This is our review of the best North Face backpack for travel.
If you’re looking to buy a backpack that will be best for school, everyday use, or even weekend excursions, The North Face is one of the best choices because it tends to last forever.
With so many options, it’s hard to pick the right one.
But I did a bunch of research and looked for all the North Face backpack collection options.
I spent countless hours reading all the reviews and identifying the pros and cons of each backpack so that you don’t have to.
I found that The North Face Borealis backpack is the best backpack for travel from the seven backpacks that I picked.
But if you want more information about the other six backpacks that I’ve chosen, please keep on reading!
Our Best North Face Backpacks For Travel
- The North Face Borealis Backpack (Best Overall)
- The North Face Vault Backpack (Best For Daily Commuting)
- The North Face Women’s Surge Commuter Laptop Backpack (Best For Women)
- The North Face Jester School Laptop Backpack (Best For Students)
- The North Face Recon Backpack (Best Weekend Bag)
- The North Face Terra Backpacking Backpack (Best For Backpackers)
- The North Face Pivoter Backpack (Best Everyday Pack)
7 Best North Face Backpack For Travel Reviewed
Some of these backpacks may get some updates or revisions by The North Face in the future.
The pricing also can be varied depending on the seasons and the promotions by the sellers. To find the latest pricing, all you need is to click the link given.
Finally, always check the actual dimensions in the sellers’ details to find the right size for you.
The North Face Borealis Backpack – Best Overall
The Borealis is no doubt one of the best-selling backpacks from The North Face for years. This bag is like a crossover backpack – an everyday backpack with an outdoor aesthetic.
It has been updated with FlexVent technology on the shoulder straps area for all-day comfort and better flexibility.
The mesh padding on the back is a bit stiff, which is expected. It’s beneficial for someone to wear it for outdoor activities. But it’s not a problem for everyday use because it does conform to your back well over time.
The material quality of this backpack is top-notch. This backpack is constructed with several quality fabrics like 400D nylon, 300D polyester, 210D Cordura nylon ripstop, and 1680D ballistic nylon. These fabrics will make this bag last longer against all kinds of weather.
Although the overall design is excellent, there’s one thing that I don’t quite like. That is the stretch cords on the front of the pack. They tend to get stretched out over time because, for some reason, people want to pull on them whenever they see it.
The Borealis has about 28 liters of storage capacity, but I found it a bit lacking in organizational pockets than other competitors. If you plan to do extended travel, I recommend packing cubes.
Overall it is a great backpack. It’s not too bulky and suitable for both men and women. If you’re a college student, this backpack has a laptop compartment for your 15.6 inches laptop.
- Perfect for everyday use and outdoor
- High-quality fabrics
- The shoulder straps are very comfy
- Many color options to choose from
- Only one size
- Stiff back panel
- A tad heavy to carry for some people
The North Face Vault Backpack – Best For Daily Commuting
If you’re looking for an awesome backpack that kind of gear for daily use, this North Face 26 liter Vault backpack is an excellent option.
Although it doesn’t have spacious storage as the TNF 29 liter Vault backpack for women, this one still can hold your 15 inches laptop and personal belongings for your urban commute or going to school.
It’s made from high-quality 600D Polyester Emboss, 600D Polyester Print, and 300D Heather Polyester for heavy-duty use. They can withstand variable weather conditions.
Although it has nice materials, it has one major flaw that can ruin this bag’s looks. The bag’s base is slated at an almost 45° angle, and it doesn’t lay flat when placed on the ground. You have to balance every time you place it down.
Ergonomically, the Vault backpack is super comfortable. It uses a flex vent suspension system with compression-molded shoulder straps and a padded air mesh back panel with a spine channel for superior ventilation.
If you’re going to carry it for daily city commuting to work or for weekend trips, this backpack might suit you well.
However, if you’re a college student who needs a lot of storage for your books, this backpack might not be suitable for you. You should pick a bigger size backpack.
- High-quality fabrics
- Simple & clean design
- Very ergonomic
- It doesn’t lay flat when put on the ground
- The storage capacity is decent
- Only one size
The North Face Women’s Surge Commuter Laptop Backpack – Best For Women
The Women’s Surge backpack is one of the nine backpacks from The North Face that received endorsement from the American Chiropractic Association .
What does it mean to you? Well, it means that this backpack has been redesigned for comfort, fit, and usability—one of the improvements in the anatomically correct shoulder strap that is specifically suited for women.
The laptop and tablet pockets are elevated, and the generous back padding will protect your devices if you drop the bag.
This backpack is quite spacious. With 31 liters of capacity, there’s so much room for you to carry your stuff. There are also plenty of small pockets to keep your belongings organized.
One of the flaws I found about this bag is that this TNF Surge backpack should come with A TSA-friendly design as a laptop backpack.
The TSA requires you to take out laptops through the airport screening. It would be nice if the backpack can fold flat without needing to take them out.
If you’re looking for something that could be used for multiple purposes, this backpack fits your needs. It’s not only suitable for the everyday commuting bag but could also be used for light single-day hiking and as carry-on luggage.
- Dedicated laptop and tablet storage
- Very ergonomic
- Nice and clean looking
- It does not stand on its own
- Go through the airport screening with laptops would be a hassle
- No side handle
The North Face Jester School Laptop Backpack – Best For Students
At first glance, the TNF Jester backpack has some similarities to the Borealis backpack.
Both contain many of the same features, including two water bottle pockets, a 15-inches laptop sleeve, several organization pockets, reflective hits for nighttime visibility, a top haul handle, and a sternum strap with a whistle buckle for safety.
However, the Borealis is a tad expensive, contains more features and better materials than the Jester. The Jester backpack has more space for you to bring a laptop, notebook, planner, and some textbooks.
You can expect the same comfort as other TNF backpacks. The shoulder straps are built from custom injection-molded.
If you are a student or a commuter who rarely travels or needs a pack for day hiking, I recommend the price savings that the Jester offers.
But if you’d expect this backpack for your vacations, then you’ll be disappointed.
- The shoulder straps are very comfy
- Sturdy and durable
- Not ideal for hiking or travel
- Lack of storage options
- The narrow opening makes unpacking your items a bit of a hassle
The North Face Recon Backpack – Best Weekend Bag
What makes this Recon backpack stands out is the useful and practical outside front pocket design. If you used it for a day pack, you could quickly stash your jacket and other stuff on the outside.
The amount of space is perfect. With 30 liters of volume, there’s a lot of room for you to pack and hold more stuff. Plus, there’s a dedicated compartment for you to fit the 15 inches laptop.
The Recon Backpack has waist and chest straps suitable for a weekend bag or light hiking activities.
In terms of comfort, this bag also has the TNF FlexVent suspension system features with nice and thick shoulder straps to minimize your shoulder pain after carrying it for an extended period.
The major drawback that I found on this bag, just like other TNG backpacks, this bag definitely cannot stay upright on its own.
This backpack weighs about 2.5 pounds with no load. It’s pretty heavy, which is why it’s not suited to students.
Overall, the TNF Recon backpack is an excellent backpack for travel with superior quality and functionality. Although this Recon backpack version is unisex, you should consider this Recon backpack if you’re a woman.
- Practical design, especially the front pocket
- Quite spacious
- Comfortable straps
- Clean looking with no stretch cords on the front
- It doesn’t stand on its own
- The back support is a bit stiff
The North Face Terra Backpacking Backpack – Best For Backpackers
If you are a newbie or just getting into backpacking, you’d probably want a bag that suits all your needs and is not too pricey. The North Face Terra backpack should be on your shopping list.
It comes in different sizes, from 40L to 65L, and the price is relatively lower than the most popular hiking backpack brands in the market.
The backpack has all the room for your clothes, winter gear, survival kits, and camping gear. If you always carry a sleeping bag, there’s a floating lid for you to put the thing.
The backpack is constructed to be lightweight and easy to carry in mind. You can balance the weight of the bag by adjusting the load lifter.
With the Dyno Lift System technology, the backpack will self-equalize itself to give you better support for your torso.
The air ventilation on the back panel isn’t outstanding but decent enough. You won’t get overly sweaty. The shoulder strap is comprehensive and well padded.
The TNF Terra backpacking backpack has a reasonably light internal frame design. It’s probably not the best backpack for hiking and lacks some features like a rain cover.
It’s not the comfiest camping backpack, but for the price you get, it’s value for your money.
- Many sizes to choose from
- The torso adjustment is effortless
- Large storage
- I got two bottle holders on the sides
- The ventilation system isn’t great
- A bit heavy to carry for long trips
- The rain cover is not included
The North Face Pivoter Backpack – Best Everyday Pack
One of the major complaints about the old classic Pivoter backpack version was the inability to stand on its own when put down.
After taking some feedback from a group of college students, The North Face finally updated its design. Now this updated Pivoter backpack has a flat bottom which solved the previous issue.
Another unique feature of this bag is the front zippered door opening like a duffel. You can have quick access to the main compartment easily.
The internal organization design has been simplified. The main compartment now has three separate rooms, with one case is dedicated to a 15-inches laptop.
The material is made from premium polyester grade. It’s wrapped with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to keep your bag dry and not easily penetrated by water.
The TNF Pivoter backpack is not only suited for school but also travel. It’s lightweight and easy to carry around. The downside is that it only comes in one size.
- Can stand upright
- Well thought design
- Relatively inexpensive
- Only one size
- The zippers smaller compared to the previous version
How To Choose North Face Backpack
If you’re not sure what to look for when buying the North Face backpack, here are some essential things you should consider:
What size backpack do you need?
Backpack capacity is usually measured in either cubic inches or liters. At this writing, there are over 35 North Face backpacks in their collection. They all come in different sizes.
Currently, the largest North Face backpack is The Prophet 85, with a capacity of 85 liters. The smallest one would be the 14.5-liter Tote Pack.
In this post, most of the backpacks that we’ve reviewed are within the medium size, that is, from 25 liters to 30 liters. In my opinion, this size is the sweet spot for travel. Not too big and not too heavy.
Some backpacks are available in one size. This means that you don’t have any option to choose a small or large size.
Fabrics And Denier Rating (D)
There are two standard fabrics used in The North Face backpacks: polyester and nylon. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is very durable .
Polyester doesn’t absorb water well and is not breathable. It’s used to blend with other fabrics to strengthen the material.
Nylon is a polymer that has excellent strength and abrasion resistance. It has good resistance against the weather, makes the bag more durable, and lasts longer.
Both polyester and nylon fabrics have a different thickness represented by the density unit, Denier Rating (D) . You will find on TNF backpacks is 400D nylon, 300D polyester, 2100D Cordura nylon ripstop, etc.
For instance, 600D fabrics are heavier and more durable than 300D fabrics.
Comfort Features And Technology
The North Face comes up with FlexVent suspension system technology that makes the backpack more breathable for your back comfort.
This system features custom injection-molded shoulder straps, a breathable lumbar panel, and a padded mesh back panel for excellent ventilation support.
So, when the weather is heating up, you don’t have to worry about dealing with backpack back sweat and shoulder sweat marks.
You also find some of the North Face backpacks that come with waist and chest straps. These straps are handy that will provide you with better weight balance and ergonomics when going hiking.
Every North Face backpack in this list comes with unique organizational designs. Some packs are almost identical to others. The only exception is the Terra Backpacking backpack which is specially designed for hiking.
Ideally, you want to have a backpack with a lot of pockets, both internal and external. When you go for travel or school, you need more room for your travel gear, travel blanket, lunch box, books, clothes, and laptops.
Speaking of laptops, most of the medium-size North Face backpacks do have a separate compartment to fit up to a 15.6-inch laptop or tablet.
One of the North Face backpacks’ unique features is that there’s a whistle attached to the sternum strap for safety. If you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, you can blow the whistle to get attention for help.
Some North Face backpacks will have reflective details to ensure your safety, especially if you’re cycling to work or school.
Most TNF backpacks are suitable for traveling. Unfortunately, none of the North Face laptop backpacks features the TSA checkpoint-friendly that allows the bag to lay flat on the airport screener.
Here is the answer to some commonly asked questions about The North Face backpacks:
Are The North Face backpacks waterproof?
Most of the backpacks are water-resistant because materials like nylon and polyester both have water resistance properties. The water can still seep into the inside backpack through the zippers. Therefore, The North Face backpacks are not waterproof.
What is the whistle on The North Face backpacks for?
The whistle on the sternum straps is primarily for safety.
Are North Face backpacks good?
North Face is a little overvalued for the name brand, but their backpacks are incredibly reliable and tend to be long-lasting. Their bags come with a lifetime warranty.
Can North Face backpacks be washed?
It’s not recommended to be washed with a washing machine. If your bag is dirty, what you can do is to spot clean with a damp cloth and then let it dry itself. Never fully submerge your backpack in water.
Can it fit a 17-inch laptop?
Most North Face backpacks are designed to carry a 15-inch laptop. A 17-inch laptop is possible but would be a very tight fit.
To Wrap It Up, My Recommendation
Naturally, whatever backpack you decide on will depend on your particular needs, destinations, and budget. However, if I had to pick an overall, I would say the best North Face backpack is The North Face Borealis Backpack.
I can generally recommend this backpack with confidence the sheer number of outstanding ratings and positive reports from the actual user. I mentioned in this review that The North Face makes a Borealis backpack in the new version.
The North Face name is long associated with outdoor gear. It’s worth trying, and you won’t feel regret with their backpack.
If North Backpack is not for you, you should check out our best Swissgear backpack for travel.