Thule Crossover Backpack 32L Review

A business traveler’s friend, with exceptional organization and comfort

Thule Crossover Backpack 32L Photos: Michael Frank and Mark Miller

The Thule Crossover Backpack 32L is one of 10 travel backpacks I evaluated for qualities including organization, comfort, and sturdiness as part of CR’s Outside the Labs reviews program.

Price: $149.95
Where to buy: Thule, Amazon, Best Buy
Specs:  18.5 x 12.4 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Claimed capacity: 32 liters
Construction: Nylon
Tuckable pack sleeves: No
External bottle sleeve: Yes (two)
Shoulder carry: No
Waist strap: No
Eyeglass sleeve: Yes
Extras: External kangaroo pocket

Here’s My Review
This large pack has interior organization to rival the Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC. But crammed to capacity, it wasn’t quite as comfy without a waist strap as the Patagonia, Incase EO Travel Backpack, or eBags Pro Slim. (The Crossover is available in smaller sizes, but this model offers the flexibility of being able to underpack it to fit under the seat, or stuff it full for car trips or even to put in the overhead compartment.) It’s an organizational titan with sleeves, slots, cubbies, and smart design throughout. I especially dig the external pockets: There’s a space for a water bottle on either hip, and both are constructed with elastic, hugging the bottle into the pack and holding it tight. A central kangaroo pouch on the back of the pack was just large enough to hold a lightweight windbreaker. Unzip the next layer of the “onion” and you reach the business compartment, with slots for pens and business cards, my passport and notebook, plus a bigger mesh pocket for my battery charger and just enough room for my wireless headphones at the top.

See our review of the best travel backpacks for more information, including details on how we evaluated them.

The main hold is big: Slippers, dopp kit, camera, adapter caddy all fit fine. The laptop sleeve fit my MacBook, iPad, books and magazines, and Thule pads the panel facing your spine, too, so it rides decently despite missing a waist strap. Partly that’s thanks to shoulder straps that are extra wide and perforated, allowing them to bend across collar bones and really conform to your shoulders. All that made the Thule one of the more comfortable packs I evaluated—just not quite as easy to tote as the overall winners. 

Two oversized grab handles, one at the bottom of the pack as well as the top, make it easy to retrieve from under the seat. And there was room to spare, even packed with all my gear, meaning it would work well as an overnight hauler. Just take care not to over-cram it if you want it to fit in the underseat storage area.

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Michael Frank

Michael Frank is a freelance writer who contributes to Consumer Reports on the intersection of cars and tech. His bias: lightweight cars with great steering over lumbering, loud muscle cars any day. You can  follow him on Twitter (@mfwords) and  Instagram (mfwords).