Whether you choose to travel with a suitcase or a backpack is your personal choice of course. We prefer traveling with a backpack, because it gives us more flexibility when getting from A to B. Yes, you have to carry your own luggage, but if you have a comfortable backpack it’s so much easier than carrying a suitcase (in our opinion). And that’s exactly what you’re looking for when you choose to travel with a backpack: comfort! From the backpack’s layout and ease of carrying to the technical details and weight; there’s a lot to consider when selecting a backpack and finding the perfect one can seem daunting. Thule challenged us by letting us test their newest Guidepost 65 L backpack. A test that left us pleasantly surprised! Have we finally found the perfect backpack? Read all about it in this review!
About the Thule Guidepost backpack
De Thule Guidepost backpack is available in different sizes for both men and women. We tested the backpack with a 65 liter capacity. Annemarie chose this size because she travels non-stop for about 9 months out of the year and won’t run out 0f space with 65 liters. Even though Mirjam doesn’t completely fill her backpack most of the time, she also wanted enough space and opted for the 65 L just like Annemarie. However, the backpack also comes in a 55 and even a 75 liter version. Furthermore, there are two colors available: purple and dark grey. The backpack weighs 2,7 kg. It doesn’t come with a rain cover, so you’ll have to buy this separately.
Something we noticed right away when we unpacked the backpack was the frame of the hipbelt. It moves independently from the backpack, which means the backpack really stays in place when you walk. We found out that the backpack is indeed very comfortable to walk with. We’ve already hiked long distances with the backpack, on several occasions, with Annemarie sometimes carrying a lot of weight (20 kg), and the straps do make it very comfortable. Not only because of the pivoting hipbelt, but also because of the soft material used on the inside of the straps, which prevents it from chafing the skin on your shoulders. The disadvantage of the hipbelt is that it takes up a lot of space and can’t be folded inward, but in practice it hasn’t really gotten in our way yet.
Adjusting the frame
To get optimal comfort when carrying your backpack, it’s important to choose a backpack that allows you to adjust the frame to our body. When it comes to the Thule Guidepost they’ve truly thought of everything. From the length of your back to the width of your shoulders and hips. Everything is adjustable. It takes a bit of effort, but once you get it right, you’ll never have to do it again. All the different adjustments will mean it takes a while to get the backpack set up correctly. But with the instructions on the Thule website, we were very successful. Both of us have traveled with a backpack before and it was truly remarkable how well this Thule backpack fits us. Especially given our different body shapes.
Perhaps just as important as carrying comfort is a backpack’s layout. In the end, you want to be able to easily and quickly pack and unpack your backpack. Especially when you’re changing locations frequently.. We were both used to backpacks with large side pockets. The Thule Guidepost doesn’t have these. Instead, it has a large compartment across the entire front as well as a very spacious compartment on top. At first this seems less convenient, but in practice it actually works quite well. The large front pocket has loads of space and is great for storing things you need to access easily. Or for laundry or shoes, for example.
There is no space ‘wasted’ on all kinds of separate pockets, allowing the main compartment to be very spacious. Because you can unzip the front from top to bottom, as you would a weekend bag, you can easily reach all your things. It’s convenient to use packing cubes when packing the main compartment, in order to keep the contents well organized and clean. The disadvantage of having a large main compartment rather than a backpack with separate bottom and top compartments is that, when you unzip the pack completely, a few things might fall out from time to time.. It’s a good idea to only open the part of the pack you need to reach. For this reason you should place things you need on a regular basis closer to the zipper. On the other hand, the advantage of having the large compartment is that you can easily reach everything, without having to unpack everything first.
What you might not notice right away when buying the Thule backpack, but will come to realise as soon as you use it, are all the details that have been thought of. Consider the handy closure that allows you to quickly close the top compartment with one hand, in one movement. Or the slanted side pocket that is placed in such a way that it allows you to easily slide a bottle of water in an out while the backpack is on your back. The side pockets are made of an stretchy material, allowing you to use them for both small bottles and larger gear. And last but not least, the handy zipped hipbelt pockets that store things like your money or telephone for easy access when carrying the backpack.
Transform the top compartment into a daypack
A unique characteristic of the Thule Guidepost is the large top compartment that can be transformed into a convenient daypack. Very useful if you don’t want to bring an extra bag, but want to use a daypack for daytrips or short, multi-day treks. We think it’s very cleverly made, but it takes a bit of effort to transform the top compartment into a daypack (and vice versa) the first few times. But once you know how to do this, it’s very useful. The disadvantage is that you need to remove all your things from the top compartment first (if there’s a lot in it), so in practice you won’t be using this feature on a daily basis, but we think it definitely has added value.
The Thule Guidepost has been traveling with us for a few months and has survived many a train, bus and airplane. It’s not just the pack’s strong material that contributes to the indestructibility of the pack. The extra large zippers are also a definite asset. No matter how full you pack the backpack, the zippers seem to be able to handle it all, even with all the strain a full pack puts on them. Because they are extra large, they are also easy to zip and unzip. As we mentioned earlier, the material on the back of the pack is very soft and breathable. This means the pack also holds up well when used in warm weather.
Price and weight
At € 279, the Thule Guidepost 65 L is one of the more expensive backpacks. The frequency of use will determine whether it’s worth the investment. If you’re going backpacking once a year for a few weeks, then it may be rather expensive, but it will last you years. The frequency with which we use it and the fact that we also hike with the pack regularly, definitely make it worth the price for us. The price gets you a high degree of carrying comfort and great user-friendliness. If you’re carrying a backpack frequently or for longer stretches of time, we think it’s definitely worth it. In short; it’s a good investment.
The Thule Guidepost is a meticulously designed, indestructible backpack, which has been well thought through. It has been designed completely with optimal carrying comfort and user-friendliness in mind. Big plusses are the strong zippers, convenient pockets and large main compartment with easy access from the front as well as the soft straps that are very comfortable. The top compartment that can be transformed into a daypack is a great extra, but you won’t use it much in practice. Furthermore, the pack has a sleek design without any frills. At 2,7 kg it isn’t lightweight, but it’s also not extremely heavy for a backpack of this size. Moreover, given the price, it’s a shame the rain cover isn’t a standard accessory. The rain cover is, however, easy to use.
Have we finally found the perfect backpack? After 3 months of intensive use we think we have. Of course there are always things that can be improved, but we are both really pleased with the Thule Guidepost 65 L backpack.