North Face Borealis Backpack Review

The North Face has a stellar reputation for making some of the best products for outdoor use. I’ve been a big fan of the company for several years. While I have bought a lot of their clothing, I had never really thought about getting any of their equipment. I guess my brain just associated the company with clothing instead of things like backpacks.

Near the end of last year, though, I realized that I needed to replace my backpack. The zipper had started to become difficult to use. For some reason the teeth just wouldn’t line up like the used to. I guess that’s just a sign that it’s time to buy a replacement! It was starting to look shabby anyway.

Since I didn’t have school at the time, I wasn’t in a big rush to get a new bag, though. I found the North Face Borealis backpack while looking for a new jacket. The backpack was a little more expensive that I originally wanted to pay, but I knew that North Face was a great brand so I decided to spend a little extra.

North Face Borealis Backpack Features

Strong Materials

This backpack is serious. It’s made from a thick polyester material that I’m certain will last at least a decade. The straps are also well made. They’re thick and durable.

Comfortable Build

North Face has included several features that make this backpack really comfortable. There’s a padded belt that you can wear on your hip. That gives you a little extra support and takes the weight off your shoulders when you need it.

The backpack has a compression panel bottom that you can shrink when the interior isn’t full. That prevents the bottom from swinging around unnecessarily.

There’s also a mesh pocket where you can put an extra back support.

Padded Interior

The North Face Borealis Backpack has a large interior with plenty of padding. I’d say its somewhere between 25 and 30 liters in size, so you can fit most of the stuff that you need to carry with you during the day or when you’re going out for a day hike.

The backpack features a separate pocket for your laptop. It holds laptops that are 15 inches wide. Mine has plenty of room to spare.

The laptop pocket creates a potential problem, but North Face solves it. Since the laptop pocket rubs against your back, North Face installed a thick pad that prevents it from causing any discomfort. Also, it helps protect your backpack from any spills you might have. Better comfort and protection? Sign me up!

Plenty of Bungee Cords

The North Face Borealis backpack has a section that’s basically covered in bungee cords. This makes it easy to carry small and large items that you don’t want to put in the interior. I usually keep a water bottle back there. The bungee cords always hold it tightly, even when it’s full and bouncing around

Extra Features for Convenience

There are some features on the Borealis that I don’t use much, but some people will probably like them.

The laptop compartment can double as a holster for your water bladder. It even has a port where you can pull the drinking tube out for easy access. That’s probably a good feature for people who ride bikes in hot cities.

The backpack also has a mesh pocket on the side where you can put your water bottle. I prefer putting my water between the bungee cords, so I don’t use this pocket much. There’s also a small water-resistant pocket. It isn’t very big, but it’s just about right size for me to put my smartphone there on rainy days.

Where it Can Use Improvement

There is always room for improvement, but I’m having a hard time thinking of real changes that I would want to make to the Borealis Backpack. I guess it would be nice if I could adjust the size of the laptop compartment more. It isn’t a big deal for me since my computer fits in nice and snug. I did offer to carry a computer for someone once, though, and her computer wouldn’t fit. It was just a little bit too big.

If the computer compartment were more adaptable, you could fit a wider range of models in there. Since a lot of people are going for smaller computers these days, though, I doubt that North Face will take the trouble to change this. I mean, it’s not even a design flaw. It’s just a design that doesn’t work well for people who like big laptops.

Product variations

North Face Borealis Backpack – TNF Red Asphalt Grey – One Size

The North Face Borealis Backpack – Fiery Red Plaid

North Face Borealis Womens Backpack – TeaBerry Pink Heather – One Size

Customer reviews

Other reviews

By Mad Scientist (Southampton, UK)

“I bought a red one of these about 4 years ago for £50. I’ve used it almost every day and I still love it. Unlike some of North Face’s kit (wheeled cases, for example) the quality is absolutely fantastic. There’s some cosmetic fraying starting to show on the edge of the right shoulder strap (I usually just hang it off that shoulder) and a little discolouration around the top from my leather jacket but aside from that it’s as good as new. It’s proven to be virtually waterproof so long as the zips are closed and covered properly.

The main compartment easily has enough room for a change of clothes and a wash bag. I also use it regularly to carry my netbook or my 15″ laptop without any problems. The middle compartment has a fantastic organiser built in with pockets for pens, etc. and even a lanyard for keys. “A veritable office” my GF called it. The small zippered front pocket is perfect for small items you might need to find quickly. The two outside mesh pockets are perfect for 500ml coke bottles, small umbrellas and carrier bags.

The shoulder straps have 3/4″ webbing their full length, which is great for hanging stuff with Molle system attachments, as well as two sturdy D-rings and an elasticated pouch that is perfect for small mobile phones or large penknives.

If you want a small rucksack just buy one of these, you won’t be disappointed.”

By Alessio Vermonti (London)

“I particularly like the “bumper” inside which supports the laptop off the ground. Fits my macbook pro 13 inch inside its neoprene sleeve securely. The back of the bag is also solid.

You can tuck the waist strap inside the bag too, which is good for my day to day commute when i dont require it, but its always there for those times when I might need it say if I am cycling or hiking.

The front zipper pocket is also easy access for a standard sized paperback or a kindle.

I would recommend as a daily commute bag and a good carry on travel bag.”

Final thoughts on North Face Borealis Backpack

Certified and endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the North Face Borealis backpack is comfortable to use and ideal for men and women.

If you want to carry a laptop that’s over 15 inches wide, then this probably isn’t your best option. You will want to look for a backpack that can accommodate a larger computer. Otherwise, this is a great backpack from a company I trust.