YETI Crossroads 35L Backpack Review
The YETI Crossroads 35L Backpack is tough where it counts but hampered by slow accessibility and average comfort.
- Really tough exterior material is also easy to clean
- Good balance of space and organization
- Bright interior fabric is easy to navigate
- Logo has peeled at the corner
- Harness system isn’t at the level of the 35L capacity
- Main compartment accessibility is slow
4 lb (1.8 kg)
19.75 in x 13 in x 11 in (50.2 x 33 x 27.9 cm)
Nylon, EVA Foam, Polyurethane, YKK Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
YETI has produced some well-built backpacks like the Tocayo Backpack 26 and the Crossroads Backpack 23. We praised both of those for their high-quality materials and build quality. Thus, heading into a review of the Crossroads 35L Backpack, it’s fair to expect similar sentiments from us.
The Crossroads 35L Backpack certainly looks the part of being tough-as-nails, but there are hits and misses in features and build quality. Slow access to the clothing compartment is among the key misses, while the robust quality has mostly remained intact. We also found the harness system lacking in terms of comfort and comprehensiveness—especially with this larger bag in the Crossroads line. There’s a lot going on with the Crossroads 35L Backpack, so if you’re interested, let’s dive in.
Materials & Aesthetic
The Crossroads first arrived in our office squeaky clean as new bags typically do, but with a certain air of readiness that was begging to be taken on an adventure. We were more than happy to oblige, of course, and a few biking trips & hikes later, the Crossroads has picked up a toughened look as expected. Combined with the large 35-liter capacity, the Crossroads has a heavy-duty aesthetic you may or may not like, but it’s nothing too crazy either.
There are three choices to choose from for colors: Aquifer Blue Green, Navy, and Black. We have the black version for this review, and as expected, it’s the tamest of the three available colorways. But hey, we like the color black since it works so well with anything, except for visibility at night.
Apart from the fluff and dirt, which we could wipe off with some cold water and paper towels easily, there was a worrying bit of damage. The YETI logo developed a peel at the bottom right corner. Not a good sign—especially since it’s on the brand’s logo.
Fortunately, none of the other parts of the bag suffered any noteworthy damage. The TuffSkin Nylon holds up solidly, as well as the water-resistant YKK zippers. We also really dig the beefy zipper pulls and plastic adjusters YETI used here; we’d say this bag can take a lot of punishment, if not for the early signs of wear on the logo.
At 35 liters, the Crossroads is on the large side of the backpack size spectrum, and you can load it up to the gills with tons of clothes and travel essentials. Plus, with the robust vibe the bag has going on, we expected it to have a harness system that’s up to the task and well-suited to the large capacity.
Unfortunately, we found the shoulder straps on the Crossroads to be a bit thin for our liking—especially at the 35L size. There’s some good quality foam for sure, but not enough to keep a full-capacity load in check. It seems like a missed opportunity since the shoulder straps are built wide enough that the weight distribution should be good enough for a comfortable carrying experience. Silver lining: the paracord strap keepers are simple but effective at their job and serve as additional mounting points for accessories to boot.
There’s also no hip belt or mounting points for one in case you wanted a bit more stability for heavier loads. What is present is a sternum strap that hooks onto nylon webbings situated along the shoulder straps. Interestingly, YETI has lined almost the entire length of the shoulder straps with this nylon webbing, offering an almost excessive amount of horizontal adjustment for the sternum strap. You could mount the sternum strap near the neck area and down just below your rib area if you wanted to. Alternatively, these loops can come in handy for accessories like the Gossamer Shoulder Strap Pocket.
Secondary to the shoulder straps are the handles. A total of four handles are scattered around the Crossroads that offer users a great degree of handling outside the main harness system. You won’t be handling the Crossroad on purely these handles alone, but they’re nice to have for moving the large 35-liter bag around short distances.
There’s one at the top that’s stitched wide apart, two on each side flanked by nylon loops, and one at the front near the bottom for sliding the bag around. Each of these handles is quite beefy, and you can easily hang the bag off one of these handles if you ever needed to.
The facade of the bag is also sprinkled with four loops for threading through compression straps. You can also use these loops for accessories like carabiners since the compression straps themselves attach to the loops flanking the side handles. The compression straps themselves are easy to adjust and clip on easily.
For your water bottle, there’s a “Rambler-ready” pocket on the right side. We did our due diligence and tested if our 18-ounce YETI Rambler fitted inside, and indeed it does. Taller bottles also fit inside easily since the pocket has no ceiling. This water bottle pocket is embedded into the bag, so it cuts into the available space of the main compartment.
Lastly, the whole padded back panel of the Crossroads acts as a luggage pass-through. Some backpacks opt to use a simple nylon strap for this purpose, but considering the large capacity of the Crossroads 35L, this wide pass-through is more suitable for the job.
Inside The Pack
Starting with the gusseted top quick-grab pocket, we encounter a semi-literal snag with the zippers. While zipping and unzipping this pocket, we ran into some instances of the fabric bunching up and getting the zipper stuck. This wasn’t an issue with the main compartment since it had a robust frame sheet to fight against the fabric bunching up. But for the quick-grab pocket, this can make accessibility a bit slower than expected.
The inside of this top pocket is quite simply spacious. There’s a ton of room for even multiple sunglasses and granola bars. There’s so much space that we’d advise getting a small pouch if you’re planning to throw in smaller items like memory cards or thumb drives. The flip side is that, like the water bottle pocket, it also eats up space from the main compartment. There’s also a built-in key clip, and though it has good length, it uses a ball-head clip to attach to your keys. Our keys haven’t come off loose from the clip, but they can certainly slip through the small gap in between the ball head.
The side-opening front pocket is also gusseted, and you wouldn’t know that there’s a pocket there until you notice the beefy zipper pull peeking out. It’s equally deep and spacious, able to take in even our Apple Magic Keyboard. Two liner pockets provide organization; they’re located near the opening, so whatever you put inside will hit the zipper first and are unlikely to spill out. Smaller items might still fall off loose, so it’s better to keep those in small pouches too.
YETI has an unconventional access method for the main compartment. You have two options: a side quick-access opening big enough for grabbing stuff, one hoodie at a time. Or you can open the whole bag clamshell-style, but you have to go through the tech compartment area first before getting access to the clothes compartment.
But before we get into the clothes compartment, let’s talk about the tech/clothing area first since we have to go through it first. You get two soft-lined sleeves, the rearmost one for your 16-inch laptop and the front one for a large tablet. In addition to a false bottom, the laptop sleeve has diagonally mounted elastic bands to keep your laptop from hitting the ceiling of the Crossroads. Unfortunately, we observed that the elastic has worn down considerably over our testing period, and we’re not sure how far it can still wear down.
Opposite the sleeves are two large mesh pockets for other tech items or small clothes like socks or delicates. We opted to chuck our charging and data cables in there in place of using a tech pouch, and they do the job just as well as keeping things organized.
Moving on to the clothes compartment, you first have to unzip the panel where the mesh pockets are before getting full access. Once you’ve gotten past that, you’re greeted by the large available space, ready to take in several packing cubes of clothes. This bucket-style clamshell has a good structure that makes packing stuff relatively easy. Before we forget, the whole interior—pockets included—are lined with fairly bright liner fabric that’s easy to navigate.
The available space will be affected by the water bottle pocket and the top pocket, both of which borrow space from here. In fact, you have full access to your water bottle from the clothes compartment since there’s no ceiling to hide it.
The YETI Crossroads 35L has tons of space that goes along with its large size. The small peel on the logo and elastic bands notwithstanding, the bag oozes with beefy materials and robust build quality. Unfortunately, we’re not completely sold due to the slow accessibility of the clothes compartment and deficient harness system. We wish the harness system had more padding to match the large capacity to make the carrying experience more comfortable. For the clothes compartment, a separate top opening would be preferable over the side quick-access pocket, which we didn’t find that much use for.
- Wide clamshell opening gives full frontal access
- Durable Tuffskin Nylon gives off a rugged vibe
- Spacious and easy to pack inside thanks to the relatively rigid sides
- Straps are a bit thin for a 35L pack
- Top pocket can be challenging to unzip due to the weather-resistant zipper
- Fabric feels great in the hand and wipes off easily