North Face Surge: a male carrying the North Face Surge on his back
Credit: The North Face

Our Verdict

4.7/5
The Surge backpack is spacious, durable, and comfortable to carry—plus, it’s a great companion for any day-long excursion

Pros

  • Durable: The Surge is updated and is made of high-quality durable material that can handle the abuse of a busy lifestyle.
  • Self-standing: The newly designed Surge can stand on its own, unsupported!
  • Large storage space: With 31 liters of space, you can store all your essentials as the occasion demands, be it for travel, hiking, recreational activities, etc.
  • Organization: There are three separate compartments with both internal and external pockets that not only give you quick access but also allow you to keep all your belongings organized.
  • Tech friendly: There’s a dedicated and well-padded compartment for a laptop, a tablet, and even documents.
  • Multipurpose: The Surge is a versatile backpack that you can take to work, school, travel, picnic, hiking, etc.
  • Well-padded and comfortable: This backpack features a breathable lumbar panel, sternum strap, a removable waist belt and is padded in the right places.
  • Lifetime warranty: Like all North Face packs, the Surge comes with a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects, repairs, and even replacement.

Cons

    • Not very compact: It’s a big bag that looks the part and gets heavy especially when filled to capacity.
    • Limited colour choices: There are currently only three color options on the North Face website.

    Pros

    • Durable: The Surge is updated and is made of high-quality durable material that can handle the abuse of a busy lifestyle.
    • Self-standing: The newly designed Surge can stand on its own, unsupported!
    • Large storage space: With 31 liters of space, you can store all your essentials as the occasion demands, be it for travel, hiking, recreational activities, etc.
    • Organization: There are three separate compartments with both internal and external pockets that not only give you quick access but also allow you to keep all your belongings organized.
    • Tech friendly: There’s a dedicated and well-padded compartment for a laptop, a tablet, and even documents.
    • Multipurpose: The Surge is a versatile backpack that you can take to work, school, travel, picnic, hiking, etc.
    • Well-padded and comfortable: This backpack features a breathable lumbar panel, sternum strap, a removable waist belt and is padded in the right places.
    • Lifetime warranty: Like all North Face packs, the Surge comes with a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects, repairs, and even replacement.

    Cons

      • Not very compact: It’s a big bag that looks the part and gets heavy especially when filled to capacity.
      • Limited color choices: There are currently only three color options on the North Face website.

       

      North Face Surge Review 2021

      Welcome to my North Face Surge backpack review.

      If you want to know more about the newly designed and updated Surge pack, you’re definitely in the right place. 

      Every year, North Face updates the Surge and changes a couple of things, but nothing too major. But this year, they’ve done some major changes to it.

      North Face Surge backpack review: the side view of the newly designed North Face Surge backpack
      Credit: The North Face

      So, what are the new updates?

      How well does it fare as a versatile pack that you can carry around wherever you go?

      And should this be your next go-to backpack?

      If you want to find out the details in this comprehensive North Face Surge backpack review, then scroll down.

      The North Face in a Snapshot

      North Face Surge backpack review: North Face Surge backpack about us
      Credit: The North Face

      The North Face is one of the top outdoor recreation product brands on the market.

      Since 1966, the brand has been in the game of producing some of the finest products ranging from backpacks to activewear and outdoor gear.

      Founded by Douglas Tompkins and Susie Tompkins, the company started by designing and producing hiking apparel and equipment.

      50 years later, they have created an extensive line of clothing, outdoor equipment, and footwear. 

      The North Face which is associated with VF Corporation is headquartered right in Denver, Colorado along with their sister brand, JanSport.

      Table of Contents

      Design & Quality

      North Face Surge backpack review: the side view of the two versions of the North Face Surge backpacks
      Credit: The North Face

      If you check the North Face website, there are currently two versions of the North Face Surge. 

      The previous model of the North Face Surge and the newly redesigned Surge backpack. 

      This is because the Surge is frequently updated and redesigned with minor tweaks to make it more user-friendly.

      This review however will focus on the newly redesigned Surge backpack 2021!

      As you can see, they have changed the look and design of the Surge backpack. 

      The most obvious is that they got rid of the Surge grab handle in front and moved the latch strap from the middle to the side where the water bottle pocket is.

      North Face has also revamped the two stash pockets in front for J-zip pockets that give room for more organization.  

      Another notable change is that the brand logo is at the center as opposed to being off to the side of the bag.

      Of course, TNF branding can also be found at the bottom of the pack and on the zippers.

      Another notable mention is that the compression straps of the new Surge are located at the bottom of the bag.

      And perhaps my favorite feature, the new Surge stands on its own!

      This is one feature that users have wanted for so long, and I’m happy that it’s finally been implemented.

      Credit: The North Face

      This bag has a refreshed and new look and I actually dig it.

      But then, your mileage may vary. So I have to ask: are you a fan of the Surge’s new look?

      Aside from looks, the new Surge backpack also comes with interesting features. 

      This multipurpose pack is filled with thoughtful features that are great for city life and travel while being ready to handle the great outdoors too.

      With 31 liters carrying capacity to haul all your essentials, it is lighter at 2.8 lbs (the previous model weighed 3.17 lbs) with a dimension of 20 x 12 x 7 inches.

      The exterior features two water bottle pockets, and a loop to attach a bike light.

      As of the time of this review, the Surge is only available in five color options. While this is surprising, I’m sure they will add more colors in the nearest future. Keep your eyes out.   

      And as usual, there’s the women’s version of the new Surge pack. The only difference is that it has been tailored to be more comfortable for females

      All in all, the gist is that the new North Face Surge backpack is a versatile and lightweight backpack that anyone could find a use for.

      Materials & Construction

      North Face Surge backpack review: front and back view of the North Face Surge
      Credit: The North Face

      Like the Borealis and Jester backpacks, the Surge backpack bears the high-quality stamp of The North Face brand.

      Tough and durable, it’s designed to keep up with the busy lives we all lead in this day and age.

      It’s made of a blend of 500D nylon, 420D nylon, and 210D Cordura nylon ripstop, which are excellent tear and abrasion-resistant materials.

      Is it water-resistant? You bet.

      Both materials are water-resistant and when combined with the zipping and stitching of the bag, make the Surge pretty good at dealing with some weather.

      Even better, the material on the bottom and side pockets are made of rubbery waterproof materials, so you don’t have to worry when you set your pack on wet surfaces. It’s a big improvement that wasn’t seen in the previous model of the Surge pack and I appreciate this addition.

      All in all, the Surge does a good job of combining a modern sleek look that feels refined and yet rugged. It can take what you throw at it and age with grace.

      Fit & Comfort

      North Face Surge backpack review: back view of the North Face Surge
      Credit: The North Face

      Whether you’re commuting to the office, taking a flight, or exploring the outdoors, the North Face Surge makes for a cushy companion.

      Despite its large 31L capacity, it won’t take a toll on your body, thanks to the sternum strap and the removable waist belt that help balance your load.

      Not to mention, the Surge pack features the FlexVent suspension system designed to provide maximum comfort.

      The shoulder straps are well padded with custom injection molded foam, so you stay comfortable even on long wears.

      Additionally, the back panel is very padded and highly breathable, which is perfect for keeping you cool on warm days.

      And just like all North Face backpacks, the Surge is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association certifying that it’s been engineered to carry heavy loads whilst providing ergonomic support to the carrier.

      North Face Surge: models carrying the North Face Surge on the back

      There’s also a thickly padded carry handle at the top of the bag so you can grab the bag whenever you need to.

      At the bottom, you’ll see compression straps that doubles as a storage point where you can attach items like a yoga mat.

      However, I would have preferred it if they kept the compression straps on the side like in the previous model because they help to bring about a more compact feel especially when the bag is loaded out.

      Keep in mind though, that this is a big backpack that can get heavy when loaded to the brim.

      If you however need a more compact backpack, the North Face Jester Backpack is a pretty great option.  

      Storage & Organization

      North Face Surge backpack review: the side view of the North Face Surge backpack
      Credit: The North Face

      The North Face Surge is made for keeping your gear secure and organized.  

      As usual, we’ll explore all the pockets and compartments in this North Face Surge backpack review one by one:

      Two J-zip pockets
      Below the accessory compartment is the two revamped external pockets.

      The pocket on the left side has two mesh pockets perfect for your power bank and your phone cables. It also has a fleece-lined pocket to fit your sunglasses, an additional pocket right at the back, a key leash, and of course, extra space to even stash other smaller items in there.

      On the right-hand side, the pocket is fleece-lined on the back and is great for slightly big delicate items. In addition, it has a mesh pocket for additional accessories.

      Accessory compartment
      On the front is an organization compartment or quick access organizer. Big and deep, it features a padded tablet sleeve, zippered pocket with a key leash, a business card sleeve, and two pen holders. In addition, there are two mesh pockets for your cords and snacks.

      North Face Surge backpack review: inside the organization compartment of the North Face Surge
      Credit: The North Face

      External, fleece-lined pocket

      There is a fleece-lined zippered pocket for your sunglasses, phone, keys, small camera, snowboarding goggles, or other delicate items.  

      Attachment loops

      There are latch points on both sides of the bag for you to hang accessories. 

      Two side pockets
      By the sides are two pockets where you can fit water bottles, an umbrella, etc. My only complaint is that these pockets are not as deep as the ones in the previous version.

      Main compartment
      This is a spacious 31 liters space for you to keep your books, jacket, or literally anything you want.

      It also has a secured and zippered pocket located at the back for valuables you

      North Face Surge backpack review: inside the main and laptop compartment of the North Face Surge backpack

      Tech compartment
      Located at the back is a padded compartment for your tech.

      It features three (3) different sleeves – one for your 17inch laptop, one for tablet, and one for your document or any extra device you wanna take along.

      As you can see, the new North Face Surge is a feature-rich backpack that provides a little more storage for those who need it.

      Price

      To be fair, the North Face Surge is a bit pricey.

      At $129, it’s a bit of an investment for those on a budget.

      But if you consider how functional, super versatile, and durable it is, I think the price is justifiable.

      Note: The two versions of the Surge backpacks on the North Face websites are the same price.

      However, if you like the features and aesthetic seen in this North Face Surge backpack review but want something cheaper, check my review of the North Face Jester backpack.

      Warranty

      The North Face stands behind the quality of the Surge backpack with a lifetime guarantee.

      The warranty covers defects in the manufacturing or workmanship of the bag for the entire life of the product.

      Also, North Face offers repairs or replacements if repairs can’t be done.

      Note that the warranty does not cover damage caused by accident, normal wear, and tear, abuse of the pack on your part, or the natural breakdown of colors and materials over extended time and use.

      You can learn more about it here.  

      Users Thoughts/Reviews

      North Face Surge: a female carrying the North Face Surge on her back

      The North Face Surge is a very spacious backpack that is suitable for casual use, travel, and even trips to the outdoors.

      Users appreciate the Surge not only for its durability and space but also for other enviable features as well.

      one of the most prominent being that it can stand on its own, unsupported! 

      The design is quite simple and comfortable but still very interesting and practical. 

      However, the Surge comes with some complaints. 

      Some users were disappointed that the new North Face Surge has very limited colors and patterns to choose from. In previous models, you were sure to find a combination that will fit your personality and style. However, that’s not the case now, if the option on their website is any indication.

      Another complaint is that it can get heavy especially when filled to capacity. So, for anyone looking for something compact and easy to take around, the North Face Surge just may not be the option for you.

      North Face Surge backpack review: the side view of the North Face Surge backpack

      Also, it is not appreciated that North Face got rid of the side compression straps for the ones at the bottom. Having these straps by the side just make it easier for you to cinch down your load for a more compact feel.

      In addition, one of the major negative features of the new Surge backpack is the water bottle pockets. It doesn’t go as deep as the previous version. Also, when you set it down on the table landscape mode, your water bottle can slide out, especially if it is not a tight fit. It’s annoying and I just wish they stuck with last year’s version of the water bottle pocket.

      Another qualm is with the price point. It’s quite expensive especially if you’re on a budget.

      Due to the following issues, I have rated it a 4.7 out of 5 in this North Face Surge backpack review. 

      But generally, this bag is an investment that’ll serve you a long time if you decide to get it.

      Alternative to consider: The North Face Women’s Surge Backpack

      North Face Surge review: the newly designed Women North Face Surge backpack
      Credit: The North Face

      Like I stated earlier, the Surge backpack has a model tailored specifically for women.

      At 31 liters, the Surge is the largest backpack in the North Face women’s backpack collection.

      The major difference is that the bag is designed to specifically fit a woman’s frame.

      The shoulder straps are specifically contoured for women’s torsos, no matter the size or shape.

      The bag is also slimmer and lighter at 2.6 lbs with a dimension of 12 X 6.5 X 19.5 inches.

      Other than these, it has all the features seen in the men/unisex version, as detailed in this North Face Surge review.

      Check it out here.

      Final Thoughts

      The new and improved North Face Surge is a durable, spacious, and versatile backpack.

      By adding new features to this backpack (a new look,  the ability to stand on its own, and a lesser weight), North Face has better positioned the Surge as a versatile bag that you can take wherever you go.

      While it isn’t the most compact backpack out there, or the most affordable, as we have seen in this North Face Surge backpack review, it still has its many benefits.  

      For a pack designed to be very versatile for various purposes, I think it’s worth your buck.  

      NOTE: The previous model is still available– the North Face Surge backpack, which you may want to check out.

      Are you a fan of this new Surge backpack look? Let me know in the comments!



      This article is not sponsored in any way by any company. This backpack has been independently selected by myself and my team. And the only thing I receive is a small commission from our affiliate program if you buy any of them through the links and buttons on this page. It doesn’t cost you a penny. But it really helps me out as this money goes to paying for maintaining the website, editing software, my time, team, and everything else that goes into preparing this post.  

      6 thoughts on “North Face Surge Backpack Review | The New & Improved 2021 Model”

      1. Femi,

        I like that it stands on it’s own, I will say. As far as how it looks though when filled, it does seem rather bulky and large. Unless I’m traveling somewhere, I don’t like backpacks that take up my entire back. I find that the more space I have, the more I like to fill it and then it just becomes hard on my back.

        But, I do like the new look better than the older version. When they come out with new colors, I’m sure that more people will actually like this one better. Especially because it does stand on it’s own which makes for easy packing of essentials.

        Thanks for sharing this review of the new version!

        Katrina

        Reply
      2. North face is a great brand and this re-designed model looks good. I like that it can stand on its own, thus avoiding unwelcome falls, especially if you have a laptop inside, which brings me to my next point: it is padded for laptops, so it keeps them safe. And I can store my documents. I’m notoriously bad for keeping my documents straight and crease-free, so to have a compartment where I can safely store documents comes as a lifesaver. The removable waist belt and padded shoulder straps are also nice additions.

        Reply
      3. Hey Femi,

        North Face are a great make, not just for back packs but for clothing too. I have North Face T-Shirts and jumpers. They are also a great make for outdoors activities and this includes backpacks.

        My nephew is planning on going to Wales in January with his mates to camp and do some walking. A North Face backpack would be great for him, so it would be great for me to get him one of these backpacks for Christmas.

        Thank you for sharing and giving me the idea for a Christmas present for my nephew.

        All the best,

        Tom

        Reply
      4. Hi Femi, you always make me greedy with the reviews. 😉 I love good design and Northface is a great brand. Years ago, when I didn’t think about durability or sustainability in the environment, I skied. And my suit was from Northface. The pants are still good, obviously, I didn’t wear them a lot. And the jacket lasted for over 20 years.

        There are more reviews where you mention the price is high and I keep thinking that price is very relative. If a ski jacket was worn day in day out for 20 years the initial price might have been high but in the end, it cost me less than a cheap jacket that only lasted a couple of years.

        I really love the design of the backpack you describe here. And I don’t think it’s too pricey. 🙂 Great review.

        Reply
      5. I love your review. I traveled through Europe a few years ago, before Covid, with only a backpack. I think I would have preferred the one described in this article rather than the one I had. It sounds like it would be easy to pack, light weight, and will fit in the bin at the airlines in order to qualify for carry on luggage. I like the lumbar support given in both the men’s and women’s bag and also how tech accommodating it is. All and all a very good review. I will keep it in mind the next time I venture abroad.
        Nina

        Reply
      6. I can’t believe that North face has been in business for 55 years!
        These packs look great and I like the women’s version. It’s absolutely wonderful that the packs are self-standing. It can be very uncomfortable if you have to keep the pack on your shoulders the whole time.

        Ripstop and water-resistant, that is awesome and the fact that it has a removable waist belt.

        I can think that these packs will be pricey, but it looks like a good buy especially with the lifetime warranty.

        PS: I like the colors, I think I should buy one of these.

        Thanks for sharing.

        Reply

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