Sweet Gear Review: Patagonia Crosstown Backpack

17 12 2009

Although most of the sweet gear I get is for climbing or running or cycling, there is some awesome gear that I use for my during-the-week life. I know that most climbers out there are like me: we have a “normal” job during the week to help support our climbing habit on weeknights, weekends, and vacations. Many of you probably commute to work in some way, and you might even have a laptop that you commute with, like I do.

Well, if you’re looking for a great solution for organizing your stuff and transporting your laptop to and from work or school, the Patagonia Crosstown backpack is a great choice.

Patagonia Crosstown backpack. Photo from Patagonia.com

For the last many years, including my entire time at Caltech, I used a Timbuk2 bag as my school bag. Although there are some great reasons to use a Timbuk2 bag (they’re awesome, and generally very compatible with getting around by bike), they are not really the best commuting bags, in my opinion, especially if you’re carrying a laptop back and forth. The fact is that the bag is only ever on one shoulder and, well, it doesn’t feel good on your shoulder. So, when I knew I would be carrying my computer to and from the office every day at Stanford, it was time for an upgrade (my parents offered to get me a new backpack as a graduation gift).

I chose the Patagonia Crosstown backpack because it seemed to have a great combination of features, functionality, and style, and that has definitely proven to be true.

Here’s a rundown of the features I love:

  • Laptop sleeve is perfect for my 13″ laptop, and easy to get my laptop in and out even when the main compartment is pretty full.
  • Plenty of room for notebooks, textbooks, lunch, extra jacket, etc. in the main pocket, plus a little internal mesh pouch that’s perfect for my calculator and mouse.

Main compartment, showing laptop sleeve and internal mesh pouch.

  • Just the right amount of organization in the front compartment – my favorite pencil, my favorite pen, my cell phone, and my ZuneHD. Everything a girl needs 🙂  Plus room for my wallet and other small necessities.

Front organizer compartment

  • External mesh water bottle pouch. Because it’s good to stay hydrated.
  • Zippered side pouch. It fits my keys and the “coffee shop” covers for my bike shoe cleats. It is really awesome to arrive at my office or my apartment and not have to take my backpack off to access my keys. I don’t think I can ever be happy with a bag that doesn’t have this feature from now on…

Zippered side pouch (perfect for keys!)

  • The front sleeve is PERFECT for my Chaco Flips, which I wear approximately 350 days a year, including most school days. Since I wear bike shoes to ride my bike, it’s great to be able to easily throw my flip flops into my backpack.
  • Comfortable suspension. To be fair, I don’t have a very long “commute” – 5-6 minute bike ride or a ~20 minute walk – and I have a very light laptop, but I’ve taken the backpack (full of stuff) through airports, too and it’s generally very comfortable.
  • Durable fabric that does a good job of staying clean. I don’t have a rear fender on my bike, so when it’s wet, the spray from the back wheel gets on me and my backpack. But you couldn’t tell from looking at my backpack – the dirt brushes right off.
  • Environmentally friendly: the backpack is made from 100% recycled polyester (except for the lining and mesh).

Flip flop sleeve!

There are a few minor issues I’ve had with the backpack:

  • The shoulder straps have a tendency to loosen – I feel like I have to re-tighten them fairly often. This may be due to the amount of on and off I subject my backpack to – I’ve never had a problem with it loosening while I’m riding my bike.
  • The waistbelt also seems to spontaneously loosen, even though I never use it (just keep it clipped closed so it’s out the way). This could be kind of annoying if you use the waistbelt on a regular basis (I don’t).
  • It might be tricky to fit a large laptop into the pouch, although if you have a computer that big, you’re probably not carrying it to work/school every day.

So, to sum up my thoughts: this is a really great backpack, especially for my (short) commute. It has great tools for organizing my stuff, without going overboard, as it seems many backpacks do these days. And there are many really thoughtful, awesome features like the zippered side key pouch and the front (flip-flop) sleeve.

Lizzy

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One response

17 12 2009
Josh

Cool Review Lizzy. You’ve answered pretty much every question I had. Perhaps I’ll have to go check it out. Hopefully it’ll fit me. 🙂

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