Nowadays, there are backpacks for every occasion.
You have biking backpacks, cross-country backpacks, commuter backpacks, and so on.
You have backpacks that can comfortably hold your entire tent & all your supplies… and then you have those that are better suited for day hikes and urban hiking.
For the latter group, the North Face Borealis reigns supreme.
North Face Borealis: A Thorough Review
Now, just how exactly do you judge if a backpack is good for you? This might seem like a simple question, but it’s really not. After all, an ultra-light hiker will have different needs than a college student who just needs a bag to store his books and laptop.
While there are many factors to take into consideration, today I’ll focus on the top 5 that are the most important for you.
Let’s dive deep into each one and see how the Borealis stacks up, shall we?
Do you just want a cool, durable backpack to carry your laptop in to and from work? You got it. Want a rugged bag to store all your gear on a short hike? Not a problem.
On top of that, this bag comes in more color schemes than I care to count, and everybody can find just the right look for them. It also comes with some neat features for hikers, such as a whistle on the belt strap, which can be used in emergencies.
Now, don’t get me wrong – this pack isn’t going to be the right fit for all people.
If you’re a long-distance hiker, or if you have greater camping and outdoor needs, you might want to look elsewhere. I find that the urban hikers will get the most use out of the Borealis (after all, it is categorized as a casual backpack for a good reason).
Of course, versatility means nothing if the backpack is so uncomfortable you can’t wear it for more than an hour at the time. Nobody likes the feeling of carrying a backpack around for hours, just to go home and find it’s completely soaked (and smelly).
Luckily, the North Face Borealis solves that problem pretty neatly.
It features two columns of padding (opposite one another) that allow ventilation through the middle. That ensures your back (and the pack) won’t get sweaty, even if you spend the entire day out in the sun.
Now onto the straps. They are designed in such a way to fit your shoulders and hug you tightly, but comfortably. If you’re carrying more weight than you’re used to, you can also use the belt strap for additional support.
If you’re a kind of hiker who likes to carry their favorite gadgets everywhere they go, you’re going to be pleased with the Borealis backpack.
With a capacity of 28 L, 5 pockets, and 19.6 x 7.9-inch dimensions, this backpack is ideal for anyone who wants to be prepared and bring a lot of stuff with them on their hike.
Now, when it comes to pockets, you have a lot to choose from. The main pocket is very spacious and has a sleeve that can fit laptops up to 15’ in size. You also have a second pocket that has containers of many different sizes, which are ideal for various smaller hiking accessories. Finally, the small front pocket is ideal for keys, sunglasses, cell phones, and such.
On the sides, the Borealis features two bottle holders. Nothing too crazy, right? Well, these are made out of expandable mesh, which can fit even the super-wide water bottles (like HydroFlasks). Now they do have their stretch limits and if you exceed them (with water bottles thick as tree stumps) you’ll probably rip them. This shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but it is worth mentioning.
We’ve covered a lot so far. And the North Face Borealis passed with flying colors.
Versatile? Heck yeah.
But is it waterproof?
The answer is: yes and no.
While the actual backpack is made out of high quality materials and is extremely durable, it sadly isn’t 100% waterproof. The fabric itself is water-resistant and will keep out light rain and such. It will also stand up to a lot of wear and tear so you can expect to use this backpack for years without any problems.
However, several people have noted that during heavy downpour some water does get through and ends up being a puddle at the bottom of the pack.
Overall, if you’re going hiking during storms I suggest either getting a rain poncho to go over the backpack or choosing a different backpack.
Now we come to possibly the biggest flaw in the Borealis backpack – its simple, bland style.
Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of colors to choose from. They range from the bright yellow version that I’m pretty sure glows in the dark (I’m joking… I think) to classic black and grey ones.
However, at the end of the day, this backpack won’t be winning any design awards. That’s the price we have to pay for getting a super comfortable, spacious, and versatile bag.
I’m personally fine with that since I prefer the comfort and function over looks, but you might feel
So, with all that said, what is our final verdict?
It’s simple: if you’re a day hiker who needs a bag that will work both on the trail and in the city? Then you’re going to love the functionality and comfort of the North Face Borealis backpack.
With a capacity of 28 L, multiple pockets, and comfortable design, this bag can function both as a hiking backpack and as an urban bag for work or school.
The style is a bit bland, for sure, but if you prefer functionality over aesthetics you’re going to fall in love with this backpack.
Overall, I’d say that it’s probably one of the best backpacks out there for casual hikers and urban commuters alike.