Just returned from about 2 weeks in the EU using our recently purchased RS bag. Originally bought it for wife, however, before she returned and I went on to the UK, we switched for me to take. As a result, called her, and ordered one for me to use in the future, however, I am now concerned if it will give me the service that I get from my 12+ lb. 7 year old Samsonite. So, am seeking feedback from long time users--I will be going 3 to 4 times a year to multiple country's on multiple airlines and hope that this will last longer than a couple of years.
I bought a RS bag in 2000 and used it for 6 two-week trips. It shows no wear at all. I'm sure it would last a long time. But it weighs 2½#. I finally got tired of carrying all that weight of "well made" around and retired it for a 1¾# bag. Although I don't think I would have to, I would much rather replace a 2# bag every few years than carry a 12# bag (and have to check it).
I have a ten year old twin to Lee's RS bag that has held up well for similar overseas travel plus lots of US travel and a couple machine washings. It is similar to this bag http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=8&id=346 but with only one outside pocket, no mesh bottle holder, and no interior document clip. The new bags are polyester, I am fairly sure that my old one is nylon. I have no way of comparing the fabrics, but as a rule nylon is stronger than polyester. The new bag should give you many years of good service for $63.95 as should the $79.95 Convertible Carry-On http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=8&id=139 . I have never owned a wheeled bag. It seems that wheels and handles are just a couple more things that could break. Which bag were you considering?
Bought the 21" wheelie @$112
My husband & I both have the RS wheeled bag. His is 8 years old and has been used for one long (3-4 week) and 3 or 4 short trips annually for 7 years, and still looks great and works fine. No problems with wheels or handle. Mine is 2 years old and looks like new except one of the zipper pull handles on the front broke off the first time it was checked in. We're very happy with them.
We bought a convertible bag for my husband and a roll-aboard for me for our 3-week Italian odyssey. I used mine for a year prior to the European trip for multiple US flights (I think I made 6 airline trips). The bags stood up extremely well and still look new. For years I bought Lands End luggage. The RS bags are much better designed, weigh less, stand up better, don't get dirty as fast. It's obvious they are designed by people who really travel. I like the Civita daypacks, too. Very flexible -- stuff 'em full or flatten out and put in your carry-on.
Hubby and I have each used a Rick Steve's bag for more than 20 years. They still look almost new- and that's after more than 40 international and lots of local trips. They are marvelous. I know the newer bags are a bit different, but I still trust Rick's quality.
I just wish the bags could be waterproof especially after our day tour of the Normandie Beaches the 8 November because it poured! My Civita day pack really got drenched.
Jerry - I have a RS 21" wheelie that's a couple of years old. It's been to Europe 3 times and on a bunch of US trips. The wheels and handle are holding up just fine. The zipper pull broke on the last trip (I may have twisted it) - the zipper is fine so I'm using a key ring as the pull. It's pretty light (7 lbs). I think $112 is a good price. Keep it.
Laurel mentioned her bag got soaked. Has anyone tried spraying theirs with something to make it water repellant?
Actually, Andrea, I mentioned that my Civita bag got soaked. I spray it and my raincoat with water resistant spray right before my trips. Of course, the key word is water "resistant" vs water "proof". (Actually had it done professionally this trip.) Wish they could be made out of gortex!
Be forewarned, the RS convertible/back-door bags have undergone several "revisions" (nice word for manufacturing cost-cutting) over the years. They used to be made from 1000 denier DuPont Cordura nylon (had the tag to prove it), and the zippers were stamped "YKK" (the sign of a good-quality bag according to several authorities). Now they are made from polyester (thin nylon, and does NOT have cross-hatched rip-stop design) and the zippers are stamped "RS". Most of the reports of long-term durability and reliability are from people with the older versions. Most of the complaints of splitting zippers, lost zipper pulls, and other quality lapses are from people who bought the current style bag. Having seen the current bag and comparing to my old one, I would not recommend the current style. The eBags e-tech Weekender is closer in quality to the older RS bag. As for the Civita daypack, the only advantages are that it's soft enough to sub as a pillow (if you don't have anything hard inside) and if its empty can be rolled into a very small sausage shape and fit in your main bag. Otherwise, any big box store has tons of daypacks the same capacity, but made of much better materials. The microfiber is so soft that in a crowd, anyone could slit it with a razor blade and steal the contents without the wearer noticing.
" Most of the reports of long-term durability and reliability are from people with the older versions." Of course, no one who bought a bag in the last few years can report 8-10 years of service, can they? Duh. And the ebag bag you recommend weighs 3# 10oz. My decision to go from the well made, 2½#, 2000 version of the Rick Steves bag to the 1¾# OPEC bag, was based on saving weight. I would never go backwards. I wonder if the zipper problems are due to overstuffing of bags. Learn to pack light and you might not have that problem. Again, on the subject of saving weight, I'm sure part of any reliability issue also relates to saving enough weight to be able to carry on rather than check your bag. Checked bags lead a much tougher life. A 2# lighter bag is less likely to have to be checked.
Our answer to the waterproof bag wish - We use the convertible backpack and the civita bag, and wish they were waterproof too. Our solution is that we made "backpack raincoats" for both. We used white kitchen trash bags. My husband cut slits for the straps which we reinforced with strapping tape. It costs virtually nothing and they have stood up to use for 4+ years (we did have to do a quickie duct tape repair on one this year). It doesn't look as bad as I thought it would, and we only use them when really needed. When not in use, they fold up small enough to fit into a snack size zip lock bag and weigh almost nothing. They have saved us in a few downpours!
"Of course, no one who bought a bag in the last few years can report 8-10 years of service, can they? Duh. " But they can and have reported a multitude of quality problems with the newer ones, whereas it's almost unheard of with the older ones. "And the ebag bag you recommend weighs 3# 10oz. My decision to go from the well made, 2½#, 2000 version of the Rick Steves bag to the 1¾# OPEC bag, was based on saving weight. I would never go backwards."
I think he was comparing the ebag bag to the RS bag which weighs only 8 oz less, not the Campmor bag. Which is also a lot better made than the new RS bag, and 40% of the cost to boot. "I wonder if the zipper problems are due to overstuffing of bags. Learn to pack light and you might not have that problem." I think it would be way too much of a coincidence that more people with the new-type RS bags overstuff them than people with the old-type. The old-type had YKK zips, the new ones don't. That could account for the pulls coming off, and also a greater tendency for the zip to split open if stuffed. But a major design difference (I won't call it a flaw) between ALL the generations of RS bag and the ebag bag (I don't know about the Campmor, maybe someone else knows) is that the RS bag compression straps don't cross over the zip. Having them cross the zip helps take strain off the zip when the bag is stuffed, and also helps keep the contents inside if the zip does split open.
The zipper on my RS bag went "south" soon. Never overstuffed it. Now, to use it anymore, I will have to replace the zipper. For the price I paid that should not be happening.
Looks like the "Lee welcome wagon" for first time posters is working as expected (duh), lol. Don't get scared away Henry, everyone's not rude here.
I don't know how the conversation got started about the RS convertible, but the OP said he bought the wheeled version.
Ed, I WOULD call it a design flaw that the outer compression straps don't cover the zipper LOL! Huh?!? Doesn't encourage me to pull too tightly on those straps... FWIW, reviewers have reported problems with the zippers for years...it usually sounded like overstuffing to me (or maybe tightening those 'compression straps' too tightly?) when I read those product reviews (eBags, etc.). The fix is usually not a biggie; if so, then check with ETBD. Rick Steves' products have a Lifetime Guarantee - always check with them first if you are having problems with your luggage!
Hm, interesting, Eileeen. If the compression straps don't extend across the zipper, pulling on the straps probably increases the stress on the zipper. OTOH, if they do extend across the zipper, then you have to undo all of them to get into the bag. I fought this question when I came back from Europe last year. I went to a tailor to see if I could get straps put on my OPEC bag, but I couldn't decide if I wanted them to span the zipper or not. And, if they didn't span the zipper, they would be awfully short. I finally concluded that the answers was no compression straps at all - size the bag correctly from the start. That's why I am looking at 1400-1600 cu. in. bags (more in a later posting).
i bought two convertible bags in 2001, they have been to europe 12 times, over 50 weeks. they look brand new. i just bought two of the wheelies. have not used them yet. they also look brand new. have fun, be safe.
If you are looking for a long life bag, get one at the websites I have listed below however, they are not cheap. I have one that has over 3 million air miles on, still looks good and I probably will use it until as the airlines like to say, "I reach my final destination." stopoverstore.com or purdyneatstuff.com
Furtunately, I'm looking for light weight. When it looks like my 1¾# bag is going to outlive me, why would I buy a 16-19# one???
Leee ;-), Since 'The Bag I Will Be Buried With' has them (Eagle Creek Continental Journey - the older style from when they were great - and dedicated to my international trips only and NEVER to be checked as luggage!; RS is for the USA), I use the compression straps. Either my bag is not full, and can use a bit of compression to make it smaller (until filled with goodies for the trip home), or it's a bit stuffed (if I'm traveling with the in-laws, and carrying much more than usual) and needs the compression LOL! I could live without them, BUT if you're going to put them on a bag, then why place them where they compress just the edges of the bag (like a teeny-tiny pinch), and not be a bit more efficient and actually have some 'bite'? And once I've compressed the outside of my bag, I rarely need to get back inside. If so, I only need to unhook one or possibly two buckles. No biggie. Jerry, I've read many good things about the long and happy lives of RS bags...I've been happy with mine. ALL of them 8^D