Thule is the George Carlin company: they make stuff to carry your stuff. Recenty they've expanded their stuff that carries stuff from their familiar car racks to child carriers (formerly Cougar and still our absolute favorite gear for anyone with kids and an active outdoor lifestyle) and backpacks. And not just one backpack, but two different lines with both men's and women's specific models.
The Capstone is their more casual pack, as opposed to their Guidepost packs (review coming soon!), and comes in 22, 32, 40 and 50 liter models for both men and women. First, our overall impression: the Capstone is a very nice pack by any standard, and that's a noteworthy accomplishment for a first effort. If you're looking for a pack in this class, make sure you look at this one. Just make sure it fits, because although there is a lot of adjustment – 28 torso positions, seriously? – it only comes in one size. That said, unless you're way off the scale you should be fine.
One really cool thing – literally – is the back suspension, which is curved and allows a generous amount of airflow across your back. With some packs we see a reduction in interior capacity because of the curve, but the Capstone's interior is a constant curve on both front and back, resulting in a lot of room inside. Enough room, in fact, that we would classify it as a multi-day capable pack; it could hold a week's worth of gear for an ultralight hiker. Put heavier items on the top or bottom of the pack, closer to your back, and lighter, bulkier items in the middle where the extra distance from your back won't affect you as much.
Another thing we like to check is the ability of the water bottle pockets to hold a full quart bottle. The Capstone's will do that, unless you've really stuffed the main compartment full, and the openings are canted forward for easy access to boot. Nice. Other compartments include a stuff it outside pocket perfect for layers, a roomy lunch pocket on top, and a hydration sleeve inside. There is an open stretchy mesh pocket on the left waist belt, just big enough for a gel pack or small energy bar. On the right side is a bigger zippered pocket; we did find ourselves wishing there was one of these on the left side too. Last but not least are two loops top and bottom for an ice axe or trekking pole, and the bottom loop has two openings of different sizes appropriate to each.
The waist belt has a small buckle that feels nicely low-profile, and it can be adjusted from both sides at once with a forward pull on the webbing, our favorite adjustment method. Overall the Capstone carries wonderfully at weights up to 30 pounds and probably beyond. Overall weight is 2lb 13oz, a bit heavier than average but not enough to be a concern given how well the Capstone carries. A pleasant surprise was that you also get a rain cover, tucked in it's own pouch at the bottom of the pack. It slips easily over the pack and those venturing into wetter climes will appreciate the convenience. All this and competitively priced too.