Europe Trip Purchase: Mountain Designs Horizon Travel Pack + Nomad Day Pack

1 Mar

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!


10 Responses to “Europe Trip Purchase: Mountain Designs Horizon Travel Pack + Nomad Day Pack”

  1. Andy May 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    I bought the same 50L pack combo today and I can’t for the life of me work out how to attach the daypack. I expected it to be simple, so what on earth am I missing??

    Feeling stupid…

    • inkhearted May 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

      Don’t feel stupid, we had to have the salesperson at the store show us! On the daypack there are four small oval disks, two on each side, hanging off short straps. On the big pack, there are four plastic holes, also hanging off short straps, which match up with them. You just have to fit the oval disks through the holes and you’re golden. Hope that makes sense! Let me know if you need more help, or I can get some photos for you.

      • Andy March 16, 2015 at 9:45 am #

        I’d forgotten about this, and just found your response. So sorry for the delay in thanking you!

        In fact, I visited the local MD store, where the very helpful staff provided me with a demo. Simple when you see it!

        Any updates on how your Horizon 50? I’ve only used mine for a few short trips, but am now disappointed that I didn’t get something smaller to comply with carry-on restrictions. How did you find travelling with it?

      • inkhearted March 22, 2015 at 8:32 am #

        Hi Andy! I used my Horizon 50 on our Europe trip and thought it did pretty well for itself. I liked that it was so easy to pack up and unpack, and that it seemed to hold more than it should have been able to. However, I did find that it got a little uncomfortable while walking and wearing it for a while (which didn’t happen that much–mostly it was just a quick walk from the train station to the hostel, that sort of thing). I tried adjusting it every which way and by the end of the trip it seemed more comfortable but it took a while to get there! It held up really well though. I’ve been using the daypack that attaches to it every day since as a work backpack, and it’s awesome! Very comfortable. I’ll have to go on another trip soon and test out the 50 again. =)

  2. Pedro June 23, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    Hi Emily that’s a really nice post. I have one question, is it possible to adjust the size of the backpack if they are not full? I’m thinking to buy a 70L, I don’t think I would use this all at my trip but I would like to have a bigger backpack to other trips.

    • inkhearted June 23, 2014 at 8:37 am #

      Hi Pedro! There are four straps on the sides that you can use to compress the bag down a bit, but nothing up top like I’ve seen on other backpacks. I think the four straps should do the job for you though–the bag wouldn’t be smaller lengthwise, but it would be less wide. Hope that helps!

      • Pedro June 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

        Thanks for the reply, that’s very useful!

  3. Princess Geek April 10, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

    I just read this blog and decided to purchase the 50l horizon and the 18l nomad! I’m very excited, I’m heading to NZ in September 🙂 and plan on exploring the world in the future! Thanks for your review, it was the only one I found online 🙂 🙂 – Molly

    • inkhearted April 11, 2015 at 6:06 am #

      I’m so glad it was useful! I’ll have to get around to updating on how the packs held up (very well!). We actually still use our 18L as bags to take to work every day now. Hope yours takes you on many adventures! =) Emily

      • Princess Geek April 13, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

        I’m glad they’ve held up well, I’m very excited for them to arrive. My plan was to use my already owned 25L backpack, but it was too small! I’m hoping to get a lot of use out of these packs 🙂

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