Rick Steves Civita Day Pack Review

Day Pack for Walking

Rick Steves' Civita Day Pack
Rick Steves' Civita Day Pack. Wendy Bumgardner ©

This lightweight, microfiber day pack is a great item for walking tours, travel or everyday ambling. It has three zippered compartments to keep things organized, and two outer mesh pockets to hold your water bottle or other items. It's stamped with travel guru Rick Steves' name and is very popular with walkers. It has a 957-cubic-inch capacity and comes in four colors.

Manufacturer's Site

Using the Civita Day Pack as Travel Gear

I found the Civita day pack while browsing at my local AAA office for a moneybelt to take on my walking vacation to Turkey.

I was immediately drawn to several of its features, and I bought a pack for a real shakedown.

Lightweight polyester microfiber construction: The soft-feel microfiber has many advantages. It is lightweight but tough enough to carry your stuff. I could save a few ounces over my other packs if I put this one into my luggage or carry-on. Every ounce matters when you are trying to save room/weight for souvenirs.

Straps: The shoulder straps are nicely padded, and I found the pack very comfortable to wear throughout a full day of walking and touring. I also wore it with a load of five pounds or more without any discomfort. I had no difficulty in adjusting the straps. It doesn't have a waist belt or pectoral belt, just the shoulder straps. The bag also has a carry-strap at the top, which I appreciated when I just wanted to grab the bag and carry it off the plane or bus, or hang it up on a hook in a restroom.

Zippered compartments: The Civita has three zippered compartments. The smallest is still big enough to hold your passport, wallet, reading glasses, etc. The next biggest can hold a paperback book (dare we say a Rick Steves' travel guide?) The largest compartment is spacious enough to hold my jacket once I warm up, or even a pair of shoes!

As a carry-on, I slipped my iPad into it with plenty of room for the jacket or other items. One warning: Because the pack is made of lightweight fabric, it may be easier for things to spill out when the pockets are open. I practiced caution in this regard and made sure everything was securely zipped after each use.

Zippers and security: Each compartment has two zipper pulls, so you can choose whether to pull them to the left, to the right or leave them in the center. I didn't find any problem with them coming unzipped accidentally. But if you are concerned about pickpockets, this arrangement makes it easy to tie the two pulls together with a twist-tie, safety pin or other fastener. There's also an interior ring on which to clip items.

Mesh compartments: There is a mesh compartment on each side of the pack that you can use for holding water bottles or other small items. They are secured with a drawstring. On first use, I had a single-use bottle of water that kept slipping out whenever I bent over. But my reusable water bottle, which has a "waist," was secure in the pocket. On the other hand, I found it hard to get the water bottle out of the pocket if I wanted to take a drink without slipping the pack off.

One of my tour companions had the drawstring come loose on one of the pockets, making it less usable. She plans to complain to Rick (the bags have a limited warranty that is likely to cover that). I also used one pocket for stowing Kleenex, a head band and other small items.

Washable: You can hand wash the pack. I got mine dusty on the trail and don't even want to think about what it may have picked up in restrooms on the trip. You can spot-clean it with soap and water and it will dry very fast.

The back of the pack is not cushioned at all. I wouldn't recommend carrying sharp objects in it or anything that is uncomfortable.

Taking the Civita on a Walk

I used the Civita each day of my walking trip in Turkey. It was a perfect "purse" for a long airplane ride, stowing easily underneath the seat. You can even use it as a pillow if you stow a jacket in it.

On the trail or on a long day of touring, I found it to be an excellent pack. It had space enough in the main compartment for taking on/taking off such layers as a jacket, scarf, hat and the legs of your zip-off travel pants.

I normally wear a CamelBak hydration pack for longer walking workouts, as I am better at drinking regularly if I have a sipper tube. The Civita's water bottle holders are not as convenient, but they worked.

Popular with Walking Tourists

I had to chuckle when I counted at least five of these Civita bags among the 28 members of our walking-tour group. None of them complained. By the end of 10 days on the road, I was very pleased with my purchase. I continue to use the pack on walking trips to Spain and throughout the United States. It works very well as a carry-on bag for air travel as well.

Lightweight Alternatives

I also purchased a Lewis N. Clark Electrolight Backpack, which is even lighter in weight than the Civita. It works well as a day pack but it only has a single compartment and the pouch that it zips into. It is great to bring along to use when needed, but for travel the Civita works better with its three pockets for organizing your stuff.

Continue Reading