Rows of North Face backpacks hanging on a wall

Best North Face Backpacks for Travel

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Choosing the best North Face backpacks for travel means choosing between some of the top travel backpacks you’ll find anywhere. Hence this guide. In fact, when we picked the backpacks that feature in our article on the best Disney backpacks, we chose the North Face Vault as our number one pick overall. They’re that good.

If you’re finding it hard to choose between the best North Face backpacks for your travel needs, then don’t worry – we have got you covered! This post features ten of the top options so you can pick the best North Face backpack for travel – whether you’re headed to college on the bus, on a family road trip, to work via the subway or on a full-on round-the-world trip.

Red sign with white lettering reading 'The North Face'

Best North Face backpacks for travel – Our Top Pick

Our favorite backpack by North Face overall is the Borealis. This is because it’s American Chiropractic Association approved, has a 28-liter capacity plus lots of pockets. With over 30 colors available, you’re also spoiled for choice.

From enough space for a couple of water bottles for you and the kids on day trips to why shoulder straps and a sternum strap might be important, we’ll tell you what to look for. Whether you’re a backpacker with a heavy load to bear or a couple of college students who need easy access to the contents plus a padded laptop sleeve.

If you’re looking for the biggest North Face backpack you can find, a North Face backpack with a laptop sleeve or the best North Face backpack for hiking, read on to find your perfect match. Let’s get started!

To make it easier to find what you’re looking for, we’ve listed the backpacks in size order – from the smallest North Face backpack to the largest North Face backpack.

Compare the top 10 best North Face backpacks

To see the most recent reviews and ratings as well as the current price, simply click on the image or link provided below for the North Face backpack you like the look of.

Choosing the best North Face travel backpack

This section outlines some of the main features to bear in mind when picking out the top North Face backpack for you.

Rows of North Face backpacks hanging on a wall

Capacity

Before you even start choosing between the best backpacks from North Face, you need to think about what size you need. At the lower end of the scale are products like a North Face classic everyday commuter laptop backpack for daily use, while at the other end you have the biggest North Face backpack money can buy for longer trips or treks.

Also, are you thinking of a North Face travel backpack for carry-on purposes? If so, you need to find out what your airline – or several of them that you plan to use – stipulates in terms of product dimensions as well as weight.

Think about everything you need to carry and try to find a pack that will accommodate everything you need on a daily basis – or even what will see you through a week’s camping and hiking, a gap year, or a vacation lasting for a couple of weeks or months.

In general, a day pack will have a capacity of around 20 to 30 liters, while those that can accommodate 40 liters or more are good for overnight or longer trips.

Compartments

Even the best North Face ultralight backpack can be improved by the addition of various pockets and compartments. This is because storing stuff in separate sections simply makes life much easier when it comes to staying organized!

A typical North Face top loader commuter laptop backpack will have a padded section for your computer or tablet, and even if you don’t carry one this gives you the option. It can also be used to divide different items.

Pockets on the outer can also be useful, whether you’re buying a big North Face backpack with a roll-top for a trip lasting some time or a North Face backpack with laptop compartment for work or college.

Useful examples include water bottle pockets, lined compartments to keep small electricals safe, front sections for things you need often, and, on larger packs, hip belt pockets.

Three North Face backpacks hanging on a wall.

Ergonomics

Whether it’s a North Face heavy-duty backpack or a lighter option to use as a daypack, this brand’s products are made with ergonomics in mind. Many are in fact endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association or feature the DynoLift and OptiFit systems to ensure even weight distribution and comfort when carrying.

Features to look for in any North Face backpack carry-on, daypack or travel pack include good padding and ventilation, an adjustable fit and a female-specific fit where that applies. Cushioned shoulder straps, a sternum strap and a hip belt can also help with heavier loads.

Another factor that can help is whether or not the bag can stand up unaided, as it saves you from bending and reaching so far.

Looks

How your pack looks may be insignificant to you – or of prime importance. Where this does matter, make sure you do go for one that you like the style of, or you could end up buying one you prefer to replace it in the near future!

North Face Jester backpack in mint green on the back of a young girl

Also think about whether, for example, that North Face backpack for a commuter will look the part in a corporate environment. Many packs come in a choice of colors, and that may also hlep you pick out one that’s appropriate – or simply one that you love.

Weatherproofing

Investing in a North Face waterproof laptop backpack can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your equipment dry during wet weather. This can also be important when you’re camping or hitting the trails – though you can buy waterproof covers if necessary.

Best North Face travel backpacks – Frequently Asked Questions

Which backpack is best for traveling?

A top-quality, versatile backpack is best for traveling, as your vacation plans are likely to vary from one trip to the next. Major brands with years of experience behind them are the best choice, as they can last for many years – in some cases a lifetime!

Are North Face backpacks any good?

North Face backpacks are very highly regarded and some travelers will buy nothing else. The brand invests heavily in technology to make sure its packs offer genuinely helpful features like good storage, waterproofing and an ergonomic design.

What is the best North Face backpack for a laptop?

There are various cool North Face backpacks to choose from when you want to carry a laptop safely. The Jester, Recon and Vault models are typical examples of a North Face lightweight backpack with a padded laptop sleeve.

What North Face backpack should I get?

It really depends on your needs. Buying a North Face backpack without a laptop sleeve, for instance, makes no sense when you carry a computer around! The best North Face daypack or larger pack for you will have space and protection for everything you take along with you.

Are North Face backpacks comfortable?

It all comes down to comfort. A well-designed backpack will keep you going for far longer. Many of this brand’s products are in fact recommended by the American Chiropractic Association.

Can I bring a North Face backpack on a plane?

If you’re wondering whether you can bring your North Face backpack for work when flying then it’s wise to check the airline’s size and weight limits. These vary between carriers. As long as it adheres to their rules, then the answer is yes!

A beige backpack and a white one next to each other on a wall

Best backpack by North Face reviews

North Face Tote everyday backpack – 14.5L

This is the first North Face backpack for a laptop we’re listing – and with a 14.5-liter capacity, it’s also the smallest. It stands out among North Face backpacks with a laptop compartment, because of the tote-style design that looks a little different from your average North Face small hiking backpack.

Unlike the usual backpack with bungee cords on the outer, this one has a more preppy and slightly retro appearance. It’s available in a dozen colors, including a couple of patterned options, and suits pretty much anyone regardless of age, gender or style preference.

The webbed twin tote handles are a good feature, as you can simply grab and go, while padded back and shoulder straps make carrying comfortable. Just in case of sudden rain showers, it also has a water-repellent finish.

Pros:

  • Twin tote grab handles
  • Retro styling
  • Water repellent outer

Cons:

  • Smallest capacity

North Face Jester women’s backpack – 22L

The Jester is another great option for anyone seeking a North Face travel backpack. Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, comfort when carrying your books, laptop, hiking gear or weekend wear is guaranteed. The North Face Jester for women also features a female-specific fit.

A padded laptop pocket keeps your expensive equipment safe, while more storage is supplied in the form of two water bottle sleeves, a key fob, a bungee strap and zippered sections including a front compartment.

This is one of the most popular North Face backpack options and comes in nearly 30 colors. Some of these are two-tone or feature a contrasting bungee cord. If you have back problems this could be the best option, as it can stand up unaided and has North Face’s FlexVent suspension system built-in.

Pros:

  • American Chiropractic Association endorsed
  • Stands upright without support
  • Female-specific fit

Cons:

  • Not the best option for men

North Face Vault classic backpack – 26L

The Vault is a versatile choice for those seeking a North Face backpack for travel, college, day hikes or everyday use. It’s also perhaps the perfect backpack for those who want a more rugged look, especially as the range of colors includes a camo print ideal for the outdoors.

If you’re already familiar with the Vault, then you should know that it’s had an upgrade. It can now stand up without support, is made using water repellent fabric, and is also American Chiropractic Association endorsed.

The shoulder straps are flexible and adjustable, the back is padded and there is a breathable lumbar panel to ensure ergonomics are taken care of. A daisy chain to the outer provides lash points for extra gear, and there is also a padded laptop sleeve.

Pros:

  • Padded, breathable back panel
  • Daisy chain provides lash points
  • Recycled polyester

Cons:

  • Not the most generous capacity

North Face Borealis classic backpack – 28L

The North Face Borealis backpack offers a 28-liter capacity, so slightly more than the Vault. This one comes in over 30 color options too, so there are certainly plenty of choices here. There are pastel, bright, neutral and monochrome shades, and two-tone bags too.

A key feature for those who want to carry small electronics – such as a set of AirPods – is a small fleece-lined outer pocket that’s perfect for such items. There are water bottle pockets to the sides and a front compartment too.

The Borealis North Face bags even come with a removable waist belt for added comfort, and also have reflective accents and a whistle buckle on the sternum strap. They’re also American Chiropractic Association recommended and feature FlexVent suspension.

Pros:

  • Detachable waist belt
  • Fleece-lined outer pocket
  • Whistle buckle
  • FlexVent suspension system
  • Large main compartment

Cons:

  • Water bottle holders are rather shallow

Check out this adorable North Face Borealis sling backpack!

Pink North Face Borealis mini on a mannequin
Isn’t this sling Borealis adorable?

North Face Recon school backpack – 30L

A self-professed ‘campus classic’, is this the best North Face laptop backpack out there? It’s certainly a contender and has a distinctive look that will take you anywhere you like. American Chiropractic Association certified, it also features comfortable FlexVent suspension technology.

You can use the cushioned laptop compartment to protect your computer, or simply use this section to separate different items in order to stay organized. Daisy chains provide lash points, and there is a fleece-lined pocket for easily damaged items such as sunglasses or electricals.

A unique feature of this particular pick among popular North Face backpacks is the soft chemise finish to the fabric, making it look stylish and feel good to the touch.

Pros:

  • Unique styling
  • 2 daisy chains
  • Padded outer pocket

Cons:

  • Not the toughest outer fabric

North Face Surge multi-purpose backpack – 31L

If you’d like a little extra capacity, the Surge offers an extra couple of liters as compared to other North Face lightweight backpack options. Not a lot, perhaps, but it could mean you can take a few more small items along with you for the day or weekend.

The Surge also has a different aesthetic. There’s no bungee cord or daisy chain, but there is a generously sized front section offering quick access to your most important stuff. This one is also endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association and features the FlexVent suspension system.

Reflective trim makes you stand out, whether you’re on the backcountry trails, running through the city streets or heading home after work in the dark.

Pros:

  • Generous daypack capacity
  • Large front compartment
  • Reflective detailing

Cons:

  • Rugged look not for everyone

North Face Sunder classic backpack – 31.5L

This North Face laptop backpack with a 15-inch laptop sleeve is another good all-rounder that comes in a range of colors and patterns. If you’re concerned that a smaller backpack won’t offer enough space, this could be a good one to go for as it can hold 31.5 liters.

The Sunder can stand up anywhere unassisted and has a water-repellent outer for all-weather use. There is a secure front compartment for safe storage of the items you need most often during the day such as a cell phone or personal items.

A sleek design gives this one a go-anywhere look, making it maybe a better choice for commuters who need to look smart for work. That said, it’s tough enough to cope with life on the trails too.

Pros:

  • Stands up alone
  • All-weather finish
  • Smart, sleek design

Cons:

  • Plainer look than some others

North Face Terra backpacking backpack – 40L

If you’re looking beyond a North Face day hike backpack or the best North Face backpack for work or college, then a 40-liter backpack is ideal for longer trips, such as weekends away or even longer. It’s also great if you’re staying overnight and have a lot to carry.

The Terra range is the best of the largest North Face backpack options and features the brand’s DynaLift system for the effortless carrying of heavy loads. As well as offering extra support, the hip belt also has padded mesh pockets built into the design.

OptiFit technology has also been added to ensure a great fit that effectively eases the burden. Another useful feature is the J-shaped zip, which makes accessing the contents so much easier than with a conventional top-loader.

Pros:

  • J-shaped zip for easy access
  • DynaLift makes light work of loads
  • Cushioned hip belt with zippered pockets

Cons:

  • Only 3 colors

North Face Terra women’s backpack – 55L

The North Face Terra for women always attracts some of the best North Face hiking backpack reviews, and it’s ideal for backpackers or those heading out onto the trails for longer. The 55-liter capacity could see many people through a trip lasting for months or more if you can pack light and don’t need to take too much kit.

It comes in five colors, and all are pretty neutral hues. For an ultra-comfortable and secure fit, it has female-specific shaping and soft yet tough outer materials. The DynoLift and OptiFit systems are also self-adjusting to reduce the load.

You can use a hydration pack with this contender as the best women’s North Face backpack, and again the J-zip means you can find what you want at a glance. Like the 40-liter Terra, this one also has pockets on the cushioned hip belt.

Pros:

  • Female-specific fit
  • OptiFit technology
  • Water-repellent nylon

Cons:

  • Gap year travelers or campers may need more capacity

North Face Terra backpacking backpack – 65L

Our final pick is the top North Face backpack for hikers or travelers is the 65-liter Terra. Happy customers again adore this pack, which they say is built to last, fits well and offers plenty of storage space.

Again it has a molded, padded hip belt with zippered pockets and is easy to adjust while on the move thanks to the OptiFit system. Breathable mesh to the back panel also makes it comfortable even when the heat is on, and there’s a mesh pocket at the front for items you may need while on the move.

This one can also take a water reservoir for on-the-go hydration and has that super helpful J-shaped zip opening unique to this type of top loader from North Face. The ‘floating’ lid also acts as a great storage space for a sleeping bag or tent, or you could attach these to the loops on the front.

Pros:

  • Hydration reservoir compatible
  • Floating lid & loops for extra storage
  • Breathable mesh back panel

Cons:

  • Heaviest option listed

Best North Face backpacks for travel summary

We hope this guide has been helpful in choosing the best North Face backpacks for travel adventures or for your daily needs.

What’s really important is to find the right pack for you – not anyone else. If you like it and it can safely and comfortably carry what you need to take along, then surely that’s the best choice!

If you found this guide helpful, why not check out some of our other posts? Options you might like include the best road trip food list, the best ponchos for travel and Hiking in Hocking Hills, Ohio.

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Rows of North Face backpacks hanging from a wall with text reading '10 awesome North Face backpacks for travel' in pink.

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