With the outdoors more popular than ever, people are trying more and more activities. Along with more gnarly stories also comes more gear – particularly backpacks – for all these pursuits.
With the line of AllTrail packs, Thule is looking to provide a pack that will fit the bill for a variety of activities. From hiking to skiing to traveling, the AllTrail pack is another attempt at the ultimate Carryology grail – one bag for all your activities.
Sounds great on paper but how does Thule’s AllTrail pack hold up across a range of activities and mountains? I ran with the 45L pack for a few months to find out.
Who It Suits
For weekend warriors and people looking for a fantastic entry-level outdoor backpack the AllTrail is calling your name. And if your current outdoor backpack has a laptop sleeve the AllTrail is shouting your name.
Who It Doesn’t
If you’re a grizzled outdoor veteran who has thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail 3 times, this bag probably isn’t for you. Its versatility means that there are much more capable packs focused on specific activities.
There’s a lot to like about the AllTrail. Thule has really delivered in the usability department and this pack will appeal to a wide audience.
For weekend warriors and people looking for a fantastic entry-level outdoor backpack the AllTrail is calling your name.
First, I appreciate just how adjustable this bag is. The straps on the hip belt can be loosened or tightened with one hand, even while wearing gloves. The torso length is adjusted via a pull tab and has 10cm/4in of travel length on both the male and female models. Add to this some substantial breathable padding on the shoulder straps, back panel and hip belt and this bag will be comfortable for nearly every body type.
I found the bag to have very logically laid out pockets. Starting at the top of the bag there’s a zippered pocket on both the inside and outside of the top flap. Pulling this back (it’s not removable) reveals the interior of the bag which is accessed with a pull cord. The majority of the 45L is in this compartment.
The depths of the bag would be quite inaccessible were it not for a side zipper that travels the entire length of the pack. With this configuration I was able to swing the bag over one shoulder to get at camera equipment stored in the bottom of my bag. Inside the main compartment there’s also some interior tie points to help organize the contents as well as a hydration sleeve.
On the exterior of the AllTrail there’s a raincover stowed in a dedicated zipper at the bottom of the bag. Expandable bottle pockets are on either side and a front ‘shove it’ pocket decks out the front of the bag.
One of my favorite points on Thule bags are the swappable hip belt attachments. The model I tested features a strap to hold hiking poles without having to take the pack off. Super convenient when I had to scramble over trees on the trail or stop to adjust snowshoe bindings. There’s a handful of other hip belt accessories but they’ve got to be purchased separately.
The Not So Good
After a few months with the Thule AllTrail I’m finding it hard to find faults with it. That said, no pack is perfect.
I’m surprised that the bag doesn’t have a removable brain. A few times I found myself wishing for a small pack to go on short hikes from camp without having to take the entire bag with me.
While adjusting this bag is effortless even while wearing gloves, getting into the bag is a different story. The zipper pulls are not thick enough to hold onto with gloves or cold hands. Likewise the pulltop to get into the main compartment of the bag is a raging pain when in cold weather.
One of my favorite points on Thule bags are the swappable hip belt attachments.
Finally, while a raincover is included, I would have liked the heavy denier material found at the bottom of the bag to have continued upwards on the bag for a few more inches. Setting this bag down in wet snow resulted in some damp contents, though not the contents at the very bottom of the bag.
For someone looking to get into the outdoors more, or someone looking to consolidate a growing bag closet down to a bag that can handle most activities, the Thule AllTrail is a solid backpack. It’s versatile enough for most outdoor pursuits and can easily handle an overnight trip.
If you’re a grizzled outdoor veteran this bag isn’t for you because the AllTrail’s versatility isn’t designed for one specific activity (i.e. ultralight hiking or climbing). But for the growing number of people getting deeper into the woods and mountains, at $180 for the 45L size, there’s a whole lot to like about the Thule AllTrail.