Home > Adventure Travel > Backpacking > Review: Thule Backpacks – The Stir 35L & Versant 60L
Review: Thule Backpacks – The Stir 35L & Versant 60L

Review: Thule Backpacks – The Stir 35L & Versant 60L

IMG_20160615_153735_resizedOverview If you haven’t tried a Thule backpack, get one! My partner and I backpacked over 100 miles and climbed a couple Colorado 14’ers, in winter conditions, to test out Thule’s Stir 35 and Versant 60L packs. They are the most comfortable, durable, easy to access packs we’ve ever worn. Gregory and Osprey Packs have been our ‘go to’ backpacks for years and until recently, we didn’t know the Swedish brand, Thule, made backpacks. You can’t find their backpacks in REI or EMS yet, but smaller outfitters are starting to carry them…and of course, you can always order them on Amazon! Snap Shot These packs come in both men and women’s versions. ROAStir 35L  This an all-seasons pack, ideal for one to two day adventures. If you keep your pack light and are going hut-too-hut, sleeping in a hammock or cowboy camping under the stars, the Stir 35L is great. If you need to carry a tent, go up a size.
  • Trip Length: 1-2 days
  • Material: Elastin coated 210D Robic/70 D Nylon
  • Volume: 35L / 2135 cu in.
  • Measurements: MENS = Height 24 in., Width 11 in. & Depth 11.4 in.
  • Measurements: WOMENS = Height 22.4 in., Width 11 in. & Depth 11.4 in.
  • Weight: MENS: 2.2 lb / WOMENS 2.09 lbs.
  • Adjustability: 10 cm (4 in) of torso hip belt tractability
  • Removable: hip belt (velcro) and sternum strap
  • Weather & Waterproof: StormGuard system includes a protective storm flap, partial rain cover combined with waterproof bottom liner
  • Easy access lid with protective storm flap and side zipper.
  • Pockets: A front ‘shove-it’ pocket for quick access, a smaller one on the shoulder strap for a phone or other small items, 2 on sides for water bottles, 2 little pockets on hip belt and an interior mesh pocket with zipper.
  • Attachment Loops: 2 for hiking poles or ice axes with point with reflective material
  • Price: $140
TLEV60MMI.jpgVersant 60L  This is an all-seasons pack, ideal for three to five day adventures, overnight winter trips and individuals who just like to back a lot of extra stuff.
  • Trip Length: 3-5 days
  • Material: 420D Cordura/100D Nylon
  • Volume: 60L / 3660 cu in
  • Measurements: MENS = Height 28 in., Width 15 in. & Depth 13.4 in.
  • Measurements: WOMENS = Height 25.6in., Width 16.9 in. & Depth 13.4 in.
  • Weight: MENS 4.14 lb / WOMENS 3.88 lb
  • Adjustability: 12cm/4.75in of torso hip belt tractability
  • Removable: VersaClick waterproof roll-top pocket, converts to a sling pack for summit hikes and interchangeable VersaClick accessories (sold separately)
  • Weather & Waterproof: StormGuard system combines a protective storm flap, partial rain cover with waterproof bottom liner
  • Access: Large U-zip panel for easy access
  • Pockets: two on sides for water bottles, internal and external pocks on roll-top and a front ‘shove-it’ pocket for quick access
  • Attachment Loops: 2 for hiking poles or ice axes with point with reflective material
  • Price: $260
Field Functionality and Design Features Stir35L On a two day climb of Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.) via the Barr Trail in Colorado, spending one night at Barr Camp and a very long day hike climbing Mt. Humboldt (14,064 ft.), my partner and I tried different Thule packs. Size matters on adventures and varies with personal styles, activities, number of days, weather conditions and gear. I’m a minimalist and loved the Stir 35L. My partner, quite the opposite, packs like a sorority sister going on spring-break and requires the Versant 60L. We each carried our own clothes, sleeping bags, pads, food, water, necessities with snowshoes strapped on each pack. The Stir 35L was ideal for my needs and never weighed more than 18 lb. total, including snowshoes. The snowshoes were easy to attach by using one of the straps on the pack and a locking carabiner (for extra security). You’d think the 60L would be overkill for our one and two day adventures, but it wasn’t. Given winter conditions and the extra clothing my partner likes to pack, it was perfect. At its heaviest, the Versant weighed about 23 lb. and had plenty of room to spare. Had he gone with a smaller pack, he would’ve gotten frustrated trying to organize his things. Both packs are incredibly comfortable. As someone with back problems, I really appreciate Thule’s suspension system. It combines lumbar, hips and shoulder cushioning with adjustable straps. I am not a fan of  the uncomfortable, tension mesh back panels you see on packs like Osprey’s Exos series. I’m still debating if I like Stir’s 35L removable hip belt feature. It’s a nice option to lighten pack weight, but if you’re like me, you might lose or leave it somewhere. In addition, it could rip off when you don’t want it to. This happened to me in an unfortunate mountain climbing accident ( read here) when my partner tried to stop my out of control slide down an ice covered mountain. The hip belt is now somewhere at the bottom of Mt. Humboldt’s Southeast Flank, among the snow and rocks. The good news is, I’m alive and can always get another hip belt. That being said, the material on these packs is really durable. When I slid on ice, almost 300 ft, down Mt. Humboldt, my Stir 35L did not rip or tear. At all! Meanwhile, ice shredded through 3-layers of pants. Thank goodness I had on a forth! Pros: Super Comfortable Internal & external pockets Versant’s detachable roll-back pocket becomes a convenient satchel Cons: No shoulder strap pockets on Versant 60L The Stir 35L shoulder strap is not wide enough to carry larger phones enclosed in protective casings. Recommendations
  • Add wider pockets on shoulder straps for larger phones
  • Make phone pockets water proof.
Company  Thule Group was founded in Sweden in 1942. Its collection of brands create transportation solutions for active, outdoor enthusiast. They are the market leader in cargo carriers for automobiles, roof racks and are a rising leader in multi-functional bags. Thule Group is headquartered in Malmö, Sweden. In 2010, they were fully acquired by Nordic Capital and began trading on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2014.

About Payge