Retail Price: $199.99
Weight: 3.3 lbs
Colors: Blue, orange, and black
For more info, visit Thule’s website
– Extremely comfortable fit
– Good breathability from the mesh back panel
– Side zippers allow easy access to items deep within the pack’s main chamber
– Attractive design and narrow profile
– The pack is not wide enough to hold a bear canister, excluding it from use in certain areas
– This specific size is a bit large for casual dayhiking (although the 32L and 40L sizes solve that problem if you’re just looking to dayhike).
– Sleeve for hydration bladders is too small
Thule’s Capstone 50-liter men’s backpack, along with 22L, 32L, and 40L sizes within the same line, is a combination day-hiking and minimalist overnight backpack. This lightweight (but not ultra-light) pack fills the gap between smaller day-hiking packs unsuitable for overnight trips and more cumbersome internal frame packs suitable for multi-day backpacking trips.
Specific features on the pack include: an extremely comfortable, adjustable suspension system; a very breathable mesh back panel; and, most conveniently, a rain cover that stows at the bottom of the backpack. Additionally, the pack opens from both the top and the sides, allowing hikers two different ways to access contents within the pack. A reservoir sleeve inside the main chamber of the pack holds a 2-liter water bladder (and possibly a 2.5-3-liter bladder less comfortably).
Of course, I must caveat that not all wilderness areas have the same extensive rules about food storage as Sequoia and Kings Canyon. But given that this is my go-to destination for backpacking 2-3 times per year, the fact that I could not use this particular backpack there constituted a near-fatal flaw. To be fair, I must emphasize that my attempted use of the pack for a 4-day backpacking trip through areas that require bulky bear cans was an attempted misuse of the product. The pack is not designed for that sort of use. The fact that I have yet to find a single, all-encompassing pack that can accommodate my dayhiking, overnight, and multi-day backpacking trips is hardly the Capstone’s fault.
One other mild design issue that I found a bit frustrating was that the storage sleeve for the hydration bladder was too short to effectively hold the bladder. The top half of the bladder extended beyond the edge of the sleeve, causing it to move around whenever the pack wasn’t fully loaded. I’ve had enough water spillages in the past to develop a healthy paranoia about leaks, and the lack of stability for the bladder left me feeling a bit anxious at times.
For many day-hikers, 50-liters is probably too much storage capacity . Even fully-loaded for the most ambitious day hike, the 50L has plenty of room to space. This is, of course, not a flaw of the backpack but rather a reflection of how much space 50L actually contains. However, for much of the day-hiking I often do, which includes cross-country desert and mountain hiking in remote areas over distances greater than 15 miles, the added space is a blessing. I can comfortably include a full first-aid kit, emergency shelter, up to 6 liters of water, multiple layers of clothing, rain gear, food and any electronics I might need to bring along. Sadly, I could not test the pack’s capacity as an overnight pack, although it accommodated everything except for my bear can without me having to resort to strapping a lot of my gear on the outside of the pack.
On that basis, I recommend this pack for anybody who is seeking a pack for similar uses: moderate and long day-hikes and one- to two-night backpacking trips. The pack is unsuitable for multiple-day hikes (at least in the Sierra), and this pack in the 50L size is too large for casual day hikes – the 32L size would preferable, and if it wears half as well as the 50L, it will be an extremely comfortable pack option.