE perfect. You need "good enough"
Posted by
18143 posts

Well, MsEB; I find myself becoming less and less experienced as time goes by. In the late 70’s I traveled around parts of Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa with little more than a backpack (but I wore western boots and a hat). After more than 35 years of travel, in recent years, I have found myself having to pack a heavy goose down parka for Moscow for Orthodox Christmas’(it was -10F, you go layer to your hearts content. That parka, that week, was “a layer”); rods and waders for a trips to Bulgaria and Slovakia and a tux for Budapest; none of which fit in my backpack. At this rate as my checked luggage expands and my carryon diminishes in size I figure in two years I will be a totally, completely and terminally inexperienced traveler and beyond all hope of learning.

Seriously, on a typical trip when I am not going fishing or to an event that requires a tux or to some place terminally cold I can generally pack everything into Rick’s convertible bag/backpack. Been using it for a decade and it’s become a good friend. As often as not I wear a sports coat on the plane so I can dress appropriately for the theater. But it’s all relative.

Cindy, I sort of agree (strangely) with a lot of your post and I appreciate the time you took to respond, but I just got to ask about a few things (in good humor).

They bring big first aid kits because they don't know how to make do
with duct tape.

Once my wife was complaining too much about having a headache, so I used the duct tape to bind her up and locked her in the Hostel shared community toilet room. So yes, duct tape does replace aspirin.

travel to various climates and see if you can still maintain
appropriate dress under all temps.

And if you decide you can’t maintain …. Immediately change plans and return home.

take a wilderness medicine course from NOLS. They have a lot of ideas
for improvisation.

Okay, that one leaves me speechless. I am on vacation, not a survivalist course. But okay, if it works for you, then you probably have the advantage over me. If I see an American in Greece chewing on the bark off a Willow tree, I will say hello to you.

learn about the engineering concept of "good enough". You don't need
THE lightest or THE perfect. You need "good enough"

I got that down pat when I worked for the government. I have since become self employed and have learned to work to a higher standard (if I want to eat).

Just levity. There is a lot of truth in Cindy's post.

Posted by
1097 posts

James E.:

LMAO, definitely packing duct tape next time

Posted by
139 posts

Barbnrob94, I stand by Ken by Tom Bihn. I'm not a backpack person, but the Synapse lives up to the hype. Good luck with "TBAS" (Tom Bihn Acquisition Syndrome). :-)

I have bag junkie proclivities, but keep coming back to my RS old spruce 21" and newer spruce 20". A good compromise between weight, function, cost. Even if I hanker for a purple one.

Posted by
1865 posts

Tavapeak - you are not helping me to resist buying another backpack. I may have to go to luggage counseling with Charles above.
Cindy H. - I appreciate camping wisdom. However, I do find it much easier to buy a $3 pencil pouch and put a few bandaids and med.s in it for a travel kit rather than take a survival course and hauling duct tape which probably weighs as much and costs as much as my little kit. I am a medical professional and am leaving the syringe, anesthetic, and suturing supplies at my office. Feminine hygiene products make good bandages in a pinch. Duct tape can still be a traveler's friend along with 7-10 ft of paracord or even twine.
Thank you for contributing and offering educational resource info..

Posted by
12 posts

I'm Denise and I have a bag problem. There I said it. I am never happy with my bag choices. Oh sure for a while it seems like I have found the perfect bag but then I get aggravated because there are too many pockets or not enough. i do not like the straps or I am sick of dealing with velcro. I just know that once I find the perfect bag everything about my travels will fall into place. Right now I am working with getting to know my RS Veloce bag. Not sure about it

Posted by
23343 posts

I must have really low standards. All I want (need?) is a six sided bag with a good zipper and fits in the overhead. Don't know how use the bell and whistles I see associated with other bags. Outside water bottle pocket - really? Didn't know I needed that. Seriously, I do know people can get carried away looking for a perfect bag, and I did spent most of a year looking for a replacement. My focus was price and functionality. But the Bihn bag did look nice - but $150 just to hold my clothes???

Posted by
1194 posts

@barbnrob94 - The NOLS course isn't a survival course. It is a medical course that shows you how to "make do" with limited resources. It has a huge focus on improvisation. It also focuses on multi use items, which is something any traveler can use. The information stored in my head has a physical weight of 0 lbs. I've found that I have used the information many times, mostly on myself.
Many times people think that backpacking information isn't transferable to their type of travel. Yet backpackers were the very first one-bag travelers. They are many times carrying tents and climbing equipment. Because they are carrying so many survival items they have to learn what is truly necessary for their clothing, toiletries, etc. The "what's necessary" is the part that is transferable to any one bag trip.
Many times people bring excess things because they claim they "need" it when they really just "want" it. I'm with Frank that a simple bag with a single compartment is what is needed. The rest is bling.

Posted by
1865 posts

Where is the NOLS course? Is it online? Sounds interesting. I like multifunction items. That's why I wish we could still travel with Swiss army knives in our carry- ons. I am all for safety info.. Is there a book version?

Posted by
1194 posts

@barbnrob94 - You can find the NOLS wilderness medicine courses at:
https://www.nols.edu/wmi/
They range from weekend long to month long. You'd probably enjoy the Wilderness First Aid course.
All certification is through classes and some may count toward CEUs. The classes are all over the country.
They have books too.

Posted by
19116 posts

"I get aggravated because there are too many pockets or not enough."

Or the pockets are not exactly the right size. I prefer one open compartment that I can organize with small, light (mesh) bags.

Pockets add weight to the bag without really adding volume. In fact a small, protruding pocket just uses up allowable length, width, or thickness.

I use one of the outside pocket at the airport to hold my belt, metal (coins), and neck wallet while going through security, then empty it before boarding the aircraft.

Posted by
1194 posts

@Lee - I agree with you. The "perfect" bag for me has one big external pocket, one big mesh pocket in the inner lid of the bag, and one big main compartment with tie downs. The external bag should have compression straps. It should have storable backpack straps. The material should be rigid enough so that the bag maintains its shape when packed.
I know how to pack a bag the way I like it so I want less features and much less weight.

Posted by
1865 posts

You may like the Ebags brand of carry on bags or the RS bags. I find these bags to be more basic and easy to use without a lot of bells and whistles. The Maxpedition bags may be appealing as well because of the "clam shell" opening on he main compartment. I am using the ebags etech junior bag for the reasons both of you have mentioned. I will give a review when I get back from traveling. I like simple luggage as well with limited features.

Posted by
1194 posts

I prefer the LL Bean Quick Load Convertible. At 2.2 pounds it is one of the lightest bags out there. The nylon is fairly water resistant. For lighter trips I have an old REI weekender pack (2.2 lb) or just the Barefoot Enterprise Wanderlite day pack ( 9 oz). Those bags are personal item sized and fit under the seat. I've hauled the Wanderlite up mountains, through caves, and across Africa. It is surprisingly robust. All of the bags, BTW, have book or clam openings.
I think the eBags products are very heavy. Even the Weekender Jr is 2.7 pounds. The Maxpedition are even heavier and overdesigned. I'm carrying my clothes, not using it as a rappel anchor!

Posted by
18143 posts

If you like the LL Bean Quick Load Convertible, then you might want to look at RSteves Backdoor bag and convertible bag. Both similar and a little cheaper. But I like LLBean products a lot.

Posted by
2749 posts

"We had a great salesperson who spoke of the popularity of the 4 wheel spinner but he said that the wheels are more exposed than the 2 wheel, they aren't as sturdy because they hang down like landing gear, they take up bag space, and you're slower walking with a spinner than a 2 wheeler. "|

Your salesperson was a person who actually has looked at these things. I bought one, used it a couple of times and donated it to Goodwill. The spinner was the biggest waste of money on luggage ever! Hated it.

Posted by
2393 posts

Can you imagine a spinner on the cobbles? 😲

I like the in-line skate type wheels - sturdy and handle many terrains.

Posted by
1216 posts

Less is more.

2 wheels are better than four. And one roller ball is better than two wheels.

Dyson (maker of the expensive vacuum cleaner and air fans) has gone into the luggage business. They have taken the large roller ball design from their vacuums and incorporated it into their own brand of carry-on luggage. 19.75"x13.75"x8.5" and guaranteed for life to be carry-on size compliant or your money back. The roller ball is completely multidirectional and will roll over any terrain, including cobblestones or stairs. One of the benefits of the large rollerball is that the capacity of the bag is reduced to about 26 litres which encourages light packing. The roller ball is also filled with helium so that the apparent weight of bag is only about 1 kilograms or 2.2 pounds and will float in water even if fully loaded. It has a telescoping pull handle which can pivot downwards and be used as a kickstand to keep it upright while stationary. USD$499 at Best Buy.

Posted by
42 posts

I'm a newby to luggage. Going to Europe next week! I think my samsonite and tumi are too heavy. Plan to check in. Went to TJ maxx today, the guy recommended Skyway FL air luggage. He said its super light, sturdy and gets good feedback. Anyone had experience with it?
Also saw Lucas luggage, IT luggage and Mia Toro soft side luggage. All very very lightweight. Any one have have experience with any of these brands or bags?

Posted by
27223 posts

I have a 23-inch IT soft-sided spinner bag. I wasn't happy about the spinner wheels, but it is holding up so far after almost 6 weeks in Spain. I've stayed in 13 different hotels; that's a fair amount of sidewalk time. I've been able to avoid cobblestones, but there has been some rough pavement.

My bag is burnt orange and has picked up some dark smudges. I won't know until I return home how cleanable it is.

Posted by
4374 posts

The reason people are obsessed with choosing the right luggage is that it can be a transformative decision. I speak as one who has the original Rick Steves bag and the RS rollaboard but bit the bullet and recently spent the money for a Tom Bihn Tristar in the lightweight fabric now called Halcyon. I was amazed at how this backpack increased my ability to navigate everything from airports to steps on the Tube to trains to walking from train stations to hotels. Why Tom Bihn instead of RS original bag? Much lighter, much better organized, will sit on the floor when opened instead of falling over, stuff doesn't fall out. And to echo Cindy, the size of the TriStar forces me to pack light. (I'm fine with washing clothes in hotel sinks whenever I have a two night stay.) I don't think my back would like the larger Aeronauts that have more space but the TriStar was amazingly comfortable.

Posted by
2609 posts

I've been using the same carry-on (just for important stuff, I don't think I'll ever be able to pack that light and I'm ok with that) from Samsonite for a good 10 years, no dithering on that one. But every trip I have to choose between my 3 suitcases and none ever seem quite right, though there's really nothing wrong with them and I refuse to buy anything else. 2 are in the medium/small-ish category, 7 lbs empty, and I use the smallest one if my trip involves train travel--I go solo and hoisting that suitcase means it needs to be small and light. The biggest one is a rolling duffel that has very little structure, no inner pockets, and thus while large it's about 5 lbs empty. I use that if I have to pack something extra or--ahem--plan to shop. It was 3/4 full on the way to Paris and Budapest last month and coming home it was bulging. That was a good trip!

Posted by
3211 posts

Paying Tom Binh prices would mean I would never be able to justify buying another piece of luggage again, and that would be a shame. That would be just no fun at all... ;)

Posted by
4374 posts

Wray, if you got a Tom Bihn you might not ever want to buy another bag! But others have said you might get TBAS(Tom Bihn Acquisition Syndrome) from which your finances might never recover!

Posted by
3211 posts

Cala, LOL. I'd have lots of luggage and no money for the trip as I would likely get TBAS!

Posted by
19116 posts

I'd say that the TB Tri-Star Halcyon bag is only light if you compare it to the non-halcyon version. It's still a pound heavier than my (Campmor) Essential Carryon bag. It also suffers from the fatal disease called "pocket proliferation".

Posted by
630 posts

Wray, if you got a Tom Bihn you might not ever want to buy another
bag! But others have said you might get TBAS(Tom Bihn Acquisition
Syndrome) from which your finances might never recover!

Cala, unfortunately I have the Tom Binh Monkey On My Back LOL. I am now addicted to their products. The quality and customer service are top notch.