Well, I haven’t updated on Europe in a while! My husband and I have been planning this trip for over a year, and it’s finally happening. We’ll be headed over to Europe in September, assuming my husband gets the days he requested off. We’ll find out more about that on Monday. To prepare ourselves, we went out and bought our backpacks today.
To preface this post, we are not going to be backpacking through Europe with tents and sleeping bags and all of that. We will mostly likely be staying in hostels or hotels in major cities. However, having been around Europe before with a rolling suitcase, I did not want to repeat the experience of wheels getting caught between cobble stones and the suitcase butting up against my heels and having other people tripping over it. It was miserable.
I’ve read plenty of cons that a bringing a backpack presents, but I knew I had to try it out for myself. Backpacks are much more compact and easier to carry. Hopefully, we find that they are more convenient than rolling suitcases. I’ll certainly write a review after the trip to let everyone know what we thought.
While researching backpacks, I compiled of list of things I wanted out of a pack, and I think I found everything in the Mountain Designs Horizon Travel Pack (50L and 60L) + Nomad Day Pack (18L). We got the 50L in “wine” for me and the 60L in “Poseidon” for my husband. They have so many cool features–and we got them on sale!
Most importantly for me, this pack does not open from the top like a lot of hiking packs do. Instead, it has a zipper along the side that opens up into the main compartment. If you’re just traveling from hotel to hotel like we are, this is the way you’ll probably want to go, as it lets you get into the bag like it’s a suitcase. You won’t have to pull everything out of the pack from the top in order to access something you packed in at the bottom.
The next nice feature is that it has a panel that can be rolled out to hide the cushioned straps and hip belt. This is particularly good if you have to check the bag for your flight, as you won’t need anything to contain the straps and they won’t get caught on anything. Great for bus or train travel too–no straps getting stuck in overhead compartments!
Speaking of overhead compartments, this pack comes with a top handle, side handle, and an additional strap so that the pack can act as a duffle bag. There are tons of ways to easily grab it and go.
On the pack itself, there are two outer pockets–one larger and one smaller–that will make some items easily accessible. The larger inner compartment is pretty much no-frills, though the clip that will compact the stuff I put in there has a nice extra pocket that will be good for a few toiletries or something.
And then there’s the day pack! One of our biggest points was that we wanted an attachable day pack on these things. At first, it looked like this pack didn’t come with a day pack, and we were leaning toward a few less comfortable, bulkier, more expensive packs that did. However, when a sales assistant pointed us toward the Nomad Daypacks that were compatible with the Horizon. There were 10L and 18L options. We went with the larger size. These are an extra cost, but if you purchase one with the bigger pack, they are 50% off–coming to about $40, which is just about how much you’d be spending on a quality pack here in Australia anyway, and at least this one comes with the option of clipping on!
We plan to use the day pack to carry a camera, lunch, water bottle, and light jacket at this point. We didn’t need anything big or fancy. The day pack has two compartments: the smaller one has several small pockets for organization. The larger one has a large back pocket. It’s perfect for what we need.
Moreover, this travel pack is quite comfortable. We looked at packs a few months ago and found Mountain Design’s Gulliver pack, which has since been discontinued. Cal was really leaning toward that pack, and while I thought that one was wonderful in the way it was set up, it just wasn’t very comfortable for me. The Horizon has just about everything the Gulliver did, but it’s also quite comfortable.
The Horizon 50L is listed at $199.95 AUD. The Horizon 60L is listed at $229.95 AUD. However, we bought them during a “Spend $300 and save 30%” sale, which means we saved $126.97 off the total price. Not bad, right? In addition, each of the day packs ended up being $39.99. So, all told we spent $380.89 AUD, which isn’t bad considering these packs should last us quite a while.
There you have it! Like I said, I won’t get much of an idea of how useful they are in practice until after the trip, and I’ll write up a proper review later. I just thought I’d give a little update. I’m getting excited. Only 180 days or so left until we’re in Italy!