North Face Borealis Backpack Review: 7 UBERCOOL Features!

Whether you’re hiking, setting up camp, or even commuting to work, the backpack you choose can make a huge difference to your comfort levels when you’re on the move. North Face is a well-established brand with an array of backpacks, but is their Borealis Backpack the right choice for you?

The North Face Borealis will be a great backpack choice if you’re looking for tons of organizational features and, in particular, dedicated space for a laptop and other electronics.

How can you organize your belongings in the North Face Borealis pack? Is it comfortable to wear? What are the features that make it stand out? Read on to find out.  

Our Verdict on the North Face Borealis Backpack

We think this is a high-quality, multi-functional backpack that, while designed for use by students, can be used on the trail or at your campsite.

With features for safe electronic storage, this attractive bag can be used for many purposes.

If you buy it to hit the trail with, you can also take it back home in your daily life, whether commuting or walking around on campus.

While it isn’t the cheapest bag of its type on the market, we think the price is worth the quality you’ll get from this well-established brand.

With a suspension system certified by the American Chiropractic Association, you know that you’re investing in a product designed to be both functional and comfortable.

With a selection of colors and patterns to choose from, in addition to unisex or women’s versions for maximum comfort, it’s easy to see why the Borealis Backpack is a well-recommended product.

Before you invest in your newest backpack, we’ll go through all the information you need to know to ensure that this bag is the right one for you.

Competitors of the North Face Borealis Backpack

ProductOverall ScoreBottom LinePrice
North Face Borealis Backpack
North Face Borealis
78Doubles as a hiking and a tech bagCheck Out On Amazon
  Competing Options 
Osprey Fairview 40 WomenΓÇÖs Travel Backpack
Osprey Fairview 40
N/AMost spacious bag but high budgetCheck Out On Amazon
North Face Jester
North Face Jester
N/AHigh quality pack for day hiking, commuting or school.

Read my North Face Jester review.
Check Out On Amazon
North Face Vault
North Face Vault
N/AGreat value with lots of space

Read my North Face Vault review.
Check Out On Amazon
Patagonia Arbor Classic
Patagonia Arbor Classic
N/AA reliable drawcord closed bag.Check Out On REI

Detailed Analysis of the North Face Borealis Backpack

The Borealis is a perfect choice for hikers or campers who look for a strong organizational structure in their packs.

If maximum free space is what you’re after, the Borealis may not be for you since it prioritizes compartments and tech protection.

Here’s a rundown of what you can look forward to if you choose a North Face Borealis backpack.

North Face Borealis Backpack

Review - North Face Borealis Backpack-2

Overall Score: 78


  • Specially designed compartments for a highly organized backpack
  • Suspension system certified by the American Chiropractic Association
  • Useful bungee system for storage
  • Made using recycled materials


  • Cost
  • Less volume in the main compartment
  • Laptop compartments may be redundant for hikers or campers.
  • Some pockets may be an inappropriate size

Features Summary

  • Three main pockets, one is a laptop compartment, and one features a tablet sleeve
  • External pockets for phones, keys or sunglasses, and water bottles

The North Face Borealis backpack is so stacked with features that you’ll need to read the specifications to ensure you use them all.

If a thoughtfully compartmentalized design is what you’re looking for, this may be the bag for you.

For campers and hikers looking for a backpack specifically for their trips, you may find that the features designed to hold electronics make this less effective for use as a camping bag since it takes away somewhat from the overall space if a laptop or other devices aren’t required.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a multi-functional bag that you can use for trips away and daily life back home, it’ll be hard to find something more suitable.

2. North Face Borealis Backpack Key Features

a. Size

At 28l, and with dimensions of  12″ x 6.5″ x 19.5″, the Borealis is designed more as a day pack than as a packing solution for a longer trip, although it should have more than enough space for an overnight hike where you don’t need a lot of supplies.

Even though there are multiple compartments, there’s a good amount of central space, so if you prefer a larger main section where you can stuff the bulk of your belongings, this is a good design choice.

In terms of usefulness for an overnight camping trip, users have commented that the straps are not adequate to attach a sleeping bag, so you won’t be able to use it to transport all your gear to set up camp.

For a day’s hiking, however, you should have plenty of space for all you need for clothing, snacks, a first aid kit, and any tech you require.

As it is mostly intended as a bag solution for students, this size and style of backpack is also an excellent option for those studying or commuters who need to carry a laptop and books around on a daily basis.

b. Organization

Designed to be the perfect companion for students who need to separate and order all their tech, books, and papers, it’s easy to love the organizational features of this backpack, which can also be practical if you’re out hiking in the backcountry.

Front Pocket

The first pocket we’ll examine is the front pocket which comes complete with a protected tablet sleeve for the safe transportation of your device as well as a large zippered pocket that is perfect for valuables such as your keys or wallet that you can store away safely when you’re on the trail.

You’ll also get multiple slip-in pockets which will be useful for holding any electronics, for example, a battery pack, that you like to bring with you on your hike.

If you’re looking for somewhere to put your phone on the move, the front pocket is also the perfect place, as there are protected slip-in pockets.

An elasticated bungee net fitted onto the front of the bag can be used for any clothing or a hat you might want to take on and off throughout the day.

If you’re wearing a jacket to keep away the morning chill, you can then pop it into the bungee net when the day warms up and have easy access to it again when the temperatures cool down in the evening.

Main compartment

After the front pocket, which has the vast majority of the organizational features, comes the main pocket, which is the central storage section.

This central space is a good size to fit any additional clothing you may need on the trail and your first aid kit, food, and snacks.

Since the zippers unzip round to the halfway point of the bag, access to items at the bottom of the compartment is still easy, even if it’s overstuffed.

While this large opening is great for finding any misplaced items at the bottom, you may need to be careful when opening it to ensure that your belongings don’t spill out.

This should not be too much of an issue, though, if you keep your valuables, electronics, and smaller items safely in the zipped and slip-in pockets of the front compartment.

Laptop compartment

In addition to the first two compartments, the Borealis also has a compartment dedicated to storing a laptop.

Although it does not have much cushioning at the sides, the back is protected, and this section is raised slightly to protect your device from any bumps to the ground.

This space gives important safekeeping for your valuable device and will be useful for those who bring their laptops to camp for work or entertainment.

Alternatively, if you prefer to be laptop free when you hike or make camp, this space may detract a little from the central space available.

However, it could double as a neat space for holding a hydration bladder, maps, or other documents you may want to keep separate from your other gear.

Side Pockets

To complete the space, you’ll get the Borealis side pockets. These simple but flexible compartments can hold a water bottle so you can stay constantly hydrated while you’re out and about.

The stretch mesh means you’re not too restricted in the water bottle size you can carry!

Or, if the weather’s looking threatening, you can also use it to store an umbrella in case the heavens open.

It’s worth mentioning again that this backpack is designed for student use, and the multitude of designated compartments for electronics, laptops, and tablets will not be suited for all hikers, trekkers, or campers who may prefer a different redistribution of space with less onus on protecting tech.

Nevertheless, if you get creative, this can be a useful pack that serves as a great backpack both commuting or at school and for a weekend getaway.

c. Material

The Borealis is made from durable 210D nylon reinforced to reduce the risk of tears or rips, making it great for use in more adventurous terrain where your bag might batter from rocks, trees, or foliage.

The great news for all users of this backpack is that it has a water-repellent finish, so whether you’re carrying your important electronic equipment or clothing for your hiking trip, they will be fairly protected unless you experience a heavy downpour.

d. Comfort

With a ventilated back and shoulder strap panel, the Borealis is designed to keep your back from getting too sweaty while you are on the go.

Useful for city goers and trekkers alike, this is a helpful addition to help keep your back cool and comfortable wherever you’re using your pack.

It’s also made with a chemise fabric which is pleasant to touch, so even holding your bag is a great tactile experience.

The back panel is well padded, and the suspension system has also been checked and ratified by the American Chiropractic Association, which will give you much-needed reassurance that carrying any heavy items on your back, or even daily use, is going to give you back problems either now or later down the line.

To support the suspension system, there’s also a detachable waist belt which you can adjust to your size, allowing you to take some of the pressure off your back and shoulders if carrying a big load.

A sternum strap also serves a similar function, spreading the weight evenly across your body. 

These waist and sternum straps are not commonly found on laptop bags and are key reasons the Borealis can also function as an effective hiking bag. 

For ease of transport, you can also grab the top handle to quickly lift your bag, for example, in and out of luggage compartments or from the ground.

e. Convenience and Other Features

While we’ve already looked into the excellent organizational features of the Borealis backpack, several other qualities are worth noting.

Nothing has gone unthought of with the design of this pack, and even the zippers are U-pull for easy grasping and opening.

The bag is designed to be ‘free-standing,’ although if it’s fully packed, you will probably need to keep it balanced.

While this bag is unisex, a women’s version is available if you want to consider other designs specifically tailored to be ergonomic for women.

You can also choose from an attractive color range that has both bright and neutral colors to choose from.

f. Durability and Warranty

North Face is a well-established outdoors company operating for over 50 years with a reputation for delivering high-quality gear.

The Borealis also comes with a lifetime warranty against problems with the workmanship and the materials used in the product.

It would be remiss of us not to note that several more negative reviewers have been more than disappointed at the lack of durability, with some reporting broken straps or zippers after minimal use.

Nevertheless, most users are happy with the quality of their purchase so take steps to ensure that you don’t overload your bag too much, and you should get years of use out of this product.

If you decide the Borealis is for you, please also note that while it is produced with a water-repellent material, it’s not waterproof or water-resistant, so protect your belongings by making sure that you do not expose your bag too heavy storms or rainfall.

g. Pricing

The Borealis is priced at around $100, although you can choose from alternative color options that may have a reduced price during sales, bringing the cost down to around $70. It is not.

Therefore, a budget backpack and those looking for truly affordable options will do better to look elsewhere.

What you do get for your money, however, is a stylish multi-purpose backpack made by a reputable brand with a lifetime warranty which should provide good reassurance that you can get your pack fixed if there are any problems.

If Being Organized is your Thing, This Bag’s for You!

With excellent organizational features, protection for your electronics, and handy storage extras, this bag is a great choice for those who value arranging all their belongings neatly and tidily.

Since it mainly targets those who need to carry and protect electronics, it may be better suited for a commuter or student.

However, if you get creative, the excellent comfort features can double up as a hiking or camping bag for more adventurous trips.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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