Rick Steves Civita Day Pack Review

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

The Rick Steves Civita daypack is a lightweight, microfiber daypack that is a great item for walking tours, travel, or everyday rambling. It has three zippered compartments to keep things organized and two outer mesh pockets to hold your water bottle or other items. It is 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.

Using the Civita Day Pack as Travel Gear

The Civita has these features:

  • Lightweight polyester microfiber construction: The soft-feel microfiber has many advantages. It is lightweight but tough enough to carry your stuff. You are likely to save several ounces to a pound over other day packs. That weight difference makes it easy to bring along in your luggage or carry-on. It compacts down to a very small size for packing.
  • Straps: The shoulder straps are nicely padded, and it is comfortable to wear throughout a full day of walking and touring. You can wear it with a load of 5 pounds or more without discomfort. The straps are not difficult to adjust. It doesn't have a waist belt or pectoral belt, just the shoulder straps. The bag also has a carry-loop at the top, which makes it quick to grab and easy to hang up on a hook in a restroom or closet.
  • 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 (such as a Rick Steves travel guide). The largest compartment is spacious enough to hold your jacket once you warm up, or even a pair of shoes. As a carry-on, it will hold an iPad or small laptop plus a light jacket. One problem is the lightweight fabric and makes it easy to spill things off when the pockets are open. You need to make sure the zippers are closed and secure.
  • Zippers and security: Each compartment has two zipper pulls, so you can choose whether to pull them to the left, right, or leave them in the center. In use on numerous walking trips, the zippers never came 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 fasteners. 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 a water bottle or other small items. They are secured with a drawstring. Bottles are not very secure in these pockets unless they have groove or waist so you can cinch the drawstring tight. Another drawback is that it can be hard to get the water bottle out of the pocket and back into it while you are wearing the backpack. Several users found that the drawstrings came loose or unraveled with use. The bags have a limited warranty that is likely to cover that. The mesh compartments are useful for storing tissues, hand cleanser, and other small items.
  • Washable: You can hand wash the pack or wash in a washing machine on the hand wash setting and let it air dry. It dries very quickly.
  • Lack of cushioning: The back of the pack is not cushioned at all. Don't carry sharp objects in it or anything that is uncomfortable.

Taking the Civita on a Walk

The pack was first challenged with a 10-day walking tour 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 it had space enough in the main compartment for taking on and off such layers as a jacket, scarf, hat, and the legs of your zip-off travel pants. Of the 28 members of the walking tour group, five coincidentally had a Civita bag and all appreciated it.

The bag performed well on further walking trips in Spain and throughout the U.S. It works very well as a carry-on bag for air travel as well.

If you normally wear a CamelBak hydration pack for longer walking workouts, the Civita's water bottle holders are not as convenient as drinking from a sipper tube.

Lightweight Alternatives

Another lightweight alternative is the 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 a tiny pouch (which you can zip it 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.