REVIEWED: Thule Crossover Rolling 23″ Carry-On

This wheeled bag-cum-backpack is well designed, but is it too large for European airline cabins?

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Wheeled bags are a blessing and a curse. Great in theory, the wheels are often poor and struggle to balance and, besides, in crowds and car parks it’s often much quicker and more sensible to fling a backpack on and get walking. Almost uniquely, the Thule Crossover lets you roll and carry, but is it really small enough for an airline cabin?

The right size?

The design is classic – and then some. On the front of this ballistic nylon bag is a well-protected laptop pouch for a 15-inch laptop, which also has a separate compartment, perhaps for a tablet. But is it sized well for airlines? Weighing 3.5kg and taking about 38 litres, it measures 59x39x23cm. That’s a little too tall for EasyJet (which accepts cabin bags measuring a maximum of 56x45x25cm) and a little too big across all dimensions for Ryanair (55x40x20cm). We also had trouble shoving it into the overhead compartment on a Greyhound bus in the USA, partly because the machined edges of the aluminium supports on the undercarriage are too sharp to touch.

Pop-out backpack straps

Also on the front is a small zipped compartment out of which sprout two backpack straps, which unfurl easily and attach to clips on the sides of the Thule Crossover. They’re comfy, though it looks a little odd when set-up as a backpack since the highly visible structure that supports the retractable aluminium column used to drag along the Thule Crossover is displayed on the back of the bag.

Columns & grab handle

However, that column is very impressive – study and strong – and dragging along the Thule Crossover even when full is simple. It glides along most surfaces and only rock if you start to run (as we had to to get our plane). However, despite the relatively heavy duty wheels, they proved no match for a gritted outside path in the Grand Canyon National Park; they almost immediately clogged-up. Also, the rather large structure that supports that column and grab handle, as well as that front pouch that hides the backpack straps, does mean that the main compartment – which can be locked thanks to its superb quality zips with eyelets – is a tad small.

Built-in sunglasses case

Another reason for that small space inside is the inclusion of a hard-backed sunglasses SafeZone built-in to the side of the Thule Crossover. It’s a welcome design flourish, and even has a soft neoprene inner so you can dispense with a sunglasses case altogether. It’s optional, too; the hard case can be popped-out and left at home if, say, you’re headed to Finland in winter. It’s a nice option and, again, something unique to Thule.

Over-engineered?

Despite its clever design flourishes, the Thule Crossover is slightly over-engineered, with that sunglasses case, backpack straps and structure for the grab handle making it easier to use, but smaller where it really counts. However, if you travel light and are more interested in convenience than capacity, the Thule Crossover is a one-of-a-kind marvel that proves incredibly impressive if you’re not going to stray from airports cities and shiny surfaces. However, for UK airlines it’s just too big to act as the all-in-one carry-on it’s designed to be.

Price as reviewed: £249

Buy the Thule Crossover Rolling 23″ Carry-On