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How much does your main bag weigh -- fully packed?

I am going on my first RS Tour and want to buy either the RS Convertible Carry On or the RS Rolling Carry On. I am also learning to pack lighter. From those who have been doing this for a while, I wonder what your main bag weighs fully packed. I want to know what to aim for. This will also help me decide whether to get the bag with wheels or the Convertible Carry On. I am about 5' 5" tall so weight on my back and small frame is an issue.

This is a great forum. It seems that RS really does attract like-minded people, at least from a travel perspective.

Posted by
556 posts

Hi DC,

I have the convertible carry-on backpack and usually my carry-on weighs between 17-22 pounds from trip to trip. However, if you are planning to carry-on only, you should check the airline you will be flying with. For example, Lufthansa has a carry-on weight limit of 17 lbs. and they do weigh it upon check-in! My first trip was with British Air and they didn't have a limit, which is how I got up to 22 lbs. I did notice this difference from other trips. I'll be sure to get back down closer to 17 this next trip. Of course, I did a bad job packing last time ( 2 hairbrushes for example - what was I thinking.).

Good Luck packing,
;)

Posted by
1068 posts

When I take the RS rolling backpack or his rolling bag, it usually weights about 20-22 pounds. Almost everything is in there except cameras, chargers and a Kindle which go with me in an under the seat bag. Also, I tend to take extra "basic clothing" as I'm not much of a sink washer so I take about 2 weeks of stuff (then get it done by a hotel or visit a laundromat.)

Posted by
63 posts

Thank you Gretchen -

That's really helpful including the airline weight restriction, which I did not know about. It might be a good idea to pack as an exercise and see what it weighs. I am impressed that you have kept your main bag under 20 lbs. Thanks again.

Posted by
5980 posts

dc my last trip was on Lufthansa also, and I was able to get under 17 pounds easily. But I have the RS Classic bag which is less that 3 pounds empty, which makes a big difference. Those roller wheels & frames add a lot of weight and take up space.

Posted by
1829 posts

We will be packing today and based on past trips our convertible carry-on bags will weigh less than eightteen pounds. My shoulder bag will be about five pounds and my wife's purse will be a little less than that.

We will have everything to sustain us for thirty days incliding a laundry kit, shoe polish kit, silk long johns, rain coat, pants, shirts, cashmere sweaters, an extra pair of socks, skivvies, toilet kits, and so on. Coming back our bags will be heavier because of small purchases.

Posted by
3580 posts

I keep my main pack at under 20#. Keep in mind that even with wheels your bag must be lifted by you sometimes. I am a "senior" woman using only a wheeled bag now, plus a shoulder bag. By eliminating books, I was able to lighten my load. It's all on my iPad now!

Posted by
885 posts

I use a regular backpack with no wheels and it is usually between 16-18 lbs fully packed. That seems to be an okay weight for carrying it on my back and easy enough to lift to overhead train and plane racks.

Posted by
8252 posts

I have the RS convertible. I have traveled with it as light at 15# but last year when I did the BOE and spent 8 weeks in Europe I started at 22#. This was WAY too much. By the end of the trip (scarves...Florence, Cinque Terre, Paris, lol!) it was about 26# and much too heavy. I did not have a problem once it was on my back, but I was having problems hefting it up! I learned my lesson and will strive for 18-20# for my next trip. I also have a purse or a tote bag which is in the 5# or a bit more range. On the airplane I put the purse in the tote, but once I get on the tour I leave the tote on the bus with guidebooks, maps, snacks, water, etc.

Whichever tour you are going on, you will have a wonderful time!

Posted by
17984 posts

It was in the late 1990s that I first discovered Rick and read about his carry-on philosophy. I took my first carry-on trip in 2000 using one of his convertible bags. It was just under the 17.6 Lufthansa weight limit. Today, after 10 trips using the same packing list and deleting things I found I didn't really need, and using a lighter weight (1¾#) Essential Carryon bag, I go with a bag that weighs just under 12#. I also carry a small case, my personal item, with a 2+# netbook, charger, and mouse. Yes, I have to sink wash just about every day, but the freedom of such a lightweight bag makes it all worth while. Most of my trips have been 14 days, but last year I did it for 21 days with the same packing list. I could probably go all summer with the same things.

Posted by
752 posts

RS 20-inch rolling carry-on, 15 pounds total weight, all I can manage, enables me to take trains in a single bound, hoist in a single lift, and walk like I have no baggage.

Posted by
556 posts

Hi again DC,

If you are flying Lufthansa (or another airline with a low carry-on weight limit) and you just can't quite get it down to the limit (such as 17 lbs), there is a little trick you can use. Lufthansa weighs your carry-on, but not you. So, if I can get it down to about 18 or so pounds, I will put a few things from my carry-on into my coat pockets while the bag is weighed. Then after they weigh it, I take the stuff out of my pockets and put it back in the carry -on.

;)

Sometimes it helps.

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
697 posts

I purposely chose to fly all legs of our trip for the 21 day tour on Delta.....which has higher weight limits on bags :)

My bag is packed and weighs closer to 17 pounds but maybe a little over (still under 18 pounds). I put my makeup/3-1-1 bag in my husband's day pack :)

Posted by
5668 posts

I have a non-RS rollaboard (5#) which came in at 25# packed for our last 1-month winter trip including sweaters and thermals, but it was still manageable getting on and off trains. Checked bag on flights. Laundromat about every 10 days (yes, I bring more underwear than many people do -- but it isn't that heavy)

Posted by
101 posts

For my first Rick Steves tour, Village a Turkey, I brought the Rick Steves Convertible. Enroute it was less than 18
Pounds and doable. I too, am 5 foot five. On my return it weighed 23 pounds so I had to check it. Honestly, checking it was a godsend because at 23 lbs. it was way too heavy. Rick is 6 feet, I'm not.
Since then I have taken a spinner carryon and try to pack less each year. One summer after Eastern Europe a girlfriend and I went by train to Zagreb. There is nothing fun about carrying luggage up and down stairs in train stations I actually wear wrist braces on days that I transfer luggage.
This summer will find me on the 17 day Best of Italy that will involve a lot of luggage moving.
I will bring a Columbia day pack and in it will be a small Tom Bihn cafe bag that holds a mini IPad. When in transit the cafe bag goes in the day pack.
I really think about each item that gets packed. Of ever I do just Ireland on its own I won't bother with sunglasses because my regular glasses darken up.
Have a great first trip and good uluck with your luggage choices.

Posted by
101 posts

For my first Rick Steves tour, Village a Turkey, I brought the Rick Steves Convertible. Enroute it was less than 18
Pounds and doable. I too, am 5 foot five. On my return it weighed 23 pounds so I had to check it. Honestly, checking it was a godsend because at 23 lbs. it was way too heavy. Rick is 6 feet, I'm not.
Since then I have taken a spinner carryon and try to pack less each year. One summer after Eastern Europe a girlfriend and I went by train to Zagreb. There is nothing fun about carrying luggage up and down stairs in train stations I actually wear wrist braces on days that I transfer luggage.
This summer will find me on the 17 day Best of Italy that will involve a lot of luggage moving.
I will bring a Columbia day pack and in it will be a small Tom Bihn cafe bag that holds a mini IPad. When in transit the cafe bag goes in the day pack.
I really think about each item that gets packed. Of ever I do just Ireland on its own I won't bother with sunglasses because my regular glasses darken up.
Have a great first trip and good luck with your luggage choices.

Posted by
3418 posts

Hubby and I each have one of Rick's 'older' convertible bags. They weigh about 2# empty. Fully packed for a trip, mine will weigh between 15 and 20#. His will weigh around 11#. I 'get' to carry all the 'common' things- sewing kit, medications, etc. We put the camera in our day bag. We each also wear waist bags. If you are near the limit for an airline, put some of your heavier items in your day bag (umbrella, camera, etc.). Also, wear your sweater and coat while checking in- then put them in the bag after security. If you can get by without taking spare shoes, do. I take extra inner soles and change them during the trip rather than take 2 pairs of shoes. I also wear only pants, so don't need different shoes for dresses.

By the way, I'm only 5'2" and find Rick's bag easy to deal with as either a backpack or a hand/shoulder bag.

Posted by
12359 posts

Hi,

My main bag's weight, a two wheeler, fully loaded up is between 25 to 30 lbs. If it exceeds that, I start to take out items, the max has to be 30 pounds, whether the trip is 2 weeks or almost three months. The max weight is still light enough for me to toss it easily on a rack in an ICE train.

Posted by
21213 posts

That is a little heavy for us.

We have two of the older style backpack bags - Marcia comes in around 16/18, and I am closer to 22/23 because I get to carry the guidebooks, notebook, ipad, and camera. Have been going that for years. Our key to packing is that we always pack on paper. So three days early, the bags go together quickly and easily.

Posted by
17984 posts

"we always pack on paper"

Excellent suggestion, Frank. Start making a list months before you go. In my case, it is the same list I've used for years, but I look at it before each trip to see if I need to add or delete anything. Maybe even, as Rick suggests, pack everything on the list and then take the bag to town. Ask yourself if that's really what you want to lug around. Come home and go through the list again and see if there is something you might need, but probably won't and could get over there if needed.

Having a well thought-out, tested list is so important to light packing. Without it there is too much temptation to look around and say, "I might need this", a take a lot of things you don't really need. And then you find out that you forgot something you really did need.

Posted by
333 posts

Hi! I'll be on the 21 BOE in a couple of weeks. I bought a High Sierra rolling carry-on backpack with detachable day pack, which is 22" (max carry on size with daypack detached). When I did my trial pack 2 days ago I got a weeks worth of clothes and extra pair of shoes and the pack weighed 17 1/2 lbs. The daypack will sub as my purse and go under the seat. I'll wear my heaviest outfit (planes are cold anyway) and jacket so as not to add to the weight of the luggage. I'm 5'2" and can carry it around alright when necessary, though I'll roll it whenever I can. You'll thank yourself later if your "main" bag is your carry on. But I know from my own experiences that packing is TOUGH for a long trip, and sometimes, a carry on doesn't cut it. After my last Europe trip with a big suitcase and carry on (and I ended up carrying BOTH thru Europe and Russia because the airport broke the wheels on my brand new luggage) to make this trip a lighter one. So it's backpack size for me!

Good luck with the packing- and have a great trip!
Lisa

Posted by
6569 posts

I don't exactly know what my bag weights, but I do know that on the next trip it's going to weigh half of what I've been carrying in the past. My 21" rolling bag is going on a serious diet. That means 1 pair of starched pants per week and one golf shirt for every 3 days. And the only shoes (size 15) will be on my feet. And if I run out of clothes, I can always find a washing machine.

Posted by
6569 posts

I don't exactly know what my bag weights, but I do know that on the next trip it's going to weigh half of what I've been carrying in the past. My 21" rolling bag is going on a serious diet. That means 1 pair of starched pants per week and one golf shirt for every 3 days. And the only shoes (size 15) will be on my feet. And if I run out of clothes, I can always find a washing machine.

Posted by
60 posts

I am about the same height as you are, with an average size frame, and I'm a wee bit north of 50! I have the RS convertible carry-on, and when it was packed up on our last trip to Europe it weighed between 18-19 lbs. I'm not a regular backpacker so it took me a while to get used to the weight. I quickly started casting off unnecessary items ( magazines, coffee creamer,etc!) till I got it to a more comfortable weight. Carefully plan out what you will wear, expect to buy some toiletries abroad, take only what you need. i actually weighed some items of clothing to help decide what to take. It all adds up fast. I've heard many women say they feel the rolling carry on is a better choice for them.

Posted by
11450 posts

I cannot handle any weight on my back, frankly even my purse can seem heavy some days.

I always use a rolling bag.. and on the one RS tour I took.. 14 days.. plus and anther 12 days before and after tour.. ( so total 26 days) I found my 22 inch bag fine..
On that tour no one had a backpack. Everyone had wheels.. and our group ranged in ages from 8 to about 70.

Posted by
63 posts

I am overwhelmed by the many helpful responses to my question. I am really looking forward to my RS tour and am motivated to pack light. I am leaning toward buying the RS Rolling Carry On. Thank you all.

Posted by
2731 posts

Hi, I just received my new plum colored RS 20" wheeled carry-on. I love it. I hate to schlep luggage on my back so I always buy wheelies, just a personal preference though. I did a pre-pack for my late May trip and the weight reached 18# without my genealogy paperwork and guide book rip outs so it will weigh a bit more, but < 1# more. I'm still thinking of what I might take out..chinos perhaps. I'll be taking some trains around Sweden so if I can make it a little lighter I will…because I'm sure I'll be adding to it, if not just with food for the train travel days, etc. Wray

Posted by
59 posts

First, I am impressed that so many of you get your suitcase to be under 20 pounds! I am still working on it. Right now, I am at 26#, our limit with Air France. Definitely check the airlines baggage guidelines,esp. if you are not planning to check your bag. I will wear a lot of the heavier things and put them in a bag when past security. I am just over 5'5", will bring a rolling bag and Eddie Bauer day pack. The camera weighs a lot, but I can't do without it.
Some of the folks on our Italy tour last summer had huge bags, and they struggled.
Just a thought. Bring a foldable zippered tote. You can put your purchases in it and anything else you do not need access to, (cold weather things once the weather turns warmer) and keep it in the storage under the bus. That way you do not have to carry it all with you until the end of the trip. Check to see if your tour has a bus for the whole time with that safe storage feature.

Posted by
63 posts

Jackie:

How are you carrying your camera? In the Eddie Bauer daypack? Does it have protection for the camera. I want to take a good -- but small camera -- and a small laptop.

Posted by
14 posts

My wife and I both use the RS convertible bag. For our last 3 trips, the bags have weighed 19-20 pounds. I put my camera and charger in my day pack. We have checked our bags once and carried them on twice. I, too, take one pair of shoes and those are on my feet. I pack an extra pair of insoles to alternate daily. Those add little weight to the bag. I've never had the airline weigh my bag when carrying it on, maybe that's something they started after our last trip. I make a shirt last two or three days, and slacks and pants more than that. I cram in as many pair of socks and underwear as will fit.

If your bag weighs more than 20 pounds, take a close look at what you are packing and start thinning it out.

Tim

Posted by
1 posts

I have the RS Rolling Carry On (second generation, I have taken 8 RS tours and signed up for my ninth). Each time I check in at the airport, it weighs less and less! 14.5 pounds last August for two weeks in Scandinavia. Like Rick says, nobody ever wishes they had packed heavier!

Posted by
2731 posts

@ Ishepard4386, Wow. 14.5 pounds. I'm impressed. I've been trying to get mine down closer to 17 lbs from what now appears will be 19-20 lbs. But I'm not finding much to cut…did pull out my nook and cord, will use my iPod instead, but that is it. There are a few comfort/security odds and ends; i.e., door wedge, spork, etc. that seem to add a little weight, but that I want to keep. I'm not a huge toiletry person, but one needs some. So I commend you! I guess I'll keep looking for things to cut. I just don't know how you did it.

Posted by
2246 posts

17 pounds, RS Rolling Backpack with DSLR, two lenses, pair of jeans, pair of boots, and the rest.

Posted by
99 posts

If there is a weight limit for carry-ons like on Lufthansa, and you would be a pound or 2 over, couldn't you offload some weight to your "under the seat" bag?

Posted by
8252 posts

Yanksteve, yes you can offload into another bag if it's an airline that allows a carry on and a personal item and you are within that total weight limit or you can offload it on to your body. Hard to wear 2 pr of shoes, but you could definitely don other clothing items.

Posted by
2246 posts

dclawyer, I don't use a dedicated bag for the camera. I simply take any lens off, put the body cap on, and wrap it securely in clothing, using rubber bands to contain it. I then place it towards the bottom of my roller bag. Lenses get wrapped up in a sock each. I always have a small daypack for walking around, which works for carrying all the little photo related extras, and can fit the camera if I'm not going to carry it for a time. My favorite accessory is my Black Rapid cross-body camera strap, it's a lifesaver.

Posted by
63 posts

Thank you Dave. I am going on RS Tour to Greece in October and am trying to decide what camera to take. I will either buy an Olympus Micro 4/3 or a Canon G7X. I want something small.

Posted by
2246 posts

The G7X is very nice. People here know, and may be tiring of hearing it ;-) , but I'm in love with my Sony RX-100, just a great camera. There's two more up the range with wifi, tilt screen, etc. There is probably an aftermarket grip that could be attached to the front of the G7X-this really transformed the feel of the Sony for me, and makes one-handed shooting much easier.

Posted by
63 posts

Thank you Dave. I read that Rick Steves also uses the RX100. I was leaning toward Canon because I am used to Canon menus and it has a touch screen. But the RX100 is one that wins all the top ratings. What I wonder if you wouldn't mind responding is what is the highest usable ISO on the RX100 in your estimation?

Posted by
2246 posts

I've used 800-1600 easily. The large sensor size, on the Sony or the Canon, will make low light shooting easy. I have not pushed it further than 1600, but I have faith it would be doable.

And yes, RS is how I learned of the RX-100.

Here's a couple shots, hand held. the Canon would certainly get a similar result, I suspect.

Here is a church interior shot in Florence, 800 iso, 1/15 sec, f1.8.

Here is the crypt at Basilica Saint-Denis outside Paris, 1600 iso, 1/15 sec, f2

Posted by
63 posts

Impressive at 1/15th. Thank you Dave. I rarely go above 800 anyway and a fast lens helps. I also looked at the Sony A6000 but with a fast lens -- which I like -- it gets pretty big. But people rave about the A6000. The Canon uses a Sony sensor -- as does the iPhone. Sony is really doing great work.

Posted by
99 posts

Funny - just bought the RX-100 myself like 5 days ago after hearing RS mention it. BB was selling it $200 less than RS quoted last year, so I got it.

Question - I'm a total camera noob - trying to learn as much as I can in a couple weeks. Do you camera buffs always use some type of manual mode - A or S for example for all shots, or do you sometimes use the "Intelligent or Superior Auto" mode for your travel pics?

Posted by
2246 posts

Yanksteve, I am normally in Aperture or Shutter priority, or straight manual mode. In Manual, using the rear dial for shutter speed and the large front ring for aperture (that's how I have it set up, but you have options), I can simply dial in the shot I want-what you see is what you get, it's a breeze. As I walk in the church door I'm dialing up my iso a bit, then readjust when out of doors.

Intelligient Auto mode is normal automatic, and it works fine in average conditions. Superior Auto mode will introduce other "stuff" to modify or enhance the shot, not generally what I want the camera to do, I'd rather see it in processing and decide then. I was fortunate in that when I bought mine, there was a Sony factory rep present and he worked with me for an hour or so to explain it and set it up.

Having said what I said about the camera enhancing stuff, I confess that there is one mode I really like, it's Partial Color: Yellow.

Have fun!