Gear Review: Rick Steves Rolling Backpack

Courtesy of Rick Steves' Europe

Courtesy of Rick Steves’ Europe

I was first introduced to one bag travel nearly 25 years ago watching Rick Steves. Ever since then, I’ve owned numerous bags offered by Rick Steves including my first one, the Original Back Door Bag. (I still have it and will do a posting on it in the near future.)


For the first time, I’ve purchased one of his rolling bags, the Rick Steves Rolling Backpack.



Weighing in at only 5 lbs, 9 oz, and measuring a true 20″ x 14″ x 7″, this bag is a contender in the very lightweight wheeled bag category.

On the outside front are three pockets, one of which goes down the entire length of the bag, and one just small enough to hold a 3-1-1 bag and boarding pass.

Courtesy of Rick Steves' Europe.

Courtesy of Rick Steves’ Europe.

The rear of the bag has two adjustable backpack straps that tuck into their own pouch. The back of the bag is also lined with mesh to help keep your back cool while carrying it.






There are padded handles on the top and side and the other side has a mesh water bottle pocket.


Courtesy of Rick Steves ' Europe.

Courtesy of Rick Steves ‘ Europe.

The inside has two compression straps and the lid has a zippered mesh pocket.

Every Rick Steves bag comes with a document pouch that can be attached to the “o” ring at the bottom of the bag and two mesh drawstring bags.





I’ll cut to the chase. This bag surprised me. I really like it. Instead of using cheap material to keep the weight down,  this bag was designed well. The sides have no frame but the fabric is strong enough to hold things in place. It doesn’t feel flimsy.

The main compartment zippers are lockable but the other compartments aren’t. The zipper pulls themselves do not have holes but you could put a small lock through the holes where the zipper pull attaches to the zippers themselves.

The backpack straps are fairly comfortable and are fine for a short distance. I wouldn’t want to carry this for hours on my back.  There is neither a sternum strap nor a waist strap.

This bag is small enough to meet even the most stringest carry-on rules worldwide yet still offers just under 2000 cu in of packing space.

The first bag I received made a terrible rattling sound around the release button of the telescoping handle. I wrote RS customer service to see if this was normal. I received a return email stating it wasn’t normal and they were sending me out a new bag. I didn’t even ask for one. A big thumbs up to Rick Steves customer service.

If you’re looking for a lightweight rolling backpack or even just a lightweight rolling bag, keep this bag in mind.

The Rick Steves Rolling Backpack retails for $160….however from now until April 5, it’s on sale for $128. That’s 20% off.


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10 Responses to Gear Review: Rick Steves Rolling Backpack

  1. mellowtraveler says:

    Do you know if the measurements for RS Rolling Carry-On has changed over the last 9 or so years?

  2. mellowtraveler says:

    Thank you for the information. I emailed the company and no reply! I hope that 1 inch difference doesn’t make a difference!

  3. Bella says:

    I’m confused about why you like this bag so much more than the Eagle Creek Lync bag you reviewed just a few days prior, as both are rolling backpacks.

  4. Frank@OBOW says:

    I like both bags.

    The Eagle Creek Lync weighs less, can be detached from its frame, and stores in less space. The Rick Steves bag is sturdier and costs $100 less than the Eagle Creek Lync.

    They both do a good job and either one would be a good choice. I think it’s up to the individual to decide which one fits their needs best.

  5. Romulus says:

    Thanks for your great website. I enjoyed your review of this Rick Steves bag and also the the Eagle Creek Lyncs rolling backpack. But from watching a video-review made by an Australian photographer, the Caribee Fast Track (from Australia) looks like it could be even better. Have you tried that one?

    • Frank@OBOW says:

      No I haven’t. However, looking at the specs alone, the bag is too big to meet most sizer requirements: 21.3″ x 14.17″ x 11.8″

      I can try to get one but if anyone else here has one and would like to chime in, please do.

      • Romulus says:

        Yes, I suppose you’re right. I may have identified the wrong Caribee. Here is the video I saw:
        I hope the company does make one that would fit most carry-on requirements, as they look well made and the accompanying daypack could be a nice feature.

        • Frank@OBOW says:

          From watching the video and reading the comments, the bag is 70L which is way too big for a carry on (the max carry on is usually around 45L) and the bag weighs 4.9 kilos (11.7 lbs.)

          Not exactly the one bag philosophy.

          • Romulus says:

            Right — this is why I said up above that I suppose you were right that this particular bag is too big. But I thought you might be interested in the video to see that this company seems to be making some interesting wheeled backpacks. Indeed, if you go on the website, you will see that it makes one that is 45L and meets international carry-on restrictions:!fast-track-45/c12q7 And if you spend a little time on the internet, you can see videos of this one, too.