- Buyer's Guide
I have to start this off by saying I am a YETI fan. I’ve used their coolers and water bottles for years for all of my coaching, they make great gifts, and they over engineer most things! Plus – their customer service/warranty is one of the best in the business, and is one of the reasons I’ve always come back for more. More recently I’ve enjoyed their Camino totes (we’ve featured them in a few buying guides) as do everything bags and shock horror, they’re pretty tough too!
A few years ago they released their Tocayo backpack. While not perfect, I was a fan of that bag. It showed great promise and reminded me of a more EDC-focused GR1. It stood on its own, had a clean silhouette, and lots of simple but thoughtful features that made it a great daily bag for many. A couple of years later, they came back with a smaller bag, the Crossroads 23, which sadly I really didn’t love, it felt like a regression in some ways, almost like it was stuck in the middle of trying to be two things.
However, last year, they unveiled an updated Crossroads collection which I’ve been testing for the last six months. I must say, I am really, truly impressed by this bag. It has built on the promise of the Tocayo, and delivered a well thought out, tough, and reliable bag.
Let’s dig into the YETI Crossroads 27L.
Who’s it for?
If you’re after a do it all bag, and I truly mean “do-it-all”, you can’t go wrong here. This bag performs in every environment, has just the right balance of pockets and open space, along with a few features that you really grow to love. It’s a well priced bag that will serve you for a long time.
Who it isn’t
Ultralight fans keep moving, while this bag isn’t super heavy, it is definitely on the burlier side of the spectrum at 3.6lbs. If you’re after a city slicker minimalist aesthetic, you might not like the rugged look of this bag.
YETI’s Legendary Toughness
YETI are known for their ability to take a seemingly standard product, over engineer it, and let it loose in the wild. From their coolers to their water bottles, their products can take a fierce beating and still perform well. You only have to see the viral videos of a few rogue coolers that were lost from a container ship washing up on the coast of Alaska after a few weeks and then be put to work to understand how bomber their products are. I personally have a bunch of their water bottles and mugs, and some look like they’ve been through the mill, but they still work perfectly.
Now, admittedly that’s a slightly different prospect for a bag, mainly because of the contents, but I was hopeful that this bag would become something of a beater, one that I could take anywhere and rely on it as a hauler and workhorse. Well, I was wrong. It was unfair of me to preemptively demote the bag to just a “hauler”, as it has become one of my most used bags. It has been dragged through snow, dropped on muddy trails, and pulled day duty at the beach. Not to mention the countless downpours sat on the side of a rugby field.
The TuffSkinTM Nylon is inspired by the motorcycle world. That translates to a 700D nylon that is water and abrasion resistant.. Paired with a GroundControlTM Polyurethane coated base, this bag was made to take the hits. I’ve found great comfort in carrying my gear in the Crossroads, knowing that it’s well protected. Not only can it take the abuse, it also cleans up really easily. My bag has been covered in all kinds of dirt and gunk, but with a quick wipe of soapy water (and a bit of elbow grease for the tough stuff) the Crossroads scrubs up really well. While this is primarily designed for commuting, travel, or weekend trips, don’t be afraid to trust it out in the wild either!
What can it do?
This pack is versatile. YETI have done an excellent job of striking a balance between thoughtful organization and usable space. Sometimes I find EDC bags can get caught in the middle there with too much or too little either way. Using the Crossroads reminds me of my interactions with Bellroy bags, where I’m just doing and not thinking about what to put where, or “what should I do with this pocket”, or “I wish it had…” That’s an invaluable feature for a daily bag in my eyes, there isn’t a steep learning curve with this bag.
Pocket wise, there is a selection throughout the bag that are all different, but just as useful as the last. The front admin pocket is vertically aligned for easy access of the shoulder, and has two horizontal slips inside. These are where I’ve found myself putting an e-reader, pens, notebook, and other miscellaneous EDC. This could easily hold your phone and wallet too, but I always prefer to have those closer to my body rather than further away.
On the top of the bag, you have an excellent quick access pocket. This has its own individual volume (I would say around 2L) and a key leash. I found this to be home to my sunglasses, wallet, phone, keys, and essentials. The whole bag is protected by water resistant zippers, including this pocket, so you needn’t worry about your electronics too much. Like I mentioned, this has weathered many downpours and I’m yet to see ingress.
In the main cavity of the bag you’ll find three zippered pockets, and two internal water bottle sleeves. On the front wall of the bag there is a pocket, again with it’s own volume, although this time smaller at around 1L. On the back wall you have two zippered pockets which are perfect for tech accoutrement such as chargers and dongles. The top pocket of these two is also accessible from the other side where it meets the laptop sleeve. I found the 27L version great for my EDC, it pulled double duty between outdoor gear and photography gear very easily. The 22L and 35L versions are configured a little differently, so I found this to be the Goldilocks size.
The stretch water bottle pockets are genius in my opinion, and I really do wish all bags had them. It was one of my favourite features from the original Tocayo, and I’m glad to see it new and improved in the Crossroads series. Now made from a stretch material, they can hold a 46oz bottle easily. You can access this bottle from the top of the bag, or, thanks to the two-way zippers, you can hydrate from the side without having to dig into the main opening. THe stretch material also allows you to adjust what you put in there, depending on activity! I’ve easily fit a tripod in there, and it’s a great spot for sunscreen/bugspray too, keeping them out of the way and upright. If you aren’t using them, they slink out of the way and don’t take up much, if any, volume.
The laptop sleeve is excellent, it is well padded and suspended, surprisingly spacious and has separate access to the main compartment. I’ve managed to have both a 14” MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro in the compartment, with one in the sleeve and one just in front of it. While the main opening of the bag is almost full clamshell, the laptop sleeve entrance comes about a third of the way down the bag, so you don’t have to worry about any escapees from quick opening at TSA!
I mentioned a couple of extra features of this bag, that I think make it such an excellent all rounder. Firstly there are four handles on the bag. Two on the sides, a traditional grab handle up top, and then one placed right at the base of the front of the bag, just below the admin pocket. These handles are a joy to use, and just make moving with the bag so seamless. Whether you’re grabbing it from an overhead bin, your car, or the floor by your desk, you don’t have to feel around to find the handle, there is just one there waiting for you at all times.
Compression straps are not something that I usually associate with EDC bags, but I’ve come to love them on the YETI Crossroads. Easily adjustable, these can be used to shrink the footprint of the bag, or used to attach any extras to the bag. I’ve mostly used them for a wet rain jacket, or a damp towel at the beach. There are a few subtle loops on the bag so you can keep it tidy, and they also come with elastic strap keepers. Simple and thoughtful design that is well executed.
The whole back panel is a luggage pass through, which does a couple of things in practice. Firstly, it’s super easy to use as there is room for maneuver, you don’t have to pry the bag over the handles of your rolling suitcase, and secondly, I’ve found it to promote more airflow. Now that isn’t a huge issue for day to day, but on the occasions I’ve used this for hiking, it’s made a noticeable difference.
What can it do better?
This is always a hard part to write about bags that I’ve enjoyed using, as your mileage may vary. However, two things stand out to me as simple tweaks that would make this bag even better. Firstly, I wish the shoulder straps had a little more padding, the ¼” EVA foam is comfortable on the whole for daily use, but on the occasions I carried more gear for longer periods of time, I started to notice some hotspots on the front of my shoulders. A small increase in foam thickness would nullify this instantly I feel. I was using the 27L model (there is a 22 and 35L version too) and I can imagine on the 35L that the thin padding might be more of an issue.
Secondly, I feel like this bag should have locking zippers, at least on the main compartment. These are designed for travel and commuting, and I know there were times where I was carrying a lot of expensive or important goodies, and I would have felt some peace of mind had I been able to throw a security lock on there. Neither of these issues are deal breakers for me, but worth noting certainly.
The Crossroads 27L has surprised me, in the best way. This bag isn’t a show stopper made out of cutting edge materials, nor is it a limited edition bespoke model. However, it is incredibly functional, easy to use (and clean), and very reliable. This is the type of workhorse bag that you rely on, and come back to time and again, just like I have over the last six months. I also think in the current market place it represents great value for money. For a new Carryologist, it could be a great step onto the ladder of better bags, and a worthy addition to the collection. I think YETI are on to something with this updated Crossroads collection, and I’m excited to see what’s next!
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Space & Access
Look & Feel
Build, Materials & Hardware
Warranty & Support