A versatile lightweight backpack is useful for everything from hiking to biking and travel to family days out. Check out this review of Thule Stir 28L to find out how I got on with this daypack.
Established in 1942, Thule are a Swedish brand. Their products help transport your gear through backpacks, luggage, roof racks and boxes, pushchairs, bike trailers, motorhome accessories and much more.
I recently reviewed the exceptionally good Thule RoundTrip Roller snowboard bag. What I liked best is it’s low weight, saving around half the weight of my previous snowboard bag. But it was still robust and big enough for all my gear.
The 28 litre Thule Stir comes in both a men’s and women’s version with slightly different cuts to suit our different body shapes. I was testing the men’s version and did so hiking in the Lake District and cycling my bike with a full load of shopping on my back.
I have also been on three press trips with it including traveling around Norway by plane, train, automobile, bus and ferry. Finally I have used it for various days out with my family.
When I received the Stir my first thought was wow that is light. At just 0.73kg it doesn’t weigh much more than flimsy, no thrills – and generally useless – rucksacks most of us have owned at some point.
However, the Thule includes plenty of technology and at a first inspection looked robust. Empty it felt nice when on my back, and fitted me well .
It also looks good, I went for ‘Dark Shadow’ which is a mid grey so doesn’t stand out like some outdoor gear. It also comes in Dark Forest which is an unobtrusive green. The RRP is £105.
The primary function of this versatile lightweight backpack is for day hiking. 28 litres is the perfect size as you can fit everything you need without any difficulty.
I took it hiking in the Lake District in Cumbria, UK and enjoyed three days of hiking comfort. The adjustable sternum strap and hip belt help keep it snug to the body. This was very useful when scrambling Striding Edge to Helvellyn and Sharp Edge to Blencathra.
The innovative back panel and shoulder straps which combine netting with a kind of rubbery foam keep it all breathable and add comfort. This helps avoid a sweaty back, which is always nice!
I used a three litre bladder in the bladder sleeve and convenient hook to keep it in place. The weight of the water is close to your back which is easier to carry and helps with balance. There is a drink tube exit point and useful loops on the shoulder strap for the tube. Although I found this can make an annoying creaking sound in certain positions.
I used the compression straps and side bottle pockets to very securely hold my trekking poles. They never felt as if they would slip or unbalance me which is great.
In the main compartment I packed a spare fleece and socks, waterproof jacket and trousers (just in case), small first aid kit, plus a big lunch and plenty of snacks. I also had a compass, powerpack, headtorch, sunglasses, penknife, wallet and phone in the seperate top pocket.
There was plenty of room for everything and the 7-8 kg felt comfortable on my back. The web style pockets on the hipbelt and shoulder strap were useful for small items, such as my phone, that I wanted regular access to.
Ultimately it is a great backpack for hiking. I usually prefer rucksacks with two main pockets. But as the zip opening goes at least halfway around the bag you can easily get stuff out that is at the bottom.
I used this versatile lightweight backpack as my main bag for taking gear up to the Lake district. Even with all my clothing and gear for four nights, packed to bursting point, it was still comfortable.
It handled the weight very well and I would be confident using it for overnight hikes. I am pretty sure I could fit a sleeping bag in there and everything for a two day trek if staying in huts.
I have taken the Thule on various press trips and it makes great cabin luggage when flying. Fully loaded it fits in the overhead lockers on flights, whilst if it is only half full it fits under the seat in front.
As it is grey it does not show the dirt it picks up. Furthermore, it does not stand out like a bright red or yellow backpack would.
During this review of Thule Stir 28L it has become my go to backpack. It is the perfect size for day trips with the family, cycling to and from the supermarket and even carrying 12 beers to my friends for the cup final – not all for me!!
The side water pockets are excellent and I can carry both the kids bottles in one and an adult one in the other. Bottle pockets are often too loose or not deep enough so bottles fall out. I have also had a pack where the netting is too tight for anything but a small bottle. But with the Thule Stir they are perfect.
I also found that the bladder sleeve is the perfect size for transporting my laptop. The key hook is great for keeping your keys safe. And the coated 210D Robic and 70D nylon fabric keeps water out in light rain – I have not tested it in a full downpour yet.
When around town you can easily remove the sternum strap and hipbelt. This makes the backpack look less outdoorsy. To help you be seen at night, the Thule Stir has useful reflective material and a light hook.
As I have hinted throughout this review of Thule Stir 28L I like this rucksack a lot. It is a good size, is lightweight but robust and has plenty of good features. It is very comfortable and stable even when scrambling up difficult slopes.
With removable hip and sternum belts and useful compression straps it is also very versatile. The unobtrusive grey colour adds to this as you don’t stand out when in town.
The only negatives were a creaking hydration tube when I hiked, but adjusting things quickly stopped this. Also I slightly prefer a split main pocket. However, I quickly got used to having one main section as the 180 degree zip gives easy access.
Overall it is the best backpack I have ever reviewed, and to be honest I can’t think of a better one I have owned. It is perfect for hiking, travel and day to day use and I thoroughly recommend it.