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Thule Men’s Capstone Hiking Backpack, Slick Rock, 32 L

Thule Men’s Capstone Hiking Backpack, Slick Rock, 32 L


Because it’s a Thule I had great expectations but this backpack doesn’t deliver on the Thule name

When I first saw this pack online I was excited, we could use a new pack. When it arrived and I had a chance to go over it, well I’m not impressed. At best, this could be called a day pack but even then it’s still lacking important features for day use. But… it’s listed as a “hiking” backpack by Thule.

TL;DR – Very well stitched and made pack for taking with on a bike ride but for even limited day use you’ll want features that aren’t to be found on the pack.

Like all Thule products that I’ve ever come in contact with, it’s well made but when looking at the design it falls short of expectations. My expectations are based on years of experience with other packs, the ins, outs, and much sought after features. Most of which are lacking here.

Let me get the not so good stuff out of the way first.

It’s a small bag and obviously designed for a teen or shorter individual, no points taken here as it’s simply a smaller bag. The problem is that its labelled as a “Men’s” bag. That’s literally stretching, or compressing, the truth. The term Men’s implies an adult sized fit, even if it’s a small capacity bag. This would be better labelled as a youth bag.

The whole quasi frame construction is a problem. In making it adjustable for people of different heights the bar slider set up has a wicked bow pointed out backwards. It doesn’t affect comfort but it makes filling and using the inner portion of the bag difficult as things need to be packed “around” this deep curve.

This curve also makes using a hydration system difficult. There is a separate inner compartment for this but like other packs it sits right up against the inner rear plate which is bent outwards by the sizing adjustment. This puts a much unwanted curve in the bladder, this has the effect of limiting the amount of water that can be stored in said bladder. It also makes inserting a filed bladder darn near impossible. There is an access for the bladder tubing but once its brought outside there’s no strap or clasp to hold it like is found on virtually every other backpack with a hydration bladder system. This means that unless the bite tab end has its own means of attaching it will just flop around till out of desperation its tucked under a shoulder strap. The whole size adjustment set up is just goofy. The only good thing is that this keeps the pack away from the back to help eliminate sweating.

The rear outer pocket has no zipper closure! Yes there is the water resistant pack cover which sits in its own pouch located at the bottom that can be pulled out and brought out to cover the whole pack in case it rains but it doesn’t keep dust and pine needles from falling into the pocket. If the rain is slight I’m unlikely going to take the pack off, pull out the cover to keep water out, especially if it looks like the rain will be gone in a couple of minutes. Here I have no choice since there’s nothing to keep the rain out of this pocket. I literally have no idea what Thule’s thoughts were when they set It up like this. Quick access for a small laptop or tablet? There are two straps which can be cinched up to tighten the top edge of the cover but it’s not enough.

The waist belt isn’t full sized for the size of pack. The sides only come partially around the hips rather than right to the front. This is the case unless the person wearing the pack is an 80 pound individual with a 22 inch waist. Only the right hand side has a pocket, the left is where a soft clamp is set up, for attaching a walking stick or something of that nature. Considering how light fold down or collapsible walking sticks are a second pocket could have easily been included underneath this clasp. There’s literally no pocket for a phone or GPS unit unless you want to use the top mounted pocket, which to get at the pack needs to be removed. There is a mesh pocket just behind the belt on each side but it’s on the actual pack bottom corners which are a lot harder to get at. These might be ok for holding an energy bar, if its folded in half as the pockets aren’t very deep.

The waist belt hasn’t been properly designed to carry the packs weight on the hips which then allows too much weight to be borne by the shoulder straps which brings us to the next item:
► The shoulder straps are narrower than they should be. Yes, I know it’s a small pack but that doesn’t mean the contents will never have any significant weight. Even if they were made an inch wider it would be a huge difference in weight distribution especially considering the lack of a proper belt.

There is no external pocket which has been set up to hold a water bottle!? How did this get missed? Not everyone bothers with a hydration bladder, this is why other packs, even the off shore products, have external water bottle pockets.

It’s not the bag I would take for a week in the hills but even if I go out for a couple of days I’m going to want at least a light sleeping bag and a tarp to come with me. There is no facility to attach either item on the pack. No straps of any kind found on the bottom which is where you would normally find them for keeping either or both of these items.

The good stuff:
► Size adjustment to different height is easy and uncomplicated but not practical.
► Shoulder straps are lined on the inside with mesh to help with air flow and eliminate sweating.
► Stitching is very well done. Every corner is done up right and the whole pack should stand up well even with heavy contents.
► The chest strap is up high enough where it doesn’t interfere with breathing keeps pressure on the upper section of a rib cage.
► All straps are sewn on in such a way that I’m not worried about them coming loose even with a lot of pressure.
► The venting and mesh that runs against your back is wide open to eliminate sweating. This is the only good thing about the whole quasi frame set up, the curve away from your back provides for a lot of air flow which is a good thing but over done.
► Zippers are strong and the tabs have canvas grips that are long and wide enough to get a hold of even with gloves on.
► The zippered pockets are water resistant to the extent any can be. Each has a cover to keep water off the zipper and the pack material does shed water for some time.

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