In almost 20 years of intense traveling all over the world we have used countless travel bags and suitcases. From backpacks and rucksacks to hardshell spinner suitcases and everything in between – we’ve tried them all.
But it was not before we started traveling with 3 young kids that we really paid attention to the practical side of our travel bags. We couldn’t just pack one suitcase each and throw them in a trunk of the car as we did before… That’s when we gave up hardshell suitcases and big impossible-to-find-anything-inside rucksacks and started using rolling duffels and light travel backpacks. Our luggage has to be light yet sturdy, big enough to pack all we need for a 2-3 week trip for the whole family, at the same time fit in a trunk of a regular rental car, often in combination with strollers, backpacks, and other items.
We quickly learned that there is immense difference in quality between different travel bags. Some broke after the first trip while others lasted several years… We learned the importance of good wheels, quality zippers, and sturdy weather resistant materials. So now when we see a quality bag, we recognise it from far.
Before Thule offered to sponsor the new suitcases of Full Suitcase in exchange for this review, we had never even heard of Thule bags. To us, Thule has always been the brand of quality rooftop cargo boxes that half the world uses for their family trips… This Swedish brand stands for innovation and quality, so we were thrilled to try the Thule luggage.
Modern sleek design is nice-to-have (after all who doesn’t want to look stylish when traveling). However, the most important to us is durability and easiness of use of our luggage. Our travel bags have to survive very intense use during countless family road trips, short city trips, and also business trips. And I’m happy to say that Thule Subterra luggage didn’t disappoint.
We used the Thule Subterra bags on two separate trips as we speak, so I feel that I can now offer a genuine review based on our experience actually using the bags and not just based on the looks.
Thule Subterra travel bags review
Thule Subterra collection offers a variety of luggage, duffel bags, backpacks, and more. It is stylish, practical, versatile, and clearly built to last. We own the Thule Subterra Luggage 70cm/28″ (75L) rolling duffels, 55cm/22″ (36L) carry-on luggage, and a 34L travel backpack, so in this review I will focus on these three bags.
Thule Subterra rolling duffels
Since we travel with three kids and usually rent a car overseas, we can’t afford to pack one suitcase for each family member. We need spacious luggage that can fit all we need in maximum three large travel bags. Thule 70cm/28″ 75L rolling duffel was therefore our first choice for longer family trips.
At first, I was a bit concerned with the size of the rolling duffels as they are smaller than the luggage we owned before, but it turns out that the bags are more spacious than they look at first sight. On top of that, every bag is divided into two separate compartments making it extremely easy to stay organised and quickly find what you are looking for.
We could pack all we need for a two week vacation (5x: hiking boots, 14 t-shirts, 2 fleece sweaters, 2 pairs of pants, shorts, a rain jacket, and swimwear, as well as hiking poles, a tripod, etc.) for the 5 of us in three Thule rolling duffels. And we could easily fit all three bags side by side in the trunk of the average size station wagon that we rented during our recent trip to Portugal.
I also used this rolling duffel bag for my recent winter trip to Tromsø in Norway. Not only did it fit all the layers of winter clothing, winter boots, and camera gear, but the bag proved that it’s made to withstand the toughest travel conditions and the weather as well. Big wheels rolled smoothly on icy pavements and the 800D Nylon material kept everything nice and dry even after waiting for a bus in a snow storm for over half an hour.
What we love about Thule rolling duffel:
- Big wheels roll easily
- Quality materials, yet light
- Elegant look
- Easy to stack 3 bags in a trunk of a rental car
- Two separate compartments to separate shoes and heavier items from clothing
- Top and side grab handles
Here you can read customer reviews and buy Thule rolling duffel.
Thule Subterra carry-on luggage with wheels
One of the most important criteria for a carry-on luggage for me is to make sure that it’s spacious enough to pack for a long weekend and complies with the carry-on luggage requirements of most European airlines we fly with for short business trips and weekend escapes.
The Thule Subterra 36L carry-on not only fits all this criteria, it also has all kinds of extra features that make it a perfect travel bag for short hand luggage-only trips. Separate compartments to keep clean clothes apart from dirty ones, internal compression panel to help you maximize the us of available space, oversized wheels and sturdy telescopic handles, smaller pocket for items you need to quickly access during the trip, built-in ID slot… these are just some main features of this quality carry-on luggage.
One thing that concerns me a bit (but that’s a very common issue with most quality carry-on bags) is the weight of the bag itself. Thule Subterra carry-on weighs 3.2 kg (7 pounds) and while it’s very light for a quality carry-on suitcase, it’s a significant factor to consider when flying carry-on only. Some European airlines will only let you take 8 kg (17.6 pounds) of hand luggage, so it may not be the perfect bag if you are flying with a low cost carrier with the strictest hand luggage policy. Luckily, the biggest companies have less strict rules; for example Ryanair allows 10kg (22 pounds) hand luggage and Easy Jet doesn’t have weight limit as long as your bag doesn’t exceed the maximum size requirements.
What we love about Thule carry-on:
- Big wheels roll easily
- Quality materials
- Elegant look
- Internal compression panel helps to pack more and to separate clean clothes from dirty ones
- Easy-to-access pocket for small travel items (e.g. carry-on liquids, phone charger, etc.)
Here you can read customer reviews and buy Thule Subterra carry-on.
Thule Subterra travel backpack
Thule backpack is a bag that surprised me the most. With lots of pockets and separate compartments this 34L bag looks like a nice backpack for a business traveller going on a short overnight trip. But it’s so much more than that. It’s an extremely versatile carry-on backpack that I wish someone had invented 20 years earlier.
It is made of the same quality materials and attention to detail as the rest of Thule Subterra collection and has many features to make it a perfect carry-on luggage.
However, there is one feature that I’ve never seen in a backpack before and it’s a real life changer. A side zipper allows you to quickly access any part of the backpack with minimum effort. Gone are the days when you had to unload all the contents of the backpack in order to find something squeezed at the very bottom.
Furthermore, a small side pocket is really handy to hold small carry-on liquids and a separate laptop compartment accessible with yet another side zipper makes the airport security check a breeze.
This backpack can handle a lot of weight too. We used it to store our camera gear including a semi-pro DSLR body with three big professional camera lenses, GoPro camera with its accessories, iPad pro, 5 Kindle e-readers, as well as all the electronic chargers and cables. There was plenty of space left for a travel guide, documents, and many other small items we take in our carry-on.
I can honestly tell you that I am totally in love with Thule travel backpack and cannot imagine going on any trip without it ever again.
What we love about Thule backpack:
- Side zippers (you have to take my word for it – it’s a real life changer!)
- Dedicated side pocket for tablet (e-books, laptop, etc.) is super useful at the airport security control
- Wide opening on top
- Removable packing cube for clothing
- Expandable side pocket with zipper is great for small travel items
- Quality materials
- Elegant look
Here you can read customer reviews and buy Thule Subterra travel backpack.
Thule Subterra bags – conclusion
Thule Subterra luggage is not cheap and I realise it’s not for everyone, but if you travel a lot and require versatile and easy to use quality bags that will last for many trips, then I really recommend looking into these bags. I especially like the Thule travel backpack and the rolling duffels – these are the bags we use the most and I expect them to last for many trips to come.
Disclaimer: As already mentioned above, Thule sponsored our luggage, but all opinions are my own. Our family is very impressed with the quality of Thule bags and we wouldn’t doubt to recommend them to a friend.