Thank you to Outdoor Products for inviting me to test this pack!
Cross Breeze™ Frame Pack by Outdoor Products
Dimensions: 20.9 in W x 12.2 in H x 9.3 in D / 1,362 cu in
- Unique lightweight, curved Cross Breeze™ frame system keeps your back cool while supporting heavy loads
- Suspended mesh for maximum airflow
- Front pocket for quick access to flat items
- Padded, ergonomically designed waist belt comfortably supports heavy loads
- Articulated, yoke-style shoulder straps with sliding sternum adjusters
- Fits most 2 Liter reservoirs (sold separately)
- Large front-loading main compartment
- Two side mesh pockets
- Compression straps
For my first test hike, I loaded this bag as though I was embarking on a 22 mile round trip day hike with 6,750 feet elevation gain. I started with my 2 liter reservoir, plus two 32 oz Nalgene bottles. I continued with all of the basics that I bring on every hike (first aid kit, toilet paper, tissues, chapstick), then added a day’s worth of trail food, rain gear, two sets of gaiters, a head lamp, and poles. All of that fit. I had intended to also include a turtle fur and a puffy jacket, but that was being overly ambitious. I had already crammed as much gear as this bag would tolerate and the zippers were at their max, straining at the mass I’d subjected it to. Despite how hard I pushed it, everything held together.
Loaded, I set off on an 8 mile rolling hike through woods along a lake. The hip belt is comfortable, the water reservoir is well placed, and the excess straps fold up and store neatly to the side, instead of falling in front, like some packs do. I enjoyed the numerous pockets, which easily help you organize your license, credit card, cash, maps, and snacks for the trail. I love the pole holders. These are perfect for hikes that transition between requiring poles and needing full use of your hands.
On my second, 7 mile family hike, also through woods, but flat, I packed much of the same gear, dropping some of the less reasonable items, like gaiters. I was able to easily retrieve tissues at my daughter’s request, supply both of us with water, and hand over her spare gloves on demand. I normally have to dig around given the stacked shape of my usual packs, so this is nothing short of highly convenient.
The one thing I struggled with was keeping the straps secure on my shoulders. The straps do adjust, but kept slipping, as though the pack wanted to fit someone with a larger frame. I kept pulling the shoulder straps tighter so the pack fit snugly to my body, but each time, it only held in place for fewer than 50 yards. It’s an easy fix – I can secure safety pins, but an element worth pointing out. I also found my hips feeling bruised for a few days following the tests. This struck me as odd since my body is used to carrying packs and this particular hip belt felt super comfortable while hiking. I allow for the possibility that this pain was caused by something unrelated.
With the shape of the pack being boxier, rather than narrow, I wonder how this would fair on a rock scramble. I’m eager to try it – the pole holders are a great accompaniment, but I question whether the wider shape would inhibit ability to maneuver among rocks. My plan is to take this for a test on a 9 mile rock scramble, one of my favorites, to see how it holds up. As soon as I hit a warm, dry day on a weekend, I’ll grab this pack and give it a go.
- Number of pockets and holders allows for excellent organization
- Pole straps are great for toggling between hiking with poles and full use of your hands
- Great water reservoir holder
- Side water holders have straps to secure large bottles such as Nalgene
- Excess straps fold neatly to the side
- Comfortable hip belt
- Shoulder straps slip, even with everything clipped in place
- Zipper threatened to burst open (this was my doing in overpacking it and pushing this bag to its limit)
- Boxier structure could present a challenge with strenuous rock scrambles, so add this to your collection with the intention of only using it for Class 1 hiking
Overall, this bag has a lot to tout. If you’re on a budget and demand organization on hikes, this is a pack to explore. Also makes a great gift for that hiker in your life.
Disclaimer: Outdoor Products provided us with this item to test for this review. All testing is unbiased. Our policy is – if we love the product, we’ll rave about it. If we don’t, well, we’ll be honest about it.