Thule Perspektiv Daypack
Measured Volume: 7.0 liters
Stated Weight: 1.2kg
- External: 47.5H x 26.4L x 20.6D
- Internal: 31H x 23.1L x 9.9D
Reviewer Info: 5’10”, 185 lbs.
Test Locations: Club Fields of Canterbury, Treble Cone, New Zealand
Days Tested: 3
I often carry a camera with me when I go skiing or biking. Sometimes I’m on a specific photo mission, and other times I just want to be prepared in case a great photo op comes along.
Since I don’t tend to ski any less aggressively when I’m carrying a camera, I need a bag that securely holds my Canon 5D MKIII and my everyday lens, the Canon EOS 24-105mm f/4L.
The Perspektiv Daypack is part of Thule’s new series of camera-specific bags. Thule doesn’t provide specific guidelines on which activities— hiking, biking, skiing etc.— the Perspektiv might be best suited for, and so we wanted to weigh in. I was particularly curious to see how it would function on our review trip to New Zealand.
While I didn’t get to spend as much time with the Perspektiv as I was hoping to—our group spent a lot of time skiing in avalanche-prone terrain and the Perspektiv doesn’t accommodate an avi shovel and probe—I did use the pack inbounds at Treble Cone and hiking around The Neon PomPom’s family farm.
Materials / Construction
The Perspektiv’s outer material is DWR-treated nylon. During a rainy day, I found that the water beaded well on the surface.
The pack also comes with a rain cover that you can flip up over the entire bag for extra protection. This is a really nice feature on a camera bag, and it was easy to cover the pack with it.
The zippers on the camera compartment and the battery / card storage pocket are waterproof and seam-taped. The zipper on the top-loading compartment is a standard, small-gauge YKK with a waterproof flap. Let me just say “Thank you!” to the Thule designer who came up with these zipper-pulls—they’re massive blue plastic ovals that are easy to use even when I’m wearing gloves.
The camera block itself is made of medium-density ¼” thick brushed-cloth coated foam. Make no mistake, this isn’t a hard-case and thus won’t protect your gear quite as well if you crash. However, this sort of material and construction is very similar to that of other camera bags I’ve used (Dakine Sequence, f-stop ICU, Clik Elite Probody Sport), and what you sacrifice in absolute security you gain in versatility and user comfort.
The back panel of the pack is made from a single, rigid piece of plastic with three soft foam pads that cushion your back and provide some ventilation. Finally, I really appreciated the macro-porous foam and mesh netting used for the shoulder straps. I think this will be a nice feature when I’m biking and hiking in the summer.
From my C7 vertebrae to the top of my iliac crest (standard torso measurement for backpack fitting), I measure 18″. The Thule Perspektiv, in the only size available, measures 17” from the shoulder strap attachment point to the bottom of the hip belt. This makes the hip belt sit a just a bit too high on my hips. Taller users may want to take this into consideration before buying the pack.
I also think the hip-belt pads are a bit small. Since I was lugging around heavy camera gear, I found myself wishing for larger pads with more than one-inch of webbing. If the webbing were wider, I think the small pads would have bothered me less.
The shoulder straps are wide and comfortable, and the sternum strap is easily to adjust on its sliding tracks. The pack also has a small elastic keeper that gives some play to the strap’s fit—a must-have on a pack like this, I think.
During my one real ski day with the Perspektiv, I loaded it down with my 5D MKIII body, 24-105 lens, 70-300mm Tamron lens, flash unit, and a few small things in the top compartment. (All told, I think I had about six pounds of gear in the camera compartment.) With such a light load, the pack felt good—the hip belt wasn’t overwhelmed, the back panel didn’t buckle, and the shoulder straps were comfortable.
I did notice that the pack’s contents tend to bounce around a bit. The interior depth of the camera compartment measures 9.75”, while my camera with the 24-105mm lens attached measures only 7”. So there’s room for some lateral movement. With a larger lens like the 70-300mm, the issue was reduced considerably, but since there’s no way to strap the camera in place once it’s in the compartment, the body with a smaller lens is going to move around when you’re skiing.
Comparisons: Clik Elite Probody Sport and the f-stop ICU
In my experience, both the Clik Elite Probody Sport and the f-stop ICU (for a look at f-stop’s ICUs, check out Dan Finn’s review of the Loka), have the Perspektiv beat when it comes to securely holding a camera in place. The Clik Elite Probody Sport has a smaller camera compartment, which can make getting the camera in and out difficult, but it also means that the camera doesn’t budge.
The f-stop ICU has an easily-customizable foam case with Velcro attachments. While the Perspektiv uses a similar system, the f-stop ICU loads from the top and ships with elastic straps with Velcro on them in order to secure spare lenses and accessories. It would be nice if the Perspektiv had this same feature.
The camera compartment in the Perspektiv uses a side-access inserted foam block. This removable compartment measures 11.5” x 9.75” and is divisible into three sections. The divisibility is limited since the side compartment dividers are only a certain width (one side measures 3.5”, the other is 4.0”).
The main camera compartment stores a camera with an attached lens well. While Thule claims it’s only for a ‘prosumer’ body like the Canon 7D or 5D series, with a depth of 5.5” inches, fitting a larger pro-body DSLR or even the 5D with battery grip attached is possible.
My biggest issue with the camera storage is using the side compartments for storing other lenses or the flash unit. Since there is no way to secure these accessories, it’s possible they could fall out if you were to leave the main compartment open.
I’ll often take my camera out, set up a shot, then move (sometimes quickly), for the next one. If I forgot to close that compartment, all my accessories could fall out. As it is, just setting the pack down and taking the camera out usually means that the flash or extra lens will fall into the center main compartment.
The top compartment is a nice thought, but functionally a bit awkward. It’s a 5.75” by 10.5” plastic container at the top of the pack. It will easily hold an extra layer, lunch, or another lens, but since the compartment is rigid, the contents will rattle around if there’s extra space. That said, it is removable.
Other nice storage features include a side-panel with three SD card holders and two extra battery slots, as well as a zippered pocket to stash lens wipes. There are two small zippered pockets, one on top of the top compartment and one on the outside of the pack. They are both shallow and don’t hold much.
There’s a simple webbing tripod loop at the bottom of the pack to hold the tripod legs in place. I didn’t use a tripod on the trip, so I can’t yet comment on how well this feature will work.
As I mentioned above, the Perspektiv uses a side-access panel. In theory this means that you can sling the pack around on one shoulder strap, unzip the compartment, and pull your camera out. Personally, I usually set the pack down and opened it up, but maybe this is just habit from using other top-loading packs.
The Thule Perspektiv is a pack designed primarily for hikers—when I was bootpacking, the Perspektiv worked very well, but while I was skiing, my camera definitely bounced around.
All the little items in the rigid top compartment would also rattle. With some adjustment to packing strategy (e.g. taking up excess space in the camera compartment with soft items like spare foam pads, small rags), I could make the Perspektiv function better as a ski or biking pack.
If you do use this pack while skiing, keep in mind that the lack of an avi tool pocket or much space for day trip accessories for backcountry skiing mean that the pack is best suited for in-bounds. That said, this pack is simple and light, and a great option for many outdoor pursuits.