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What We’re Testing Now: Thule Stir Alpine 40L

A first-look review of the Thule Stir Alpine 40L

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The Thule Stir Alpine 40L is full of contradictions, in the best way possible. Its packbag is at once minimalist and feature-rich: The tapered bullet shape doesn’t waste any space and feels slim and snug on your back while you’re wearing it, but also includes ice axe garages, a rope carry, daisy chains, and straps for shouldering skis or a snowboard. The Thule Stir Alpine 40L is meant for any above-treeline activity, and it excelled on ski tours in the Jackson Hole Valley. On a skin-and-ski of 9,861-foot Nowlin Peak in the Gros Ventre Range, I never had to fight the pack while making powder turns towards the top or struggling to stay upright in sun-affected snow down below. A stiff plastic framesheet helped with stability, but the Stir Alpine isn’t overbuilt at all. It’s light enough that I plan to use it for warm-weather hiking (especially scrambles in the Tetons), although I’m curious as to how well the solid backpanel will breathe. Smart, small features also abound: A zippered mesh pouch on the left shoulder strap kept my energy chews at the ready, and two toplid pockets and an interior zippered pocket made sure all my other small items stayed right where I put them. I did wish for dedicated avalanche tool sleeves, but the Thule Stir Alpine 40L’s hydration sleeve did the trick well enough. I’m eager to get more weight in and more miles on with this pack, and report back after I’ve truly put it through the wringer. (The pack will be available to consumers next month.)