OK... I am convinced, I'll do the 10 days with a carry on. But what size carry on? As I will be also taking a train I assume I should purchase a rolling carry-on. But which brand. I have looked at Travel smith, Heys, and others...very confused.
Rick has convertible carryons that are regulation size, particularly if you don't overpack them. I used one for 6 trips (12 weeks) this century and was very satisfied. I've traveled with it almost exclusively by train (and a few buses). Rollers add a lot of weight you don't need if you pack light to begin with. It's just more weight to lift onto the train and into the overhead racks.
Compare the empty weights of the bags you are looking at. You want the lightest weight you can find that has the features you want (whether you choose wheels or not).
If you * pack light (take just a few strategic items that can be combined creatively) and * eschew the heavy wheels you can probably find a bag you can wear on your back with no problems. If you * pack too heavy you'll want wheels for sure and if you *add wheels, even if its a convertible wheelie, you'll have trouble carrying it over cobbles and stairs Packing light is a challenge and an art that pays many many dividends. Faster, lighter, less hassle. Wheels add weight.
Okay, I'll play devil's advocate here. I have a carryon-size wheeled suitcase and I like it. I can't carry something on my back for too long so the wheeled bag works out. I follow RS's packing list so I'm not overpacking, and I do ask for help to put the bag in overhead bins, only because I'm 5 feet tall and it's difficult for me to reach the bins in general. My suitcase is a Delsey. I have had to carry the bag up and down stairs at train stations, sometimes hoofing it to catch a train. It's awkward but not a dealbreaker.
I used to use a backpack. Now I use a rollaboard and I prefer it. My suggestions would be as follows if you are going with a rollaboard: 1) Get a 21" rather than a 22". I bought a new bag last year that is 22" and it is a bit too big for the sizers. 2) Look for something 7 lbs or less. 3) I like bags that have a zipper that allows them to expand. Once it is expanded, you can't carry it on; however, if you do any last minute shopping it is nice to be able to expand the bag and check it going home. The Rick Steves 21" bag meets all these criteria, but there are other brands that also do this. ebags.com is a good site for comparing bags.
In addition to weight, rolling carry-ons have a couple other disadvantages for me. 1) Their internal frames take up room, leaving less space for your clothes. You need a bigger bag to pack the same amount. 2) They can not be squeezed into the same space as a soft sided bags. My wife uses a standard roll-on and has had to sit with it in her lap on some newer regional trains. I have always been able to stuff my bag in the overhead of a train or small commuter plane. I first got a roll-on to compensate for arthritic (twice dislocated) shoulders but found that it was the more trouble for me at the most critical times: storing it overhead and lugging it up stairs, etc. I must carry my soft sided bag with a sling rather than shoulder straps but it still works best for me. My wife is happy with her roll-on. At this point in life, she has more shoulder strength than I.
I love my Rimowa looks like metal but it's some marvellous plasticky stuff that twists, turns, stretches (a bit, enough for that unexpected purchase!), is slim carry-on size, and weighs next to nothing, truly. I used to think these were silly status symbols, but having back and foot troubles, this has been a piece of cake to take me around Europe, Asia, and the US.
We use carry ons for 28 day trips. Yes you'll want a 21 inch. I look at how sturdy the wheels, zippers and handle extensions are and if it has a few usable pockets. I notice some of the new ones with the wheels exposed and they seem vulnerable to damage to me. We used to use the backpack kind and switched to rolling. Then last year my husband bought the RS backpack kind. He loved it for the first two days until he took a horrible fall in the room (without having the case on) heavily bruising his back but then had to continue to carry it. I personally like to bring a smaller bag/tote/expandable (large personal item the airlines would call it) as well to keep right next to me on the train. I also put some heavier things in it if the carry on is getting to heavy to lift.
I go to Europe every summer for about a month and have always used a carry-on sized roller bag as I have a spinal problem. I have never had a problem using that bag across all kinds of surfaces. I do have to carry it up some stairs occasionally but that has never been a problem for me. I also use that bag on my frequent travels in the US and am now on my second RS bag and would recommend it to anyone who is at least medium physically fit. When we travel to and from the US we check our bags (and lock them using TSA locks) and carry on RS tote bags containing medicine, cameras, etc, and put our money belts into them before going thru security since I have to have a pat down and those TSA folks do not like finding a money belt underneath ones clothes.
In the last 10 years of travel I've gone from 25" roller, to 21" roller, to 21 inch RS convertible backpack, and I'm now using an 18" CALPAK rolling backpack. I've found I like the combination - the wheels for the miles walked in airports, but the backpack for the cobbles and stairs common in Europe. I'll be using this bag again this spring for a month in Italy, traveling mostly by train. Funny how the trips get longer and the bags get smaller!
I use a Campmoor convertible and am very happy with it. My wife uses a Hayes USA 20" roll-on and is happy with hers. The general advice I'd give is pay attention to the weight. The Hayes USA 20" weighs about 4 1/2 pounds, the lightest roll-on I could find. My Campmoor weighs about 1 1/2 pounds. Some convertibles weigh four pounds, or more, and many roll-ons weigh upwards of 8-11 pounds. The other advice is, if you choose a roll-on, go for a 20" rather than a 21". With wheels and handle a 21" is closer to 22" and won't fit the carry-on requirement, if it's measured.
Justine - Like Brad, I also use the Campmor Essential Carry-On and just love it. You can't beat the weight, 1 3/4 lbs. I also recently purchased the Osprey Porter 46 and used it on a quick 5 day trip to SF. It liked it alot, it weighs a little over 3lb. One of the things I use to help me are packing cubes. I find the really help me with travelling light. *** Edit *** Lee - My 3 packing cubes may weight at the most 6oz total. Now granted I'm, not in your stratosphere when it comes to packing light, but I consider the massive additional weight to be worth it. ;-)
I also use the Campmor Essential Carry-On. Sadly, it no longer appears to be available.
I've used the Campmor Essential Carryon for my last two trips and love it. I, too, regret that it is no longer made. However, I have "undergrown" it; what I brought back from my last trip was only 1400 cu in. The CEC bag can carry 2600, so I don't need all that volume. Rick's new rolling backpack is only about 2000 cu in. Hopefully he'll come out with a non-rolling version, save 4 or so pounds, and have a real winner for those of us who pack light. "One of the things I use to help me are packing cubes. I find the really help me with travelling light." How does putting everything in containers that weigh something help you to travel light? Seems it would add to the weight.
I like a roll aboard carry on,, sorry, my shoulders carry nothing heavier then a light weight purse, perhaps a man doesn't mind 15-20 lbs on their back but I sure do. I don't obsess about brand, since I carry it myself it doesn't get as beat up as suitcases that have to be checked in at airlines( where gorillas jump up and down on them in the back room) .
I have a bag that has an extra zipper to expand its thickness, i try to pack so that going its not expanded, allows some room for stuff on way back, but will admit to occaisonally buying a cheap duffle bag to pack stuff home in, i then check the suitcase and pack anything of value in the duffle and carry it on. If I lose the suitcase on way home its just dirty laundry.
Hi Justine, It's true you can no longer get the Camphor Essentials bag but I did find this. It's comparable: http://www.wayfair.com/Goodhope-Bags-Convertible-3-Way-18-Brief-Backpack-Carry-On-7260-GHB1367.html We have the Camphor and love this looks very much like it. Wendy
The Goodhope bag looks good but it is only about 55% of the carrying capacity of the Campmor Essentials. I appreciate the link. I seldom fill my Campmor bag.
Years ago I bought the 21" rollaboard bag from Rick. We used it for a lot of travel, international and domestic. After getting home from a trip that involved a commuter flight where they take your bag at the door to the plane and throw it into the cargo hold, the handle will only come out half way. I called the RS store to see if they could give me information about whether anyone could fix it or if it was worth it, and they said no, but they warranty it and sent me a replacement.
I'll buy my bags from them from now on!