Thule TRCU-1 Crossover 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On

TRCU-1 Crossover 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On

Thule’s new modest-size rolling backpack has three major outstanding features for just under $300: rugged materials and construction, large and excellent wheels, and backpack straps on the opposite side from the handle and wheels. It also has three uncomfortable features: grab strap handles, shoulder straps, and backpack positioning. Pricing is consistent with product quality, relative to the high-end competition and Thule’s reputation for top-tier merchandise.

Note the unusual backpack and strap positions relative to the wheels and handle frame.

This item of weekender luggage has a single zippered main compartment for clothing and personal effects, and a small zippered outer front zone for traveling office and tech gear. When you want to travel with your MacBook Pro in its hearty Thule sleeve (reviewed here in an audio segment), place the sleeve inside the Crossover 38L, because there isn’t a dedicated slip-in space for a laptop computer.

Let’s return to our complaints, followed by company rebuttals, based on a phone conversation between MyMac and two representatives, a director and manager, at Thule:

GRAB STRAP HANDLES — top and side are too wide and rigid, and are not comfortable to hold or carry.

[THULE RESPONDS] Grab strap handles: We agreed to disagree. From our standpoint, they were designed to be a happy-medium on width and padding. If you make them too narrow, people complain about discomfort, but if you make them too padded, others complain about added extra weight and bulkiness. Therefore, it’s challenging to please everyone. We used edge binding that was soft (nylon) so that it is flexible and can conform to the size of your hand, plus ample padding for comfort.

HIDE-AWAY SHOULDER STRAPS are not sufficiently padded or comfortable.

Shoulder straps: This is another area where we agreed to disagree. Our intention with this design was to make the shoulder straps lightweight and breathable for when you are actually wearing it as a pack. Keeping them unobtrusive also ensures that we do not detract from the usable packing space when the shoulder straps are stored. This bag was also intended to mainly be rolled, and that the shoulder straps would just be for quick use when you are going through places where wheels aren’t fit to be rolled.

BACK POSITION when using as pack is not comfortable or suitable for lengthy walking in pack mode.

Back position: We determined that this was related to your perception of the quality of the shoulder straps; if one is not focusing on the lack of padding or comfort in the shoulder straps, he or she would not likely have even noticed that this rolling upright does not comfortably conform to your back because of the shape. Our response is similar to that for shoulder straps – it is not intended to be worn as a pack for long hikes.

One area where I was persuaded that my impression was inaccurate:

PACK STRAP END LOOPS appear to be fragile and unreliable, unless I’m not understanding them.

Pack strap end loops: While these may give the perception of fragility or unreliability, they are made from nylon – one  of the strongest possible options for an attachment point. While many competitors in this space use hardware (such as a d-ring), from experience we know that it’s more likely to break and have quality issues than the nylon loops. Additionally, the nylon loops are subtle and low profile so as to not detract from the design when you aren’t wearing it as a backpack.

I have used and evaluated this rolling pack locally, but I have not yet taken it on an airplane trip. TRCU-1 will fit into the overhead luggage area on a full-size plane.

I often have to tote luggage for considerable distances using the grab straps. Each company uses a different style and size of handle. Thule’s oversized grab handles are not my favorites. MyMac urges Thule to redesign these chunky straps to make them rounded and less bulky.

Comfortable, padded backpack straps and back position are also very important for this reviewer. TRCU-1’s shoulder and back fit are much less comfortable than on many other comparable rolling carry-ons.

Is Thule’s 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On, like a camel, a “horse designed by committee“? MyMac recommends this excellent outdoor-gear company’s designers and engineers reconsider where they agree to disagree with our criticisms.

I will action test this rolling pack later this year when I travel by airplane. Until then I’ll use it for local car-based excursions. Until I have good reason to update the critical comments, our MyMac Review Rating is 6 out of 10.

Three hundred dollars is a lot of money for a smallish item of rolling luggage. Choose wisely before you make such a purchase, and make sure you can return or exchange the TRCU-1 Crossover 38-Liter Rolling Carry-On if it’s not perfect.

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