This battle-tough backpack looks killer, too [Review]

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Thule Crossover 2 backpack
Ready for the world, the Thule Crossover 2 backpack.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

If you’re going to be seen carrying the same bag every day, its look and style are as important to many commuters as the bag’s ability to protect its contents.

Many shoulder bags and backpacks excel in one area and underwhelm in the other. Not the 20L Thule Crossover 2 backpack. It can be reviewed with just two words — ruggedly handsome.

To stop there, of course, would be a disservice to the reader, especially one currently shopping for a backpack to fit what they carry on their daily trek.

If you’re like me, prone to buy something because it looks nice, the protection this pack assures is as evident as its good looks.

Thule Crossover 2 backpack review: Made to last and look good

Thule Crossover 2 backpack
Rails that look good and provide protection.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

The first thing I noticed is the raised rails on the front that function stylistic to accent the lines of the bag but serves as a slight but sturdy guard against walls, doorways and the full-contact negotiations of a crowded bus or train.

Above the rails is a smaller pocket with what feels like armor plating sewn into the dimpled black nylon. This is a crush-resident pocket for items like glasses or a smartphone.

Thule Crossover 2 backpack
A backpack with lots pockets and compartments is still sleek in profile.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Brands will say their products are durable, but durability is something you can confidently feel when holding this pack.

The toughness does not come at a sacrifice to comfort. The back panel and easy-to-adjust straps are padded so it can be worn for long periods with relative ease.

The Thule Crossover 2 backpack will appeal to neatniks and messy packers alike. For the organized carrier, there are several pockets and compartments laid out for that sensibility. Its layout also encourages a slob like me to neatly arrange items.

The front panel with the rails has a cord management pocket and a host of other pockets and compartments for items like a passport, keys, external power packs, and other small electronic devices.

A great MacBook backpack

Thule crossover 2 backpack
The front compartment has a place for all the little things the commuter must carry.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

The laptop compartment, like the rest of the bag, solidly protects precious cargo. There is room for a laptop of 14-inches plus a tablet. For me, this easily fits my 13-inch MacBook Pro, its charging cord and my iPad mini with room to spare.

The main compartment is roomy and includes a pair of pockets to keep folders and paperwork separated from, say gym clothes.

The Crossover 2 line also includes a 30L backpack plus two different laptop briefcase-style bags.

Can you handle the truth?

If there is anything to criticize, it’s the handle that few backpackers ever grab onto. It sits at the top, is well-padded and stretches across its own textured nylon panel. When grabbed, the handle pulls that fabric tight across the knuckles and causes a sandpaper-like rub.

Most folks taking a backpack out the front door to a car may just grab the pack by one shoulder strap. I often grab the handle as I go out the door and walk toward my car.

Is this a deal-breaker? Hardly. And, with time, the handle may stretch a little to provide more comfort on the fingers.

There are less expensive backpacks, but because this one has the strength to last the carrier’s whole career, it’s worth the extra money.

Buy from: Amazon — Check on Amazon

Thule provided Cult of Mac a review unit for this report. Read our reviews policy.