This pack wins our award for Best Travel Pack due for 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 received high scores in all of our metric ratings.
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 straps on The North Face Terra 55 compare in thickness to the Versant's, but the Thule pack's straps are mesh, allowing for more 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 simplicity of the Versant allows it to be significantly lighter than most other packs that we reviewed, weighing in at 4.38 pounds on our scale.
Only the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 60 and The North Face Banchee weigh in under four pounds. This lightweight 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 weight 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.
OGL Measured Volume Bottom Line:
Total Volume = 65 L
Main Bag = 40 L
Pockets = 15 L
Lid = 10 L
The Versant hanging tough off trail in the Sierra.
The Versant is fairly minimalist regarding suspension, giving the pack a lower score in this metric. Unlike the pivoting hip belt on the Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 or the Gregory Deva 60, 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. In fact, 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 that compares to that found on both of the Osprey packs, which are on the overly padded side of the spectrum.
The simple, comfortable suspension system of the Thule Versant is great because it is compact yet well-padded.
Ease of Use
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 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. That small complaint aside, 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.
A view inside the Thule Versant from the U-shaped duffel pocket. This pack has the easiest access of any pack we tested, making it great for traveling.
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.
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 Rei Traverse has a similar style zipper. Similarly, the lid of the Versant is large, 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 was just a tad too small, making it easy for water bottles to slip out when taking off or putting on the pack.
The Versant breaks down into three separate containers: the main pack body, the lid, and a removable, roll-top side pocket. This helps you customize its weight.
This pack is a jack-of-all-trades. It's comfortable and stylish in all situations, from the trail to the train station. This versatility is why the Versant received our Top Pick for Travel award. The simple design and low profile make the pack an outstanding option for travel. The Versant's durable and waterproof fabric and comfortable hip belt make it a fabulous option for backpacking as well. Though the straps are thinner than most, the pack still provides plenty of support for carrying heavy loads, without the added bulk.
This small pocket is great for keeping your phone dry on a wet trip in the backcountry, or for storing important items when traveling, like a wallet or passport.
For $260, the Thule Versant is 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 multiple situations, and one that will last a long time, the Versant is a great option. As a pack that can be used for traveling, backpacking, and even day use, the Versant is a pack with outstanding value.
Negotiating talus in the Thule Versant was no real issue, especially once the pack was adjusted to fit just right.
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 was a great companion.