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Best dual-purpose carry-on "personal item" / day pack?

Best dual-purpose carry-on "personal item" / day pack?

Old Feb 20, 13, 4:45 pm
  #1  
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Best dual-purpose carry-on "personal item" / day pack?

I did a few searches in hopes of finding that this question had been asked before, but I didn't find anything, and so I apologize if this has already been covered.

The title pretty much explains it all. I am looking for a bag that can serve the functions of carry-on "personal item" and day pack for an upcoming trip to Europe. I'd like it to be fairly small and fit over both shoulders (backpack style), and have enough room to carry a DSLR, a bottle or two of water, a map/small guidebook, and perhaps a few snacks. I'd also like it to be large enough to hold a folder full of printed hotel confirmations, an ebook, and stuff like that which I will bring over with me on the flight. Something high-quality but also not terribly expensive would be nice, if possible.

Any brands or general recommendations, or even better specific products you have experience with, are all welcome.

Thanks for your help!
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Old Feb 20, 13, 5:01 pm
  #2  
 
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REI makes a nice day pack that can be stuffed into its zippered pocket. It weighs 10 oz. Might be a tight fit if it needs to hold everything you listed all at once, but works well for sightseeing.
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Old Feb 20, 13, 6:23 pm
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Rick Steves Civita Daypack is lightweight and very affordable at $25 list. It can also be found at just about any luggage store.
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Old Feb 20, 13, 11:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Megn View Post
REI makes a nice day pack that can be stuffed into its zippered pocket. It weighs 10 oz. Might be a tight fit if it needs to hold everything you listed all at once, but works well for sightseeing.
Second the Stuff. I wrote one of the reviews on the REI website (in 2011) and repeat it here to demonstrate its usefulness as a personal item and as a daypack:
This is a reissue of the REI Zip Daypack, which I bought last year and used as a small travel bag rather than as a daypack. In almost every respect, the Stuff is similar to the Zip. There are three differences.

One, the colors are different from the previous iteration. Please note that the steel color shown on the website arrives as a darker gray than it appears in the product description--I think it's closer to a graphite color. This was actually a positive for me because I didn't like the lighter gray color; it might be a negative for you, however, if you prefer the lighter gray that appears on the website.

Two, the interior dimensions of the pack are slightly larger than the Zip. The Stuff is listed as a half-inch taller than the Zip. All other interior dimensions appear the same, but since these are unstructured bags, I'm not sure there's an immediate apparent difference. I can only tell you that when packing the Stuff exactly as I packed the Zip, the Stuff accepted the items easier, and it appeared that there was some room left over for other items.

Three, REI has addressed the biggest previous criticism of this bag: the mesh pockets on the sides are approximately 1.5-2 inches longer than the pockets on the Zip. There's more security for things like small water bottles or other items you might place in there, making the mesh pockets much more useful than the Zip's.

The Stuff, as the Zip, is advertised as a daypack. I've found it serves well as a small case for packing for trips. I took several trips with the Zip and took a similar trip this weekend with the Stuff. I was able to pack a pair of shoes, in shoebags and stuffed with two changes of underwear and socks, in the bottom of the Stuff with the heel of one shoe lying atop the toe of the other. I wear a size nine shoe, which is close to the limit given the width of this bag. You might be able to slip a size 9.5 in there, but I doubt a size 10 shoe would fit. Also, the shoes I pack are relatively low-profile loafers. Boots will clearly take up much more room.

I then put a 15-inch packing folder that included a second pair of pants, a merino sweater, a dress shirt, and a polo shirt on top of the shoes. I slid in front of the folder a rolled-up t-shirt, a rolled pair of REI convertible pants, a belt that fit the pants in the packing folder, and an electric shaver, in its case.

Into the lid went a toiletries kit in a quart baggie, with a 3-oz. container of 3-in-1 body wash/shampoo/conditioner, a folding hairbrush, a tootbrush, toothpaste, a couple of bandaids, a small container of aspirin, and another small container with allergy and sleep aid medicines. This wasn't an airline trip, but I've used the Zip on airline trips with both a toiletries bag and a 3-1-1 bag in the lid. The mesh pockets took a pair of noise-canceling headphones, a couple of small electrical cords, and two small snacks.

Packed in this way, it's fairly easy to go through a number of varied activities, as I did this past weekend (golf, Saturday night dinner out at a somewhat formal restaurant, Easter Sunday activities, etc.). Depending on your travel destination and how much you're willing to mix and match clothes over and over again, you might be able to travel for four or five days as I did when I took the Zip on a trip to San Francisco last October.

The Stuff should fit under any airline seat as a personal item since most airline definitions describe a personal item as a bag measuring no more than 36 linear inches. The Stuff will easily fit in the overhead bin of almost any aircraft, including regional jets. When I went to SF last fall, the Zip was dwarfed by the large rollaboards so many people use.

And since the bag itself weighs only 10 oz., you're not burdened by a heavy bag. Packed as described here, the Stuff weighed less than ten pounds. And given the low price, I feel I couldn't buy a better bag for light travel. And, if you want to use it for its stated purpose as a daypack, it folds up into a small package and fits easily into a suitcase.
I wrote that review two years ago. I would change little about that review. I have started using the Red Oxx Extra Small Aviator in place of the Stuff as a personal item. That's not intended as a criticism of the Stuff, however. Although the Red Oxx XS works at a personal item, it's not a backpack-style bag nor does the XS function well as a daypack. The Red Oxx is a tougher bag than the Stuff and works for me if I need to carry a laptop computer in a separate computer bag; on the other hand, if I'm not carrying any electronics bigger than an e-reader, the Stuff and the XS are all I need because the combo allows a lot of packing space, are interchangeable as items that can be placed under a seat or in any overhead space, will not get gate checked, and keep a hand free while I'm heading through the airport to my flight gate.

For a little less than $30, the Stuff is a great deal. Paired with the XS Small (for another $30), I think you get a great, light packing combo. And, if you'd prefer a full-sized bag in place of the Stuff, then slip the Stuff into one of your other two bags and use it as a daypack.
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Old Feb 22, 13, 3:27 pm
  #5  
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Thanks for the suggestions! I'll try to get over to my local REI to check out the Stuff bag in the next couple weeks.

Does anyone have any experience with PacSafe products? I like their security features but am not sure they're worth the premium--although some of their products are available on Amazon for reasonable prices.

Also, regarding two straps vs. one shoulder strap, any opinions? It's easier to carry weight around on two shoulders for an extended amount of time, but you can carry the bag in a less-exposed manner with one strap by bringing it around to your front/side. The concentration of the weight on one shoulder might not be a huge deal since my girlfriend and I can trade off.
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Old Feb 22, 13, 5:11 pm
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I find the REI Stuff sack to be too deep to use as a SLR toting day pack. I'm short, though, and that also applies to my arms. My SLR would fall to the bottom of the bag and pulling it out seemed like a hassle.

Check out the REI Ashbury Daypack (ignore the pink pulls if you're not into them) http://www.rei.com/product/846035/re...daypack-womens

A male family member purchased their last two versions (lost one, replaced the lost one) which had a different name but a similar form factor. It will easily swallow up an SLR like a Nikon d7000 and a tablet/eReader. Even though it is a women's bag, it isn't too feminine while zipped if you replace the pulls.

It is small enough to pass as a purse size if carried by your girlfriend which is handy for museums that don't allow school sized backpacks.

The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote also converts between a tote and backpack plus packs down easily. http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/...?p=48807-0-497

Get a backpack with two straps. If you load an SLR, spare lens/battery, and water into a one strap bag then troop around for a day, prepare for trading massages to work out the pain. Camera bags have cushy strap pads for a reason.

Last edited by freecia; Feb 22, 13 at 5:20 pm
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Old Nov 1, 13, 2:03 pm
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To add to this thread, I just used a Pacsafe bag on a week long trip in Asia. It was extremely comfortable and light. I will probably add a crumpler sleeve inside to hold my SLR next time, but it was fine with some extra padding to carry around an SLR and an extra lens. There are two water bottle pockets on the side, and alternatively you can add a hydration pack as well. I brought the pouch from my camelback and it worked out well on a light hike. http://pacsafe.com/www/index.php?_ro...=detail&id=231
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Old Nov 2, 13, 7:56 pm
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I'm a big fan of the Tim Bihn Synapse 19 backpack. The organization is great.

http://www.tombihn.com/PROD/TB0110.html
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Old Nov 2, 13, 9:31 pm
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I gave my PacSafe bag to charity after I traveled with it and realized that putting my iPhone inside the PacSafe bag meant my phone could not receive calls.

I did a long trip with a Red Oxx brand Rockhopper bag and it worked well but it s smidge too small to carry a folder of travel paperwork without crumpling the corner of the folder. The Rockhopper holds a lot more stuff than one would suspect on first looking at this bag. I used it as my one and only carry on bag and all went well.

The Rick Steve Civita bag is very soft and offers no protection at all either from cutting by a thief to get to your stuff and from rough handling re: your precious gear.
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Old Nov 4, 13, 1:28 am
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Note: the Timbuk2 Hidden Swig also packs into itself.
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Old Nov 4, 13, 1:50 am
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Originally Posted by oldpenny16 View Post
I gave my PacSafe bag to charity after I traveled with it and realized that putting my iPhone inside the PacSafe bag meant my phone could not receive calls.

I did a long trip with a Red Oxx brand Rockhopper bag and it worked well but it s smidge too small to carry a folder of travel paperwork without crumpling the corner of the folder. The Rockhopper holds a lot more stuff than one would suspect on first looking at this bag. I used it as my one and only carry on bag and all went well.

The Rick Steve Civita bag is very soft and offers no protection at all either from cutting by a thief to get to your stuff and from rough handling re: your precious gear.
Was this because of the RFID coating? You weren't able to receive calls even if it weren't IN the RFID pouch?
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Old Nov 6, 13, 10:24 am
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Originally Posted by SFOPhD View Post
I'm a big fan of the Tim Bihn Synapse 19 backpack. The organization is great.

http://www.tombihn.com/PROD/TB0110.html
I am, too. I have one and use it as both my personal item and daypack.
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Old Nov 11, 13, 9:24 pm
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I love my North Face Surge II backpack. The laptop sleeve is great, and its big enough to last you an entire weekend away from home, but small enough to be my everyday laptop bag.
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Old Nov 13, 13, 7:14 pm
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The Osprey Momentum or the new Radial series may work for you. I have an older Momentum 26 in gray (they now have 22 and 30) and this pack is perfect for what you want to do. Mine was expandable but I rarely used that feature.

http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/group/...series_updated
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