At the OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen last week, Thule officially launched their new technical backpack series. Some of us US editors were lucky enough to get a sneak peek and actually test out these backpacks in New Hampshire last month. If you were wondering why the heck Thule took us on a backpacking trip across the Presidential Range, now you know.
Looking to move beyond the trailhead and help safely carry your gear along the trail as well, Thule applied some creative engineering to create technical packs that not only comfortably carry heavy loads, but can be infinitely adjusted for a customized fit.
The GuidePost is the monster hauler of the collection. Made from a combination of 210D and 315D Cordura Nylon, these durable packs come in 88L, 75L, and 65L men’s versions and 75L and 65L women’s versions.
One of the best feature of the GuidePost is the detachable lid that can be quickly transformed into a fully functioning 24L summit backpack. We used the lids for our summits of Mt Jackson and Mt. Washington, leaving the bigger packs back in the hut. The GuidePost is hydration compatible (with separate compartment) and offers three in one access—you can reach your gear either from the bottom, side, or top of the pack.
Thule’s TransHub suspension system uses a single aluminum stay and steel wire spring frame to transfer the pack load to your legs. Using a ratchet system similar to that in the Thule racks, the unique suspension system allows you to adjust the Guidepost’s overall torso length up to 150mm, where the whole back panel slides up and down the aluminum stay.
The hipbelt snaps into a free moving pivot point, meaning the pack body stays put as you climb up and over rocks, giving you better stability and balance. Load stabilizer straps on the hipbelt can be tightened or loosened to vary the amount of pivot. For example, when hiking downhill, you most likely want less pivot than you would hiking uphill or climbing.
Thule’s hipbelts come in three sizes, (Small, Medium, and Large) to ensure the proper fit for different individuals. The hipbelts are incredibly easy to pop out with the simple snap of a button, meaning they can be swapped out to accommodate male hip circumference from 68cm to 130cm and female hip circumference from 63cm to 125cm.
The smaller Capstone comes in 50L, 40L and 32L men’s versions and 50L, 40L and 32L women’s versions and takes less than five-seconds to fit. I found the 50L Capstone to be the perfect size for a hut to hut hiking trip. There is also a more compact 22L daypack version of the Capstone.
Like the TransHub suspension system, the MicroAdjust suspension system on the Capstone uses a strong aluminum frame to evenly transfer pack load to your hips. In addition, the suspension system allows you to adjust the torso length of the pack on the fly by simply reaching back to a button located behind the mesh backpanel. This makes subtle adjustments on the trail possible in order to maintain a comfortable fit for the duration of your hike.
Built in Thule blue rain covers, ice axe loops, two stretch side pockets, and tuck away trekking pole bungees are nice design details without over complicating the system.
The Thule line of technical packs with be available starting February 2015.