Whether you’re looking for a backpack to hit the trails with or want something for class and a long commute, you need a high-quality backpack that’ll last. North Face offers some of the best equipment on the market, but many options exist. Which North Face backpack is the right fit for you? You’ll need to consider their capacity, organization, comfort, and other features, along with their price.
To help you make a wise purchase decision, we’ve compiled an objective look at all the best models from North Face.
If you want to know the best North Face backpack in a hurry, we recommend the North Face Surge as the top pick.
- North Face Surge (Top Pick)
- North Face Jester
- North Face Recon
- North Face Borealis
- North Face Router (High End)
- North Face Vault (Budget Buy)
North Face Surge
Best value for the money
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North Face Jester
|Great for tech protection
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North Face Recon
|Larger laptop sleeve
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North Face Borealis
|Lots of organization
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North Face Router
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North Face Vault
Best on a budget
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1. North Face Surge
Overall Score: 86
- Great 31L capacity
- Lots of storage and organization
- Comfortable and ACA-approved
- Water-repellent fabric
- An investment in the equipment
If you’re looking for a great backpack from a reputable name brand that can accommodate all your hiking gear, look no further than the spacious North Face Surge.
It boasts an impressive 31-liter capacity. This means that it can handle your snacks, water bottles, devices, and other accouterments you might need while on the trail.
Of course, the roomy interior only matters if you can reasonably organize your items. The good news is that this backpack is heavy on organizational features.
Most of the backpack is taken up by the main compartment, which is great for books and other bulky items. It also has a separate padded laptop sleeve (with dimensions of 10.25″ x 14″).
It also comes with an external zippered pocket for the small items you may need to get to in a hurry. Some external pockets are also fleece-lined to protect fragile items like sunglasses or cell phones.
Last but not least, it has two mesh side pockets perfect for holding large water bottles. You won’t have to waste precious space on the interior of this bag to keep you hydrated.
This is one area where many of the North Face backpacks tend to shine. Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, the North Face Surge is easy on your back.
It has the FlexVent suspension system, injection-molded shoulder straps, and a padded back. Additionally, it has a ventilated lumbar panel.
If you’re carrying a heavy backpack for a long period, you may also be interested in the sternum strap (which comes with a whistle buckle) and a waist belt.
While it may seem like every backpack is the same, the North Face Surge sets itself apart with features that can make carrying it more convenient. First up, it has a stand-up design.
This means you can set it on the ground and stand up on its own. No need to worry about your items falling out of their pockets when set on the ground.
It also comes with bottom compression straps if you need to minimize the bag’s footprint. The backpack is made from nylon with a water-repellent coating to keep your items dry in light rain.
While this may not be the cheapest backpack on the market, it’s a great value. You get a reliable name brand and a quality backpack without breaking the bank.
If you’ve got the money to invest in some solid equipment, you can’t go wrong with the North Face Surge.
2. North Face Jester
Overall Score: 84
- Laptop sleeve and organizational components
- Bungee straps for extra organization
- Less spacious than some backpacks
While it still manages to be quite roomy, you might be a little disappointed by the smaller capacity of the North Face Jester backpack.
If you need maximum capacity for your hiking or camping equipment, you might be better served by a different pack.
However, this one does have a decent capacity of 27.5 liters. It isn’t the most impressive of all the backpacks on this ranking, but it’s still a solid contender.
The Jester is an excellent choice for those who want something that will protect and accommodate all of their devices.
The front compartment contains a padded sleeve for your tablet and many zippered pockets that can protect your odds and ends.
The laptop sleeve measures 12.75″ x 11″, so it may not hold a huge laptop, but it’s still a solid option.
Don’t forget about the two mesh water bottle pockets on the exterior. You can also use these pockets for other items that you need to be able to access in a hurry for class or while on the trail for snacks.
Like most North Face backpacks, comfort is the name of the game with the Jester. It features the same FlexVent suspension system seen on most North Face backpacks.
Approved by the ACA, your back will thank you when you carry this ultra-comfortable and lightweight bag. It’s an ideal option when it comes to a casual pack for a short hike.
One of the best features of the Jester is that it comes with a stand-up construction. This allows you to load up all your gear and sort through it more easily.
This mid-sized backpack is great for anyone who wants something they can grab and go when out on a camping excursion or heading to class.
Another key feature to note is the bungee strap on the front of the bag. This makes it possible to attach extra bags, odds, and ends with carabiner clips for additional organization and portability.
You’ll love how durable this backpack is, constructed from either 600D recycled polyester or 300D heather polyester with the ability to repel water while out on the trail.
Easily one of the most reasonably-priced backpacks on this list, the North Face Jester is affordable while being high quality.
If you want a backpack that will last without investing a small fortune into something that you may not use frequently, the Jester is a great match for your needs.
3. North Face Recon
Overall Score: 82
- Large capacity
- Good organization with larger laptop sleeve
- Endorsed by ACA
- No sternum strap (but does have a removable waist belt)
Like the Surge, the North Face Recon is perhaps best known for its roomy interior. At just one liter shy of the Surge, the Recon comes in at 30 liters of space to pack all of your hiking and camping essentials.
However, it does include more space for your laptop with a sleeve that measures 18.9″ x 11″ to hold much larger devices.
In addition to a larger laptop sleeve, you have plenty of options regarding the organization of the North Face Recon.
The main compartment is perfect for books or binders, but remember it isn’t space-independent. The more items you fit into the main compartment, the less space you’ll have in other areas.
You’ll also have an external pocket conveniently lined with fleece to protect your more fragile items like sunglasses or even tablets that don’t fit into the laptop sleeve.
On the front, there’s a front extendable stash pocket complete with daisy chains for extra attachments.
Don’t forget the two sides mesh pockets designed for your water bottles (though they could also hold any other items you need quick access to).
The Recon is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association for the FlexVent technology that makes it easy to carry, even for long trips.
You’ll also find that it has articulated shoulder straps and a rounded back panel. Plus, the chemise fabric is soft to the touch, making it easier to hold on long trips.
This backpack is equipped with a removable waist belt to enhance its comfort. This allows you to distribute the weight more evenly if you are out on a hike for an extended period.
Like many of the North Face backpacks, one thing to note is its stand-up design. This makes it easy for anyone to load and unload their bag without worrying about supporting it in the meantime.
You’ll find it easy to carry this bag as it has a lower overall weight (coming in at 2 lbs. 7 oz.), making it ideal for long hikes.
The backpack is made from 600D polyester toile, 500D nylon oxford slip, and 210D Cordura nylon ripstop for a long-lasting backpack.
It also features 360-degree reflectivity and convenient U-pull zippers for the ultimate ease of use.
The North Face Recon falls solidly in the middle of the pack regarding price. It offers an affordable solution that packs a powerful punch when packing for an excursion or class.
Whether you want this for outdoor adventures or a college-level course, the Recon won’t disappoint in the price department.
4. North Face Borealis
Overall Score: 84
- Lots of organization, particularly for tech
- Breathable and comfortable
- Not the roomiest backpack
The Borealis is perhaps one of the most popular models from North Face regarding finding a spacious backpack. It features a 28-liter capacity, placing it in the middle of the pack among its competitors.
While it may not be the largest, the organization and comfort of this bag more than make up for the few liters it doesn’t carry.
Organization is one area where the North Face Borealis truly shines with lots of protection for electronics. It has a dedicated laptop compartment that can hold up to a 15″ computer.
However, this isn’t the only place where you can safely stow your devices. This backpack also has a tablet sleeve in the front compartment and internal organization and storage.
The main compartment is big enough to carry an assortment of books, snacks, and other goods you may want when you hit the trail.
It also features two extended mesh water bottle pockets and extra zip pockets for all of your odds and ends.
You won’t want to forget about the external bungee, which can also hold small items in place and compress your backpack if necessary.
If you want to be as comfortable as possible on your next excursion, you can’t go wrong with the North Face Borealis.
This model also contains the ACA-endorsed FlexVent tech for which many of the North Face bags are known.
In addition, it has custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded back panel made of mesh. Don’t worry about your lower back with this backpack, either.
It features extra ventilation in the form of a breathable lumbar panel for increased comfort on a hot summer hike. You’ll also want to use the removable waist belt to ensure comfort.
The North Face Borealis is a great option for those constantly on the go. It features a comfortable top handle to pick up your gear and move out quickly.
It stands up on its own, making it possible for you to leave it sitting while you load and unload. For those who want to stand out, there are also tons of color choices in the Borealis.
Many will have reflective details that help you stand out in dark situations for safety.
There’s also a sternum strap with a whistle buckle to ward off unwanted attention from bears or to help others find you if you get lost in the woods.
If you want a high-quality backpack without spending a fortune, you can’t go wrong with the North Face Borealis.
It’s priced in line with many competitors, meaning you won’t have to blow your entire equipment budget on your backpack. Consider whether this could be the right fit for your next camping trip.
5. North Face Router
Overall Score: 82
- Biggest internal capacity
- Ripstop nylon to prevent worsening tears
- Great organization
- Heavier weight
You’ll want the North Face Router on your list of must-have equipment for campers who know they pack heavy for long hikes.
It’s easily the roomiest backpack on this ranking, leaps and bounds above the other selections. It holds 40 liters of your stuff in a wide array of pockets and organization.
Remember that this extra storage comes at a cost: the backpack will be slightly heavier than others at 3 lbs. 4.9 oz.
The organization of this backpack is slightly different from other backpacks of the same brand. It features a great main compartment for your bulkier items like books or binders.
In the front compartment, you’ll find the padded laptop sleeve (measuring 10.25″ x 14″) and zip storage for your odds and ends.
You’ll also have access to an external fleece-lined pocket to protect your items from scratches or harsh materials.
Like most models from North Face, you also have two side water bottle pockets that can be used for any items you need quick and easy access during your hike.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the Router has an endorsement from the ACA for its FlexVent technology. Campers will have articulated shoulder straps and a rounded back panel for comfort.
Not to mention, the fabric is a soft-touch chemise. Get a custom fit from this backpack with its removable waist belt and a sternum strap (complete with a whistle buckle for safety).
The Recon is loaded with nice-to-have items that can make your hiking or daily commute much easier.
First, it has two side compression straps which can help you make this backpack’s footprint as small as possible.
This makes it great for areas where space is at a premium, such as a subway or public transportation system. It also has great 360-degree reflectivity and a stand-up design to load easily.
Last but not least, it’s time to take a closer look at the fabric: 500D nylon oxford slub, 420D nylon, and 210D Cordura nylon ripstop to keep any tears in the bag from worsening with wear.
Unfortunately, the price is the one area where this backpack doesn’t shine. It won’t give you the most bang for your buck, but it’s worth the investment if you need a backpack with this much space.
It’s comfortable and well-designed, making it worth the investment if you can afford it.
6. North Face Vault
Overall Score: 80
- Highly affordable
- Relatively spacious
- Comfortable and ACA-endorsed
- Lack of features
- Less organization than some models
The North Face Vault provides a solution you won’t want to overlook when it comes to bang for your buck.
For the price, you get a solid option that holds a high capacity of your goods with a 27-liter capacity. While it has nothing on the Recon, it’s still a solid contender for the best North Face backpack.
Some North Face backpacks are heavy on organizational features, but the Vault is a little easier for some. It features one large main compartment for the organization with zip closure.
It still has a laptop sleeve measuring 11.5″ x 11″ to protect your most important devices. In addition, it has two water bottle pockets (one on each side) and a daisy chain.
This allows you to attach other organizational elements to your backpack if and when needed.
It might be easier than sorting through the internal pockets and zippers of some of the more advanced North Face backpacks.
Unsurprisingly, this backpack is endorsed by the ACA and still features FlexVent technology for the ultimate comfort experience.
The straps are injection-molded and flexible to protect your shoulders from a heavy load. Plus, it has a padded mesh back so that nothing bumps up against your spine.
A lumbar panel helps to ventilate and keep sweat from forming between your skin and your backpack.
The Vault is designed to be an entry-level backpack from North Face, so it doesn’t have many advanced features. That being said, it does have a few things that make it stand out from competitors.
One is that it comes with two handles that make it easier to open and sort through your pack while still being comfortable to hold and carry.
The Vault stands up on its own so that you can open, close, and sort through it at will. It also has a water-repellent finish that’s great for inclement weather while camping or hiking.
The fabric is 600D recycled polyester, making it great for the environment.
If you’re on a strict budget for your next backpack, the Vault is just what you need to consider.
An affordable option, the North Face Vault is well-loved by North Face enthusiasts, and it isn’t an option that will bust your budget. Check this out if you want a quality bag without a hefty price tag.
Suppose you want a backpack that will offer you lots of interior space, more organization, and a bit of protection for your devices.
In that case, you’ll want to consider the North Face Surge at the end of this comprehensive look at the most popular North Face backpacks for your consideration.
While North Face is a well-known brand, you’ll find many products to meet different price points and needs, whether hiking, camping, or anything else. Consider these models for your next investment!