When it comes to quality backpack brands, you’ve probably heard of North Face. The name inspired by the Northern Hemisphere, where the north face of a mountain is generally the coldest and most difficult road to climb – and this is a reflection of the dedication to the extreme that the founders aimed to achieve with their products. “We have also written a complete guide about high sierra curve dayback“.
This American brand is a staple among outdoor enthusiasts, students, college goers and those who like something sturdy and functional but rugged-looking at the same time. The Borealis is one such backpack, with a unisex design that is suitable for both men and women, or just people from all walks of life in general. While practical enough for everyday use, they are also a popular choice for travellers and day hikers. “We have also written a complete guide about best Jansport backpacks“.
Build and Dimensions
Smaller bags might look cool and chic, but most people buy backpacks for practicality – to carry lots of stuff. The Borealis offers plenty of space, and then some. While it looks fairly compact on the outside, the bag measures 19.75 inches by 13.5 inches by 8.5 inches (50cm x 34.5 cm x 22cm) and opens up wide to accommodate more items. The bag has a total capacity of 28L, or over 1,709 cubic inches, and weighs about 1.2kg on its own.
The main compartment can comfortably fit a 15” laptop with room to spare, and is padded with a fleece-lined sleeve to protect its contents against hard knocks or bumps. For runners, joggers and outdoor enthusiasts, use it to store running shoes, change of clothing, bathing suits, towels and even DSLR cameras.
The secondary compartment has additional pockets for internal organisation, including a fleece-lined ‘media’ pocket (for tablets, smartphones and other electronics), as well as a zippered pocket for keeping valuables such as keys and rings securely in place. There is even a cord manager, consisting of a small tab of Velcro, which is handy for stowing away headphone cable. No more rummaging around in the ‘cracks of doom’ – that dark space at the bottom of your bag – for small items like lip gloss or iPods. No more rummaging around in the ‘cracks of doom’ – that space at the bottom of your bag – for small items like make up and car keys.
On the exterior, the bag carries two stretch-mesh compartments on the side for water bottle storage. The external pocket, which is handy to store items like stationery, tissues and sunglasses, is also lined with fleece for extra protection. Meanwhile, two side stretch-mesh pockets allow users to keep water bottles and drinks. The bag has 360 degrees of reflectivity for added safety when travelling at night. This includes a reflective bike-light loop (for attaching to a bike), reflective water bottle tabs, as well as reflective shoulder strap webbing.
Shoulder straps are often the bane of backpacks, as they often cut into the shoulders – causing discomfort, pain, and even posture problems in the long run. The Borealis features an upgraded suspension system for better comfort and long lasting wear by distributing the weight evenly. Dubbed ‘Flex Vent’, the bag uses injection-molded shoulder straps to create flexible points that alleviate the clavicle, thus helping to relieve pressure points and strain on the neck, back and shoulders. It is also height adjustable.The mesh back panel is padded and has a spine channel for better ventilation. These features earn the Borealis a big plus in the comfort department.
North Face is well known for their high quality materials, and the Borealis is no exception. While the bag’s general description of material is ‘nylon’, it is actually made from several types: namely the 210D Cordura® nylon mini-ripstop, 420 D nylon, 600D polyester print and 1680 D ballistic nylon. Cordura is one of the most trusted brands on the market for nylon manufacturing, so users can be rest assured of the material’s performance and durability. It has a natural cotton-like appearance that feels attractive to the touch.
The incorporated Ripstop technology involves the use of woven fabrics that are reinforced with a special technique to make them resistant against tearing and ripping. This is done by interweaving thick threads at regular intervals into a crosshatch pattern. If ever there is a rip, Ripstop will prevent it from spreading and compromising on the backpack’s integrity. It is extremely durable and is the same type used in making hot air balloons, tents and sleeping bags. It also helps to reduce wear on the fabrics that are in direct contact with the ground or the elements, so users can place their backpacks on the ground without worrying about friction damaging the surface.
Although the material is non-waterproof, they provide fair protection against moisture due to their thickness – so even if you’re walking home in a light drizzle, the contents inside should not be compromised.
The epitome of a good backpack is one that is functional and attractive at the same time. The Borealis sports a rugged, outdoorsy look with zippered closures and accents that match the body’s color. The front of the bag has elastic webbing in a criss-cross pattern, which doubles as a decorative touch as well as a useful place to store helmets, books and outdoor gear. Also included is a removable waist belt. For peace of mind, user’s get a lifetime warranty on the bag – although with its robust build and solid materials, it should easily last a few years with proper care.
Users will have fun choosing their favorite color combinations, as the Borealis comes with up to 18 different colors. Some of the more rugged, classic colors include Asphalt Grey/Citrine Yellow, Cosmic Blue/Asphalt Grey, TNF Black and Forest Night Green/Asphalt Grey; while the Blue and Purple are more fun and playful.
Pros and Cons
- Large storage space, 28L capacity
- Pockets for compartmentalization
- Lots of colors available
- Injection-molded shoulder straps for better comfort and helps to distribute weight evenly
- Ripstop fabric protects against tearing
- Durable and long lasting
- Not waterproof
- Weighs 1.2kg on its own, rather heavy
The Borealis backpack is a good choice for those who want high quality, durability, lots of storage space and style. There is little fault to be found as the pros far outweigh the cons. In short, a value for money buy that is sure to last you for many years to come.