Tested: Mountain Designs Escape Multi 30 daypack

For a robust, go-anywhere daypack, look no further than Mountain Designs’ Escape Multi 30.
By Justin Walker May 12, 2020 Reading Time: 3 Minutes

The daypack. It’s everywhere – and with good reason. These backpacks are the go-to for everything from commuting to work or using as carry-on luggage through to a full day of hiking or vehicle touring/camping. In short, when it comes to load-luggers, the daypack is the ultimate Swiss army knife in terms of its versatility and, as a result, there are myriad options on the market. This versatility also means these things need to be super-tough, not too heavy, but with plenty of features to cover all the activities they will be called on for use.

It was with this in mind that I opted to test the Mountain Designs Escape Multi 30 (signifying 30L capacity; there is a larger 40L variant available, too). It was my daypack of choice for a recent overseas assignment, where it’d need to be both my carry-on luggage option, as well as my day trip load-lugger. And it fits that wide-ranging remit very well, thanks to its comprehensive feature list.

The Escape Multi 30 has plenty of space for stowing gear, including a number of separate compartments for smaller items, such as a map, phone, keys or wallet.

The Escape Multi 30 offers oodles of storage options in that 30 litres of volume. The pack’s main compartment allows you to fit a hydration bladder and/or lug a laptop. Borrowing from larger more trek-oriented packs, the Multi 30 also includes a bottom compartment, complete with zip for access, which is perfect for storing that wet outer shell if need be, or simply as an easier way of accessing the main compartment’s bottom section. On top of the main compartment, there are two separate zip-access top storage sections (all zips are robust YKK), as well as a larger/deeper one on the front of the pack, along with bungy cord for attaching even more gear if need be. Add in two side pockets (elasticised) a zipped hip-belt pocket and four side compression straps and you can seriously load this thing up.

This capacious stowage capacity means it would be easy to overload the Multi 30 – or potentially put a lot of strain on the wearer’s shoulders – if it wasn’t for the over-engineered (read: bombproof) harness system. This includes a padded mesh back panel to minimise sweat and ensure plenty of ventilation, but the main feature is the contoured – and well-padded – shoulder straps and oversized chest-strap. 

The pack’s harness system is undoubtedly a highlight. A padded mesh back panel combines with contoured shoulder straps and robust chest-strap for optimum comfort.

On a couple of days, the Multi 30 was loaded with a large DSLR, two big lenses, a 1L water bottle, additional clothing (including a large outer shell), and enough food for a day. Once the harness was adjusted and cinched down to keep all that weight close to my back/torso, it was good to go. Of course I noticed the weight, but it never shifted or caused me to over-balance/over-correct my posture when I was walking – or even when I had the same load in there for a 25km snow-ride aboard a fat-bike. The outer fabric is robust 500-denier nylon (with PU coating), while the base nylon is twice as tough (1000D). There’s also a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment, plus there’s an additional rain cover. That tough outer fabric was tested a few times when I needed to drop the pack quickly, often on rough rocky surfaces, as well as snow and ice, but the pack fabric stayed true.

There are undoubtedly cheaper (and perhaps lighter; weight is 1.49kg) daypacks out there in this size range but if you’re looking for a versatile daypack that will last years and that is capable of withstanding rugged treatment and heavy loads, Mountain Design’s over-engineered, over-built Multi 30L offers plenty of adventure bang for the bucks and is well worth consideration.

RRP: $180 www.mountaindesigns.com