Issue #042 Review

Thule Rail 12L Pro on review – offering good protection and clever features

The bike backpack market is dominated by a few brands and Thule isn’t yet one of them. That could all change with the Thule Rail 12L Pro, as our review of this protector-backpack proves.

Our expectations of a modern bike backpack are easy to list but apparently difficult to fulfil. A good backpack should stay securely in place while offering good ventilation. It must also offer enough storage space for all your essentials and protect your back. The Thule Rail 12L Pro promises to fulfil all of these expectations thanks to a cleverly designed strap system, well position compartments and a removable Koroyd back protector. The construction of the backpack differs from the more popular brands in several respects. For example, the tool compartment in the Rail Pro is placed where it makes the most sense: close to your back. Small zippered compartments and pockets for a pump allow you to keep everything nice and organised. The main compartment of the 12 L backpack offers enough space for a spare layer and a lightweight jacket. Besides that, the Rail 12L has a slim pocket on the outside which you can reach from the side – perfect for your smartphone or a snack. If you run out of space, you can always hang stuff from the four straps on the outside of the backpack, such as your knee pads and chin-guard. Along with a back protector, the Rail 12L also has an integrated 2.5 L bladder with an extra big opening for easy cleaning. However, the real highlight of the bladder is the magnetic strip on the hose. This keeps the hose captive to the strap, meaning it’s always within easy reach and automatically jumps back into place when you’re done drinking – brilliant! The only annoying thing is removing the bladder from the main compartment which can be a bit fiddly.

Magnetic attraction
Thanks to the magnetic strip, the hose attaches itself to the strap, is always within easy reach and automatically jumps back into place when you’re done drinking – brilliant! The only downside, is that it works only on the right side of the bag.
The side pocket gives you quick access to an energy bar or your smartphone while you’re riding.
Optimal centre of gravity
Thule put the tool compartment close to your back, placing the centre of gravity as close as possible to the rider’s body. Your spine stays well-protected thanks to the integratedback protector.

It’s important for the straps of a backpack to offer a comfortable and secure fit on your back. There’s nothing more annoying than riding down an amazing trail and being distracted by your backpack swinging around on your back and smacking you in the back of the head. The narrow waist straps of the Rail 12L don’t look very promising at first, but combined with the wide waistband attached to the lower part of the backpack, they hug your waist tightly. There are backpacks on the market that are held in place more securely but at the cost of ventilation and breathability. The narrow construction of the Thule Rail 12L Pro, on the other hand, together with its perforated straps and narrow waist strap, manages to strike a good compromise. Smaller riders are advised to shorten the loose ends of the straps which will otherwise dangle around. We tested the backpack for half a year and didn’t find any signs of wear and tear during that time. Considering the hefty € 199 price point, we didn’t expect anything less.

Spider monkey
Thanks to the wide band by the waist straps, the Thule Rail 12L Pro stays put amazingly well despite the narrow straps.

The Thule Rail 12L Pro is an excellent trail backpack striking a good compromise between a secure fit and breathability, as well as offering smart compartments, unique looks and high-quality workmanship. If you’re in the market for a good backpack for day trips, we recommend taking a closer look at the Rail 12L Pro.


  • smartly designed compartments
  • good compromise between breathability and a secure fit
  • excellent drinking hose attachment


  • expensive
  • there are more secure fitting backpacks on the market

Tester Antonia und Christoph
Duration 6 Monate
Price € 199
Weight 1,087 g (incl. protector/bladder)
More Info

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Words: Antonia Buckenlei, Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer