Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Review

The Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L has comfortable padding, great protection for gear, and good organization, though it’s not all easy to reach.

Our Verdict

7.9 /10
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  • It has a nice combination of organization and open space
  • Very thick padding for your laptop
  • Side entry zipper allows laptop access without dislodging gear inside the bag


  • Key leash is hard to reach so far down inside the front compartment
  • Difficult to see in and reach into space below the admin pocket
  • Long zipper pulls can get stuck in neighboring tracks

Technical Details

65 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 94/145 Airlines

73 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2 lb (0.9 kg)

  • Dimensions

    21 in x 11.8 in x 8.3 in (53.3 x 30 x 21.1 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Recycled Polyester, PFC-free DWR Coating, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    Thule BringIt! Guarantee

Buying Options

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Backcountry Logo

Full Review

It’s hard to know where to stop when getting into gear. You tiptoed into the waters with a sling to carry sunscreen and your phone for your trip to Walt Disney World and then decided to use a travel backpack to get your things there instead of lugging a heavy piece of rolling carry on luggage. But now you’re back after an exhausting but fun time, and you begin to think, “Gee, the tote bag and gym duffle I use for work and spin class just isn’t cutting it. I should look into a daypack!”

Welcome to our life here at Pack Hacker! Once you pop, you can’t stop!

If this has happened to you, or if you just want to upgrade from the Jansport that’s gotten you through college and your first job, you’re in the right place. The Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack is durable and weather-resistant to protect your gear, whether you’re biking to the office, walking to a co-working space, or just want to carry your gym gear, lunch, and tech to and from the office every day.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Walking
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | It’s easy to fit your daily carry inside.

We’ve tested more than 300 travel daypacks over the years, most of which work to carry a laptop, tablet, or other device wherever you need to go, whether it’s across town or the ocean. That’s quite a tall pile when we’re trying to see how a new bag stacks up, but that’s what we’re here for. So, can a brand known for getting gear home on luggage racks during road trips, turning your vehicle into a tent with a car tent, and helping parents get their kids out and about with strollers and bike trailers create an excellent laptop bag? Let’s find out.

External Components

The Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack is constructed primarily from recycled polyester. The 900D fabric is very durable and includes a PFC-free DWR for water resistance and to protect our gear from rain. The front face of the pack is shinier than the rest, and we can feel the coating here, while the remaining material feels just like polyester. However, 900D is nothing to turn up your nose at, and it all feels very thick and sturdy, which is what we want in a backpack that carries our expensive laptop and our not-as-expensive, but just as treasured, lunch.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Brand
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | This is the Pond colorway, but you can also get Olivine, Golden, and Black at the moment.

Our brand sample is the new Pond colorway, a grayish-blue color that matches the early spring skies of Michigan throughout the testing period. At the time of this review, you can also get it in Olivine and Golden, which are pretty muted, or Black if you like rocking the monochrome look.

Like most other Thule gear, the brand name is printed vertically in the top right corner of the bag. There are also two daisy chains of attachment points parading down each side of the front in case you want to clip sanitizer, a carabiner, or your keychain collection. There’s a loop centered near the bottom of the bag, as well, where you can clip a bike light if you’ll be riding in traffic or the dark.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Zipper
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | The zipper pulls are easy to grab but can get stuck in neighboring tracks.

Thule uses YKK zippers for the bag, and we’re happy to see high-quality fasteners. The only issue we have with them has little to do with the zippers themselves and everything to do with their placement on the bag. There is a point at the top of the bag where the quick-access pocket, front compartment, and main compartment zippers run parallel, either close to or directly next to one another. There are cords wrapped in heat-shrink materials woven through the metal zipper pulls to make them easier to grasp, but they often get stuck in another zipper track as we try to close a section (i.e., the top pocket pull will fall into the front compartment track and stop you from closing it). It’s a minor issue, and we like that these zipper pulls are easy to find and grab, so we’re dealing with it, but we wanted to mention it.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Side Handle
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | You can carry it like a briefcase if you need to hold it in front of you as you board the plane.

There are two handles to carry the bag if you’re not swinging it over your shoulder like the backpack it is. The one on the top is smaller and works well for hanging the backpack on a hook. The one on the right side of the bag is larger and, therefore, more comfortable to hold when carrying it, whether down the aisle to our airplane seat or as a pseudo-briefcase while rocking a bigger travel backpack. They’re both comfortable to hold, thanks to light padding and overlapping material.

Flipping around to the back side of the bag, you’ll spot a fairly capable harness system. The shoulder straps have just the right padding to be comfortable and are very flexible where they attach at the top of the bag. The padding ends less than an inch from where the straps connect at the top, so they have greater flexibility to move around broader shoulders than they would if the padding extended all the way up. They’re lined with breathable mesh, as is the back panel, to promote breathability and stave off a sweaty back.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Strap
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | The shoulder straps are quite comfortable.

There are Duraflex adjusters at the bottom to help you dial in the fit and built-in strap keepers to hold onto the extra strap when you cinch it down. There’s also a sternum strap on a sliding rail with a built-in strap keeper, as well. We didn’t find much need to use the sternum strap during our testing period, even with the bag packed full, but it’s a nice inclusion if you need it. On the other hand, you can’t remove it if you never use it.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Harness System
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | There’s contoured padding and a luggage-pass through on the back panel.

The Chasm’s back panel, in addition to having breathable mesh, also contains a nice amount of padding that’s stitched down in certain places to create a contoured structure and promote airflow between the bag and your back. A horizontal luggage pass-through breaks things up, too, and allows you to slide the bag over the handle of your rolling suitcase if you want to use it as a personal item bag on the plane.

Fit Notes

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Side by Side
Left: Kristyne Defever, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 17” (43 cm) | Right: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm)

The Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack has a casual look we like. It’s a little rugged, but not so much that we feel like we stand out too much from the crowd, and if you want to blend a little more, go for the Black. However, the Pond coordinates with many different styles and doesn’t show much dirt, which is a plus. Plus, Thule bags tend to have a structured look that we like, with no sagging to drag things down, even when we carry less.

We also find it pretty comfortable to wear throughout the day, with enough padding to blunt the feeling of gear inside without being too beefy. Users, both tall and small, say that it fits well, without hitting at a bad point in your lower back.

Inside The Backpack

What we like about many Thule bags is the level of useful organization the brand puts into its products, and the features on the Chasm Laptop Backpack are no different.

A quick-access pocket at the top of the bag is lined with soft microfiber on the front and mesh on the back. It’s large enough for a phone, wallet, and keys, so you can leave an extra sling behind. Just be sure to turn delicate screens toward the front of the bag, where that soft lining is, to avoid accidental damage from gear in the front compartment.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L in Use
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | A top pocket is a great place for your phone and wallet.

That could happen because it rests directly against this front section, which includes an admin panel to hold small gear. However, it’s located below a large mesh zipper pouch that’s a mirror image of the top pocket, as in, it’s mesh facing toward the front of the bag and the back of it is lined with soft material, so you can slide delicate gear inside here, as well.

Below that are a few pockets: the admin panel. They’re all lined with that same soft material to protect whatever you slide inside, and the left-most one is wide enough for a glasses case or a phone. The one on the right side is a little different; it’s nearly as wide but includes three pen slots inside of it so you can either utilize those or the pocket, but not really both.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Key Leash Admin Panel
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | The front compartment includes a mesh pocket and an admin panel, though it’s slightly out of reach.

A gatekeeper key clip on a short leash is between the two pockets. Now, while we appreciate having a place to clip our keys, we have an issue with the clip’s location. This section opens with a horseshoe-style zipper, and the pockets (and key leash) line up with either end of the tracks. Therefore, you have to reach deep into the compartment to snag the leash with one finger and fish it up. We cannot open a door with the keys still connected and get irritated by the inconvenience of pulling out a key fob daily to get into the office. The main compartment zipper runs parallel to this one, and both angle toward the back panel, creating a bit of a lid for the bag. So, when you pack more gear inside the main compartment, especially up at the top, it pushes into the front compartment and makes things rather tight to grab that leash and pull your keys out. Of course, you can just not use it and let it hang empty, but that’s not the point of it being there; we’d rather have it higher up in this section of the bag.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Key Leash
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | We wish the key leash was easier to grab.

The rest of this front section is open to hold whatever gear you want, as long as you realize you can’t undo the zipper more for better access. We slid a slim tech pouch inside and, although it’s rather tall, it’s still tricky to grab and tends to hide in the shadows.

On the left side of the bag, there’s a large water bottle pocket with a gusset and elastic at the top to stretch over wider bottles while still holding standard-width gear in place. It lays flat against the bag when we’re not using it, and is easy to open when we need it, which is pretty much how we judge a good water bottle holder.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Water Bottle
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | The bottle pocket is a good size for nearly any width bottle.

There’s only one bottle holder on the bag, though, because the opposite side contains a handle and a vertical zipper along the back panel. It doesn’t open to another section, per se, it opens to the laptop sleeve. That way, if you have a bunch of gear packed to the tip top of the main compartment, you don’t have to dig through it or maneuver it out of the way to grab your device. Of course, it’s up to you to ensure that it’s zipped before swinging it onto your back; we can’t be held responsible for smashed computers if you forget.

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Laptop Access
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | You can access your laptop from the side of the bag.

If you’re concerned about that, you can just leave it zipped at all times; it’s easy enough to get to your device through the top of the bag. When you open the main compartment, you’ll see a very thick pad against the back panel. That’s the laptop sleeve, which holds up to a 16-inch device. It’s suspended from the bottom of the bag for device protection in case the Chasm falls to the floor and is one of the thickest laptop sleeves we’ve seen inside a backpack. We definitely don’t feel the need to add a protective laptop case when we’re sliding it in this pocket. There isn’t a topper or a strap on it, though, so your computer won’t be as protected if you drop the bag on its head. Of course, neither will your phone, sunglasses or any other delicate gear you have stowed near the top, so try not to do that!

Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L Stuffed with Gear
Thule Chasm Laptop Backpack 26L | There’s plenty of space for all your gear in the main compartment.

The rest of the main area is open space that we fill with a toiletry bag, packing cubes, and a small cooler when we’re taking a weekend trip, or gym clothing, shoes (in a shoe pouch, of course), and a lunchbox for our daily commute. Although the bag unzips about halfway down each side, it’s basically a top-loader, so stack the gear you need to get on the plane, for example, near the top instead of at the bottom—you won’t be able to reach it en route otherwise.

If you pack it right, however, it can be a great personal item bag to take on board for your next trip because it has room for an extra outfit in case the airline loses your luggage, snacks, water, your laptop, and any entertainment you want to bring along. The top opening makes it easy to access even while it’s under the seat in front of you, and the side zipper means you can pull out your computer without dislodging everything else. Since there’s room in the front for tech gear and the top for a travel wallet and your passport, it’s a great travel companion, no matter how far you roam.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Nice to have multiple soft pockets to protect delicate gear
  • Wondering if it’ll be hard to grab keys with the leashed clip so low
  • Love the Pond colorway
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • The sternum strap is not removable if you don’t need it
  • Lots of space to pack in the main compartment
  • Comfortable to carry throughout the day
By Kristyne Defever
Created May 10, 2024 • Updated May 10, 2024
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