Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack Review

March 10, 2018
Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack A versatile rolltop backpack for the urban explorer's photo equipment and personal gear.
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GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
83
Comfort/Fit
5
Stability
5
Storage
9
Durability
8
Extras
6

The Good

  • Modern, clean design doesn’t hint at expensive con
  • Rolltop design allows carrying a day’s worth of no
  • Easily transports up to a 15-inch notebook compute

The Bad

  • No load transfer to hips
  • Camera gear compartment is cramped
  • Design best for urban environments only
THE VERDICT
The Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack is a well-organized camera backpack that is well-suited for shooters on urban assignments that need to carry their notebook computer for editing and uploading on the go. The camera gear is well protected, fits mirrorless systems better, and the expandable roll top section can ferry an abundance of other items. A hip belt is lacking, so this inconspicuous camera and computer hauler is best for tamer urban activities.
FULL REVIEW

Comfort/Fit

The Thule Covert DSLR Backpack’s main drawback is the lack of a hip belt, which made it impossible to transfer any of the load to the hips, limiting activity to urban cycling and walking. The back panel and contoured shoulder straps (with load lifters) has adequate padding, so moderate loads of up to 25 pounds were comfortable as long as the activity and terrain were relatively tame.

Stability

Again, the limiting factor is  the lack of a hip belt. The large area of the back panel provided a stable base for the pack, but the aggressiveness of movement was limited to urban cycling and walking. Within these “every day” confines, the pack was stable with loads that are typical of a day on the town shooting and editing via a notebook computer.

Storage

The Thule dedicates the lower half of their Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack to camera gear. A side access zipped panel reveals  a “SafeZone” removable, padded camera pod. This pod houses three Velcro attached dividers, embossed with a myriad of folding points for a wide array of gear stacking options. A mirrorless body with mid zoom attached, wide zoom and long zoom all fit with room to spare, but full sized DLSR users may find the total area cramped. The side access door on the pack body has a clear zipped interior pocket suitable for filters, memory cards, cleaning supplies, and the like. It also sports a clever zipper garage to keep the zipper pull from scratching your camera gear. When the SafeZone is inside the lower compartment of the pack, the contents are shielded well from impacts due to the double layers of padding; one on the camera pod and one on the pack body. The upper half of the pack has a zipped in, bellows style divider to separate its contents from the lower camera section, which also prevents any moisture from seeping on to sensitive gear. This divider can be unzipped, stuffed into its stash pocket which remains attached to the pack, and the entire interior volume of the pack is open for use.  The upper compartment is generously sized; a puffy shell, lunch and one-liter water bottle easily stashed with room to spare—closed by a zipper and expandable roll top. The two webbing straps with buckles that hold the roll top down can be used to lash layers or gear on to the top of the pack. The back panel houses a well padded 15” computer sleeve and tablet sleeve. The front surface of the pack has a wide assortment of pockets well suited for acting as a portable office. A buckled flap hides a zipped main flat pocket with internal dividers, a key clip, and two Velcro flapped expandable pockets. Below these are another zipped main flat pocket with a large Velcro flapped bellows style pocket. The buckled straps that hold the front flap closed can also be used to strap clothing or gear to the front of the pack and these straps terminate in few daisy chain attachment points. A large side pocket accommodates a one-liter water bottle or a tripod, and dual side compression straps can be used to secure gear against the side of the pack.

Durability

The main fabric of the Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack is an extremely robust 65% nylon/35% polyester weave, 800d x 900d. It is very thick, but also very stiff; this stiffness diminished over time. A heavier gauge ballistic nylon reinforces the bottom surface of the pack. All webbing and buckles are full-size, and all zippers have cord zipper pulls with shrink-wrapped ends. The pack remained unscathed at the end of the testing period despite abusive handling in urban environments and feels built for the long haul.  

Extras

The Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack’s extras revolve around the urban human-powered commuter: abundant pockets allow organization for working on the go. The zip out divider expands pack use to urban missions not involving cameras. The multiple options that allow strapping gear to the outside of the pack along with the expandable roll top closure accommodate layers that may be necessary for winter commuting by bike or foot, and one of the front bellows style pockets is sized to fit a bicycle U-lock.

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WHERE TO BUY
MSRP
$199.95
*Your purchase helps to support the work of Gear Institute.
HOW WE TESTED

We used the packs for both professional assignments and personal use. Most testing occurred during full days in the field while working various editorial duties in both the outdoor and motorsports industries, as well as use during photography school projects. Testing of the five packs took over a year and encompassed travel across the United States and into both Baja and mainland Mexico. The packs endured everything from winter alpine conditions to warm beaches in all four seasons.

USER REVIEWS

No reviews have been posted for this product.

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