The Thule Versant 60 fills a niche among backpacks as the perfect pack that can transition between backcountry and travel use with ease. This pack is excellent for those looking for a multipurpose option that is durable, waterproof, and versatile. These features, along with the pack's comfortable frame and multiple zipper access points, make it our Top Pick for Travel. At first glance, the suspension system on the Versant is significantly lower profile than most other packs of its size in this review. Much to our surprise, though, the Versant was one of the more comfortable packs we tested. Its straps are narrow, yet padded, and contour to a woman's shape comfortably. Though it provides comfort when it's on, the Versant is sleek and can be compressed to fit well in small spaces. We also loved the J-shaped zipper on the outside of the Versant, which makes it easy to access the inside of the main compartment. The Versant has a stretchy outer pocket that is great for storing cumbersome items, or gear that you want to access quickly. Overall, the Versant won us over with its comfort and thoughtful design.
Thule Versant 60 Review
Cons: Frame may not provide enough support for some
Our Analysis and Test Results
This pack wins our award for Best Travel Pack due to its combination of comfort and adjustability without added bulk and weight. The Versant won't make you stick out like a sore thumb as luggage for international travel and will also feel at home on a weekend backpacking trip in the wilderness. Features like the U-shaped zip panel give the Versant a duffel-like feel. The waist-belt is adjustable and supportive, without the added bulk of some of the other hip belts out there. All in all, this is a great pack, and it scored well in many of our metric ratings.
Comfort and Suspension
For a pack with not very much built-in padding or extra frills, the Versant is very comfortable. The shoulder straps are small, both regarding width and thickness.
This aspect of the Versant makes it stand out and could be considered a risky move on Thule's part. But, this doesn't make it any less comfortable. The Thule pack's straps are mesh, allowing for breathability. Additionally, the straps are adjustable, making the pack fit a range of torso lengths. The adjustability of the hip belt is a bit less intuitive, but also adaptable so the pack will sit just right on a variety of waist sizes.
The Versant is fairly minimalist regarding suspension, giving the pack a lower score in this metric. The Versant has a basic, yet well-padded hip belt.
We were a bit concerned with how the Versant would perform carrying heavy loads with this simple design, but we found to have no real issues with it. The Versant distributed weight well and felt very comfortable, even when loaded up with gear and food. The back of the pack is also well padded and provides lumbar support.
The simplicity of the Versant allows it to be lighter than some other heavy packs that we reviewed, weighing in at 4.38 pounds on our scale. However, with new technology, many of the packs we tested weighed under 3 pounds.
The lighter-weight design is crucial in awarding the Versant with our Top Pick for Travel. Since weight is essential when flying these days, it's nice to know that you have a little extra wiggle room with luggage that doesn't weigh a ton. Also, the waist belt and shoulder straps have a low profile and can easily tuck away close to the pack for storage on planes or buses.
Total Volume = 65 L
Main Bag = 40 L
Pockets = 15 L
Lid = 10 L
Where this pack excels is in this metric. The Versant is intuitive, easy to use, and has just the right number of bells and whistles to keep you organized without complicating your life.
The two access points to the main compartment of the Versant, as well as the brain, are well designed and some of our favorite features on this model.
Overall, the Versant is a very intuitively designed pack; we especially liked the U-Zipper, as well as the top closure for multiple access points to the inside. The top-loading option is excellent for backpacking, while the U-Zip feature makes this pack work well as an easy-to-carry duffel bag as well. The lid of the Versant is extensive, with two oversized zippers that allow for easy access to the inside. Sometimes packs have lid zippers that are too small, making it hard to store larger items in this compartment, which was not the case for the Versant. The lid also detaches and can be carried around independently, which is a nice feature for traveling. Concerning design, the only major flaw we found was the size of the side pockets, which were just a tad too small, making it easy for water bottles to slip out when taking off or putting on the pack.
The one complaint we had was in the waist belt adjustment, which was a little challenging to figure out. The adjustments are bulky and complicated, with many overlapping layers of fabric and Velcro. Once the pack has been adjusted to fit your body, you hopefully won't have to revisit this feature, which makes it less of a hassle.
We did appreciate the Versant's removable lid, which certainly has its benefits when traveling. The Versant also offers several compression straps to adjust for different loads as well as to keep gear neat and tight when it's attached to the exterior of the pack.
The Thule Versant is about average regarding price. Most packs in this review fall between $240 and $300. This model provides exceptional value, especially when you consider the pack's versatility and durability. If you're looking for a pack to suit your needs for travel, and one that will last a long time, the Versant is a great option. As a pack that can be suited for traveling, backpacking, and even day use, the Versant has outstanding value.
As a company known bike racks and roof-top cargo boxes, we were very curious to see how Thule's packs stood up to long-time backpack companies like Osprey and Gregory. After a few trips out with the Thule Versant, we were impressed. The pack is comfortable and carries well with the thoughtful design and durability that one might expect from this well-known cargo company. For backpacking and traveling alike, the Versant is a great companion.
— Jane Jackson