Woman hiking with backpack

Review: Women’s Thule Guidepost 65L Backpack

A full featured and insanely innovative backpack with customisable comfort for multi-day hikes.

If you’re looking for trekking backpack with a female specific fit that you can further customise to your shape, then you need the Women’s Thule Guidepost 65L in your life. Loads of padding, a pivoting hip belt for even weight distribution and fully adjustable torso and shoulder straps ought to do it! And if that’s not enough to make you want to load it up right now and get trekking, then the super durable, well designed and plentiful features (including a summit pack!), might just do it.

Thule Guidepost 65L backpack: The stats

Capacity:65 litres
Weight:2.33kg (5.1lb)
Material:210D nylon and 420D Robic ripstop nylon
Fit:Female, customisable
Hydration compatible:Yes
Waterproof cover:Yes
Summit pack:Yes – 28 litre capacity

Design features of the Thule Guidepost 65L backpack

Hip belt

Back panel and hip belt of backpackThis is highly padded all the way round the belt so that it sits really comfortably on the hips, even when tightened right up. Available in different sizes, the hip belt pivots on an axis in the lower back area of the backpack heightening the comfort levels of the whole bag even further. This enables you to walk much more naturally and not fight against the abnormal weight distribution of your upper body. The weight gets evenly distributed across the hips regardless of your body position. So you can swing those hips like you mean it!

Adjustable back panel

Back panel adjustmentFor a totally customisable fit, the shoulder straps can be adjusted by 15cm (6in) on the back of the pack, depending on the length of your torso. The load lifters, which can be tightened or loosened to your fit, also have two options on the pack to anchor the shoulder straps to. This is down to a very clever little buckle that can be released via an opening side bar, rather than a quick release buckle.

Adjustable shoulder straps

shoulder strap adjustmentThe padded shoulder straps are shaped really nicely so that there is no rubbing against bare arms when you walk. This comfortable position is further kept in place with the adjustable sternum strap which helps keep the whole bag stay securely fitted to you. Each shoulder strap can be adjusted laterally on the pack to suit your shoulder width (S, M and L).

Top access

Inside Thule Guidepost backpackThe opening to the main compartment through the top is huge and is the widest part of the bag. This is so nice when accessing your stuff and getting everything organised – you can see right in there and the lighter internal fabric really helps with this too. But what really makes the top access so user-friendly is the design of the drawcord. Simply pull the big loop outwards with one hand, hold onto the other side of the opening with other, and the whole thing comes open in one smooth and easy motion. So simple, but so effective!

Top lid

Top lid of backpackThere are two large zippered pockets on the lid – one on the top that houses the summit pack, and the other on the underside that has key clip inside and a power port. There are also four gear loops on the top to attach at solar power source, or use with your own bungees or cords to secure extra gear. The whole lid can be easily removed by unclipping the buckles. I like keeping the stuff I need to take into my tent with me overnight in the top lid. I can then just remove it from the main pack and leave the rest of the bag in the porch.

Summit pack

Summit packThe removed top lid also converts into a very sizeable (28 litres) summit pack! Complete with adjustable sternum strap, front pocket, internal pocket, drawstring top access and a hydration port with internal reservoir clip. It’s mega lightweight with mesh shoulder straps, and although it won’t win any prizes for comfort, it is a really excellent and super useful addition to the Guidepost, and one of my favourite features of the Guidepost.

J zip side access

J zip access panelIf you like keeping your stuff organised then you will love the J zip! It runs from the very top of one side of the bag, all the way down the side and across the bottom of the pack above the sleeping bag compartment. It enables you to totally open up the bag to see its contents and access stuff near the bottom without delving down from the top access. Plus, the two way zipper means you can open up the side or the bottom independently of each other. There’s a wide storm flap that covers the whole zip which can also be velcroed down where the zip bends.

Sleeping bag compartment

Sleeping bag compartmentThe J zip continues right down to the base of the pack giving access to the sleeping bag compartment that has a removeable gear divider to keep it separate from the rest of your gear. The base of the backpack is reinforced with super tough waterproof 420D Robic ripstop nylon to further protect your all important sleeping bag. I really like that I don’t have to worry about putting the bag down on wet or damp ground when I rest.

Large front pocket

Front pocketThis pocket is huge and allows you to easily stuff extra layers and waterproofs in without having to delve into the main compartment. This is a non-closing pocket at the top but it has a buckle that attaches to a strap that goes over the whole of the top access. The pocket can be fully opened up using the side zipper – great to get at the things stuffed at the bottom of the pocket, especially when you have a full pack.

Zippered front pocket

Front zip pocketOn the very front of the pack is a large zippered panel pocket that is ideal for stashing maps and things you want to access easily. There is smaller pocket indide which holds the folded up rain cover, with a handy little label next to the pocket in case you forget where you put it in your panick to keep everything dry in a downpour!

Hydration compatible

Hydration portInside the main compartment there is a huge hydration reservoir pocket which fits my full 3 litre water bladder with loads of room to spare. The hose port directs the hose both left and right out of the back of the bag, and there is an internal clip to keep the reservoir in place. Although there’s no specific hydration hose management system on the shoulder straps, there are elasticated gear loops on both straps where the hose can feed through and be held in place.

Hip belt pockets

Removable hip pocketThere is a zippered mesh pocket on one side of the hip belt, and a roll top waterproof pouch on the other. This is perfect for putting your phone or camera in for super easy access and you don’t have to worry about it at all. The whole pouch is removable so you can throw it in your summit pack with your valuables in. Or you can replace it with one of Thule’s other VersaClick accessories: DSLR camera case, water bottle sleeve or drawstring pouch (all sold separately).

Water bottle pockets

Bottle pocketsOn each side of the bag is a deep water bottle pocket. They are angled really nicely for easy access without taking the pack off, and without dislocating your shoulders to reach them! One of the pockets has an extra seam that can be unzipped to provide a bit more depth to the pocket. The pockets are lightly elasticated.

Rain cover

Waterproof coverThere are many hiking backpacks that don’t come with a rain cover, so it’s a big bonus that this is included. It lives in a small pocket within the front zippered pocket, and when on, it has two very useful toggles that fit into the loops on either side of the backpack. The cover is elasticated around the edge which keeps it onto the pack nicely. But the addition of the toggles ensures that it will stay on in windy conditions, and also allows you to access the top of the bag without taking the whole thing off – just fold down the top half of the rain cover.

Compression straps and gear loops

Pole strapsThere are two compression straps on each side of the bag. The top ones have an integrated velcro loop to secure hiking poles, and there are also two large gear loops below the lower side compression straps. For carrying extra gear or just cinching down the base of the backpack, there are two quick release compression straps over the sleeping bag compartment. And further small gear loops right at the base of these compression straps, as well as on the front pocket.

 


Thule Guidepost 65L backpack review

This is one seriously well designed and full-featured backpack. Not for the minimalist hiker, that’s for sure! And there are certainly lighter backpacks around in a similar class. That said, the Guidepost isn’t overweight and what you get for those extra few grams by far outweighs the downsides of opting for something more basic in both design and comfort.

For the extra outlay, you also get a product that is made with mega robust materials, and each component of the backpack lives up to the usual Thule high standards. Nothing is clunky or awkward, the zips are solid and smooth and all the clips and buckles ain’t gonna snap anytime soon, that’s for sure! And although feature heavy, the overall design of the Guidepost is actually really streamlined and, dare I say elegant? (For a hiking backpack at least!).

What I love the most about the Thule Guidepost 65L backpack

I can’t keep this to one thing as there are so many things I love about the Guidepost. So I’ll mention two:

01The summit pack

This is such an awesome added extra and another feature of the bag that makes the slightly hefty price tag worth swallowing. Having two bags in one suddenly makes this a very appealing option for travelling as well as trekking. And especially good for the times when you need to travel to go trekking; you’ve got a highly packable piece of carry-on that is also mega useful in the backcountry.

02The overall comfort

Hiking with a fully loaded backpack usually gets my shoulders and neck aching within a few hours, and leaves them feeling very sore after a few days. But hiking with the Guidepost full of gear leaves my shoulders feeling pretty great! All the weight is transferred through to my hips and distributed nice and evenly across them with the help of the oh-so-comfortable pivoting hip belt – I love it! I feel so much more confident on tricky terrain as the whole pack isn’t being thrown to one side each time I take a big step up or down. And instead of my shoulders feeling the strain, I end up feeling my glutes much more after a few days of trekking – as it should be!

Scrambling with backpack

What I don’t love so much about the Thule Guidepost 65L backpack

The water bottle holders are really well angled for easy access, but the elastic could be tighter to prevent bottles from falling out when you put the bag down on a jaunty angle. Also, the zip that opens up the capacity of one ot the pockets doesn’t really make much difference and is a little unnecessary in my opinion.

Another really small thing that is just an annoyance really, is the length of the hip belt straps. They are far too long and come down to about 2 inches above my knees! When it’s windy they can start to become a little irritating as they flap around quite a lot. Yes, a small thing but over many hours of trekking these things can really get to you!


Verdict

The Women’s Thule Guidepost 65L backpack is packed full of superbly well designed features. It oozes quality and durability with some highly desirable added extras that make it worth spending the extra on. Features aside, if it’s customisable comfort for multi-day adventures in the backcountry, then the Guidepost is one heck of a bag that will keep you plodding on, one evenly weighted step at a time!

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