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Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT daypack review: serious kit for serious hiking

The highly versatile Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT is a large daypack with excellent functional features, a great harness and brilliant access

Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT
(Image: © Jack Wolfskin)

Our Verdict

A super-versatile, large daypack, dripping with excellent features – including an innovative and useful way of accessing the main compartment – that will look after you well during days in the mountains and weekends on the trails.

For

  • Good capacity and easy access
  • Comfortable harness & excellent back ventilation
  • Robust build
  • Lots of great features
  • Recycled elements used in construction

Against

  • Thin waist belt
  • Sternum strap can become detached and lost
  • Hydration hose has to come over right shoulder

Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT: first impressions

The Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT is a serious pack for big days out. It immediately impresses with an absolute sackload of funky features, but for me it was the level of functionality that has been built into the design that really makes this pack a frontrunner when it comes to the best daypacks – especially the innovative front access zip.

Specifications

• List price: $149.95 (US) / £110 (UK)
Weight (empty): 1,180g / 41.6oz
• Volume: 32L
• Size: 64cm x 31cm x 29cm / 25in x 12in x 11.5in
• Variations available: Unisex, one size
• Back length: Medium–Large (50cm–58cm / 20in–23in)
• Materials: Recycled polyester lining; eco-dyed air mesh
• Colors: Blue Jewel / Fiery Red / Black
• Compatibility: Day walks in all conditions, fastpacking adventures, one-night escapades and longer hut to hut hikes

The generously proportioned main compartment is capable of taking enough gear to see you through a lightweight overnight adventure or multiday walk if you’re going from hut to hut or using some other accommodation. It’s designed primarily for big days in the hills, however, with tailor-made carry hoops for technical items such as trekking poles.

The ACS (Air Control System) harness is comfortable and easily adjustable (with a pull-forward tightening system), although the waist belt is a bit narrow and the sternum strap can come detached from the pack and get lost if you’re not careful (more on that below). The rear of the pack is concaved and a mesh very effectively keeps your back nice and ventilated.

One of the best features is a large semi-circular zip that opens the pack right up, giving you access to the main compartment, which is extremely useful for finding buried items without emptying the entire bag on the side of the trail.

Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT

Access into the heart of the Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT is so much easier than with many daypacks (Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

There are also loads of pockets and extra storage pouches, so organizing your kit is easy. The righthand hip wing has a double zip pocket that can be used as a large single storage space (big enough to take sunglasses, a GPS unit and / or a phone) or two smaller pockets. The lid, the inside of which features instructions on how to signal for assistance in emergency situations, has two zipped pockets, one on the inside (for valuables) and one on the outside. There is a huge pouch on the front of the pack for stashing larger items you want to keep easy access to (such as maps and waterproofs) and deep bucket pockets on either side, for water bottles or a multitude of other things.

The pack has an internal pouch and Velcro hanging hook for a hydration bladder, with the portal for the hose on the right shoulder. There is an integrated rain cover on the bottom, lots of hoops for attachments and a range of other features including an S.O.S. whistle on the sternum strap and a safety reflector on the back of the pack.

Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT: on the trail

Jack Wolfskin ACS Crosstrail 32 LT

A perfect place for your trekking poles (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve used this pack for multiple escapades over the last six months, ranging from day-long peak-bagging missions in the mountains of south and north Wales, to overnight adventures on longer trails, where I managed to get a one-person tent, a sleeping bag, mat, stove, clothes and provisions into the main compartment. Space is tight, of course, when you push the pack to its limits like this (it is designed as a daypack, after all), but it can handle it.

Even fully loaded, with every bit of its 32-liter capacity used up, the Crosstrail is a comfortable pack to hike with. My back got hot, of course, while marching up Pen y Fan and exploring the Glyderau, but the sweatiness was very much managed by the design of the pack, which keeps the bulk of the bag completely away from your body, the mesh employed across the back and the harness itself, all of which sees air flowing nicely where it most counts. 

Jack Wolfskin Crosstrail 32 LT

Jack Wolfskin’s ACS (Air Control System) helps to keep your back cooler (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

There are features aplenty all across this pack, as detailed above, all of which add up to make it a really versatile bag for a massive range of outdoor adventures, but one of the most impressive design elements for me is the way you can access the main compartment from the front. I loved being able to open the whole pack up to quickly lay my hands on whatever I was looking for within seconds.

The only grumble I have with the Crosstrail 32 is that both the waist belt and the sternum strap could be thicker and more robust. Both are nice and easy to adjust, but on my pack the sternum strap came off altogether and I mislaid it.

Overall, though, the Crosstrail 32 really holds it own against some of the most highly regarded bags in the large daypack category, from specialist pack brands.

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).