Best North Face Backpacks

Updated June 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

40 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
110 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best north face backpacks

Is a new backpack on your horizon? Choosing a backpack is as much an investment as it is a lifestyle choice — it needs to have the right combination of functionality and personality to fit into your everyday life. Luckily, the makers at North Face are experts when it comes to backpacks and have a broad range from which to choose. 

Whether you pack light for campus or are planning a serious camping excursion, North Face backpacks have a size for everyone. Whatever your backpack needs, you can expect plentiful organizational options when it comes to compartments, storage, pockets, and expandability. Available in countless styles, colors, and options, North Face backpacks are constructed with high-quality materials that are prepared for overseas travel, outdoor excursions, and everyday use.

Ready to take a hike and embark on your search for a new North Face backpack? Take a load off and read our buying guide to discover the many feature options of your new backpack.

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If you use public transportation, choose a backpack that has more zippered pockets than exposed external compartments. While you should always keep valuables on the inside, it’s important to have a bag where all areas can be secured and closed.

Key considerations

Which North Face backpack style is best for me?

  • Child or mini: Smaller backpacks, also referred to as “mini” styles in the North Face product line, are geared toward primary and middle school students. Mini styles are also ideal for commuters who like to travel light. Additionally, minis serve as purses for some. Sizing caveat: the straps are significantly narrower in mini styles than for full-size backpacks, so some adults may have difficulty fitting a mini over a jacket.

  • Students: Students, particularly those in high school and college, will enjoy the organization built into North Face backpacks. Student styles are equipped with laptop slots and other compartments for electronics and office supplies. These have more than one size option available, so if you have a larger laptop, you can opt for larger backpack.

  • Commuters/travelers: Many commuters or travelers may find much of what they need in North Face backpacks geared toward students. But if you’re looking for more convenient compartments, commuter/traveler styles offer nice options such as external water bottle pockets, headphone openings, and more divided inside pockets. There are also more external zipper compartments on these models, as security is more of an issue for commuters and travelers.

  • Camping: While most North Face backpacks would be a welcome addition to any camping trip, there are dedicated camping styles available. These backpacks emphasize optimizing space for supplies, snacks, and clothing. Many of them feature large bungee cords to help stow your extra sneakers or other gear. There are also a variety of strategically placed loops and tabs where you can hang flashlights and fishing accessories.

Features

Colors

Black is the most popular color for North Face backpacks, but you’ll also find a variety of colors, prints, and designs throughout the product line. There are quite a few color combinations that are gender-neutral, as well as more traditionally masculine and feminine color schemes. Few North Face backpacks are monochromatic, so if you’re looking for a single hue, you have limited options: black, blue, gray, or white.

Materials

The North Face utilizes a combination of ripstop nylon and mesh in their backpacks. Their ripstop nylon is thicker than the average nylon used by other companies, which is why North Face backpacks have a reputation for outlasting the competition. Mesh, an ever-versatile textile, is used in various ways throughout North Face backpacks. Coarse, sturdy mesh is often seen for pockets and compartments. Another style of mesh, often employed in styles with additional comfort padding, is similar to the mesh used in basketball shorts. This softer, shinier mesh won’t snag your clothing, and it serves as a light, comfortable covering for those extra layers of padding.

Specialty compartments

North Face backpacks include several types of speciality compartments. You’ll find dedicated slots or pockets for laptops, pens, water bottles, notebooks, sneakers, and cell phones. The North Face also sets itself apart from the competition with an impressive number of zippered compartments in their backpacks. Not only are they strategically placed for ultimate convenience, the zippers are high in quality and aren’t easily corrupted — so you can pack with abandon, knowing the zipper will last as long as the rest of the backpack.

Expandability

You don’t always need the maximum amount of space in your backpack, but when you do, you really need it. That’s why some North Face backpacks have an expandability feature. The extra space is neatly tucked away by folding the fabric and securing it inside a zipper. On average, expandable areas could add between one to four inches. It may not sound like a lot, but it can mean fitting in an extra outfit for an overnight trip, so it’s a good option to consider.

Comfort engineering

It’s no secret that backpacks often carry sizable loads, which is why North Face builds comfort engineering into their backpack designs. All their backpacks feature a degree of customization, which could include adjustable straps or removable compartments to lighten the load. In some styles, straps are equipped with foam padding or quilting to soften the pressure across the shoulders and back. There are also crossbody straps in some styles, which have a snap closure across the chest to secure the backpack snugly while you’re walking or hiking. This feature also helps to distribute weight evenly across your upper body instead of isolating the load on the straps, which could put excess strain and pressure on the lower back.

North Face backpack prices

North Face backpacks cost between $35 and $200.

At the low end of the price range, from $35 to $60, you’ll find minis and children’s styles. Backpacks in this bracket tend to have a limited number of compartments and features.

If you’re looking for a higher level of organization with multiple compartments, you’ll find it in mid-range North Face backpacks priced between $60 and $120.

At the upper end of the price range, between $120 and $200, are larger backpacks geared toward camping. High-end camping backpacks generally have the highest level of organization among North Face backpacks and accommodate a wealth of items.

Tips

  • Get a coordinating lunch box. You can purchase a lunch box from North Face, or you could buy one from another brand in a color that matches your backpack.

  • Keep pens capped. To avoid ink explosions and permanent stains, make sure all pens, markers, and highlighters are capped when they go into your bag.

  • Keep convenient essentials in outer pockets. Tissues, hair ties, and snacks should be easy to reach, so place them in your backpack’s outer pockets for easy access.

  • Remove dirty gym clothes. If you use your backpack for gym clothes, it can start to smell like a locker room. Empty your dirty gym clothes as soon as you get home to keep your North Face backpack as fresh as possible.

  • Buy based on height. If you’re buying more than one backpack for children, examine the measurements to see which ones would fit them best. Certain styles are better suited to smaller children, whereas taller children and teens fare well with full-size adult backpacks.
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When you buy a new backpack for your child and you’re concerned about their posture, bring it to their next doctor’s appointment. The pediatrician can help you adjust the backpack so it distributes weight more evenly across your child’s back.

FAQ

Q. Do all North Face backpacks fit laptops?

A. Most of them will have enough space for the average laptop, though it might not have a dedicated area. If you’re planning to carry your laptop regularly, opt for a model that has a padded pocket or compartment to secure it. It’s also important to take your laptop size into consideration. Smaller laptop models, those under 15 inches, can fit in nearly any backpack. Larger models, 17 inches and up, will have a tough time fitting into an average North Face backpack.

Q. My zipper is caught on the lining and now it’s jammed. What do I do?

A. To unsnag your zipper, first try pulling through to the end and, if it can make it, reversing the zipper. That should release the snagged lining. If the zipper has a decent amount of lining caught, use your pointer finger and thumb to roll back the lining while you zipper forward incrementally. The break in pressure could encourage the zipper to release the lining, but this method takes some work. Some users also swear by applying Windex, WD-40, or clear lip balm to a jammed zipper.

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