One of the dilemmas I’ve had, planning for our long-term travel plan, is to find a backpack that will fit every adventure we have planned. I needed a pack that would suit everything from travelling in a campervan to staying in luxury hotels.
And then there’s the plan to walk the Camino De Santiago in Spain: 800km over a two-month period (give or take).
I needed a pack that would fit all those needs. I was not going to use a rolling suitcase. They’re impractical in a campervan, and I knew I’d need a backpack for the Camino. I also don’t like using rolling suitcases in Europe. Because, you know, cobblestones, stairs…all make life with wheels fairly miserable.
To say that I have done my research with this dilemma would be an understatement. I have been looking for this utopian pack for years.
I went to multiple ‘adventure’ stores, looking for this utopian solution. Nothing was right. It wasn’t the right fit, the right size, the right colour, the right…anything.
I could never find the right backpack … until I picked up the Mountain Designs Escape 40 Daypack.
While 40L doesn’t seem a lot, this pack is sneaky big.
Let’s get down to the details, because that’s what’s important right?
The pack is light and durable. The fabric is sturdy (if you want to get technical, it’s 160 denier ripstop CORDURA® fabric with a durable 840 denier base) and since there’s an interior frame, the weight is manageable when packed (unless you overload it, of course!).
To keep the pack balanced, the padded hip belt is thick; Adventurists have repeatedly told me that this was a must have. The belt sits exactly in the right place on your hips. This amazingly keeps the pack weight from overwhelming you. I found, when traipsing through the streets of Europe, that I barely felt the pack at all. The weight was balanced on my hips (where you want it to be), while the adjustable shoulder straps kept it securely in place.
Now, as a curvaceous traveller, I have an issue with anything around my hips, but honestly, the Escape 40 daypack felt so comfortable. The hip belt sat perfectly.
The pack allows for dual entry, which is a must have for me. I didn’t want to go digging into the pack every morning, only to end up dumping the entire contents to retrieve the one item I needed from the bottom. Plus, it has an accessible lower compartment which separates the contents. I used the lower section for the heavier things, like shoes and my toiletry kit.
The adjustable front elastic system was perfect to hold my waterproof jacket for easy access. The stretchy side pockets held an umbrella and was large enough for a big reusable water bottle.
A front zip pocket with organizer pockets is a great inclusion for those little things that tend to get thrown in and lost quickly with a larger pack. And a side section (which I didn’t even notice when I first received the pack!) that’s great for storing an iPad, pens, crossword puzzles, or anotebooks. It’s not large enough for a computer but I wouldn’t throw a computer (or anything that expensive) into a pack like this anyway. That’s just me…
Now, I am a light traveller and I swear by carrying on my luggage with me. This pack is small enough to do that. However, on our return to Australia we had a 15 hour layover in Doha (which isn’t as bad as it sounds at Hamad Airport). I just didn’t want to lug a pack around an airport for that amount of time. So, we checked (gasp!) our luggage from Rome to Sydney.
The issue with backpacks when checking luggage are the straps. They tend to get stuck in the luggage conveyer belts. The Escape 40L comes with a rain cover that doubles as a duffle bag. You can fit the entire pack (filled) inside the cover, straps and all. This is what finally won me over with this pack.
I carried my pack to the airport as normal and right before checking it, locked it with a TSA approved lock, then placed it all inside the duffel bag. There’s a handle to carry it to the conveyer belt at check in. Oh, and it works great as a rain cover too. There’s a Velcro closing spot in the lower compartment that the entire cover tucks into. Brilliant!
I have to say, the longer I used this pack, the more I loved it. As I said, it was sneaky big.
After spending 3 weeks travelling through Italy, France and England, I think I’ve finally found the pack I was looking for. I’m going to hold off on calling it the utopian pack, as I will do another review after using it full time for year, but after this last adventure, I am pretty damn happy I with it.
If you want to see the Mountain Designs video showing the features, check it out here.
So, what was in my pack?
A lot went into the bag. This was for a 3 week trip and even then, I had room to spare. I did carry a tote bag for my computer, camera, book and some carry-on items, but everything else fit into the Escape 40L daypack.
Never heard of Mountain Designs?
Mountain Designs are an Australian owned and operated company. It’s been in business since 1975. The company was founded by a young climber, Rick White, who wanted to provide quality goods to adventurers just like himself. He started as a specialist climbing retailer, growing the business in Queensland (Brisbane specifically), catering to the likes of climbers and bushwalkers.
Australians like their outdoor adventures and love undertaking challenges in exotic places. Now you can find Mountain Design stores all over Australia, bringing that adventurous spirit to the masses, giving everyone the opportunity to buy quality equipment so they are aptly equipped to pursue their adventurous dreams.
Oh and their online store is great too. They ship free* within Australia and New Zealand, and ship internationally at a reasonable cost**.
*free with the exception of Outlet orders.
** they reserve the right to revise international shipping costs for bulk or heavy items/orders.
This is a sponsored review. Our thanks to Mountain Designs for the Escape 40L Daypack, which was arranged upon our inquiry.
NOTE: We do not promote any brand we have not used or experienced for ourselves. All opinions are our own. Please follow our advice at your own risk.