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What does your bag weigh?

I have a 40 liter backpack and have gotten it down to 18 pounds. That still feels very heavy. And I am also planning to bring a purse/personal item that will have electronics, makeup, first aid kit, sewing kit and a few miscellaneous things in it. It will probably weigh 3ish pounds. How light should I be shooting for? I will be in London and Paris in September for one solid month. I am staying in hostels.

Posted by
22263 posts

18 lb is reasonable and small carry on is fine. Looks like you are on the correct track.

Posted by
1459 posts

How light should I be shooting for?

Whatever weight you can comfortably carry between planes, trains, hotels, etc.

Posted by
1902 posts

I shoot for 15 pounds and usually end up at 17 (and my personal item has occasionally weighed as much as 5 pounds!). I am 77 and have traveled for as long as six weeks with this combination. Recently, I went on a three-night domestic trip and my backpack only weighed 10 pounds. Wow, was that nice!

Posted by
1468 posts

I got my 40L down to 14.1 lbs for my 22 day trip in May/June- then I added a pair of sandals I wore exactly once, for 3 hours. Nope. That included 1.5lbs of meds, too! Of course, I had a small 18L daypack, and I wore a fleece sweater on the plane for cooler nights. If it were November-February, it might add a pound or two.

Posted by
97 posts

Twenty pounds or less is fine. If your backpack has a hip belt, it should be pretty easy to carry with the weight distributed evenly. If you don't have a hip belt, anything over 15 lbs. can get uncomfortable. It depends how long you will be walking with your pack on.

Posted by
14446 posts

Does your airline have a weight limit?
If its Air France you have the same limitations I show below for KLM
If its British Air .... well, they are pretty amazing as they allow for 51lbs....

My KLM flight in 8 days has a limit of 12kg (26.5 lbs American) for the carry-on and personal item combined which means I will have to be a bit creative. Why am I so heavy? This trip I am bringing fishing equipment for a side trip to Slovakia and a sports coat, slacks, nice shirt, shoes, etc for a fancy night out on the town in Budapest.

But I have never hit the weight limits before I ran out of room in my carry-on ... also check size ... but I am sure you have.

Posted by
18556 posts

But I have never hit the weight limits before I ran out of room in my carry-on.

You didn't mention that Lufthansa's bag weight limit is 8 kg (17.6#).

I have hit (exceeded) the Lufthansa weight limit. On my second carryon trip to Germany in 2001, I bought a book and picked up two glossy magazine style, resort brochures. At the time I was just meeting the 8kg Lufthansa weight limit with my one bag, and these items put me well over, but I guess my bag was small enough that they thought I must be under, 'cause they never weighed my bag.

Whether the OP meets the weight limit or not, my advice, as Rick advises, is pack your bag and then go downtown and walk around with it. Does the weight make it difficult to carry; come home and take something (some things) out? To pack light you have to be brutal; if you are not going to need it, don't take it just because you might want it. You probably won't and if you do, you can get it over there. Look at each item and say, "Do I really need this?" I traveled to Europe, and refined my packing list, enough times that I know I will use everything that I take with me - multiple times.

Posted by
14446 posts

Lee, you aren't wrong, but you have to consider travel style.

My bag does this: House - Trunk - Wheeled into Airport - Wheeled to Gate - I have no issue getting 17lbs into the overhead, but that's me - Wheeled to taxi stand in arrival airport - trunk - Wheeled in front door of accommodation - wheeled to elevator and then the reverse going home (or repeat for the next stop along the way).

I haven't dragged my bag on cobble stone streets or more than 100 feet outside on any surface in years and I go to places like Albania and Bosnia.

I love my hard sided 5lb spinner as I never have to carry it and never lift it except in the airplanes; and since it carries all the weight on its four wheels it really doesn't matter what it weighs (and the personal item hangs over the handle and since its a spinner it never falls over).

The other hint for weight limits is use that personal item to its best advantage. Where there is no weight restriction on the personal item, load it with all the heavy stuff so the carry-on only has fabric in it.

Now if I did one of those RS tours where the bus stops at the bottom of the hill and you have to climb up to the 3 story hostel with no elevator .... thats a different story... For that I actually have a RS Backdoor bag that i used for the first 10 years (till i got tired of carrying the weight that the ground could be carrying for me)

Posted by
103 posts

I am flying on Icelandair. Their carry on weight limit is 22 pounds, so I am doing just fine as far as the airline is concerned.

Posted by
6112 posts

Other than complying with the airline’s requirements, there is no target weight - it’s whatever you feel comfortable with that fits all your belongings in.

My husband’s bag often weighs 15 kgs (around 33 lbs) if he has his full camera kit and mine is about 8-10kgs (17-22 lbs).

Posted by
13530 posts

My carry-on at check-in is 14-16 pounds for trips like yours between one to two months. On the return flight it can go up to 18 lbs.

I do try to avoid that since I don't really like lugging this stuff. Most of the time my carry-on sack , sort of like a duffel beg, is not even weighed. The clerk wasn't interested. I have often had to ask to weigh it so that I know myself the weight I had packed.

Posted by
7411 posts

As long as you're under 22 lbs., you'll be okay. Paying close attention to Rick Steve's packing list helps. I pack lighter and lighter on every trip--and still come home with some clean clothes.

Our family rules are that everyone hauls their own rolling bag, and they need to be able to go 2 miles towing them.

I have noticed a trend in Europe of travelers taking huge hard sided suitcases weighing 45-50 lbs. I feel so sorry for the poor husbands that are having to deal with them.

Posted by
5138 posts

If you are staying in just two hostels for the entire month, it isn’t as critical, but if you are moving around a lot with your backpack, get the weight down to a manageable size for you. Your goal weight should be what you can comfortably handle in a crowd, standing for awhile, and going up/down flights of stairs. I just finished a 24-day trip, and I was moving around a lot - 11 cities, so I spent a lot of time ensuring I was only bringing critical items - each the lightest possible option.

Maybe look at the size of your toiletry items, and also look at everything in the non-clothes category. Sometimes those add up!

Posted by
2877 posts

Whenever I am shopping for travel items, such as some new clothes or shoes, I think of Sarah Murdoch’s packing light video where she said she weighs items before she buys them. I was in Texas last February and saw a pair of sneakers. I picked them up to see the price and couldn’t believe how light they were. When I got home I weighed them, 9ozs. My usual sneakers weighed in at 1.4. I wore them on our last trip and they were wonderful. No aching feet, no complaints. Now when I am packing and purchasing, I try and go for lighter materials. I’ve gotten my bag down to 22lbs for a month trip. Like others have written, each trip I pack lighter and smarter.

Posted by
6378 posts

Not sure about anyone else, but often the focus is on being good and meticulous about packing in the safety of your home pre-trip...but as you travel, things change. That weight will change, volume will change.

Posted by
286 posts

This is a good thread. However. I am wondering about the antithesis of this bag weight.
Very, very frequently I see people checking their bags and the are huge, and often more than one. When I say huge I mean a hard luggage that when standing on its wheels is probabaly 36 inches tall, well up to my waist. The bag is so big I look at it and feel a person could actually get inside it.
You know what I mean.
Anyway, the question is - what are they carrying? What could they possibly have that would fill up what would be two bags worth of stuff for the rest of us?

Posted by
103 posts

The hostels all have a maximum 7 day stay limit. I am hoping that once I am there, I can talk them into letting me stay the full time. That would be 18 days in London and 10 days in Paris. If I have to stick to the 7 day rule, then I will be moving allot.

Posted by
103 posts

I did use Sarah Murdochs weighing method! I got out all of the tshirts that I own, weighed them all and selected the lightest ones. It cut almost a pound and a half off my backpacks total weight from when I had packed tshirts that I had chosen at random. I did the same for pants, and cardigans, but that made less of an impact.

Posted by
18556 posts

you aren't wrong, but you have to consider travel style

Yes, but we also have to consider that the OP said 1) that she has a backpack, and 2) she thinks it feels heavy and wonders how light she should be "shooting for". I think, as Rick says, that taking the backpack on a trip downtown is an excellent way to find out if it will be too heavy.

If the OP finds that it is too heavy, then either find ways to lighten it, or, as you say, change travel style.

Posted by
45 posts

I too have learned from Sarah Murdoch's packing videos. Some of the "travel" clothing weighs a lot. I find while they can be helpful in terms of drying fast some pieces add too much weight. I now take that
into consideration as well as the quantity

Posted by
1190 posts

Just adding to the discourse, no real advice. Many years’ previous experience has packing down to a solid system. I don’t even bother to weigh. Last time I did, though, the underpacked 45L bag massed 14 pounds, call it 7kg. You can do it. There are dozens of online resources that can help you make sure you are warm, dry, and comfortable but carrying only the absolutely necessary few, multipurpose items.

Posted by
12006 posts

I limit myself to 12 lbs. That's when I pull things out of my bag and decide what not to take. My bag is a shoulder bag that fits all airlines' carry-on limits (including Frontier and Ryanair).

Lately, I travel happiest with 10 lbs. I find that's a comfortable weight to carry indefinitely.

How do I get there? Start with one pair of shoes (not in your bag), no paper (all docs are electronic copies or photos in my phone), one charger for my phone - no additional electronics, toiletries are limited to one quart-size bag for "wet" items and a larger bag for everything dry (including charger).

Pants, shirts, underwear, socks, etc. are all chosen to be good for travel. Light weight, low bulk, quick drying. As an example, I like adidas golf pants. They look nice, hand wash easily, and take plenty of wear and tear. More importantly, they weigh about a tenth what a pair of jeans weighs. When rolled up (I pack by rolling items), they take up less than a quarter the space of jeans.

One set of outerwear, rain shell and warm layer, goes with me on the plane. Most trips that's it.

In colder seasons, I'll pack an extra "warm" layering item. A packable down jacket - again for least weight and bulk. I might also replace the rain shell with a waterproof lined coat that is worn, not packed.

When I'm done packing. If I'm under 10 lbs., I'll add an extra pair of socks and underwear.

Posted by
4825 posts

I do not have scales at home so I tend to "eyeball" things. In any case, I know (from back when I did have scales) that a fully, but not too-tightly packed carry on is unlikely to exceed the usual 10-12 kg limits, as long as I do not carry books or unusually heavy shoes. Lufthansa's 8 kg limit might prove tricky, but I have never come across it. In any case, I am lucky enough to be able to travel for leisure mostly by train or car.

So, 18 pounds looks very well-optimized already, especially for travel in urban areas where you will not need to walk for miles (there's good public transport).

Posted by
103 posts

I have time until I leave in September. I am still searching for lighter weight pants. At home I wear legging and I will wear a pair on the plane. I have been told that Europeans don't wear legging except under skirts or dresses and that I should really bring jeans or regular pants. I am also packing allot of "just in case" chargers and wires. So, I know that I need to leave those at home, but it is tough to accept. If I were really brave I would go "phone only," but that seems like a tricky proposition.

Posted by
1468 posts

Remember, you will most likely never "look like a European" anyway, so as long as you are not offensive lol whatever you wear will be fine. (By offensive I guess I mean dirty, unkempt, ripped, or nude, although that last one may be situationally dependent, ha!) I see Europeans wearing leggings, and I also see them wearing jeans. (In fact, I saw a ton of wide leg jeans in Rome this winter, and I was happy they were making a comeback because I personally love them.)

Wear what is comfortable and neat looking, and you will be fine.

Posted by
1190 posts

I have been told that Europeans don't wear legging except under skirts or dresses and that I should really bring jeans or regular pants.

Go to Barnes and noble’s travel magazine section and buy one issue for each country you will visit. Check the casual styles. I have no cotton travel clothing. No one in Europe cares what tourists wear any more and you will always look like a tourist so just enjoy the wearing the clothes you enjoy. For me, that’s mismatched fluorescent sox, shorts, and red Altras.

I am also packing allot of "just in case" chargers and wires. So, I know that I need to leave those at home, but it is tough to accept. If I were really brave I would go "phone only," but that seems like a tricky proposition.

Do not take a laptop! You will survive!

A tablet is unnecessary but I find my mini iPad is convenient. Treat yourself to the lightest and smallest tablet you can tolerate. You only need a single multi-port charger and a plug adapter to handle phone, tablet, watch. My Apple toys charge wirelessly or USB. A light duty, short extension cord is often recommended because hotel outlets are never where you want them to be. Should you lose or break your only charger, you can buy chargers and USB cables anywhere in the world. Honest. The charger goes in you personal item so you can get to it easily in airport waiting areas.

Posted by
141 posts

Can any one recommend a feather weight carry on suitcase..mine just seem too heavy.
Thanks 20 or 22 inch considering both.

Posted by
1190 posts

Can any one recommend a feather weight carry on suitcase..mine just seem too heavy.

Suitcase? No, far too much mass in the side panels and, if you're looking at a roller, in the wheels. Backpack or duffel? Certainly.

However, you might want to start another thread and spend a few hours searching through the history of the Packing Forum. Dozens of similar inquiries have been handled over the last two or three years.

Posted by
7352 posts

The mistake I've seen my fellow travelers do too often, is to pick a small carryon and then cram it to its maximum capacity if there is any space left at all. So you have to avoid the temptation to stuff just one more shirt or sweater, or whatever, once you've packed the minimum.

Posted by
18556 posts

The mistake I've seen my fellow travelers do too often, is to pick a
small carryon and then cram it to its maximum capacity

The mistake I see is that people cram whatever luggage they take to its maximum capacity. As long as there is any capacity, people will fill it whether they really need what they put in it, or not.

Figure out the minimum with which you can get by and pack only that. Avoid the temptation to take more just because you have the space. I already know that what I actually need in Europe takes up about 1400 in³ (23 L), and weighs a little less than 10#. My sub-regulation size carryon bag is probably about 34 L internal volume, so I still have 11 L I could use for things I probably won't use. I don't want to carry the extra weight, so I leave those things home.

What I do bring along, in its own purse size carrying case is my ASUS Transformer pad. It weighs about 2 lb more than a phone, but compared to a stupid-phone, it's worth every extra oz it weighs. It has a 10 inch screen, big enough to see the spreadsheets I use for itinerary and expense reports or details on maps, and it has a real keyboard. For me, a phone wouldn't be worth its weight, but my pad definitely is.

Posted by
11044 posts

"Can any one recommend a feather weight carry on suitcase..mine just seem too heavy.Thanks 20 or 22 inch considering both."

I'm on the hunt and have a spreadsheet going. The lightest weight one that looks attractive (but quite expensive) is Osprey Ozone at 21.5 inches and 4.5 pounds. The next one that I like is the TravelPro Max Light line coming in at under 6# for the 21 inch.

Posted by
12006 posts

If you're planning to carry on, it's really important to weigh your bag before you leave home. Eyeballing it won't work if you're anywhere close. I have a small battery powered scale to weigh bags (only at home, I don't pack it). If you don't have that, use a bathroom scale. Weigh yourself without your bag, then again with it - the difference is the weight of your bag.

It's also a great idea to keep well under the limit. Bags tend to expand on the road (they never get lighter). Leaving some additional weight allowance will allow your bag to come home slightly heavier than it left.

Don't forget to check the dimensions of your bag. A 40-liter bag might exceed the maximum size, especially if it's hard-sided. I used to travel with a roughly 40-liter bag. I kept packing lighter to the point that my bag was only half full. I decided I wanted my carry-on bag to fit all airlines' requirements (including Ryanair). Now I carry only a shoulder bag but purchased a 20-liter bag more along the line of a daypack (but organized for packing) that I'll try out in August.

Posted by
18556 posts

Can any one recommend a feather weight carry on suitcase..mine just
seem too heavy. Thanks 20 or 22 inch considering both.

Don't even try to put lightweight and rolling in the same sentence. It's what in business school we were taught is "conflicting objectives", like "the best possible product at the lowest possible price."

My eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr. weighs 2½ lb. It doesn't have wheels, not does it need them.

And why 20 or 22 inches? You don't need that big a bag, and using one just tempts you to fill it, adding weight you don't need.

Posted by
1190 posts

Impressive. I recently pared my load down to 7-8kg, about what you're packing, but I'lll be staying in hotels with the RS tour groups. The bag itself is 1.2kg empty.

Hostelling usually requires additional weather protection, dry bags, a serious lock, tiny flashlight, water bottle, bed liner, towel, shower shoes, plug adapter. and other items you do not wish to share with other guests. If you're doing a lot of walking or hiking, good shoes/boots and a proper backpack with comfortable suspension are not optional.

There are many online forums dedicated to ultralight, one-bagging, and hostel travel.

https://hostelgeeks.com/hostel-packing-list/
https://thesavvybackpacker.com/hostel-packing-list/
https://www.hostelworld.com/blog/europe-packing-list/
https://www.laidbacktrip.com/posts/hostel-packing-list

Posted by
2129 posts

I haven't dragged my bag on cobble stone streets or more than 100 feet outside on any surface in years and I go to places like Albania and Bosnia.

James E, thank you - there are so many people who refuse to get the lovely light easy-to-maneuver spinners because they believe they will be a hindrance on cobblestone streets. However, the only time I'm on cobblestone streets is when I'm crossing them and that's usually when sightseeing with my bag safely encased at my hotel. Europe has modern sidewalks for people to walk on, and I spend way more time walking through airports and train stations and on paved sidewalks with my bag than I ever do on a cobblestone street. I wouldn't give up my spinner for anything.

Posted by
2129 posts

Can any one recommend a feather weight carry on suitcase..mine just seem too heavy.

I bought the Travelpro Maxlite 5 carry on, which is only 5.4lbs and love it! As long as I don't overpack it, it's a dream to carry and move. It's only sale right now at Lexington Luggage, which is where I bought it and possibly on Amazon as well.

Posted by
17 posts

I have the Travelpro Maxlite 4 international carry-on size spinner, which is 19". It weighs a little more than the previous poster's slightly larger one, at 5.7 lbs. I've been happy with it, but I only got to use it on one trip so far.

Posted by
25 posts

The Travelpro 5 looks like it is 23". Isn't 22" the common limit, including the wheels?

Posted by
1190 posts

which is only 5.4lbs

That's 2.5kg. That's a lot of mass.

Selecting and buying luggage is a matter of taste, style, utility, budget, and need. If a bag suits one's expectations, that's the bag one buys. However, wheels, handles, partitions, organizing aids, compartments, transmission, side panels, and frames all contribute mass and consume internal volume, so a bag with published external measurements of 40L my have more like 35L of useful space.

To make an unreasonable comparison, REI's 40L BigHaul duffle (a deceptively sturdy little nylon cube with a zipper and shoulder straps) masses a mere kilogram, 2#-1oz. I used this bag on the RS Scotland tour a few years ago. It provided totally effective and secure transport for all of my stuff: very light, the entire 40L internal volume was useable, and it was relatively inexpensive at $90 (back then, currently $110). You most likely can pick one up today.

Of course, while the BigHaul absolutely gets the job done, not everyone is going to want or tolerate a simple backpack/duffle. Just sayin'.

https://www.rei.com/product/177057/rei-co-op-big-haul-40-recycled-duffel

Posted by
88 posts

I'm a pretty big boy: 6'3" 195#. I'm packing for my 4th Rick Steves tour (next month), part of a month-long Italy trip. I'll meet Lufthansa's 8kg limit with my RS convertible carry on. I'll wear my travel jeans and light jacket on the plane and have a little daypack too. Fashion isn't my concern. I anticipate regular sink washing my polyester and nylon stuff. I know I'll look like, gasp, a tourist, but I'll persevere. Can't wait.

Posted by
1190 posts

I know I'll look like, gasp, a tourist, but I'll persevere.

Funny thing: Doesn't matter what one wears, we folks from the USA will always look like tourists. We can't help it.

Posted by
225 posts

35lbs going over, 48-50lbs coming back (I buy stuff). Taxi drivers have no problems putting it in the trunk. Airlines have never lost it.

Posted by
11044 posts

"The Travelpro 5 looks like it is 23". Isn't 22" the common limit, including the wheels?"

There are a bunch of different models of the TravelPro Max lite. There are 2 wheels or 4.

The 2 wheeler comes in 20" which has Case Dimensions: H: 20 in. W: 15 in. D: 7.75 in. and exterior dimensions Overall Dimensions: H: 21.75 in. W: 15.75 in. D: 7.75 in which is actually 55cm in length and fits the requirements for Air France (55 x 35 x 25 cm). This bag weighs 5.4#. according to the website.

It also comes in a 22" (called this on the Travel Pro website) which has Case Dimensions: Case Dimensions: H: 21 in. W: 14 in. D: 9 in and exterior dimensions Overall: H: 23 in. W: 14.5 in. D:9 in The Travel Pro website also says this one weighs 5.4#.

I have looked over and over at these bags!

I have had light duffle type bags including the old Essential Carryon that many here had when I first started on the forum. It was 1# or so. My old RS convertible was 3.5# or so. I can no longer carry 15 pounds on my back so I'll go with wheels and will get the lightest that works for my needs. In comparison to other 2 wheelers the TravelPro at 5.4 pounds is one of the lighter ones.

What gets me is that Samsonite makes lighter weight and smaller dimension 2-wheel luggage they only sell in Europe. I saw a bag that stopped my heart it was so beautiful at the VanGogh Museum shop. It's 1700 grams so about 3.7 pounds. Drawback? 75 Euro to ship! Uh, no.

Posted by
14 posts

Pam. as hard as it is to find bags that meet the European guidelines here, I keep thinking that I should get one when I'm there. Your post reinforces that assumption. I could check one of my bags on the way home.

Right now, I'm trying to get ready for a KLM flight to Spain in early Sep. They are really tough with the 26 pound limit for the carry on AND the personal item together. I HAVE to take my computer because of my work. That makes it more difficult. I have one that's just barely over 2 pounds. I just discovered that it fits into the inside pocket of my travel vest - yay! Even with that, I have work to do to get my weight down. I am not comfortable at all carrying my bag, so I have to have wheels. I did find a hard side carry on at Kohl's (Samsonite Ziplite 5) that's 5.7 pounds.

Question: Those of you who are flying on Air France or KLM - how stringent are they about sizes and weights? The bag I found is perhaps 1 cm over the height limit - but really looks very much the same height as one that I have that was accepted by Air France when I put them side by side.

Do you all give up your sleep pillows to save on weight? That would be hard for me. Perhaps stuffing my fleece inside a little pillow case would work. Do you have any great tricks for that? The one that works for me is 5.5 oz. Would be so sad to leave it home. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00494JAMW?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

Posted by
814 posts

I just test packed and weighed everything on the scale at our vet's office. We will fly with Lufthansa in November.

Jacket/fleece: 1.3 kg
Backpack: 1.8 kg
Clothes: 3.2 kg
Toiletry/meds: 1.0 kg
Electronics: 3.0 kg
Total: 10.3 kg

I should be able to make the 8.0 kg carry-on limit. I can wear the jacket and fleece. I can carry electronics or toiletry or both in a sackpack as a "personal item". However, my preference would be to stuff the jacket, toiletries and electronics into the single backpack and keep my hands free. There are a few things I may cut out (soap, toothpaste which can be purchased later; one set of socks, underwear and shirt; electronic tablet and charger).

Posted by
150 posts

8kg or 17.6 lbs. for the 21 inch roller bag for carryon only.

Posted by
814 posts

James E, my empty carry-on bag is the backpack (SOC Bugout Bag) which weighs 1.8 kg.

Leslie, I know the Lufthansa limit is 8.0 kg. If I carry the electronics in a separate sackpack as my "personal item", my carry-on bag will weigh only about 7.3 kg and that is if I stuff in the jacket and fleece and everything else on list.

We each can check-in a bag up to 25 kg included in our fare, We have used a single 25" 2 wheel trolley bag in the past. One big bag for two people is actually very convenient. But this time, we want to see if we can avoid checking in any bag.

The next challenge is the wife's carry-on. Her empty 2 wheel CalPak weights 3.6 kg which is almost 8lbs. However, she has no electronics, so we should make it work. We will have to make a few more trip to the vet's office to use their scale.