Our Verdict


Welcome to our North Face Borealis Backpack review.

An all-purpose bag with quality construction, simple styling, and practical features. You can take the Borealis Backpack with you anywhere,  from urban/work settings through to wild hiking terrains.

While it is water resistant, it is not waterproof so you may need a rain cover if you plan to use it extensively out in open wet conditions.

Our Verdict


Welcome to our North Face Borealis Backpack review.

An all-purpose bag with quality construction, simple styling, and practical features. You can take the Borealis Backpack with you anywhere, from work to the gym, from urban settings through to wild hiking terrains.

While it is water resistant, it is not waterproof so you may need a rain cover if you plan to use it extensively out in open wet conditions.

Our Verdict


Welcome to our North Face Borealis Backpack review.

An all-purpose bag with quality construction, simple styling, and practical features. You can take the Borealis Backpack with you anywhere, from work to the gym, from urban settings through to wild hiking terrains.

While it is water resistant, it is not waterproof so you may need a rain cover if you plan to use it extensively out in open wet conditions.


  • Good quality

Made with a blend of durable materials, this is a simple backpack that looks great and can last through many uses.

  • Versatile

Be it commuting, travel, or recreation in the wild, this all- purpose bag can take the beat downs.

  • Fitting storage

At 28L capacity with pockets and compartments, it is roomy to accommodate your books, shoes and laptops and other items.

  • Protected laptop compartment

The backpack has a dedicated laptop compartment that is very well padded to protect your gear.

  • Solid harness system

Designed with comfort in mind, this backpack is well padded and easy to use.

  • Color choices

There are different colorways to choose from, meaning you’ll find something that works for you.

  • Lifetime warranty

The North Face comes with a lifetime warranty that should your backpack develop faults over time, you’ll either be able to get a replacement or repair.


  • Heavy

At 2.97 lbs., it might be too heavy for many commuters, especially on everyday use.

  • Not waterproof

The backpack is not waterproof, which means you’ll need an extra backpack rain cover to keep your gear dry in rain.

  • No false bottom

The laptop compartment doesn’t have a suspension bottom to protect your gear in instances where the pack is inadvertently dropped against a hard surface.

The North Face Borealis Backpack Review

Most backpackers and explorers know The North Face Borealis pack.

With a claim of being able to ‘withstand the demands of school, travel, daily use and outdoor expeditions ‘, it seems it can do no wrong.

But aside its prestige and popularity, does it have key features expected of a high-quality pack?

After all, an absolute backpack goes beyond the basics to provide extra durability and handy features.

The aim of this North Face Borealis Backpack review is to determine if the bag is worth the hype or not.

Emphasis would be on its durability, comfort, and users reviews to see if it has all you need in a multipurpose pack.

Let’s explore its intricacies together, shall we?  

The North Face in a Snapshot

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: TNF Story
The North Face Borealis Backpack review: TNF Story

The North Face holds a spot as one of the top outdoor recreation product brands on the market.

The American brand began their journey in 1966 as a small mountaineering retail store in San Francisco. 

Founded by Douglas Tompkins and Susie Tompkins, they started by designing and making hiking wears and equipment for explorers.

50 years down the line, 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.

Amongst their many products is The North Face Borealis backpack, which is the subject of this review.

Table of Contents

Design & Quality

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Backpacks

The North Face Borealis backpack is designed to be versatile for a number of activities.

First of all, it’s from North Face, a brand known for quality products that can stand the test of time.    

With its simple design, harness system and exceptional build, you can’t go far wrong with the North Face Borealis backpack. 

And then the bag is offered in 15 different colorway combinations, giving it some texture and style that makes it stand out from other plain bags on the market.

While I’m not super crazy about its aesthetics due to the busy straps and webbing on its exterior, its functional and blends in well in different environments like school, work, weekend travel or even for going outdoors on a hike.

At 28-liter capacity with easy-to-access pockets, you can comfortably fit most of your daily items in it and still have room to spare.

What’s more? North Face also has a women-specific Borealis backpack specially designed to provide a better fit!

Materials & Construction

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Clear lake blue

Just like other North Face bags, the Borealis is constructed with a blend of high-quality materials that has held up well in a bunch.

Made with a combination of 210D Cordura® nylon ripstop, 600D polyester, 420D Nylon, and 500D Nylon Oxford Slub, it’s extra durable even on rigorous usage.

Also, it resists abrasions and wrinkles for a good lifetime of the bag.

On top of that, there are heavy duty nylon webbing, duraflex buckles and smooth YZZ zippers that seems to also offer a nice amount of weather resistance.

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Twitter images

Sadly, the Borealis is not waterproof but it’s made of water-resistant materials.  If you’re worried about getting your gear wet, look into getting a rain fly (super helpful piece of gear).

At 19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches, it’s spacious enough to hold 28L worth of items, but isn’t the lightest pack.

Weighing at 2 lbs, it’s quite heavy especially when it’s fully packed. In fact, some buyers have complained about this, so you may want to consider this if weight is a deciding factor for you

Overall, its sturdy construction ensures durability and protection to all your gears while providing ample support and comfort.

Fit & Comfort

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Back view

The FlexVent™ suspension system makes wearing the North Face Borealis backpack a pleasure.

The harness system features a heavily padded back panel with super comfy mesh pads. There’s also a center channel for airflow and extra breathability both vertically and horizontally.

The padded shoulder straps are also contoured and feature custom injection molded foam to help cool you down, even on those long wear. 

Sadly, the Borealis has been found to be sometimes stiff and heavy by some users.

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Backpacks

A hip belt and sternum strap offer added stability and load control. On the sternum strap you will find a whistle in case you find yourself in an emergency situation.  

And if you’re not a big fan of the hip strap, you can remove from the side clips.

Also, the pack features compression straps which allows you to bring all the weight closer to your body for a more comfortable and compact effect, which I like.

And on top of that, this pack like others from The North Face comes with an endorsement from American Chiropractic Association certifying that these bags have been engineered to carry heavy loads whilst providing maximum ergonomic support to the carrier.

Storage & Organization

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Storage compartments

Up next in this review of the North Face Borealis Backpack, we’ll be looking at the organizational features of the bag and what it can hold.

Bungee cord system: The bag has some attachment points and webbings that’s great for attaching accessories like a carabiner. And there’s of course, the bungee cords that you can tighten or loosen to accommodate large items like a yoga mat or jacket that can’t fit on the inside of the bag.

Below that is a loop for bike light which also has reflective detailing for nighttime visibility.

Small fleece-lined pocket: On the top, there’s a fleece lined zippered compartment that’s good for a phone or sunglasses.

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Storage compartments

Two Water bottle pockets:  By the sides of the bag are elastic mesh pockets you can fit a wide range of water bottle sizes, umbrella, or even phone for quick access.

I like that it is elastic and has this depth that can secure your items without any force or strain.

Organization compartment: You’ll see two pen pockets, a mesh pocket, and a fleece line device pocket to help your internal organization.

Behind it is a zippered compartment with a key lash that you can put items like your wallet and key for extra security. Behind that is a padded foam device pocket which is great for fitting small tablet and a kindle as well.

Main compartment: This is the largest compartment with a big empty space ideal for putting binders, notebooks, jumpers, lunch boxes, or any important gear you need to carry along.

Laptop compartment: This last compartment is a designated compartment that allows you to store your 15-inch laptop or MacBook.

While it’s insanely well padded, it doesn’t have any false bottom to protect your gear from hard drop impact.

(By the way, if you prefer a backpack with much better protection for your laptop, check out my post on the best laptop backpacks.)

With the compartments and easy access pockets, you can comfortably use this bag for hiking, school, college, work, commuting and travel as well as a number of other uses.


The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Twitter images

While the price isn’t outrageous, it’s not the cheapest out there either.

At $89, you’ll be paying a bit more than the average price for a better-quality pack.

Still, it is reasonably priced, especially when you compare the price with other high-end brands out there.


The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Warranty

The North Face is one of the most reliable and dependable brands when it comes to backpacks.

Which makes it the more impressive is that The North Face Borealis Backpack comes 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 offer repairs or replacement 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

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Twitter images

Lots of people have used this bag and from various reviews, most have positive things to say about its quality and comfort. 

But what are the objections against this bag?

The weight is one place to start – When packed, it’s quite heavy and some people have complained about how they wished the pack was a bit more lightweight.

Another issue is the price point. It’s not the most affordable, especially if you’re on a budget.

But a student that manage to squeeze in more bucks to get this would definitely appreciate the high quality and durability the pack has.

Plus The North Face allows you pay in 4 installments of $22.25 overtime.   

Also, despite its rugged design, it is not waterproof, so you’ll want to have a backpack rain cover handy if you plan on using it in wet conditions

But the rating of this North Face Borealis Backpack review is 4.6 out of 5 because of its many positive features which easily overrides the above mentioned drawbacks.

Alternative to consider – Women’s Borealis Backpack

The North Face Borealis Backpack review: Women's Borealis backpack

While the unisex North Face Borealis backpack is generally comfortable, it may not feel quite right on a person who has a slimmer build.

This is why The North Face designed the Women’s Borealis Backpack model tailored for… you know it, women.

Designed with thinner straps instead of bulky ones that may rub on the neck or fall off the sides, it sits properly on the female shoulders.

At 27 Liters and 2 lbs, it’s lighter and doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of capacity.

Plus, it has all the great features found on men/unisex version.

Even better, it offers more color options –27 exciting color varieties!

Check it out here.

Final Thoughts

Not all packs can survive the demanding toils of a busy lifestyle. 

Interestingly, in this North Face Borealis backpack review, we have found the bag can do this and still beat expectations.

It’s roomy with a sturdy design that you can take with you anywhere, from the jungle to a more modern setting.

Plus the harness system is super comfortable and helps to reduce chafing and extra sweating on those warm days.

One drawback of the North Face Borealis Backpack is it’s stiff and heavy frame which can be cumbersome at times compared to other travel backpacks.

Moreover, the bag isn’t waterproof even though it’s designed for hiking! 

Nevertheless, this quality North Face Pack can be your companion whether you’re a hiker, at college, occasional traveler or commuter…it still scores on a lot of levels!

This article is not sponsored in any way by any company. This backpack have 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.

14 thoughts on “The North Face Borealis Backpack Review – Is it Really That Cool?”

  1. Hi,

    Great review on North Face borealis backpack. They look really practical to me, bearing in mind that they can be bit heavy and are not water proof. I think they still would be ideal for me for everyday use because the lifetime warranty, which is reassuring.
    These bags could also be an ideal gift for someone who loves outdoor.

  2. I bought myself one last year, but I’m considering buying another one since my little brother took it on vacation with him and lost it. (dumba**)

    Honestly, I can’t say anything wrong about it. It’s a super simple design, but the actual backpack is out of this world. I’ve been on a couple of hikes with it, and it gets the job done like it’s nothing.

    I highly recommend it if you’re into mountaineering and all that crazy stuff!

    As for you Wole, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to craft such a fantastic post! You’ve put out a lot of valuable information and that undoubtedly affected my buying decision!

    • Thanks for the feedback Aparna – when you have a pack that lasts for that long, yes it might be boring 🙂 but it helps with conservation since that is one less person buying backpacks every other year.


  3. North Face, for me stands for quality. It doesn’t matter if it comes to backpacks or clothes, they know what they are doing in the outdoor apparel space. The Borealis backpack looks like a good size backpack for day trips. It’s practical, the only downsize I see is the weight of it.

  4. Hello Wole,
    I really appreciate the detail you have provided about this specifc product. It is really helpful and enables my assessment of the backpack pre-purchase.

    I appreciate the transparency you provide, like with the non-padded base that already helps me rethink planning to use it to carry delicate objects, including my laptop. Also with the clarification that it isnt waterproof. These are good shouts for me as a consumer.

    Northface is highly rated for quality, and I get the sense this backpack will fall in place with the brand’s standards.

    Thanks again!

    • Hey Gechi,

      It’s good to read how useful you found the piece as a lot of work goes into getting out the info.

      Yes, North Face is indeed a decent brand you can rely on, and the Borealis backpack is another of their product that underscores this attribute.

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Wole Femi

  5. This is very helpful. One of the things I usually use as a keen cyclist is a backpack. Few days ago I was cycling with my old backpack and it started raining and all my stuff was soaked.

    Plus it is great inside to learn about the weight and laptop department.

    Thank you so much for this exceptional review!

    • Hey Ayse – great comment. Do you know you can get a rain cover? There are quite a few good ones out there; pretty handy accessories, especially in the wet winter months.

      All the same thanks for sharing your views.



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