Thule Paramount 24L Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Thule Paramount offers excellent features and performance that make it one of the best for bike commuting. Your laptop will remain protected, even if you wipe out on the street.
Featuring a well-cushioned suspension harness with a flip-top velcro top to keep a laptop up to 15-inches in place, this is very protective laptop backpack. The suspension system is not only cushioned along the back and front but also the sides.
If accidentally dropped (on any side of the pack), the laptop remains protected. The flip-top velcro enclosure is padded and provides additional protection not found in other packs that keep it protected from the top, as well as preventing it from shifting around. Overall, this is one of the most protective backpacks we have ever reviewed. Plus, there is a fleece-lined slot for a tablet.
Loaded with smooth and comfortable cushioning on the back and straps, the Paramount offers an average level of comfort. The foam is breathable and thin while the straps do a great job at distributing the weight of a pack across the chest when utilizing the built-in sternum strap.
While we like the overall comfort of this pack, the fit is a little finicky. Testers of all sizes (up to 6'5) felt the pack was too long in the torso and the adjustments on the straps didn't provide a perfectly dialed fit. What's more is that when we completely loaded it down with four massive textbooks, the pack didn't retain its shape.
It bent and conformed to the contents inside, digging into our side and back uncomfortably. That said, while biking we like the fit, especially with a laptop loaded at the back.
This 24-L pack features a large open compartment that provides versatility in what you want to pack. Fit a few books and your clothing for the gym. Or load it up with a jacket and your favorite SLR camera. Pick up groceries on your way home. This compartment is the bulk of the storage area, providing lots of options. Inside of this compartment it the laptop harness that can fit any size of Mac product and PCs up to 15-inches.
There is an additional fleece-lined slot, ideal for accommodating a tablet and protecting an exposed screen from scratches. The large front zippered compartment features numerous zippered pockets, ideal for storing a backup hard drive, charging cord, and more.
Also, there is a pocket along the side that fits a large water bottle or on-the-go coffee tumbler. We also love the attachment points for a rear bike light on the outside of the bag (see photo below, right). Overall, storage is versatile in this pack and deserves its high marks in this metric.
Ease of Use
This pack excels underway to the office or just out on the town. It hosts a roll-down zippered top that buckles into place. The tabs are large and easy to pull on, even with a pair of gloves.
There are two side access zippers. One accesses the laptop compartment directly, allowing you to get at your computer with the pack full of other swag. The other zipper accesses the large compartment of the backpack. The top access provides access to both the laptop and the main compartment.
We like the versatility and function of this pack. Our biggest issue is with the sternum strap. While others offer a strap that slides up and down on a track, this one has to latch and unlatch to change its position. While this helps to ensure it won't move up and down, we don't think this feature is worth the hassle of trying to get it unlatched. That said, once you set it to your desired placement, there will be little need to adjust it again. We also liked the briefcase-like handle that provides another carry option and makes accessing the laptop even easier.
We took this pack biking in the rain, snow, and sleet. We also exposed it to our rigorous shower tests, where it truly proved its ability to perform in the water. It features a 420-denier nylon material that is water resistant, wicking away a light rain storm.
The reinforced rubber bottom provides additional water resistance, keeping the contents dry inside the pack while bike commuting in the rain. While it offers decent water resistance, it is not waterproof. In our tests, where we dunked the pack in water for several minutes, we eventually saw water seeping through the seams between the rubber and nylon fabric. That said, when checking the laptop compartment, there was no water inside the cushioned harness. While it didn't get wet in the rain, this gave us an idea for the pack's limits. If you seek an even more water-resistant option, the Patagonia Black Hole 25L offers even higher water resistance.
The roll-down top and sleek lines of this laptop backpack certainly have biking community appeal. While many of our testers appreciated the style of this backpack, and its cute colors and lines, some didn't like the roll-top look.
We got many compliments on the street! It's not the sleekest design, but its appearance also didn't make us feel out of place.
This is not the most expensive laptop backpack, but it's not the cheapest either. The pack has durable materials that should last for months on months of heavy use, if not years. We didn't notice any issues during our testing period. If this laptop backpack seems to be a good choice for you, we'd say it offers decent value, but not as good as other options in this review.
The Thule Paramount is a versatile and protective laptop backpack with a plethora of applications. Use it for commuting to work while on foot or bike, take it on the bus, or load it up for a day hike if you please.
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