The following Thule Versant 60L backpack review was submitted by Melissa. See all female travel backpacks here.
Hi! My name is Melissa and up until recently I worked as a financial analyst for over a decade. My husband and I left our jobs and are packing up our two kids to go explore the world for a year! Since our son was born six years ago, we’ve gradually been honing our travel skills and working on packing lighter. However, our upcoming round-the-world family adventure requires more capacity than my old 32L High Sierra Transport travel backpack can offer.
I’m an avid researcher and was very disappointed at the selection of front-loading women’s travel backpacks available in local stores. I knew that I would need to compare backpacks in person to find the best fit on my petite frame, so I ordered all of the top contenders online and tested them out at home. I settled on the Thule Versant 60L backpack for women and it did great on its two week trial run to Europe this spring!
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
My backpack is the Thule Versant 60L women’s backpack. The bag also comes in 50L (which I initially ordered) and 70L varieties, ranging in price from $240 to $280. It’s not a cheap backpack in any sense of the word! I eventually found the 60L backpack for just over $200.
>> Check for prices of the women’s Thule Versant 60L backpack on Amazon.
How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack?
My two primary concerns were capacity and fit. A non-negotiable feature for me was a front-loading mechanism.
I was upgrading from my 32L backpack from my solo travel days to something larger that could meet the needs of our family for a long trip. I was looking for around 50L in the main compartment if possible, as my kids are too young to carry all of their own clothing.
Of course fit is critical, and as a petite women looking for a front-loading backpack the options are very limited. I found that some of the most popular travel backpacks were built for taller women – either the harness didn’t curve appropriately around my shoulders or the backpack was so tall that it hit my head when I walked.
>>Check out the ultimate female guide to picking a backpack.
What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?
I love that, despite its enormous capacity, my backpack can still come on flights as a carry-on! That strategy works if the backpack is packed relatively flat and compressed down with only ~40L of gear. However, if your gear grows as you travel you can first fill the main compartment via the panel (perfect for packing cubes) and then open up the drawstring top to shove in your bag of dirty laundry or anything else you’ve picked up along the way.
I wish it had just a little more organization – in addition to the cavernous main compartment, there’s a stretchy front pocket, a small pocket below that (primarily for the included rain cover, but you can also sneak a few other small items in there), and a small pocket or pouch on each hip.
Part of the reason for the lack of organization is to keep the design nicely streamlined, and also because there are three smaller compartments in the removable sling pack that doubles as the lid. That sling pack is not nearly as useful as an actual daypack would be, but it’s sufficient to hold our family’s Amazon Fire tablets and headphones for flights.
>>See our list of the best 40L travel backpacks for women.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
The Versant 60L is a very comfortable backpack with lots of padding and a ventilated back. Our family trekked through Paris in the heat with our backpacks, carseats, kids and stroller for almost an hour to drop off our luggage and I felt fine at the end despite frequent lower back problems.
It’s a wonderful choice for petite wearers like myself – I’m 5’3″ and average build. The backpack comes with an adjustable harness height and a the standard hip belt adjustment, so I had no problem finding a good fit. My torso height is around 16”, so in fixed-size backpacks I’d need either an XS or S backpack. It’s very hard to find that size in a front-loading backpack! Fortunately for tall women, the suspension system can also get much longer as well.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
Yes, and I have the evidence to prove it! The Versant 50L and Versant 60L are built with the same back panel, which is short enough to meet carry-on requirements. The additional 10L of capacity comes from an extra ~1” of depth in the fabric of the 60L. As long as it’s not absolutely stuffed to capacity, you can carry either the 50L or 60L on to most flights with the top sling pack as your personal item.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
The 60L capacity would be way too large if I was traveling solo or even as part of a couple, but for family travel with young children it’s ideal. The size is also great for solo travelers going on a long journey like the one we have coming up.
Bonus: since the extra capacity is in the depth rather than the height, I also used my 60L Versant as a daypack for our family’s 7 hour hiking day in Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. Lunches, water and extra layers for four people took up about 25L of the pack, and the external compression straps allowed me to cinch it down so that it didn’t look totally ridiculous.
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
Absolutely, especially if you can snag one on sale from eBags! It’s a perfect backpack for the petite long-term traveler who wants the flexibility to carry on a small load or check a larger load.
About the author: Follow along on with Melissa and her family on The Family Voyage as they spend a year traveling the world, visiting over a dozen countries on five continents. You can get even more updates on their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.