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Backpack for Urban Travel?
Old 02-09-2014, 11:38 AM   #1
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Backpack for Urban Travel?

I've got a very nice set of matched roller luggage but have realized that I rarely use it. More and more I find a backpack to be far more convenient, especially for the low key--jeans, t-shirt, sweater--urban travel I usually do. I've been using my old school book backpack and need to get something better. Any suggestions for a good quality but not over-the-top pack for, say, a week of warm weather urban travel? I can get by very well on one or two changes of casual clothes, undies, small bag of toiletries, etc. I don't need things like a million pockets for water bottles, etc. Thanks!
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Marita40 View Post
I've got a very nice set of matched roller luggage but have realized that I rarely use it. More and more I find a backpack to be far more convenient, especially for the low key--jeans, t-shirt, sweater--urban travel I usually do. I've been using my old school book backpack and need to get something better. Any suggestions for a good quality but not over-the-top pack for, say, a week of warm weather urban travel? I can get by very well on one or two changes of casual clothes, undies, small bag of toiletries, etc. I don't need things like a million pockets for water bottles, etc. Thanks!
I use an REI pack just small enough to carry on. I think for international travel a better option might be something more resistant to slash and grab thieves, but I haven't researched this yet. Maybe Lonely Planet?

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Old 02-09-2014, 11:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Marita40 View Post
I've got a very nice set of matched roller luggage but have realized that I rarely use it. More and more I find a backpack to be far more convenient, especially for the low key--jeans, t-shirt, sweater--urban travel I usually do. I've been using my old school book backpack and need to get something better. Any suggestions for a good quality but not over-the-top pack for, say, a week of warm weather urban travel? I can get by very well on one or two changes of casual clothes, undies, small bag of toiletries, etc. I don't need things like a million pockets for water bottles, etc. Thanks!
I recently bought a travel backpack on eBags.com and have been very happy with it.
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:53 AM   #4
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I like Rick Steve's convertible carry-on:
Convertible Carry-On - Rick Steves' Travel Store
Has padded straps for comfort as a backpack, or just stow the straps and you can carry it like a suitcase for short distances. DW, DD (age 8) & I did 3 weeks in Europe with two of these & one smaller (for DD) with no problems. Never had to check our luggage and didn't have to struggle with wheeled luggage on cobblestone or rough urban streets. Not a bargain at $100, but better construction than cheap packs.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:01 PM   #5
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I like Rick Steve's convertible carry-on:
Convertible Carry-On - Rick Steves' Travel Store
Has padded straps for comfort as a backpack, or just stow the straps and you can carry it like a suitcase for short distances. DW, DD (age 8) & I did 3 weeks in Europe with two of these & one smaller (for DD) with no problems. Never had to check our luggage and didn't have to struggle with wheeled luggage on cobblestone or rough urban streets. Not a bargain at $100, but better construction than cheap packs.
The Rick Steves one is great. I have an older version that I have used for quite a while and a lot of travel, and it has not fallen apart yet. It looks like the new versions on the Steves web site were good also, but when I was looking for something a slightly different, I went with the'eBags Mother Lode Tls Weekender Convertible'. I've only used it on one trip so far so I can't do a review yet. http://www.ebags.com/category/backpa...ravel+backpack

edit: I will add that the day pack on Rick Steves site is the best day pack ever. IMO. It holds items like computers without looking like a computer bag, folds up small when empty, and can carry much of the merchandise from a tourist style shopping trip. It is not waterproof in a tropical deluge, I found out. But other than that, it's the best.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:06 PM   #6
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MEI voyager.

Take a look at a website onebag.com - they have a write up on it there. I've taken it skiing, Europe, Caribbean, etc. always fits as a carryon and plenty of room for a week or more if you pack well.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:20 PM   #7
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I have a pacsafe backpack that I got at REI. The main reasons I like it are that it has one main large compartment, it has a standard zipper instead of top-loading with drawstring, it's extremely light (1.3lbs), and doesn't have a million straps and doodads hanging off it to get snagged.

I think it's the venture safe 25L (not the GII version). I don't believe this model is made anymore but if I had to get a new backpack I'd get one with a similar design/features.


Venturesafe 25L by Pacsafe: How much is peace of mind worth? | Stuff I Travel With

Amazon.com: Pacsafe Luggage Venturesafe 25L Daypack, Cool Steel, One Size: Clothing

It has a number of "anti-theft" protections built in but I think most of these aren't that useful (and are somewhat gimmicky): The bottom of the pack has wire mesh to prevent slashing as do the straps. One thing that is nice is the zippers clip and can be tucked away making the pack hard to open from behind. However on other backpacks which don't have this feature, I just use twist-ties to prevent nimble fingers.

I'm very picky about my bags (especially anything that carries my photo gear) and I've been really happy with this backpack.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:23 PM   #8
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MEI voyager.

Take a look at a website onebag.com - they have a write up on it there. I've taken it skiing, Europe, Caribbean, etc. always fits as a carryon and plenty of room for a week or more if you pack well.
My favorite. This stuff lasts forever.

I don't pack much heavy stuff but find that a shoulder/messenger bag works better than a back pack (you don't have to take it off to get to your items and worn with the bag in back it is very comfortable).
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:29 PM   #9
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I've owned an Eagle Creek backpack for about 15 years now. Of course, the designs have changed in that time, but this one looks similar -

Mountain Valley Backpack - Backpacks | Official Eagle Creek Website

I've used it on many, many flights over the years. It doesn't have a frame, but it has a stiffening insert which, together with the sternum strap and hip belt, makes it comfortable to wear. I love being able to walk off the plane with just this as my carry-on, and being able to saunter right past baggage claim!
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:50 PM   #10
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I like Tom Bihn bags. They are a bit pricey, but they are made in Seattle and the quality is top notch. Customer service is very good too. I own the Synapse:

Backpacks - Daypacks and Backpacks Made in USA - TOM BIHN
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:44 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone. I spent a couple of hours looking at those you recommended. In the end I ordered this one for its size, price, etc.
eBags eTech 2.0 Weekender Convertible - eBags.com
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:55 PM   #12
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As haha mentioned, security can be a big issue when traveling.

A few years ago, we were waiting to board a tram at an underground station in Brussels, and some local miscreants decided to go fishing in DW's backpack. Neither of us noticed a thing, and they could have gotten away with anything in the pack.

Fortunately, a couple of undercover Brussels cops saw the whole thing (because they were watching for exactly this scenario), and they escorted all four of us to their waiting paddy wagons. DW and I got to ride in one, the crooks in the other (they were handcuffed, we enjoyed joking with the cops).

Despite losing a couple of hours in the process of making formal statements, this was the most fun I've had in a long time. We were treated to an incredible, breakneck race to the nearest police station, speeding the wrong way up at least three different one-way streets with sirens blasting, lights flashing, civilian cars going up on sidewalks to get out of the way, etc. It was a blast!

Ahem. Back to the story, we are very careful now to examine potential backpacks for their pickpocket resistance.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:10 PM   #13
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I had a similar experience getting on the underground in Rome--gypsy woman got her hand in my backpack pocket just as I was boarding. Luckily I noticed and wrenched it away from her at the last second (I also slapped her in the face! I am a complete pacifist and have never in my life slapped anyone but that woman. It was a totally instinctive move and it seems strange to me that I did it!) At certain hours of the day Termini has people pushing to get on the train. You quickly learn NEVER to have any purse or backpack slung over your back in that environment.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:17 PM   #14
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I'll add to the REI recommendations. Whatever you decide, I'd recommend looking at them in person as opposed to online. It's hard to gauge size and how well it will fit your needs until you get one in your hands.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:38 PM   #15
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This all reminds me of our trip to Prague last year....we hardly ever saw a local who didn't have a backpack.
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