Thule Subterra 25L Review

The Thule Subterra 25L has numerous secondary pockets and a spacious main compartment, making it useful as a daily driver or weekend warrior.

Our Verdict

7.6 /10
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  • Materials are durable and lightweight
  • Secondary pockets are intuitive
  • Hardware holding up well


  • Shoulder straps aren’t very wide
  • Top-loading can be challenging
  • Hard-sided pocket interferes with packing main compartment

Technical Details

1 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 2/145 Airlines

57 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2.18 lb (1 kg)

  • Dimensions

    13 in x 11 in x 18.5 in (33 x 27.9 x 47 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    Thule BringIt! Guarantee

Full Review

The Thule Subterra 25L has a sleek, dynamic look that we were excited to test as soon as it arrived. We’re curious how the external pockets and top closure affect usage, especially in an urban setting. Let’s dive in and find out!

External Components

The primary pack material is durable nylon with abrasion and relatively robust water resistance. Even after two weeks of rugged testing, the exterior looks as it did when we unboxed it. We don’t expect packs to look brand new, but it’s a pleasant surprise when it happens in the wild.

Thule Subterra 25L Back
Thule Subterra 25L | We dig the look of this pack.

The pack utilizes YKK zippers throughout; however, the main compartment doesn’t have one on its primary opening. These zippers work as we’d expect them to and don’t hinder the pack’s use in any way.

We’ve got Duraflex hardware, which consists of hard plastic adjusters and buckles. The buckles are the primary closure method for the main compartment, and they’re sturdy and safe enough for that task.

Thule Subterra 25L Full
Thule Subterra 25L | In the studio.

On one side, there’s a stretchy mesh water bottle pocket. You can fit large bottles here—like a 32 oz Nalgene, which is no small feat. Many travel backpacks and daypacks only have space for a smaller bottle, so this is a welcome addition.

Compression straps on either side of the pack help cinch it down when you need to save space. Their placement makes stowing large items in the water bottle pocket easier—a handy perk.

The front side of the pack has two sections of daisy chain attachment loops, which make attaching gear likea pouch, carabiner, or other items easier.

Thule Subterra 25L Harness System
Thule Subterra 25L | The harness system is comfortable.

Last, we’ve got the top handle. It’s relatively basic; no padding, aeration, or frills. It’s comfortable enough for a short journey but digs in after a while. This back has shoulder straps, so you’ll probably use those to carry it for extended periods.

Fit Notes

Thule Subterra 25L 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 shoulder straps have a fair amount of padding and a thin mesh layer to keep things breezy. The shoulder straps aren’t very wide or thick, but they’re reasonably comfortable, even when the pack is heavy. Their thin width lets you feel like you can be active with the pack on, and it has the comfort to back it up.

The sternum strap is on a rail, so it’s easy to make adjustments on a microscopic level. Feels a smidge too high? Shift it up and vice versa. It stays put after you’ve placed it, too, which we dig. Nobody likes a sternum strap that’s sliding all around willy-nilly.

The back panel has ample padding and, like the shoulder straps, has a thin layer of mesh to keep things cool. On hot days, the harness system is a bit warm, but it breathes as well as some of our favorite packs.

Thule Subterra 25L Strap
Thule Subterra 25L | The sternum strap is comfortable.

There are strap keepers that help this bag stay organized and look sleek. They’re easy to use and ensure the strap doesn’t get in your way while wearing the pack.

Inside The Pack

The lowermost front pocket secures using a hook-and-loop fastener and is the perfect spot to stow a small drink, a packable jacket, or other similarly-sized gear. It’s a useful quick-access pocket, but we wouldn’t recommend holding anything important there, like a wallet, as it’s easily accessible to those around you.

Thule Subterra 25L Carry Handle
Thule Subterra 25L | The top handle is handy!

Above that, there’s a small zippered compartment with two liner pockets and a key leash inside. It isn’t as quick to access as the hook-and-loop iteration we just went over; however, the added security makes it an excellent spot to stow your phone, wallet, or other more sensitive items. The key clip is short, so you must remove your keys before using them.

Running down the side of the pack’s front face is a vertical zipper. There’s no organization inside this pocket, but it’s amply sized and works well for flat items like a book, tablet, or small computer. There is minimal padding here, so it isn’t a good long-term spot for electronics, but it works well if you know you’ll be snatching it out again soon.

Both those last two pockets are semi-protected by the main compartment’s flap and buckles. To access either of them properly, you must undo the buckles and open the flap. This makes getting inside a little slower but offers extra protection from unfriendly hands.

There’s a hard-sided compartment with a zipper closure on the opposite side of the water bottle pocket. It’s structured on the front and back and has a liner pocket inside. This area is designed with your phone and sunglasses in mind and does well to protect them both. However, it acts like a pimple inside your nostril in the main compartment. It juts out just enough to be annoying and can make it painful to do any real damage inside. We’ll speak about that more shortly.

Thule Subterra 25L In Use
Thule Subterra 25L | The hard-sided pocket.

The main compartment is a top loader with a side zipper to make loading the pack easier. As we mentioned, there are two Duraflex buckles to secure the flap. When paired with the side zipper, it makes it so the opening is diagonal, and you can get good access to the interior for packing purposes.

The flap has a zippered mesh compartment to stow smaller items, the only spot for little things you don’t want to get lost in the rest of the hubbub.

On the back wall, there’s a laptop compartment. It’s amply padded to protect up to a 15-inch computer. There’s a divider inside so you can stow both a laptop and a tablet.

The laptop area is also accessible from the exterior via a zipper near the back panel. It’s essential to close this side zipper when you’re through; otherwise, your laptop or tablet could come tumbling out while you’re out and about.

Thule Subterra 25L Stuffed
Thule Subterra 25L | You can fit a lot of gear inside.

The rest of the main compartment is open space, which makes it easy to pack. However, we can’t forget about that little zit we mentioned earlier. The protrusion of the exterior sunglasses and phone pocket can make packing tricky. It juts out in an awkward spot in the main compartment where it can take up space you wanted to use for a packing cube and makes it hard to use other space as it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the pack.

We’re being nitpicky, but here at Pack Hacker, we love packing efficiently, so little things like this can hinder doing that properly.

Thule Subterra 25L Walking
Thule Subterra 25L | On the way!

Overall, we dig this pack, its comfort, and thoughtfully designed external compartments . The sunglasses and phone pocket feels oddly placed, but once you’re used to where it is, it doesn’t get in your way much.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Materials are durable and semi-lightweight
  • We’re curious to see how the hard shell for glasses and a phone affects packing
  • No issues with the hardware so far—everything seems up to par
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Primary pack material has held up well
  • There are a few snags on the back panel
  • No issues with the hardware
By Eric Hergenreder
Created July 12, 2023 • Updated July 12, 2023
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