Wish List for my perfect luggage

My trusty hunter-green RS roller suitcase that has served me so well for 11 years has unfortunately been told, like so many Americans, that its girth is now too large. I’ve read reviews of various options but feel like I’m searching for Cinderella & her shoe. I really like the look & feel of the Osprey Ozone, but I’ve seen mixed reviews on how well the fabric will withstand travel.

Here’s my Wish List:

21.5 X 13.5 X 9” including wheels, etc., maximizing as much space as possible within these requirements. (We don’t hop between European countries by plane.)

Must have wheels – my back can’t handle the other style

Weight – I pack extremely light & I value my suitcase starting out as light as possible when it’s empty.

Color – I really like something other than black, so I can keep an eye on my suitcase on the train.

Side & top handle to board trains & skip up the steps

Prefer two outside pockets: 1.) holds Passport, plane ticket, band-aids 2.) holds Ziploc bag of liquids (I don’t like the newer RS large “U”-shape pocket)

Extra points for being able to carry a water bottle and/or sandwich! I don’t carry any extras – purse, backpack, etc. so I’m picky about the function & design of the carry-on.

Really appreciate your input!

Posted by Ginger
253 posts

That's quite a wish list.

Hope you get some responses. I'm also in the market for a replacement, but don't care for that space for snacks and water.

Even when I pack light, I check my bag. If it can't fit, are they checking the bag for you?

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1994 posts

I also will be looking forward to whatever responses you might receive.

I can comment on the Osprey Ozone. I absolutely love it. I taken it to Europe twice and also used it on a number of domestic trips. I've checked it on a number of return trips, including one trip where Alitalia lost it for several days, and have had no problem with damage. And I really like the way they designed the pocket on top for the baggie of liquids. It uses space that otherwise would be wasted. I also find that the weight difference between my old 22" RS wheeled suitcase and the Osprey Ozone makes a big difference in the ease with which I can handle the luggage.

The downside is unfortunately becoming more important – the 22" model is a little too big to fit the sizers in Europe, and I've had to gate check it during international transfers.

I like it so much that I'm debating whether I can get by with the 18" model for my next trip, but since it doesn't expand, that's a significant challenge. I called Osprey recently to determine if they'll have a 20" model coming out; they said that's not planned this year.

Posted by Dee
81 posts

That Is quite a list. Take a look at the Ricardo Valencia Lite. We just purchased two from luggagepros.com for our trip in the fall to Sicily and Tuscany.
It looks like the world's smallest luggage when you open it but with some creative adjustments I was able to trial-pack it and got quite a lot in it. Now, I do carry a small/medium backpack. I put my extra pair of shoes in it as well as a light fleece, meds, all cosmetics and liquids, a guide book, other book and misc. Backpack has an outside water bottle pocket.

Here are the packing dimensions for the Ricardo --17.5"Hx 13"Wx6.25"D. Outside dimensions are 20"Hx14"Wx8"D. It weighs 5.7lbs. The 20"H includes the wheels and top handle. It does not have a side handle but because it is so much shorter than the 22" it was easy for me to carry up the stairs by the top handle. It is about 30% smaller than our old 22''. It does have one outside pocket and comes in taupe and navy.
This bag is not for everybodyand probably not for you, Jean but I thought it would be interesting for some people to take a look.

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Hi Ginger,

The benefit of taking that first RS tour 11 years ago is that we haven't checked a bag since 2003. Even with the "1st bag free" with Delta, I've never wanted to go that route again.

Posted by dittosw
5 posts

I recently returned from a two week trip to France with a Rick Steves tour, using my brand new Osprey Ozone! Because the bag appears to be about half an inch over the limit for Aer Lingus, I checked it. I believe it would qualify as carry-on for domestic flights. My primary criteria for choosing the Ozone was its light weight. It has a nice configuration of exterior and interior pockets, suitable for a variety of items. I used one of the long outside pockets for dirty laundry. And I only had to use one packing cube, for tops, since the pockets handled all the rest of my stuff. I can't imagine traveling without a purse or tote, but I think the number of outside pockets would make it possible. There's a flat back pocket suitable for travel docs, and reading material. The small top pocket will hold a 3:1:1 bag and more-perhaps snacks. The long pockets can hold folded jackets, shoes, umbrellas. And I love the bright green/ grey combination. I can't speak to the long term durability, but my bag survived the flights, tour bus travels, and carrying up and down stairs without a scratch.

Posted by Cindy H
San Jose
145 posts

The new Rick Steves European Roller bag comes very close to your list. It is 20x13x9 and no water bottle pocket. Conversely, the Risk Steves rolling backpack is 20x14x7 and has a water bottle pocket. Both bags are small and light.

New European Roller:

Rolling Backpack:

I'm a light packer and have traveled for 3 weeks with the rolling backpack.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3415 posts

Jean, which airline found your bag to be too large?
The 13.5" width seems challenging. Most of the bags I have seen are 14" wide.

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Hi Laura, my RS older carry-on is 23 X 14.5 X 8" - height & width are too large now for the airlines I usually fly:

Delta: 22" x 14" x 9" (56 x 35 x 23 cm)
KLM & Air France: 21.5 x 13.5 X 10” (55 x 35 x 25 cm)

I've searched several luggage sites and find a few wheeled carry-ons that look promising, but either they're 22" or 14". I'll be on a KLM during one leg of our trip on Delta this year, so I'm stuck with fitting within both specs.

Posted by Bets
3359 posts

Jean, The RS rolling carry on is 20 x 13.5 x 9.

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
947 posts

I recently moved to Lippault for my business travel. The 20" Weighs next to nothing and is well within in ANY of the limits I have seen. It has side and top handles, good roller. Comes in s a great variety of colors. But it does not have the water bottle holder or two pockets (just the one)
Also, does not expand.

Posted by Lo
1682 posts

I intend to take my 21.65" (22") Lipault spinner to the airport to check it against the Delta box. Lipault does outside dimensions, but my attempts at measuring the hard parts myself have been failures. In researching it and other bags online, I've found typos, weight discrepancies, wrong dimensions, incorrect conversions from cm to inches, you name it -- even on the manufacturers' own websites! Aggravating when these tolerances are so close.

Posted by Frank II
4847 posts

I suggest you look at the new Eagle Creek Activate Wheeled Backpack 21.


Its 21 x 14 x 8.5 including wheels and handles, has hideaway backpack straps and weighs 5.5 lbs. (It was designed with international carriers in mind. But they are aware it won't fit the German's precise requirements.)

It's well made, durable and comes with a lifetime warranty. Color choices are black, red and yellow.

I recently reviewed it on my website but I can't give you the link because it goes against this board's policies.

I also reviewed the Osprey Ozone and I prefer the Activate Wheeled Backpack.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14165 posts

"I recently moved to Lippault for my business travel. The 20" Weighs next to nothing"

Next to nothing?!?! Are you talking about the "20" 2-Wheeled Weekend Carry-on". At 6.3#, it's not "next to nothing". It weighs almost as much empty as does my convertible carry on, packed. No wonder you need wheels.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14165 posts

Your wish list?

Must have wheels – my back can’t handle the other style
Weight – I pack extremely light & I value my suitcase starting out as light as possible when it’s empty.

Wheels and as light as possible are inconsistent. Learn to pack REALLY light and you won't need wheels. Wheels just add weight.

Over the years, I've refined my light packing to the point that I now take <10# and about 1400 ci. I could use an Appenzell bag as my primary bag, but it doesn't open flat, and I would like a little more space as a buffer.

My ideal:

  1. About 1800 ci.
  2. Convertible, no more than 2-3# empty. Must have hide-away straps.
  3. Wheels - NO! - unnecessary weight.
  4. Minimal pockets. OK for items I access without opening bag. Not to organize packing.
  5. Material weight. Minimum - 500 denier. Since I can carry it on, I can protect it.
Posted by Jean
926 posts

“Your wish list?” Yes, Lee, this is my topic….and I do pack extremely light - 3 outfits & wear one.

Thank you, everyone else, for listening to what I was requesting (compact lightweight luggage w/ wheels) & sharing your ideas – really appreciate it!

Still love the look of those Osprey Ozone bags. : ( Frank, I looked at Eagle Creek at your suggestion and also saw the Tarmac with a nice overall look but 14 vs. 13.5” wide.

Posted by Jean
926 posts

I went to REI this afternoon with tape measure in hand to check out some of the narrow list of choices from the dimensions needed. The 14" width eliminates several that were otherwise on my short list - an REI, Eagle Creek, etc. Instead, I ended up with the Eddie Bauer Travex Expedition Medium Rolling Duffel Bag which happens to also be on sale. I really like that it has the rugged YKK zippers, very comfortable handles, and the bag is designed to not tip over. The Sapphire blue color is very appealing, too. (comes in 3 bright colors + black) The dimensions are stated as 21 x 14 X 10, but it's closer to 21.5 X 13.5, and the depth is very flexible depending on how much is packed, so I can easily meet the 9".

No "extra points for carrying a water bottle & sandwich", but I could always pack one of my lunchbags in this suitcase and handle both in one hand when I'm boarding a train.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2664 posts

Jean, do you know how much it weighs? I don't see a weight on the EB site.

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Hi Pam, I asked about the specs for the weight at the store because it wasn't listed on the tag either. I think the spec sheet was ~ 6.5 pounds.

Posted by Hille
318 posts

I recently found a really lightweight bag at TJMaxx: an IT bag, 20.5 x 13 x 8-9.5 (expandable). 4 wheels, only 3.85 lbs!! Seems to be pretty perfect. The color is pretty bright, so I'll never lose track of it!
TJMaxx often has IT luggage and you have to grab it quickly. Here today and gone tomorrow.

Posted by l.p.enersen
Ballerup, Denmark
155 posts

My wife claims that her "Wish bag" is the one Hermione uses in the last Harry Potter movie. The size of a clutch and able to contain a four person tent and a library of books - lol

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Of course - ha! I'll add a lamp, a mirror, a coat rack and tape measure to my "must pack" list!

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Just reporting back after our trip. I really liked using my new Eddie Bauer Travex Expedition Medium Rolling Duffel Bag on our Switzerland/Italy trip:
- especially liked the locations of the two hand grips to toss the suitcase above the airplane or train seat.
- the lower full section was nice to contain non-clothing items, i.e the guide book small sections, itinerary booklet, braided clothesline, etc.
- easy to hold one large packing cube & two small ones in the main compartment
- no problem holding everything I needed, even throwing in a few last-minute items to stay warmer with the Swiss forecast.
- really liked the blue color.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

And for funsies, here is a link!

Jean, this bag is about the same size as your RS bag...did you just like the features of the bag so much better that you chose to take it instead?

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Hi Eileen,

Yes, thanks for the link! Click the blue color, and it's exactly the one I selected.

I would definitely had just kept using my old 11-year old RS bag, but it's 23 X 14.5 X 8".
Delta's requirements for carryon's are 22 X 14 X 9", including wheels, handles, etc..
Air France & KLMs requirements are 21.5 X 13.5 X 10".
So, I was forced to switch to a smaller size, staying within 21.5 X 13.5 X 9”.

The Eddie Bauer suitcase is really easy to stay within the 9", but it's also flexible and could become 10" just by packing a little more and not cinching down as much on the front straps if I was traveling solely Delta airlines.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14165 posts

Pardon me for being a skeptic, but, although Eddie Bauer constantly talks about "light weight", never do they tell you what the weight of the Expedition Medium Rolling Duffel Bag is. Makes me wonder just how light it really is.

Note, I paid $30 for my 1¾ lb Essential Carryon bag. For an extra $100+, I would hope the Eddie Bauer bag would be lighter.

Posted by Jean
926 posts

Lee, answered above.

I think we can both agree that some people will always want wheeled luggage & others won't. Luckily, there's plenty of choices for either camp.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4038 posts

Jean, Thank you, and everyone that posted, for all this good info. After looking at all the ones recommended, I really like the Eddie Bauer one and may actually buy it. I like the green : )

Eileen, Thank you for the link... that was super helpful.

I'm with you, I will always have wheels. I do not want to carry even 5# by hand or on my back. Love wheels!