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Packs like a suitcase
Removable compression, hip, and waist straps
TSA-friendly laptop compartment
Lots of storage
Difficult to quickly retrieve items
Heavy base weight
No space for hydration reservoir
The Yeti Crossroads 35L Backpack is one of the more expensive carry-on backpacks on the market, but it’s built to be your go-to weekender bag for years to come.
We purchased the Yeti Crossroads 35L Backpack so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
For the convenience and efficiency of being able to carry everything you could possibly need for your trip hands-free, a carry-on backpack is a good alternative to the classic roller bag. You’ll want something that’s spacious enough to hold a few outfits, a pair or two of shoes, and other travel essentials, while at the same time being lightweight and easy to tote—you may be carrying it for long stretches, after all. We recently got our hands on Yeti’s new Crossroads 35L Backpack to see if the outdoor brand’s new luggage line lived up to the test. Read on for our insights into the carry-on backpack’s performance, with special focus on features like design, capacity, and portability.
Let’s start with the things we love about the design. One of the main marketing points of the Crossroads 35L is its 180-degree clamshell opening, meaning that you can pack it efficiently and easily, just like you would a suitcase. Inside, you’ll find a padded, TSA-friendly laptop compartment and a smaller pocket for a tablet, plus a divider with mesh pockets—great for storing items you'll want to access easily, like your toothbrush or medication. And then there’s the main, suitcase-like part of the backpack. There’s a ton of space in here, enough so that you can pack a week’s worth of clothing, or two if you don’t mind rewearing outfits or carrying some extra weight (more on that below).
Aside from the main compartment, there are three other pockets for stashing the rest of your travel essentials. In the front pocket, you can fit your passport, wallet, a paperback book, and a snack. Meanwhile, the top pocket has room for miscellaneous items like lip balm, pens, and your phone; it also comes with a sewed-in lanyard in case you’re using the backpack for work and need quick access to your ID. The side-zip pocket is designed to stash a YETI Rambler-sized tumbler—perfect for those who have ever lost a water bottle after storing it in the side mesh pocket of a traditional backpack.
When it comes to aesthetic, the Crossroads 35L is just as sleek as it is durable. It’s made with Tuffskin Nylon, a water- and abrasion-resistant 700-denier nylon fabric that’s typically used in airbags and motorcycle apparel. Yeti claims that it’s meant to get dirty, and most stains can be easily removed with dish soap and a damp washcloth, so we put this to the test by rubbing a dollop of sunscreen, a splash of coffee, and a pinch of dirt into the bag. And they were right—we were able to get the stains out without any issue. (Note that despite being water-resistant, it’s not waterproof!) Plus, we can’t help but love the Aquifer Blue Green color.
One other design feature that we especially appreciate about the backpack is that it comes with three pairs of removable straps with quick-release buckles, which you can use as compression, waist, and/or sternum straps. If you’re opting for the former, attach one half of each of two pairs to either side of the backpack, pull them through the four loops on the front, and buckle them in the middle. If you’d rather use them as waist and sternum straps, there are two additional loops on the sides and seven on the shoulder straps; as such, you can customize the placement of the straps based on the length of your torso.
At four pounds, it’s slightly heavier than competitors’ carry-on backpacks, and it can get uncomfortable to tote when it’s at full capacity.
And this brings us to some of the backpack’s flaws. Even though we love the removable straps, we wish that it had come with just one more. With all the weight in here, we chose to use them as waist and sternum straps—but that meant there was one less compression strap that could have been used to help pack down the load.
Also, there’s really only one way to get into the main part of the backpack, and that’s to set it down and open it up all 180 degrees. While there is a partial zipper on the side that offers quick access, it can get difficult to find and retrieve what you need—which can be especially inconvenient if you’re pressed for time.
Even though Yeti says that it can withstand the trails, it’s not really designed for long hikes. There’s no interior sleeve to store a hydration reservoir, and at four pounds, it’s too heavy for a more intensive trek. If you’re looking for something more hiker-friendly, consider one of these top-rated hydration packs instead.
The backpack’s main compartment is quite spacious. Inside this 35-liter bag, we were able to fit a pair of jeans, corduroy ankle pants, two pairs of leggings, three T-shirts, a long-sleeved shirt, maxi dress, sweater, cardigan, a pair of sandals, socks and underwear, and a toiletry bag.
On top of all that, we were able to pack other travel essentials inside the backpack’s other compartments and pockets, including an 11-inch MacBook Air, electronic chargers for our personal devices, and a paperback book.
At four pounds, it’s slightly heavier than competitors’ carry-on backpacks, and it can get uncomfortable to tote when it’s at full capacity. If you’re dropping your Crossroads backpack off at your accommodation immediately upon reaching your destination (or you have a strong back), you might not find this to be an issue. However, if you’re planning to carry it around for any length of time, you’ll want to pack lightly. That said, an integrated pass-thru sleeve attached to the back allows you to pull the Crossroads 35L over the handle of your roller luggage; we found this to be super helpful when riding the subway to the airport.
Considering the durability of the Tuffskin Nylon, though, you won’t be replacing this backpack anytime soon: It is made to last.
Keep in mind that the backpack’s dimensions exceed some of the major airlines’ carry-on requirements. You might be able to get away with it—United allowed it when I flew with them recently—but you do carry the risk of having to check it. We were able to stow it away in the overhead compartment with ease.
For $249, this backpack comes with a big price tag, especially when compared to other carry-on backpacks from big-name brands like Osprey. But considering the durability of the Tuffskin Nylon, though, you won’t be replacing this backpack anytime soon: It is made to last. Should it get damaged outside of normal wear and tear, there is a three-year warranty in which Yeti will repair or replace any damaged parts.
Osprey Porter 30 Travel Backpack: If you’re looking for a carry-on backpack, the Osprey Porter 30, which we also tested, is a great alternative. It has a roomy main compartment that can fit up to two weeks’ worth of clothes, and with a 2.81-pound base weight, it’s easier to carry. Plus, at $120, it’s a fraction of the price of the Crossroads 35L. However, the laptop sleeve isn’t well protected, making it less than ideal for business travel.
Tortuga Setout Backpack: We also tested the Tortuga Setout Backpack, which is comparably sleek and spacious. You can choose between the women’s and men’s fit, each one coming in both a 35- and 45-liter size. Its laptop compartment is also separate from the suitcase part of the backpack, making retrieving your computer super easy. With prices starting at $179, it’ll cost you less than the Crossroads 35L. However, it’s made with 900D polyester—if you’re wanting a backpack made with a stronger, softer material, go with the Crossroads.
For more options, check out our roundup of the best carry-on backpacks.
We like the Yeti Crossroads 35 Backpack for its durable fabric and super spacious main compartment. While it’s on the pricier side, it’s bound to be your travel companion on weekend getaways and city excursions.
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