DOWN N' DIRTY: THULE VERSANT 50L WOMEN'S BACKPACKING PACK
If you travel often, you’re probably pretty particular about the luggage you use when making you’re way to and from your destinations. It’s not that you’re picky—you’re just practical—and you’ll be damned if you’re going to let yourself get flustered when you finally make it to the front of that ridiculous airport security line.
Over the years, I’ve gradually moved away from suitcases and have effectively made the transition to backpacks. One backpack to be exact. (If you think I’m going to shell out $40 to check a bag, you’re crazy!) Over the years, I’ve managed to perfect my backpack game, regardless of the length or goal of the trip, but I’ve failed time and time again to meet my biggest travel goal: Get everything I need into one, single, solitary bag (no purses, or messenger bags) that I can stash in an overhead bin or take out into the backcountry. Hauling around a laptop and DSLR camera out of necessity hasn’t made reaching my lofty goal easy. The criteria for my perfect travel bag was simple: Must meet carry-on size requirements, holds (and protects) my laptop and DSLR camera, is well organized, rain-proof, durable, can be used for travel in the city or outdoors (bonus points if it’s a badass bag that works for trips that have a combination of both), is lightweight, and makes me look cool whether I’m trekking through the airport or the mountains. Sounds simple enough, right? After a string of disappointing packs and months of research, I finally found it. The one. The pack that met all of the requirements on my perfect bag checklist. If the Thule Versant 50L Women’s Backpacking Pack were a man, it would be marriage material. If it were a bowl of porridge on Goldilocks’ table, it would jusssst right. Hailing from Thule’s line of technical packs, this bag is basically my wishlist come to life. It’s well-organized, thanks to its design that makes accessing your things easy with nearly the entire front of the pack unzipping to revel a duffle bag-like design. And it’s perfect if your travels are a combination of city and outdoor exploration. The top portion of this bag detaches, creating a mini pack that can be used for hiking, cycling, or just making your way through city streets—all without emptying out your entire bag to use for your adventures once you reach your destination. And it’s rain-proof. Getting caught outside in a Texas-sized spring rainstorm in Austin would have been much worse if the Versant wasn’t equipped with an attached rain cover that emerges from a pocket at the bottom of the pack.
Thule Versant 50L Women’s Backpacking Pack
Pros: This pack is incredibly versatile, especially for travelers whose journeys involve a combination of urban jungles and outdoor adventures. And organization? You wish your life was as organized as this bag. Whether you’re trying to manage your trip through airport security, or you’re posted up in a tent in the backcountry, this pack makes accessing everything in your bag a breeze.
Cons: If you really utilize all of the space in the top portion of the pack, it can make the entire pack a little awkward to handle. And while the two pockets designed to store your water bottles are awesome, the pockets are a little short, which means whether you’re putting your pack on, taking it off, or trying to shove it in overhead bin, chances are, those water bottles are going to fall out.
Where I took it: On a two week-long trip that included: hiking trails in Scottsdale, Arizona, traversing public transportation, sidewalks, and nice restaurants in New York City, and biking around Chicago followed by a short rest in Colorado, then hiking, cycling, and winery touring in the Texas Hill Country.