Day hiking, lightweight backpacking
When Thule comes to mind, I imagine driving to a mountain destination with a rooftop cargo carrier or a bike rack filled with toys for my next adventure. What I hadn’t realized was they’ve designed an extensive lineup of backpacks for all your outdoor needs. Behold the Thule Stir 35L backpack for women.
Aesthetically, I immediately liked its simplistic shape and slim profile. From a functional viewpoint, the Stir has many well-designed features that make it a great dayhiking pack and (if you’re into the lightweight stuff) a very minimalist overnight pack, too.
As a woman with broad shoulders, a very long torso and petite waist-line, I often find it challenging to find a pack that fits correctly. The Stir 35L has an easily adjustable torso, allowing me to customize the fit and find that perfect middle ground, size wise. The waistband is also removable for those day hikers who prefer to go without or for around town use. I personally like the extra support a waistband has to offer and found even though the waistband was removable it did not interfere with the overall effectiveness of its support.
While this is a 35L pack, the pack itself is long with a narrow profile. I was able to carry my 10 essentials and needed gear for my day hikes. Don’t let the sleek profile fool you, there are plenty of pockets: side, back, waist, front cell phone pocket, and a small interior mesh pocket. There is also an interior bladder pocket that’s long and easily held my 3L hydration bladder.
Speaking of hydration, a feature I often encounter with my packs is that the opening for the the hydration hose and mouthpiece is often too small for the pieces to fit through easily. Not so with the Stir — the opening here is centered and extra-wide, meaning just about any mouthpiece should be able to fit through without any wiggling or struggling. Nobody likes having to root around the trail looking for a mouthpiece that popped off, right?
I found the two side pockets well designed to hold my large insulated bottle. (I love keeping my electrolyte drinks cold, or a hot tea warm) There is also a long exterior pocket center back that was a great place for me to keep my long maps & compass for easy access on all of my off trail hikes. (Where navigation is imperative) There are also two attachment loops for hiking poles or ice axe.
The top opening is very unique, creating what Thule calls the StormGuard system that will keep light rain out. The lid includes a built-in rain cover, stored in a small pocket at the bottom of the pack, which will save you the embarrassing discomfort of realizing you forgot to pack your rain cover once the precipitation starts. For extra insulation, there’s a side pouch that’s a perfect place to store a rain jacket or warm puffy if you need it in a pinch.
I’ve spent the last few months using this as my only pack, almost daily. It’s joined me on 5 milers as well as 20+ mile backpacking trips. It fits all of my gear, and with the side zip and easy top opening it makes access to any item quick and easy. On the overnight trek it did well with a minimalist setup – I traded the tent for a hammock, the stove for precooked food, and the bear canister for a hanging bear bag. It’s maybe not the best choice for most people on an overnighter, but if you tread (and pack) lightly, it can be done.
I was very happy with the versatility of the Thule Stir 35L and would recommend it. If you are looking for a pack with a sleek design with adjustable fit options, offered in a smaller pack size give this one a go!
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