North Face is a brand that needs no introduction. Any backpacker or lover of the outdoors already knows that their products are unique.
What makes them that way? Well, in our opinion, it’s the brand’s integrity.
When crafting each backpack, North Face takes into consideration not only the needs and preferences of the user but the specifics of the environment the bag is being used in
So be it the outdoors, work, or school, North Face backpacks are reliably high-functioning and durable, every time.
So today, we’ve rounded up a list of the best North Face backpacks according to carefully selected criteria. We’ve also put together a buying guide to better aid you in your purchase.
Let’s get started!
Best North Face Backpacks Review in 2020We now present our list of the North Face backpacks most worth your consideration, after hours of research and reviewing. We hope you like our picks; if not, feel free to scroll down to the buying guide.
1. The North Face Youth Recon Squash Backpack
The first North Face backpack we’ve selected for you is one of their most laid-back ones, yet offers a great collection of features that anyone looking for a bookbag will be delighted by.
Aptly named the Youth Recon, the size and design specifications of this backpack make it ideal for carrying books and school supplies. That’s why many regard it as the best north face backpack for school.
The main compartment can easily accommodate all your document folders, while you can cram last-minute essentials into the front mesh drop pocket.
Furthermore, there’s a zippered internal compartment as well, where you can store things you wanna keep a close watch over, like official documents, your wallet, or keys.
The shoulder straps on this backpack have been designed specifically for use by the school- and college-going students, so it’s more suited to users with petite frames.
Comfort has been kept further in mind by incorporating a stitched back panel made of foam, which not only takes some pressure off your back but also enables air circulation and proper ventilation.
All in all, this is a great everyday backpack that is durably made to last you many years of use. However, if you’re going to be carrying a large number of heavy items, then maybe consider looking at a different backpack.
2. The North Face Unisex Recon Backpack For School
The next backpack we’ve selected for you is another top pick for students, and it’s also quite well-suited to those who like to frequently take short hiking trips or day trips.
The features offered by this backpack lend themselves to the highest modes of functionality. Featuring North Face’s popular FlexVent suspension system and convenient organization system, it’s easy to see why this backpack comes highly rated.
First up is the bag’s construction. It’s made from 210D Cordura nylon mini rip-stop fabric, which, as you may already know, is one of the most hard-wearing materials of choice for backpacks.
Also included is the FlexVent suspension system, which manifests in shoulder straps that have been injection-molded for higher durability. Furthermore, the back panel and spine channel are made from padded mesh, which has a cushioning effect without compromising on breathability.
So how easily can you store your things in this backpack? Well, beyond the roomy main compartment, this backpack also features a fleece-lined and padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, along with a tablet sleeve on the front compartment.
Additionally, there is the front stash pocket for last-minute add-ons to your bag’s contents, equipped with mesh side panels that will stretch to accommodate your belongings.
Your comfort is also ensured with the help of the padded shoulder straps and padded top haul handle. Also included are a sternum strap (complete with whistle buckle!) and waist belt (don’t worry, it’s removable).
All in all, this is a sturdy, general-purpose backpack that you can rely on to get you through years of classes or light hiking trips.
3. The North Face Men's Borealis Backpack
There’s a reason why North Face is a brand whose name is easily recognizable, and the Borealis is a good example. Designed for the traveler, this backpack has a relatively more streamlined design than others, with a smaller body that makes it easy to grab and go. Nevertheless, its innovative organization system and 28-liter capacity make it so that you won’t have to leave any of your essentials behind.
In terms of performance, this backpack, of course, comes equipped with North Face’s popular FlexVent suspension system. Featuring comfortable padding and attentively created mesh paneling, you can rest assured that your backpack won’t mess with your body’s temperature or wear out your back.
But undoubtedly, the most prominent feature of the Borealis is a front elastic bungee (it’s also kinda hard to miss given that it’s made from reflective piping). This allows you to quickly access any required gear, tools, or equipment stored in the front-zip pocket.
Inside the Borealis are two fleece-lined compartments designed to hold your laptop and tablet. And on the outside, the backpack features yet another fleece-lined pocket for such fragile items as your sunglasses or phone. And of course, the backpack wouldn’t be complete without its two hydration compartments on each side.
The thing that makes the Borealis such an appealing choice for backpackers, though, is undoubtedly the price. The majority of hiking and hunting backpacks will set you back quite a bit, but the Borealis manages to provide everything you need without burning a hole in your pocket.
4. The North Face Berkeley Backpack – Urban Navy/Persian Orange
We’re now going to tell you about the Berkeley, which is without a doubt one of North Face’s most popular backpacks for students. With a compact yet intuitive design, this bag packs a collection of features that will make going to class easier and more fun.
While the backpack itself is designed to be grab-and-go, the main compartment is nevertheless well-equipped to handle all your binders, books, and supplies. Also included is a convenient zippered front compartment for all your extras, like your phone, calculator, or lunch tickets.
So how will this backpack hold up to years of use? Just ask the 600D polyester construction, and then the 1200D polyester reinforcement after that. And with the padded shoulder straps and back panel, you’ll rarely get tired of carrying this around.
Especially because you’re also going to love how this thing looks, the navy blue/orange color scheme stands out without being pervasive, while the centered logo patch lets the world know what good taste you have in backpacks!
5. The North Face Women's Recon Backpack For College
If you recall the Recon from earlier, then you already know that it’s one of North Face’s most popular, highly-rated backpacks. Equipped with an intuitive storage system and TNF’s trademarked FlexVent suspension system, this is the Recon as designed specifically for women.
This means that it’s well-suited to more petite frames and smaller shoulders while offering TNF’s reliable comfort and insulation. The padded air-mesh back panel keeps your back cushioned while the PE sheet facilitates back support. Add to this the removable hip belt, and you have a backpack that won’t break your back to have to carry it.
Organizing your things into this backpack is going to give you another reminder as to why so many people prefer it. The roomy main compartment comes with a padded laptop sleeve that accommodates most 15-inch laptops.
Additionally, there is a separate secondary compartment for easier organization. Of course, you will also find the 2 hydration compartments (one on each side).
And let’s not forget the vast variety of options you have in terms of this backpack’s appearance. You get to choose from 45 (yes, you read that right) different color schemes while picking out your women’s Recon backpack. Overall, this one canm be considered as one of the best if not the very best north face backpack for travel.
6. The North Face Terra 65 Backpack
This next one is featured special on this list for all of you backpackers, campers, and adventure-seekers out there. A good outdoor backpack is not just one that lets you carry all your hiking/camping/hunting essentials, but acts as a companion on your adventure, as well.
This backpack comes with a unique and carefully crafted design that prioritizes proper weight distribution, comfort, and accessibility. Let’s have a look at the features that make it thus.
First, let’s discuss the construction of the backpack. Made from 600D polyester with a 1200D polyester reinforcement, this backpack also features some parts made from 420D mini-ripstop nylon for greater durability. You can rest assured that this backpack will stay abrasion- and shock-resistant for as many years as you choose to use it for.
And it does all of that without compromising your comfort when you’re out on the trail. It features a multitude of comfort-oriented design specifics, namely the Dyno Lift system and Optifit suspension system. The back panel is constructed from foam and mesh, which has the double benefit of offering breathability and insulation.
Did we mention that this backpack has a 65-liter capacity? Yep. That means that there’s more-than-enough space for all of the things you could possibly wish to bring along on your trip, from clothes to gadgets to equipment. With Terra’s 7 pockets, you’ll be spoilt for space.
7. The North Face Vault Backpack For Travel
The Vault is one of North Face’s most popular creations, and it’s easy to see why. With a durably built polyester construction and the ever-reliable FlexVent suspension system, this backpack has all the benchmarks of a great TNS backpack with a number of great additional features.
To begin with, this is one of North Face’s most cost-efficient backpacks, but it manages to be so without compromising on quality. Beyond its hard-wearing build, the backpack is designed such that it will easily contour to the shape of your spine, while the padded straps and mesh paneling ensure that you’ll be comfortable while on the move.
The zipper mechanism on this backpack has also attracted the attention of TNF customers, both old and new. With sturdy double zippers on both of its main compartments, the bag promises to keep all of your belongings securely in place, which seems to be the inspiration for the product’s name.
And rest assured that all of your required items will fit comfortably into this thing; yes, that includes your laptop. Thanks to its spacious organization compartments and comfortable suspension system, it’s easy to see why the Vault is a backpack popular with school/college students.
Not to mention, the backpack looks great! This is not only due to the design, which has a modern yet utilitarian appeal, but also the large array of color scheme options you are free to choose from. It’s safe to say that this is undoubtedly one of the best backpacks out there for your money!
8. The North Face Jester Backpack
Did you really think we were going to make a review list of TNF’s best backpacks without featuring the Jester? Actually, you may have thought that if you’re not familiar with the brand. But that’s even better because you’re about to be exposed to one of the greatest backpacks on the market.
Why do we say that?
The design of this backpack stands out right away. Featuring a front accessory pocket corded over with a bungee system, the Jester is built for easy and reliable accessibility while on the go. Whether you’re a student, backpacker, or traveler, you’re bound to appreciate the organization system on this thing.
Furthermore, the backpack comes equipped with TNF’s famous FlexVent suspension system, featuring injection-molder shoulder straps that are built to help you shoulder the weight of your backpack, no matter how heavy.
So how does the backpack manage to do that? It’s built from a combination of 600D, 450Dx300D polyester and 600D geo emboss polyester. The result is a backpack that is not only sturdy and long-wearing but one that is very likely to be handed down over generations.
What’s even better, the iconic look of the Jester comes in a wide variety of color schemes and designs, and if you dig deep, you can also choose to buy a women’s/men’s-specific version of the backpack.
There’s nothing not to love about this backpack if we’re being honest, and we honestly think that you’d have to be stupid to be sleeping on it!
Buying Guide for North Face Backpacks
As we’ve discussed, what sets North Face apart from other brands is their dedication to creating the perfect backpacks for specialized outdoor use. That also means that each backpack is different.
So the criteria for the ideal North Face backpack vary from one user to another and depend on the intended use. Here are the factors you need to keep in mind before making your choice.
The first thing we all think of when considering a new backpack—no matter the intended use—is how much of our stuff it can hold.
This is an even bigger consideration when buying a backpack for outdoor use since you'll be carrying a lot of important things. At the same time, a too-large backpack can prove to be a nuisance on the trail.
Something else to keep in mind is the number of storage options in the bag; by this, we mean the compartments and pockets. How many separate sections are there? Are their hydration compartments?
Some North Face backpacks also come with fleece-lined compartments exclusively for gadgets. So if you always carry such implements as a camera, compass, GPS, power bank, flashlight, etc., then you could benefit from a backpack that prioritizes the protection of your gadgets.
Comfort & Adjustability
The usability of a good backpack is not only in how well it can hold your belongings but the extent to which it can do this without putting you in discomfort.
As you already know, this is a particularly important consideration when one is in the great outdoors, contending with the real outside world. Alternatively, if you’re using the backpack for school, there are high chances you’ll be using it to carry heavy textbooks, etc.
So, what makes a comfortable backpack?
It starts with the adjustability, by which we mean the extent to which your backpack's shoulder/waist straps and fittings can be manipulated. This will determine the bearing of the backpack in relation to your body's stability. Ergo, adjustability is of utmost importance.
Next, it's wise to consider whether your chosen backpack comes with adequate padding. This has a direct effect on your comfort and plays an important role in ensuring that you don't develop back problems.
There are more benefits to padding, which we will discuss next.
Beyond comfort, a well-padded bag also offers protection for your belongings. For example, imagine a situation where you have to set your backpack down roughly; in such a case, the padding will absorb the shock without transferring it to whatever's inside.
Breathability is another aspect to keep in mind, especially when it comes to back and shoulder padding. Naturally, you will sweat when you're out and about; there should be some venting available on the backpack to dissipate the heat by letting air in.
Plus, as we already mentioned above, padding enhances your comfort and lessens the strain placed on your body from carrying the backpack.
Once again, we can't stress the extent to which North Face is special in terms of producing quality backpacks. This manifests in some features that are exclusive to North Face backpacks, such as the Flex Vent, which you won't find in the majority of outdoor backpacks.
Let's look at each in turn.
The purpose of this implement is to enhance ventilation where the backpack meets your shoulders and back. It works by putting space between the backpack and your body.
Especially when coupled with lumbar supports, buying a backpack with a dedicated FlexVent suspension system will offer you the added benefit of lessening the physical strain on you.
Okay, this isn't exactly a feature exclusive to North Face, but it's important to keep in mind that they are the pioneers of this innovation. Consequently, you can trust them to do it well.
What is the benefit of a fleece-lined compartment or pocket? Protecting your fragile belongings, of course. As we mentioned earlier, those who carry lots of gadgets with them, would benefit particularly from buying a backpack featuring fleece-lined pockets.
One of the things North Face is known for is designing backpacks with multiple-use organizational pockets.
"But that's almost every outdoor backpack," you're thinking. Sure, but North Face does it better. The bigger the backpack, the more options you will have in terms of compartmentalization and storage. However, since each bag is crafted for a different purpose, the organization style will differ.
Frequently Asked Questions for North Face Backpacks
1. What size backpack is right for me?
The answer usually depends on the intended use. If you're going to be using it for light hiking or carrying textbooks for school/college, between 25 and 40 liters of capacity works; if you're going taking a days-long camping trip, a bigger capacity like 70 liters is ideal.
2. What is the "suspension system" of a backpack?
In basic terms, it's the ability of the backpack to evenly distribute its weight across your shoulders, back, and waist.
3. What is FlexVent in North Face backpacks?
It is a suspension system that enhances the user's ability to efficiently carry a heavy load without tiring themselves out. Mesh-padded back panels and Lumbar panels facilitate breathability.
4. What is the difference between a men's backpack and a women's backpack?
As women tend to have more petite frames, their backpacks are better able to serve them with contouring that better enables them to carry heavy loads.
5. What are North Face backpacks made of?
Nylon, polyester, and Cordura® are materials you will see frequently mentioned when searching for a North Face backpack. They are all highly durable materials that protect against shock and abrasions. Note that not all North Face backpacks are water-resistant.
We’ve covered all of the best North Face backpacks for every kind of user, whether you’re a student, backpacker, hiker or hunter.
That being said, our top pick would have to be the Jester; it’s ideal for both students and backpackers. If you’re looking for a more heavy-duty hunting/hiking companion, though, definitely go for the Terra.
Either way, we hope you’re satisfied with your TNF backpack; the chances of it being otherwise are quite low.