Here at Gearflogger HQ we see probably more packs than any other piece of gear, so we don't expect to be surprised anymore. Into this complacent world Thule has thrown their Guidepost packs, and now we're all paying attention. We tested the 65L but it's also available in 75L and 88L sizes as well, and all but the 88 are available in both men's and women's formats.
Literally running down all the Guidepost's nooks and crannies would take more wordz then you want to read; we'll cover the highlights, but here is the topline: if you're looking for a pack that takes adjustability and organization to a wicked extreme, and don't mind carrying a little extra weight to get those things. run - don't walk and definitely don't mosey - to the nearest store carrying the Thule Guidepost and give it a carry.
Let's start with the adjustability. First of all, you choose one of three hip belt sizes, with a total range covering 27 to a whopping 51 inches (25 to 50 women's). Then, you adjust the one-size-fits-all torso height from 17 to 23 inches (15 to 21 women's), a full six inches of travel. But wait, there's more! You can also adjust the width of the shoulder straps at the top: each side can adjust a full inch for a total of two inches of full yoking pleasure. Once you've got the fit dialed in with all the usual adjustments to load lifters, etc., stuff that hole on your back to the gills and step out. The plush hipbelt pivots as you walk, and the stout aluminum mainstay effectively distributes the load for a supremely comfortable carry of loads well over fifty pounds.
On to organization. The Guidepost lets you fully express your OCD, starting at the top: the top lid flips inside-out into a 24L summit pack, complete with shoulder and sternum straps and even a hydration bladder loop. You won't forget the instructions, because they're clearly printed on the bottom of the lid. Nice!
Moving on down, there's a hydration bladder compartment between the frame and the main compartment, so no condensation on your stuff. Speaking of the main hole, it has a generous 9-inch storm collar up top and removable divider at the bottom, useful if you're the kind who likes a separate sleeping bag compartment. The front pocket is waterproof and wide enough for a small laptop or tablet device, and directly behind it - toward the main hole - things start to get interesting. There's another shallow space, like a shove-it pocket, open at the top and also able to be unzipped down one side. If you like to stuff a few different layers in this space you'll really like being able to access any of it without pulling all of it out.
And finally, what may be the most useful of features: the j-zip is a zipper that goes all the way down one side of the main compartment, across the bottom and about a quarter of the way up the other side. You can basically unzip it and the entire front of the pack opens like a door, revealing the shadowy glories within. The only way this could possibly be cooler was if they somehow incorporated a Tauntaun theme like this sleeping bag.
Finally, there are two matching mesh zip pockets on the hip belt, and also dual mesh water bottle pockets with openings biased slightly forward for easier access. This concludes our tour. So the weight. We're talking six pounds, probably a pound or so heavier than your average expedition-quality 65L pack. However, when an extra pound translates directly into more comfort, with organizational bliss to boot, even in our ultralight ways we can't hold it against the Guidepost. It's a great pack, check it out and keep an eye on Thule.