The Best North Face Backpacks Of 2022 For Work & Travel
What sets North Face apart from other backpack makers? Attention to detail, durability, and interior organization beyond compare. If you’ve never owned a North Face product, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. From the materials right on down to the way they feel on your back, there’s a North Face backpack for everyone out there. The North Face is known for expedition gear and their team of athletes spends a lot of time testing gear up in the mountains, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
Whether your next expedition is a walk around campus, to the coffee shop, a day hike, or a proper backpacking adventure, TNF has a product for you. The only question is, which one will you pick? Here, the absolute best North Face backpacks.
- Best For Work: The Borealis – North Face Backpack
- Best For Day Hikes: The North Face Advant 20 Backpack
- Best Ventilation: The Jester – North Face Backpack
- Best Commuter Pack: The Vault North Face Backpack
- Best For Weekend Travel: The Surge North Face Backpack
- Best For Biking: The Recon North Face Backpack
- Most Durable: The Recon CLG4 North Face Backpack
- Best For Students: The Pivoter North Face Backpack
The Best North Face Backpack
1The Borealis – North Face Backpack
The North Face Borealis Backpack comes in 40 different designs and colors, so as long as you like the shape, you can change everything else about it to fit with your personal style. The supportive hip belt and sternum strap make carrying this versatile backpack even easier while offering an additional loop for keys. As for the 15” laptop compartment, it is lined with fleece and stretches to fit your specific laptop shape/style. I have a small Chromebook and Ipad and both fit in that pocket with ease. The main compartment boasts a large amount of storage space which I usually used for lunch, snacks and storing extra layers since I’ve been using this product in the winter. The front zippered pockets are perfect for sunglasses, keys and other small items but I usually stow my keys on the straps.
The FlexVent suspension system worked properly even at our rough 75% load filling up the bag, which works to keep your shoulders and back from sweating to the best of this bag’s ability I rarely felt sweaty or that this pack was cumbersome. However, the Borealis backpack started off rather stiff and did have a break-in period for the padded back panel and the shoulder straps.
As a person who usually has a minimum of two beverages on hand, the dual mesh water bottle pockets, complete with straps to hold them in place was perfect. I could easily reach my bottles and between two pockets and my hands, I could carry three drinks at all times. Why do I need three drinks you ask? Because I’m a well-hydrated lady, that’s why. Plenty of space (28 liters), comfortable, and certified to include a lifetime warranty, this backpack is a winner in our books and one of the best north face backpack models available. Read the in-depth review here.
15-inch padded, fleece-lined laptop sleeve
364-degree reflective bike-tight loop
Shoulder strap webbing
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight3.25 Pounds
Available in over 40 different styles
Cordura nylon mini-ripstop material
Holds 28 liters of cargo yet lightweight and comfy
Fleece-lined laptop pocket is difficult to clean/dry, even in a machine wash
Dual water bottle holders dropped out water bottles a few times, ironically
2The North Face Advant 20 Backpack
This minimalist Advant 20 day pack is one of our favorites for commuting and urban carry, but also on the trail. Part of The North Face’s “Hike” series, it’s got a pared-down design: one main compartment that holds all the gear needed for a successful day in the great outdoors, two concealed side pockets that act as water bottle carriers, and a corded front stash panel for any extra essentials or even smaller accessories you may need.
The front padded panel is functional and durable and perfect for carrying extra gear like a jacket or helmet, and we also like the weatherproof and water-resistant design throughout – came in handy when we got caught in the drizzle on our hike. The Advant backpack features a light and stretchy material, waterproof zippers, and adjustable shoulder and sternum strap for comfortable wear and weight distribution. The built-in laptop sleeve doubles as a hydration sleeve allowing access to a hydration bladder making the transition from trail to train easier than ever.
The pack is 20L, and was updated in spring ‘21 with more streamlined pockets, and it’s now a few ounces lighter, making it ideal for hiking, mountaineering, biking and general outdoor use. This said, if you’re looking for a minimalist commuter daypack, the Advant is also a great option.
20-liter volume pack
Padded breathable back panel
15-inch laptop or bladder compartment
Water bladder routing
Hidden water bottle pocket and outer zippered side pocket
- BrandThe North Face
- ModelThe Advant
- Weight223 Oz
Comfortable, durable and lightweight, it’s perfect for outdoor activities
DWR finish means the pack will stay dry in snow or light rain
Modern, minimalist design makes this pack quite versatile
As it’s minimalist, the pack doesn’t have any extra pockets
3The Jester – North Face Backpack
The Jester is the North Face’s best-selling backpack for many reasons. You get a lot in this pack for an excellent price, including the FlexVent suspension system that TNF is famous for. This feature ensures that your padded shoulder straps and a padded air-mesh panel along the very back of your bag give ventilation, so you can remain dry and comfy when hiking.
If you’re cycling on a Saturday afternoon, you can’t be left without essentials, including your gear, EDC items, and a water bottle, all of which can fit comfortably in this pack. You can even bring your laptop along for the ride in the 15” padded compartment, found in the main interior. Speaking of, if you’re actually stuffing items in your backpack, whether it’s work-related, or you’re a college student with way too many textbooks to count, you’ll want to use the main compartment for storage.
When stuffed full, the bungee cord on the front is lost—it expands with the bag and becomes nearly useless, however, the bag will hold all of your items without ripping or disappointing you. When the bag is not full, the bungee cord is excellent for quick access items. If you are a student, don’t forget to check our cool college backpacks review.
600-denier, 50% recycled polyester
FlexVent suspension system
15-inch padded laptop compartment in main interior
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight1.69 Pounds
Lightweight & roomy, ideal for sports and college
Made of washable, durable polyester
360-degree reflectivity enhances visibility
Tight and bulky when at 75%+ capacity
Bungees on the front are rarely used if you’re actually utilizing the interior pockets
4The Vault North Face Backpack
The North Face Vault backpack is a seriously epic North Face bag. If you’re going on long trips, plan on using it for extended daily use, or anything in between, you’ll be able to benefit from the excellent shape and spine support feature. The FlexVent Suspension system is a great way to reduce, and in many cases, eliminate back and shoulder strap sweat. Most North Face backpacks carry this feature, but it doesn’t make it any less valuable.
The two water bottle pockets are also handy, especially when you’re exploring the great outdoors or city jungles. The ultra-sturdy zipper closure is partly why they named this one The Vault—you won’t be able to get into it unless you really want to, so commuters will get an extra peace of mind on the train or when traveling by bike at night. The reflective bike loop is ultra-durable too, able to handle any twists and turns that you throw its way.
The Vault backpack is made of tight and sturdy 600-D polyester, you can throw this thing around and you’ll still be able to rock it without losing your items through a hole in the bottom, although we don’t reccomend throwing it. The laptop compartment is advertised as a 15-inch slot, but it’s a very, very tight fit. The last thing you want to do is put any pressure on it and risk screen damage, so we recommend only fitting a maximum of a 12-inch laptop screen within this compartment and treating it as a padded tablet compartment. Our handy guide to the top Patagonia backpacks features more great products like this.
26 liters pack
600D recycled polyester with water-repellent finish
Flex Vent suspension system
360-degree reflective bike loop
Dual mesh water bottle holsters
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight4 Pounds
Comes in over 15 different styles
Ultra-durable polyester design repels water
Contours to the shape of your spine beautifully
Storage is awkward to fit normal items into
15-inch laptop space, but it’s a tough fit; works best with 12-inch and smaller
5The Surge North Face Backpack
The Surge backpack comes with a dedicated laptop compartment that’s built for checkpoint-friendly travel. With it, you can lay down your laptop safely without the fear that your load may crush your screen. The padded and fleece-lined quick-grab pocket does its job, making it super simple to reach back without looking, and take out your quick access items like a wallet or smartphone – perfect when you’re in line for that pre-flight coffee.
The front compartment has specific slots for organization, while the Flex Vent lower lumbar feature ensures that you’re not putting all the weight (and damage) on your back. A sternum strap adds extra support and safety, but is unfortunately not removable.
You get plenty of pockets on this bag, so you can store small electronics, books, snacks and more. There’s more room dedicated to the overall number of pockets as opposed to the central compartment, though it still leaves plenty of space for medium-sized items to fit comfortably. This is the perfect bag for the traveling businessman who doesn’t have time (or the need) for a large suitcase or luggage set, or the weekender who wants to be ready for everything but doesn’t like lugging an unstylish duffel bag. We love this North Face backpack for quick and easy travel.
28 liters volume
FlexVent suspension system with a flexible yoke
Lie-down laptop pocket
Ample pocket spots for smaller items
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight3.06 Pounds
Available in a variety of colors and styles
Great overall layout with neat interior organization
A perfectly comfortable and safe laptop pouch
The sternum and waist straps are not removable
Lots of pockets mean storing larger items is a bit of a chore
6The Recon North Face Backpack
If you’re packing light and you want to look great while doing it, The Recon is possible the best North Face backpack for you. Available in over 20 different color and style options, this backpack is crafted of ultra-durable 2100 Cordura nylon mini-ripstop material. In our experience, it’s the best material for any backpack to be made of when durability is the priority. You get 24 liters of dedicated storage space with the deep lagoon model but there are 30L volume models available too.
You get an 18-inch laptop sleeve in the internal pocket, and this one properly fits your full-sized laptop with room to spare. The small external pockets are large enough for a few water bottles, your smartphone, or other quick-access items such as sunglasses.
This bag includes the 360-degree reflective bike-tight loop, so if you’re grabbing more than one bag, you will be able to strap this onto your bicycle with ease. These are designed a bit more for high school students and college students, but this everyday backpack is still just fine for the office. The Recon backpack is an excellent weekender backpack, plus you get North Face’s lifetime warranty on this product. Older models didn’t have the FlexVent Suspension system but newer Recons have the FlexVent system and a padded mesh back panel.
24 liters volume
Front loop for bicycle mounting
18-inch laptop compartment
Additional fleece-lined front pocket for quick access items
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight3.2 Pounds
Lifetime warranty provided by North Face
Quite roomy yet lightweight, perfect for biking and commute
Durable 2100 Cordura construction
If you’re looking for a pack to carry lots of things, look elsewhere
Designed for school use over professional use
7The Recon CLG4 North Face Backpack
The Recon’s bigger brother comes with a few bigger features. With a dedicated 15-inch laptop storage compartment, a ballistic Cordura nylon ripstop construction, and a fleece-lined padded tablet sleeve, you have space and durability for every adventure.
For an excellent price you get access to the Flex Vent suspension system, and in this pack specifically, you get extreme attention to your shoulder support and shoulder straps. The Recon CLG4 is designed for commuters, though we found that it also works extremely well as a hiking backpack as it’s roomy, lightweight and incredibly durable. Trek through your favorite trails on the weekends with this nature-tough bag, and get back to the good life in one piece, with all your belongings and repack it for school or work the next day.
This great backpack comes with North Face’s lifetime warranty—they’re so sure that you’ll love this bag, they guarantee it for as long as you own it. Our handy guide to the best-rated external frame backpacks features more great products like this.
Cordura nylon construction
15-inch laptop compartment & padded tablet sleeve
Flex Vent technology
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight2.63 Pounds
Extra-durable design makes this pack ideal for outdoor adventures
360-degree reflective bike-light loop + water bottles
Fleeced-lined, dedicated tablet compartment + laptop sleeve
Not designed for professional use
Doesn’t stand upright due to its round bottom
8The Pivoter North Face Backpack
The North Face Pivoter is a backpack designed to bring the quality of The North Face to the campus. With help from students, the company has updated this classic design and made it the ultimate backpack for school. It has a 15-inch laptop sleeve, an extra tablet sleeve, and a front pocket designed to hold electronics, keys, and anything you might need easy access to. Unlike the old Pivoter backpack, this one has a flat bottom so it can stand upright on its own so it can be comfortably accessed under a desk or table.
Of course, being made by The North Face, you can expect some super high-quality materials. Using a mixture of 600D polyester and 300D heathered polyester, the designers have made this bag water repellent and resistant to rips and tears so you don’t need to be gentle with it at all. Additionally, you’ll find two mesh water bottle pockets on the exterior alongside compression straps.
With a big main compartment for your books, laptop and tablet pocket, plus a front pocket for a winter jacket when the weather gets cold, the Pivoter is one of the best north face backpacks for students.
28 liters pack
Made from 600D and 300D polyester, water-repellent finish
15-inch laptop sleeve & tablet sleeve
The front pocket can hold a jacket
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight2.63 Pounds
Spacious, lightweight and comfy, designed for students
Large and protective laptop sleeve
Tons of storage and great interior organization
Relatively low weight capacity
Why Trust Us
When it comes to outdoor gear testing, the folks at GearHungry are some of the best gear testers out there. We are hard on gear, know what features matter and test with real-world applications. Each tested bag was tested for weeks outdoors, indoors and in all kinds of weather. Beyond our testing, we aren't afraid to research, and research and research some more. For every product we reccommend there's a lot of reviews, tech specs and reading before we offer it to you.
Who This Is For
This guide is for anyone who is interested in a North Face Backpack. We have focused this guide on students, commuters and outdoor enthusiasts with a focus on versatility.
How We Picked
When selecting the best North Face backpacks, we first looked at the tried and true fan favorites. Then we looked at the best sellers and checked in with our testing team to find their favorites too. We then read lots and lots of reviews until we found our top North Face backpacks.
How We Tested
We enlisted the help of two testers for this guide. Our first tester worked with the Advant 20 pack and used it for short hikes and trails and it mostly saw outdoor usage. I tested the Borealis backpack as a winter backpack here in the rainy PNW. I took this pack in my van up to Mt Hood in the snow, all around town in the sun and the rain and mostly used it as a work backpack. It often held lunches, tools and anything else I needed going to and from the climbing gym, my art studio or home.
Features To Look For In North Face Backpacks
Flex vent - This is designed to put space between the pack and your back/shoulders to maximize ventilation. This feature is even better when coupled with lumbar supports, and generally reduces about 10% of the physical strain you feel from carrying around a backpack. While 10% may not seem like much, it does add up.
Fleece-lined pockets - While there may be other brands utilizing fleece pockets, North Face did it first, and they do it better. Fleece is a great way to cradle electronics or fragile items, such as your sunglasses or souvenirs you grab on vacation. Fleece also helps protect your belongings in cold weather.
Unique designs - If you want to stand out, you probably want to make sure you look different in every regard. North Face puts dozens and dozens of designs on each individual pack (and their other items) to truly make their products indispensable and unique. When you see a North Face product, you know it.
North Face Backpack FAQ
Q: Do all North Face backpacks include a lifetime warranty?
A: If it doesn’t state that there’s a lifetime warranty, then they may be selling their packs through a reseller. Some of these backpacks had a lot of great features and we couldn’t get to the warranties, but every pack on this list comes from North Face and includes their lifetime warranty. If you were to find a backpack elsewhere, just be cautious of resellers, as it voids that warranty in most cases.
- Quick Tips: Using Backpacks Safely - Michigan Medicine
- How To Pack A Backpack - American Hiking Society
- Backpack Basics - Nemours KidsHealth