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Thule Chasm Review Backpack With Side Laptop Access

Carry bag, satchel, messenger bag, hand bag, duffel. The naming convention for bags is pretty extensive and growing all the time. While all bags have the same purpose, most people will unanimously agree that bags with two shoulder straps (backpacks) are the most comfortable and practical of all bag types. Imagine carrying your gear in shopping bags while on a long hike or while riding a bike. It really is not practical. With a backpack such as the Thule Chasm though, you can lug your stuff on the back while having full use of the hands.
The Thule Chasm backpack has three external zip compartments, all three made with concealed teeth zips and metal sliders with fabric cord loop pull tabs. Silicone rubber has been "shrink wrapped" around the metal sliders to provide reinforcement as well as dexterity when gripping the zip sliders.
The hood compartment is the smallest compartment fitted into the Thule Chasm backpack. It is located on top of the backpack and has a rear-facing access, keeping the compartment hidden away from prying eyes. The hood compartment opens up via a single metal slider and has a 16cm long mouth opening with an internal depth of 18cm, making this compartment perfect for stashing small items such as a smartphone, powerbank or pair of headphones.
The hood compartment is lined on one side with fleece fabric and breathable mesh lining on the other side. The mesh lining is dual purpose as it helps ventilate the compartment and also let you see what's inside from the compartment directly next to it, which is the front facing compartment.
The front facing compartment is large, although it has a small horseshoe zip design with two metal sliders that open up only three quarters down. The front facing compartment has a wide opening (25cm wide) with a tall and narrow storage area, measuring 17cm wide and 48cm tall. The front facing compartment is fully padded and suspended 2 inches above the bottom of the backpack, which will protect any items kept in this compartment from bottom impacts.
Inside the front facing compartment, there is a zip mesh pocket, three fabric pen holders, two open pockets and a short non-detachable plastic keyring. The open pockets measure 11cm tall and 9cm wide, while the zip pocket measures 12cm tall and 16cm long. The zip pocket is lined with fleece too.
The Chasm backpack largest compartment is built right in the middle. It has a large horseshoe zip opening with dual sliders that open half way down. While the zip sliders don't run all the way down the bottom of the bag, the opening of the compartment is wide enough for top loading. You can easily reach into the bottom of the bag and comfortably take stuff out.
The middle compartment has a 1cm thick padded sleeve, which is lined with fleece and devices the compartment into two isolated areas. The rear side is designed to store a laptop and measures 28cm wide, 44cm high and can expand outward up to 6cm. 
The front side of the divider has the same high and width as the laptop area but, it can expand up to 12cm outward, letting you store bulky items such as a helmet or pair of boots. When fully loaded, the Chasm backpack external expansion is 18cm wide.
The middle compartment is not suspended; hence it runs all the way down to the bottom of the backpack. The bottom area of the laptop is thickly padded, while the other half has a very thin layer of padding. The Thule Chasm backpack has a similar side facing zip opening design as the Paramount backpack, which provides side access into the laptop compartment. The side zip measures 38cm long and runs vertically across the rear side, all the way down the bottom of the bag. Just above the side zip, there is a thickly woven grab handle strap, measuring 18cm long and 2cm wide.
The top grab handle has been sewn directly under the shoulder straps and, it's also made with heavy duty webbing. It measures 2.5cm wide and 10cm long. 
The front side of the Thule Chasm backpack also integrates Thule branding, which is reflective, as well as a single webbing loop at the bottom to attach a bike light or clip a helmet onto the backpack. On the front, there is also a row of four daisy chains on either side for securing large bulky items such as a rolled up mat.
The Chasm backpack shoulder straps measure 46cm long and have a straight construction with a pronounced curvature towards the bottom of the shoulder strap, which allows the shoulder straps to remain secure on the shoulders. There is also a chest strap built-in to keep the shoulder straps in position, which is useful specially if you have sloped shoulders.
The shoulder straps measure 7cm wide and have thick closed cell padding to help cushion heavy loads. There is enough spacing between the shoulder straps to accommodate those with broad shoulders. The front of the shoulder straps also integrate small passthrough sleeves for attaching things onto them such as a pair of sunglasses.
The chest strap is not detachable and, it's built into a rail system that allows the chest strap to be raised and lowered at different heights across the sternum. The chest strap integrates a small D-flex buckle and has a 26cm long webbing strap with a elastic band to manage the excess webbing.
The rear padding of the Chasm backpack is covered with mesh material and spans almost the entire dimension of the backpack, measuring 40cm high. The rear padding is V-shaped so, the top part is wider (26cm) than the bottom part (17cm). The V-shape rear padding compliments the Thule Chasm overall V-style concave design, which mimics the natural V-shape slant of the back.
The rear padding is not split, although it has a ridged design, which create channels for air to passthrough and ventilate the back. The Chasm backpack has a 26 liter volume capacity; hence it can technically hold as much as the 27 liter Enroute Escort 2 backpack. That said, the Enroute Escort 2 has an expandable feature and more compartments for organization, as well as thicker, split padding.
The Chasm backpack has a single side pocket, which measures 23cm tall and has a elastic band built-in that allows the side pocket to expand and accommodate a large water bottle or tripod. The outer shell construction of the Chasm backpack is rugged, thanks to 840D nylon with thermoplastic rubber (TPE) coating on the front and base of the backpack. The top, sides and rear of the Chasm backpack aren't coated with TPE. The TPE used is free of phthalates, which is a chemical that is apparently harmful yet, it's bizarrely used in cosmetics, deodorants, soaps and even medical devices such as blood collection bags.
The Chasm backpack is well made with reinforced stitching on the strap joints to prevent premature wear. The lining fabric denier is not specified but, it is soft and has good weight to it with a subtle honeycomb pattern and closed knit weave that is easy to clean with a wet cloth. Being light colored, the lining brightens up the the inside, making the Chasm backpack feel more spacious. You can buy the Chasm backpack from Thule. Need an even more slimline bag? Check out the Thule Stir backpack.
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