The Thule Group has launched its first range of technical backpacks, to be sold from February. It was presented at the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen for the first time and it will be launched in the U.S. at Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City in August. A global marketing campaign for end consumers is planned for February 2015.
After the Thule Group started to produce backpacks for computers four years ago, it launched its first range of camera bags at Ispo 2014 and decided to move into the product category of backpacks from 2015.
The product line is divided into three sub-categories, “Thule Guidepost” for large backpacks with different versions for men and women: large backpacks of 65-88 liters for men and 65-75 liters for women; “Thule Capstone Hiking Series” for smaller backpacks of 22-50 liters with distinctive versions for men and women; and “Thule Sapling” for children.
Thule's backpacks are available in one size, offering 270 different configurations, enabling end consumers to adjust the backpack to their body. The backpacks have a 25-year guarantee and are priced between €150- 300 at retail level.
Graham Jackson, who has been part of the Thule Group for seven years, was appointed category manager for the technical backpack range two years ago. It was developed by an international team of designers, including Henrik Kax, who was the design director at Haglöfs for over 10 years and joined Thule as head of design and development in 2011. Also in this team are Sky and Trisha Wookey from the U.S. brand Wookey Backpacks, and the freelance designer Damian Kelly, who worked for brands like Mountain Hardware, Sitka Hunting and Timbuk 2.
Ty Wivell, previously an independent sales representative for Thule, Camelbak and Salomon among others, and sales manager for Lowepro for the last two years, joined the company as sales category manager in April. Based in Thule's offices in Colorado, he will take care of sales in the U.S. and Canada. Mark Thibadeau, former designer at Gregory, joined in May in the newly created position of lead technical pack designer.
Thule aims to sell this product range through outdoor stores. The group has local area sales managers for the Nordic countries, the Benelux, Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. They report to Johan Hedberg, vice-president for sales in Europe and the rest of the world. The sales area managers sometimes work with distributors but the company has also hired a dozen sales representatives with experience in outdoor retailing in the last six months.