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Thule Versant 70 Review

A fully featured pack with great accessibility for for travel but is also light and durable enough for the trail.
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Price:  $280 List | Check Price at Amazon
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Pros:  Great access, well designed lid pocket, supportive frame, cool removable waterproof waist belt pocket, solid adjustability range
Cons:  Shoulder straps below average for comfort
Manufacturer:   Thule
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2019
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65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 6
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Adjustability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Thule Versant 70 fills a niche: it can transition from multi-day backcountry trips to travel adventures. It's an excellent option if you want a multi-purpose, supportive, durable and weatherproof pack. These attributes, along with this pack's comfortable frame and large U-shaped zippered access make it an excellent travel option. Though it is by no means at the top of the category, its comfort pleasantly surprised us. Though the straps are narrow, they are well-padded and contour to most shoulders quite nicely.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Versant 70 is a reliable and versatile model that doesn't cut any corners when it comes to its durability or features. Its zippered access panel gives the Thule Versant 70 a duffel-like feel with the comfort of a true backpacking pack. It also comes with a removable rain cover and wholly submersible and removable waterproof waist belt pocket. Though it doesn't win an award, it remains an awesome pack even if you want to use it exclusively on the trail for multi-day backpacking trips.

Performance Comparison


Though it is towards the bottom of the pack, this model is about solid suspension and adjustability.

The Versant 70L is a jack-of-all-trades pack that is sports top-notch access  allowing it to act like a suitcase  and solid durability. These are the reasons it was our choice for our favorite for travel. That said  it's also a solid backpacking pack even for exclusive on-trail use as it carries loads quite well and is packed full of features but still remains slightly lighter than average.
The Versant 70L is a jack-of-all-trades pack that is sports top-notch access, allowing it to act like a suitcase, and solid durability. These are the reasons it was our choice for our favorite for travel. That said, it's also a solid backpacking pack even for exclusive on-trail use as it carries loads quite well and is packed full of features but still remains slightly lighter than average.

Suspension and Comfort


Our testing squad found that the Versant 70 provided above average overall comfort on extended multi-day trips while backpacking or mountaineering in the summer. The pack's stiff waist belt is supportive, and its shape helped it to wrap nicely around bony hips without much discomfort.

This model's shoulder straps are on the narrower and thinner side as well, but our testers found they were more comfortable than expected and very nicely articulated. A handful of our smaller testers noted that they preferred them when compared to some models with wider, softer, and less articulated straps. Overall, this pack performs well, though its competitors bested it. This outcome was primarily because its shoulder straps weren't quite as comfortable as others when it came to carrying heavier loads of 45+ pounds.

The Thule Versant's shoulder straps are narrower and slimmer than most. While not our favorite  they are only marginally less comfortable than other more comfort-focused models  even after hours of carrying heavier loads. This is likely due to their excellent ergonomics  breathability and comfortable materials.
The Thule Versant's shoulder straps are narrower and slimmer than most. While not our favorite, they are only marginally less comfortable than other more comfort-focused models, even after hours of carrying heavier loads. This is likely due to their excellent ergonomics, breathability and comfortable materials.

A small but noticeable element of comfort in this pack is the extensive vertical adjustment range of the sternum strap, allowing the wearer to move it into the most comfortable position.

This pack has an incredibly stout suspension considering its weight. After several days of carrying heavy loads with this pack, its suspension helped support loads up to around 45-50 pounds well but performed just so-so above that.

Weight


At 4 pounds 3 ounces, the Versant 70 is pretty average in terms of weight. It has also been outfitted with several more pockets, provides a higher level of durability, and offers better access.

The lid of the Versant is shown here. Its design made it easy to find items  but when this model was packed super full  we'd have to be a little careful to make sure no small items accidentally fell out. This wasn't a big problem but something you should certainly be aware of.
The lid of the Versant is shown here. Its design made it easy to find items, but when this model was packed super full, we'd have to be a little careful to make sure no small items accidentally fell out. This wasn't a big problem but something you should certainly be aware of.

Features and Ease of Use


The lid of the Versant 70 has a straightforward design. Instead of a zippered opening on the side of the lid like many models, this pack's zipper wraps around on three sides in a flat "U" shape, allowing its user to see everything inside, making it much simpler to find smaller items.

The sides of the lid do an excellent job of containing items; however, if the lid were super packed, objects would occasionally fall out. Generally, this wasn't a big problem, especially if we didn't pack to the brim. There is also a second, smaller zippered pocket on the top section of the lid for our most essential items that we want to keep safe.

One of the nicer features of this pack and a major reason it won our Top Pick is its huge upside-down "U" shaped zippered panel opening. This feature basically gives you complete access to anything in your pack and turns it into a suitcase.
One of the nicer features of this pack and a major reason it won our Top Pick is its huge upside-down "U" shaped zippered panel opening. This feature basically gives you complete access to anything in your pack and turns it into a suitcase.

This pack's water bottle pockets point forward and make it easy to grab a bottle on-the-fly while hiking down the trail - all without having to take off the pack. Putting the bottle back in wasn't difficult, just something that takes practice.

Another one of this model's nice but sweet features is a removable and completely submersible waterproof pocket  featured on one side of the waistbelt. It is big enough for a small point-and-shoot camera or a smaller than average smartphone. It wont fit many mid-sized smartphones if they have a beefy case on them.
Another one of this model's nice but sweet features is a removable and completely submersible waterproof pocket, featured on one side of the waistbelt. It is big enough for a small point-and-shoot camera or a smaller than average smartphone. It wont fit many mid-sized smartphones if they have a beefy case on them.

The Versant 70 features two zippered waist belt pockets. One is pretty typical of most other backpacking packs and is suitable for snacks. The additional pocket is unique; it is a removable and wholly waterproof pocket that closes with a roll-top design. While this pocket took a little more effort to get into than a traditional pocket, all of our testers preferred it, as it was a safe, dry place to keep a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera.

The Versant comes with a built-in rain cover that covers the entire pack. Many "built-in" rain-covers aren't well-designed but that simply isn't the case with this one. The rain cover stays on  even in very windy conditions (something that most aftermarket rain covers can't say) and kept our pack dry after several damp days of testing. This feature can also be left behind to save weight if you're heading out with a perfect weather forecast.
The Versant comes with a built-in rain cover that covers the entire pack. Many "built-in" rain-covers aren't well-designed but that simply isn't the case with this one. The rain cover stays on, even in very windy conditions (something that most aftermarket rain covers can't say) and kept our pack dry after several damp days of testing. This feature can also be left behind to save weight if you're heading out with a perfect weather forecast.

This pack also comes with a built-in rain cover — and a pretty nice one to boot. It is waterproof and was effective at keeping our pack dry on several occasions. It is also held tightly in place by toggle pass through loop attachment points. Overall, it stayed on our pack in higher winds better than a majority of aftermarket models. The rain cover is also removable. While becoming the standard among backpacking packs, this model's reverse pull buckles are exceptional and make tightening the waist belt a "cinch."

Here we show the bomber and easy to attach pass through loop toggle design featured on the Versant  which holds the rain cover in place.
Here we show the bomber and easy to attach pass through loop toggle design featured on the Versant, which holds the rain cover in place.

We liked many of the features on this pack; a few exceptions were its top lid which can convert into a shoulder sling pack. While a decent idea, we found it was a little over-engineered, and we rarely noticed ourselves using it. Maybe you might see yourself getting some use out of it. You could say the same about this model's ice axe loops/trekking pole holders. They are too far apart for most ice axes that are 60cm and shorter and are overly complicated for the rare times we wanted to carry our trekking poles on our packs. In real-world use, we naturally found it more convenient to run both poles underneath the side compression straps instead of attaching one individually, via a more time consuming and complex system.

Besides the larger primary lid pocket  the Versant features a second much thinner zippered pocket at the very top of the pack. While small  we loved having a second easy-to-access small zippered pocket and all of our testers constantly used it for a variety of things.
Besides the larger primary lid pocket, the Versant features a second much thinner zippered pocket at the very top of the pack. While small, we loved having a second easy-to-access small zippered pocket and all of our testers constantly used it for a variety of things.

Adjustability and Fit


The Versant 70 offers around four inches of vertical adjustment range in its back panel and roughly two inches of adjustment on each side (four inches total) in its waist belt girth.

Its narrow shoulder straps are a plus for narrower shouldered folks.

This model features roughly four inches of vertical adjustment range and roughly two inches of adjustment on each side of its waist belt girth  giving this model a reasonable amount of fine-tuning to better fit its wearer.
This model features roughly four inches of vertical adjustment range and roughly two inches of adjustment on each side of its waist belt girth, giving this model a reasonable amount of fine-tuning to better fit its wearer.

Value


With a retail price of $280, this pack brings some value to the table. Many other packs are better overall, but if you want a travel pack specialist, this one could be worth a look.

Conclusion


The Thule Versant 70 is a durable pack full of features that still manages to maintain a pretty reasonable weight. We love its large zippered access panel that makes finding deeply buried items a cinch. While its shoulder straps are a little thinner and lower profile than most, this pack's suspension makes up for it; as long as your load isn't too heavy. Our entire review team loves the feel of the extremely ergonomic shoulder straps. We found it was ideal for travel applications where we would use this pack more or less as a duffel bag — and a comfortable one to carry to boot!


Ian Nicholson