While hiking or traveling, be it just for a day or an entire month, your backpack becomes home to your hiking/traveling essentials. Therefore, you want it to be durable and protective, as well as to have many dividers and pockets that will help you keep your belongings organized.
And when it comes to quality backpacks for backpacking, none are as well-made as the ones offered by the North Face. This renowned company has carved a niche for itself in the outdoor gear market with outstanding backpacks that are designed with fine attention to detail. From features such as the FlexVent suspension system to gender-specific designs, this level of craftsmanship has earned the North Face a No. 1 spot in most rankings.
Related: Patagonia vs North Face
However, there’s a catch – the company has dozens of different models of backpacks on offer, making it pretty hard to determine which one is the best choice for your individual needs. The North Face backpacks come in various sizes and with specific features – you don’t want to end up with a model made for college use when you need a bag for hiking and vice versa.
To help you out, we’ve decided to thoroughly analyze the 7 best North Face backpacks and take an in-depth look at their most important features. Here’s what we found:
Reviews of The Best North Face Backpacks
The North Face Terra 65 Backpack
Hiking across rolling hills and rugged mountains can be exciting, but also very unpredictable. This is especially true for long hikes when you’re faced with different terrains and weather conditions, and you have to sleep both under the stars and in hostels.
For such endeavors, you’ll need one of those bags that can easily hold a ton of gear, allowing you to carry all those essentials for a full week or a month. And when it comes to such North Face backpacks, Terra 65 is probably the best choice.
This backpack isn’t only exceptionally comfortable to carry, but it’s also very spacious and provides a lot of space for one’s belongings. As its name suggests, the North Face Terra 65 allows its user to carry 65 liters of weight. Designed to be both roomy and manageable at the same time, it’s undoubtedly among the best North Face backpacks on the market.
The first thing to notice about this 65-liter pack is its OPTIFIT harness system, whose job is to provide the user with better load control on both the streets and the trails. In addition, the system was also designed with special dials that will let you adjust the fit between your back and the bag without having to sacrifice the ventilation.
The model’s hip belt, on the other hand, is much wider than we expected. And that’s a good thing – a backpack with a wide hip belt won’t concentrate the weight on your shoulders but spread it evenly over your torso. In terms of build quality, this bag is made out of polyester – you won’t have to worry about its durability.
On this North Face backpack, you’ll find a spacious main compartment, a sleeping bag compartment, and 7 additional pockets (including water bottle pockets). While this model is certainly among the more durable North face backpacks, we found some of its external straps to be lacking in quality. Forcing too many items into the bag may cause its external clips and the sternum strap to break.
- Outstanding weight distribution
- Large capacity – 65 liters
- Exceptionally comfortable (and customizable) fit
- Finicky external parts
The North Face Surge Backpack
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Capacity: 33 liters
- Material: Ballistic nylon
- Laptop compartment: Up to 15”
- Size: 19.75” x 13.75” x 8.5”
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The next North Face backpack we’ll be taking a look at is the Surge Backpack, a model that comes with a dedicated laptop sleeve, ventilated and padded back panel, padded shoulder straps, and many pockets for organization. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say?
However, unlike Terra 65, this 33-liter bag is far more suitable for regular outdoor travel and college students than for demanding backcountry adventures. After all, it comes equipped with a dedicated laptop sleeve. This laptop sleeve is just as well-made as the rest of the bag.
The North Face Surge is made out of hyper-durable ballistics nylon, and, as such, easily withstands daily wear and tear. The model also features the well-known FlexVent suspension system, with a wicking lumbar panel, spine channel, padded mesh back panel, injection-molded shoulder straps, as well as the padded easy-carry external handle. All of these straps and other features provide the necessary ventilation and support.
What makes the North Face Surge so great for regular daily travel is the 360° reflective bike-light loop – a feature that’s especially convenient for cyclists and night commuters. This backpack also has a number of fleece-lined outer pockets, all of which allow quick and easy access to your essentials. These include Teksever water bottle pockets – you don’t have to take the straps off your shoulders to have a sip of water.
As expected, this North Face backpack also has several internal pockets, such as the laptop pocket we mentioned above. Furthermore, the Surge features a removable hip belt and a sternum strap. When it comes to things we didn’t like, the only major disadvantage of this bag is that it tips over when it’s set down, which is the direct result of its shape and weight distribution.
- Dedicated laptop sleeve
- Padded shoulder straps / padded & ventilated back panel
- Lots of quick-access pockets
- Tips over when set down
The North Face Diad Pro 22 Backpack
Those who need a good backpack for their day hikes will look for backpacks that are lightweight, secure, and spacious enough to hold all of their essentials. The North Face Diad Pro 22 is one of such bags – it’s an ideal choice for day hikers and regular outdoor travel.
As the name suggests, the carrying capacity of this backpack stands at 22 liters. This will allow you to pack all of your essentials, but also help you limit the unnecessary items you usually carry with you. Remember – the last thing you want on your backcountry adventure is to carry a backpack full of stuff you don’t even need.
Just like all other North Face bags, Diad Pro 22 also sports quality construction. It is made out of high-tenacity ripstop nylon, which isn’t only durable but also keeps the overall weight of the backpack down. Furthermore, this top-quality material makes the backpack very easy to stow away – wherever you decide to put it away, it won’t take up too much space.
We also liked the fact that this model is among the more affordable North Face bags and that it’s available in several vibrant colors. The backpack sports a design that is both minimalistic and eye-catching, which isn’t something that’s easy to achieve. The model also sports large mesh exterior pockets and offers storage in the lid.
Despite its minimalistic design, the North Face Diad Pro 22 certainly doesn’t skimp on features. First of all, the model has a padded back panel – it feels extremely comfortable on the user’s back. Other convenient features include a daisy chain, a sternum strap, and the dedicated hydration bladder pocket.
When it comes to downsides, it’s important to mention that this backpack doesn’t offer as many options for organization. For example, the model comes without a dedicated laptop sleeve – it’s not the best choice for college students. Still, this backpack is a fantastic option for day hikers and all those who need a bag of smaller size for daily travel.
- Smaller size and weight – ideal for day hikes
- Made out of sturdy and stowable material
- Comfortable padded back panel
- Few internal options for organization
The North Face Women’s Borealis Backpack
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Capacity: 25 liters
- Material: Polyester and nylon
- Laptop compartment: Up to 15”
- Size: 18.75” x 12.5” x 8”
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While most of this company’s bags sport a unisex design, the North Face also makes bags designed specifically for men and women. They pay special attention to women’s backpacks, with the Women’s Borealis Backpack being a great example. Besides the fact that this backpack sports a design that molds a female’s body, it is also available in 32 different colors – you won’t have trouble with finding one that matches your personality. There is a separate review for The North Face Recon vs Borealis
The North Face Borealis Backpack for Women is the newest, updated version of this model and features the already-mentioned FlexVent suspension system. The shoulder straps of this backpack are contoured and its hip belt is removable, while its compression straps keep the user’s belongings snug and in place. There is also a padded easy-carry handle on the top.
In terms of capacity, the North Face Borealis for Women can carry 25 kilograms of hiking (or daily travel) essentials. Besides the roomy main compartment, the model has a dedicated laptop sleeve. So, if you’re a college student looking for a well-designed and laptop-compatible day pack, the Borealis is certainly one of your best options.
Another thing worth mentioning here is that this backpack also has several quick-access external pockets. The small frontal pocket, for example, is fleece-lined and is a perfect place for your sunglasses, keys, or smartphone. The water bottle pockets, on the other hand, are very practical – each can fit even a super-wide water bottle. Finally, this backpack provides a good level of water resistance even though it’s not officially water-resistant.
While it’s certainly among the best bags for day hikes and around-the-college use, the Borealis was not designed for heavier items. Fitting large binders and textbooks into it can be quite challenging. Still, it stands as the best North Face backpack for women – that much is certain.
- Low weight / Available in 32 colors
- Roomy main compartment & dedicated laptop compartment
- Designed specifically for women – very comfortable & ergonomic
- Too small for larger items
The North Face Router Backpack
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Capacity: 35 liters
- Material: Nylon
- Laptop compartment: Up to 17”
- Size: 19.7” x 8.7” x 13.6”
The next bag in our roundup of the best North Face backpacks is Router, one of the company’s most practical and functional models. This backpack is durable, lightweight, stowable, and provides plenty of space for storage and organization of various items – from your water bottle to your laptop.
First of all, the Router sports the well-known FlexVent suspension system. As such, it features things such as the padded mesh back panel and injection-molded shoulder straps. What’s more, this backpack also has a well-designed spine channel and lumbar panel. In other words, standing or walking for hours on end while carrying this backpack won’t cause your back to sweat.
In terms of capacity, on the other hand, the North Face Router is very spacious. With 35 liters of storage space, you’ll be able to pack and carry everything you may need for a city trip or a day out of town. A great thing here is that the model features a small but practical hip belt – it’s a godsend to folks who often travel with a lot of items.
Besides the roomy main compartment, the Router also has a special pocket for one’s laptop. Obviously, this turns it into one of the best options for college students or anybody else who carries a laptop on a daily basis. There is also a neoprene tablet sleeve, as well as a number of other pockets for items such as power banks, cameras, phones, and similar gadgets.
Besides the fact that it’s comfortable and practical, the Router is also quite durable. Those who need a sturdy backpack will be pleased to know that this bag was made out of 500D Cordura Nylon Matte Ripstop. This material is thick and easily withstands daily wear and tear.
The only thing we didn’t like is the stitching on the straps – it looks like it could rip if you pack too many items into the backpack. That aside, this is among the best North Face backpacks for the money and a genuinely worthwhile investment.
- Comfortable straps & back panel
- Spacious main compartment & dedicated laptop pocket
- Lots of pockets for easy organization
- Low-quality stitching on the straps
The North Face Jester Backpack
- Weight: 0.9 pounds
- Capacity: 27.5 liters
- Material: Polyester
- Laptop compartment: Up to 15”
- Size: 19.75″ x 13.25″ x 7.5″
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The next North Face backpack we’ll be taking a look at is Jester, one of the company’s best-selling models and a perfect choice for those who often travel around and out of the city. This lightweight and comfortable backpack sports a roomy main compartment (as well as the one for your laptop) and many extra pockets for all of your essential belongings.
First of all, the North Face Jester backpack is available in a myriad of colors, including the really vibrant ones such as Ketchup Red and Summit Gold. One of the first things we’ve noticed is the bungee straps that give the backpack some extra carrying capacity. Unfortunately, the model comes without a hip belt, but that won’t be a big issue for folks who need a pack for around-the-town use.
The North Face Jester is one of those North Face backpacks that have a cushioned back panel. As expected, this feature makes the bag very comfortable to carry around but also provides some additional support and ventilation. The shoulder straps of this North Face backpack, on the other hand, are custom-molded for additional comfort.
In our opinion, this is the best North Face backpack for students. Besides the fact that it’s exceptionally lightweight (it weighs less than a pound), this bag also has a padded laptop compartment. Moreover, you’ll find an adequate pocket for each of your belongings both on the inside and the outside of the backpack. The main compartment of this North Face backpack offers outstanding organization that’s secured with zippered pockets.
Although a great choice for students, this bag is also an excellent option for day hikers and laid-back campers who need a trustworthy backpack that won’t let them down in the middle of nowhere. The Jester backpack is, therefore, an investment you certainly won’t regret making.
- The best North Face backpack for students
- Dedicated laptop pocket
- Bungee straps on the front of the bag
- No hip belt
The North Face Recon Backpack
- Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Capacity: 30 liters
- Material: Polyester and nylon
- Laptop compartment: Up to 15”
- Size: 16” x 16” x 3”
Are looking for an affordable but stylish day-hiking backpack? The North Face Recon is undoubtedly among your best options. While not flawless, this reasonably-priced North Face pack is versatile, comfortable, and offers exceptional water protection.
A lot of hikers want a waterproof backpack. The North Face offers a solution in the form of their Recon bag, which is among the best models on the market in terms of water resistance. This bag is coated with a DWR finish and its zippers sport special flaps that act as dedicated water-protective backpack covers.
Fortunately, the water resistance is not the only great thing about this bag. It’s also very durable, as it combines rugged material such as 210D Cordura nylon ripstop and 600D polyester. Our only complaint here is the overall design – Recon’s style is, in our opinion, outdated, and we consider it to be the least stylish model in our roundup.
This North Face backpack comes with two large compartments, one of which you can use to carry your laptop (up to 15”). With the total capacity measuring 30 liters, you’ll be able to pack all of your essentials with ease. There’s a pocket for every item, including a special internal organizer for pens. We also liked the clip-access front pouch and two large water bottle holders.
Another great thing about this North Face backpack is how comfortable it is. It has a breathable lumbar panel, a padded mesh back panel, as well as a sternum strap and a waist strap that help stabilize the pack. While on the subject of straps, we should also mention that Recon comes without securing straps for the laptop compartment – instead, it leaves the computer free to shift around.
While it’s not the best bag of this type the money can buy today, this North Face backpack is still a much better choice than many other models available on the market. After all, it was made by one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers of outdoor apparel and accessories.
- Durable & comfortable construction
- Excellent storage capacity & organization
- Provides outstanding water protection
- Dated style
Best North Face Backpack – The Verdict
So, there you have it – out in-depth reviews of North Face’s seven most popular backpacks. All of the models we’ve analyzed above are great in their own ways – that much is certain. But which one of them is the best?
Obviously, there is no clear-cut answer to that question. If you are, for example, a serious hiker who often goes on long-distance backcountry adventures, the North Face Terra 65 is your best bet. Besides the large volume needed for all of your hiking gear, this high-quality bag also provides outstanding weight distribution and an exceptionally comfortable fit – both of these are vital for folks who walk for miles on end over rugged terrain.
With that out of the way, which one of the rest of the backpacks is the best choice for day hikes and general around-the-town use? This is, in our opinion, a battle with no winner – you won’t make a mistake by going with TNF’s Jester, Router, or Surge models. All of these bags sport a phenomenal design and have enough pockets and dividers for easy organization of your essentials.
Last but not least, once you buy a North Face backpack, you will need to take proper care of it. Check out my post on How to Wash a North Face Backpack.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.