Blog

Review: Thule Accent Daypack 28L

Category: Beer Humor
0 0

I have a strong, and perhaps unfair, aversion to backpacks that unzip completely down the side. They open fully, like clamshells, which is a great feature if you're a neatnik who likes to eyeball all the contents of your bag at a glance. But that’s not how I pack and use my everyday backpack. I don’t have the time and space to unzip my backpack completely, unless I crouch over it under my desk. And if the zippers aren’t positioned at the right spots, opening a full unzip can make all the clothes you’ve stuffed at the bottom spill out everywhere.

No, give me a good, old-fashioned half-zip that can sit upright. Better yet, give me a U-shaped opening, like on the Thule Accent daypack. I’ve been using the 28-liter size of this pack as my everyday backpack for weeks, carrying it while commuting, making grocery store runs, and going to the park with my family. You can undo the U-opening entirely to check out all of the bag’s contents, or you can unzip it partway to just shove things in the top, like a tote bag.

It’s durable, versatile, and minimalist. It’s also reasonably affordable, priced at $130 for the 28-liter size and under $100 for the 20-liter. Of all the bags I’ve tested, this is the first one that I might consider buying for myself.

On the Go

Thule

Founded in Sweden in 1942, Thule makes transportation gear. The company is best known for its roof racks, which carry cargo boxes, surfboards, and other sports equipment. They also make a line of bags, strollers, bike trailers, and even a hybrid stroller-trailer.

The Accent backpack is made from black, slightly glossy 1680-dernier polyester. The interior is a bright blue, the better for seeing all your little doodads tucked into various pockets. It measures 20.1 inches tall, which is just a little too tall for my 5'2" frame. A smaller size would fit better on someone who is as short as I am.

The laptop pocket can safely carry a typical 15.6-inch notebook computer. The bottom of the laptop pocket is padded and suspended over the bottom of the backpack, so that you can set it down abruptly on the floor without dinging up your MacBook. The main compartment also has a dedicated 10-inch tablet pocket which fit both my iPad mini and Kindle Paperwhite, and it has a side handle and side zip for grabbing your laptop quickly.

Mesh pockets in the main compartment fit my headphones and chargers, and a dedicated mesh pocket on the top of the main compartment was perfect for pens, hand sanitizer, and lip balms. If I were traveling, I would switch the contents of that compartment with my wallet and phone, which I kept in the easy-access top zip pocket.

The bag also has a hardshell SafeZone pocket for quickly stowing sunglasses or other fragile items, a mesh water bottle side pocket, and another side pocket for accessories. It zips shut, so you can stick in a battery pack or charger, but I found it worked equally well for an extra water bottle or coffee thermos.

The shoulder straps include a sternum strap set on adjustable sliding rails. The shoulder straps, back panel, and grab handle are padded with EVA and wrapped in mesh. The Accent also has webbing with buckles on the bottom for rolling up and carrying jackets or blankets, and a stretchy panel on the back so that you can slide it onto the handle of your rolling suitcase.

Can't Stand the Rain

I used the backpack to tote my work stuff around town, including my laptop, chargers, planners, and jacket. I filled it up with groceries—loaves of bread, six-packs of beer, heads of broccoli—and shoved water bottles and diaper changing stations in it to take my kids to the park. I wore it walking with my dogs and kids, driving in the car, and skateboarding and biking around my neighborhood to my local cafe.

But it's not a hiking daypack. It weighs 2.5 pounds empty, which means it’s not particularly light; my Topo Designs daypack weighs less by more than a pound. But the added weight makes sense, given the enormous amount of padding on the bag.

I also find Thule's use of mesh on straps and back panels to be overly optimistic, if not outright misleading. Putting a colander on your head doesn’t make your scalp see-through, and putting mesh on the outside of foam doesn’t make it cooler, or more breathable. You might just have to deal with the fact that you’re going to get sweaty.

And finally, the bag isn’t waterproof. The top zips for the easy access compartment and the main compartment are both exposed to rain on the top of the bag, without zipper guards or garages to prevent water from entering the pack. I stuffed towels in the easy access zip compartment and main compartment and ran the shower on it for three minutes. Water beaded up on the front panel, but the bag’s interior got pretty soaked.

Even if it’s not waterproof, it has other basic features that more expensive bags lack, like a suspended laptop compartment, and the organization is great. For commuting and running errands, the easy-access pocket was a fine place to put my wallet and phone. I especially liked the SafeZone pocket, since I have both sunglasses and eyeglasses that I’m always on the verge of crushing. I also liked being able to store running shoes and clothes in the front pocket, although someone with bigger shoes might have more of a problem.

It's durable, too. For weeks, I kicked it around on the floors of cars, and its black polyester exterior brushed clean quickly and easily.

The straps also curved to fit my narrow shoulders. With many unisex bags, I have to clip the sternum strap in order to keep the straps from sliding off. I didn’t have a reason to attach it to a roller suitcase, but the stretchy back panel fit neatly over the handle of my indomitable stroller/wagon for outings. Despite its height, it also fits well within the allowable dimensions for personal items on planes, so I wouldn’t worry about it drawing flight attendant ire.

For a capacity of 28 liters, the Accent daypack offers terrific bang for your buck. That value goes up even more if you, like me, would downsize from the 28-liter size to a 23- or even 20-liter size. Imagine that: a good-looking, durable work and travel backpack for $90!

Correction appended: 4/25/2017, 9:30 am PDT: A previous version of this story misidentified the country of Thule's founding. It is Sweden, not Switzerland.

Leave a comment