Can a North Face Backpack Be a Personal Item?: A North Face Borealis backpack on an airplane seat
Credit: thenorthface

As you prepare for your next adventure or business trip, you might look at your trusty North Face backpack and wonder, “Can this be my personal item on a flight?” It’s a valid question, especially with airlines enforcing stricter baggage policies. 

Read on for more details…

Can a North Face Backpack Be a Personal Item?

The good news for North Face backpack owners is that yes, your backpack can tag along as your personal item on flights!  Airlines usually allow a bag under the seat, typically around 18 x 14 x 8 inches. Luckily, North Face designs backpacks with these limitations in mind, so they snugly fit right where you need them to.

I’ve personally taken my North Face Borealis on countless trips as my under-the-seat companion. And it’s not just the Borealis; I’ve noticed fellow travelers breezing through with their Surges, Jesters, Recons, and more. As long as you don’t stuff them to the brim but still keep them squishy enough to fit in those unforgiving airline sizers.

Just remember, before you jet off on your next adventure, check the measurements of your backpack and compare it with your chosen airline’s baggage policy. It’s better to be safe than sorry and have a hassle-free journey.

Airline Size Requirements for Personal Items

Can a North Face Backpack Be a Personal Item?: a backpack under the seat in an airplane

A personal item is defined as a smaller piece of luggage that can fit under the seat in front of you, such as a purse, briefcase, or a small backpack.

Airlines like United, Delta, and American Airlines typically allow personal items that measure around 18 x 14 x 8 inches.

For example, a popular model like the North Face Borealis, with dimensions of 19.75 x 13.25 x 9.75 inches when full, might push these limits. However, because the backpack is soft-sided and can be compressed, many travelers have not faced issues bringing it on board.

The Traveler’s Experience- North Face packs can be a personal item

Can a North Face Backpack Be a Personal Item?: an X user talking about traveling with a North Face backpack as a personal item bag

So, can a North Face pack be your go-to personal item on flights? According to the collective wisdom of travel enthusiasts across Reddit, TripAdvisor, Quora, and FlyerTalk, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. North Face backpacks slide into the ‘personal item’ category with ease.

Let’s lay out the evidence.

Travelers have shared countless stories of breezing through the airport with their North Face bags snugly fitting beneath the seat in front, from the compact Jester to the roomy Recon. It’s all about the art of packing—enough for your needs but still squishy enough to fit in those unforgiving airline sizers.

Take the North Face Jester, for example. A 28-liter pack that one might assume is too hefty to tuck under a seat. Yet, users on Reddit have reported smooth travels with the Jester, with comments like “No one batted an eye with the Jester as my personal item.” and “It fits less than my other personal item backpack.”

Another user chimes in, suggesting that the Jester’s stated dimensions may be overestimated, as it holds less than another bag designed specifically to meet personal item criteria. In their words, “I have a NF Jester, I strongly suspect it’s significantly smaller than stated volume. It fits less than my Boardingblue backpack made specifically as a personal item. The dimensions (from NF website) are 11” x 8.25” x 18.13”. This should work, easily.”

The trick, according to several forum contributors, is not to overstuff your backpack. Keep it pliable, and you’ll find it squeezes into those sizing boxes without a hitch. 

Trish Bailey-Seiler says “As long as you are able to squish it into the sizer box at the gate, you will be okay…Most backpacks, no matter the size, will pass the scrutiny of the gate agent, who has the say of whether or not to check the size of a bag.

This advice is golden, especially when flying with budget airlines with stricter baggage policies. A Quora user queried about the Jester fitting Spirit Airlines’ dimensions since it measures 19.75 x 13.25 x 8 against the airline’s 18 x 14 x 8 dimensions, and the reassuring reply was as long as the bag could be squished into the sizer box, it should pass muster.

But it’s not just about dimensions. The absence of rigid parts, like wheels or handles, makes these backpacks more adaptable to tight spaces—something a traveler highlighted when discussing the Jester’s compatibility with Spirit Airlines’ strict baggage measurements.

Trip Advisor members share similar sentiments. They say that if your backpack isn’t bursting at the seams, it should squish down to meet most size requirements.

And let’s not forget the input from FlyerTalk forum, where a traveler vouched for the North Face Recon, another trusty model that has accompanied them on numerous flights without issue. “I’ve always brought my north face recon backpack with laptop inside as my personal item in addition to my carryon on many airlines foreign and domestic, inc delta. So long as it fits under the seat in front of you its all good.

You see, the Jester, Borealis, Recon, and even the Surge have been noted for their ability to conform to the typical dimensions allowed by airlines. 

And it’s not just personal anecdotes. The Jester lands on my list of ‘Top 18 x 14 x 8 Inch Bags You Can Take on Most Airlines’. Even the travel pros at Smarter Travel, give a nod to the Borealis pack.

But hey, always remember the golden rule of flying with personal items: the final say comes down to the gate crew. So, while a Redditor’s Surge backpack made the cut on Alaska and Delta, it’s always with a pinch of ‘your mileage may vary’.

My verdict…

If you’ve got a North Face backpack, and you pack smartly, you’ll likely find it to be a trusty companion that navigates the sometimes tricky terrain of airline regulations with ease. Plus, it’s not just travelers saying this – Smarter Travel and several other travelers give a nod to North Face backpacks.

In the end, if you’re looking for a personal item backpack that can keep pace with your travels without causing a fuss at the gate, a North Face backpack might just be your best bet. As the experiences of many travelers suggest, it’s a choice that delivers on both convenience and compliance.

Features of North Face Backpacks That Make Them Ideal Personal Items

Can a North Face Backpack Be a Personal Item?: A North Face Borealis backpack on an airplane seat

As someone who’s spent a fair amount of time deciphering the best travel gear, I can tell you that the features of North Face backpacks are spot-on for meeting most airlines’ personal item criteria. Let’s delve into what makes these backpacks tick all the right boxes.

Compact and lightweight

First and foremost, size matters when it comes to personal items. You need something that fits within the airline’s size guidelines. The North Face backpacks, such as the popular Borealis or Recon models, boast dimensions that typically fit under the seat in front of you, aligning with the personal item size requirements of airlines like Southwest or JetBlue, as avid travelers on Reddit and Trip Advisor have noted. However, always remember to check the specific size restrictions of your airline as they can vary.

No one wants a heavy bag to lug around. North Face backpacks are recognized for their lightweight structure and compactness. Even when fully packed, I love that these backpacks are easy to carry around.

Numerous compartments and organizers

One of my favorite things about North Face bags is the many pockets and compartments to keep your belongings secure and handy. 

With multiple compartments, including padded ones for laptops and electronics, mesh pockets for water bottles, and even fleece-lined sections for sunglasses, these backpacks are designed to keep your essentials neatly sorted and accessible. 

Durability That Endures

North Face backpacks have earned their stripes in the realm of tough, long-lasting gear. They’re the go-to for many adventurers because they stand up to the rigors of travel and everyday use, a point often highlighted in customer reviews on Amazon and REI. The secret? It’s all in how they’re made—robust materials that shrug off scrapes and drizzles

And there’s more. North Face isn’t just about making sturdy backpacks; they promise to have your back for the long haul with a lifetime warranty.  

Comfort on the Go

Travel can be taxing on your body. North Face understands this, crafting their backpacks with features like padded back panels and shoulder straps, which are a blessing when you’re dashing to catch a flight or navigating narrow train aisles. 

I can tell you this – North Face backpacks are pretty comfortable to wear. 

In the upcoming section, I’ll walk you through the experiences of specific travelers, and how they navigated the oftentimes strict carry-on rules of various airlines with their trusty North Face backpacks.

Please note: The size and features of North Face backpacks can vary among models. Always check the specs of your chosen model and verify with your airline’s baggage policy.

How to Ensure Your Backpack Complies With Airline Regulations

Check your airline’s luggage policies.

I can’t stress this enough. Different airlines have different regulations, but generally, they allow personal items that fit under the seat in front of you and can be up to be up to 22 x 14 x 9 inches.

I always start by checking the airline’s website before I travel – it’s the ‘measure twice, cut once’ philosophy that’s saved me time and again.

Choose Wisely

The choice of backpack can make or break your compliance with airline regulations. As a rule of thumb, soft-sided backpacks offer more give and can be squeezed into tighter spaces. Brands like North Face and Osprey get good marks for travel-friendly designs that often fit within the personal item dimensions.

Next, you’ll want to pay attention to how much you’re packing.

It’s easy to over-pack, especially since these backpacks can hold so much. But remember, excess weight can sometimes be a problem, as airlines often have a weight limit for carry-on items. So it’s always a good idea to do a quick weigh-in before you leave for the airport.

The right way to pack also matters – Balance is key.

Distribute the weight evenly to prevent over-stuffing any one compartment. Also, remember that liquids must be packed according to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, which requires all liquids to be in 3.4 oz bottles or less, all fitting into one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag.

Just one more thing – Be considerate. If you’re traveling during peak times or you know the flight will be full, consider using the under-seat space in front of you for your backpack.

Leave Some Room

Experienced travelers and bloggers alike will tell you – don’t pack your backpack to the brim. Airlines like Southwest might not weigh your personal item, but they will size it up. An overstuffed bag is harder to fit under the seat and more likely to attract attention for all the wrong reasons.

So, can a North Face backpack be a personal item?

You bet! With a bit of savvy packing and an eye on those airline policies, it’s totally doable. Just remember to keep within those size limits, and don’t overpack so that the bag can easily fit under the seat in front of you. 

As airlines can change their policies, it’s always best to double-check before you travel. With the right North Face model and a savvy packing strategy, you can breeze through the airport and onto your next adventure with everything you need right at your side.

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