Last month I received an email from Natchez Shooter Supplies that included a dramatic sale on Eagle Crossover packs. As a Soldier, and as someone who’s gone on many over-night jaunts while pursuing martial arts and shooting training, I have an interest in sturdy, reasonably-priced packs.
I have long been a fan of CamelBak hydration packs, and I’ve used them while attending college, while deployed, and as carry-on packs while flying and while hiking for medium distances. The CamelBak HAWG I’ve owned since 2003 is finally starting to show wear, and it’s a little on the small side for carrying more than a change of clothes, or just a laptop computer. I used an Army-issued “assault pack”, paid for and kept it after my 2007 deployment, but it was stolen in 2009. While at the 2011 SHOT Show, I bought a Sabre pack that was a little larger than my HAWG, but even it is still a little small for more than an overnight stay.
The Crossover I received is a deceptively large pack, partially because it widens from the top down. At first glance, it does not appear much larger than my Camelbak HAWG, but closer inspection shows it to hold at least twice as much. Depending on what is in the pack, it was a struggle sometimes to put my laptop in the HAWG, but it fits in the Crossover with room to spare. The Crossover gave me a good initial impression, appearing to be sturdily and thoughtfully made, with quality stitching and thick shoulder straps, MOLLE webbing across the back, and a carry strap at the top of the pack.
Additional investigation of the Crossover leads me to believe that some designer at Eagle has no idea what he’s doing. The attributes of the Crossover are stated to include a “padded, zippered laptop compartment”, but the only compartment I see that would fit this description is the compartment immediately behind the user- in other words, in the least comfortable position. What would make sense is putting the hydration bladder in this compartment, since the flexible fluid carrier will conform to a body- but this particular compartment does not have any means to hold and stabilize a hydration bladder. There is a port at the top of the bag through which a hydration hose can be run, but the space is so tight that you will have to remove everything but the hose to get it through.
The Crossover is a “3/4 clamshell” design, meaning that the main compartment can be accessed by zippers that travel most of the way up the sides, and meet. I do like the spacious interior of the Crossover, though the main compartment has no way to secure a laptop, so putting one in will require careful packing to protect your computer, or keeping the laptop in a sleeve or smaller bag. There are several pouches in the main compartment, and two zippered pockets. The large but flat compartment just behind the user is accessed by a zipper that travels down the right side of the pack.
I used the Crossover to pack for my monthly battle assembly, which cut down on the number of gear carriers I had to bring with me. I had no problem packing my computer, toiletries, some beef jerky, and clothes for three days. I attached my Tevas to the outside of the pack, but looking at the picture will show I still have room to spare.
The Crossover appears sturdy, and is surprisingly capacious, but how well would it work for hiking? I loaded up the pack with everything (except for food and water) that I might need for three days out hunting, or on the trail. I included
- two pairs, ACU Pants
- ACU Top
- four t-shirts
- four pairs socks
- four pair underwear
- travel towel
- hygiene kit
- cleaning kit
- lightweight sleeping bag
- 20 rounds, 7mm Remington Magnum
- 60 rounds, .45 Colt
- solar lamp
- tactical light and spare batteries
- small fixed-blade knife
- paperback book
- small cigar case
- cigar cutter
- torch lighter
- 100 oz hydration bladder
- rain jacket
Fully loaded, the Crossover weighed 31 pounds. When I started walking, it soon became obvious that the Crossover was not intended for serious hiking, as it became uncomfortable before my first half-mile was through. Before I finished two miles, my shoulders were going numb, and my mid-back was not happy.
The Crossover is a good-sized bag for weekend trips, and carrying bulky but lightweight gear for short distances. I think it’s an absolute bargain if it can be found for less than $80. It is disappointing that a little more thought was not put into details like the most logical location for a laptop, and I would really hate to carry a full load in the Crossover for more than three miles at a stretch, but users who just want a sturdy bag to hold gear while riding in vehicles will probably think it’s well worth the cost.