North Face Jester Backpack Review: 5 Reasons You’ll Love It

Regardless of the activity, you need it for; whether it’s a day trip, overnight hike, or long-term travel, it’s important to have a good quality backpack that you can rely on. With a reputation for quality adventure gear, North Face has many backpacks to consider.

Is the North Face Jester the backpack you’ve been looking for? The North Face Jester is ideal if you’re looking for a day-sized, high-quality backpack with organizational features that’s comfortable to wear over long periods.

Why is the Jester a good choice for campers or hikers? What extra features does it have? Read our review to discover what you can expect from the North Face Jester backpack.  

My Verdict on the North Face Jester Backpack

A staple of the outdoors industry, North Face is an organization whose reputation goes hand in hand with the words’ quality’ and ‘adventure.’

As a long-standing player in the adventure gear market, we’ve high expectations regarding their equipment, including their backpacks.

The Jester is not a bag to be laughed at despite its name. At 28L, it’s the perfect size for a daypack, and although it has some flaws in its design, it’s an excellent traveling companion for a day or overnight hike.

A North Face bag, it’s an affordable option, and you can hand over your money safe in the knowledge that you’re getting a product that won’t hurt you or your posture as you embark on adventures – it’s been approved by the American Chiropractic Association.

With a range of colors to choose from, you’re sure to find something that suits your style, whether you’re looking for a hiking pack or a day bag to grab daily as you walk out the door.

My articles on the best day hiking backpacks and the best daily use backpacks can help you find some more options in case you don’t find any here.

Competitors of the North Face Jester Backpack

ProductOverall ScoreBottom LinePrice
North Face Jester
North Face Jester
84High quality pack for day hiking, commuting or school.Check Out On Amazon
Competing Options
North Face Borealis Backpack
North Face Borealis
N/ADoubles as a hiking and a tech bag.

Read my North Face Borealis 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
Osprey Fairview 40 Women's Travel Backpack
Osprey Fairview 40 Women’s
N/AMost spacious bag but high budget.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 Jester Backpack

1. North Face Jester Backpack

Review - North Face Jester

Overall Score: 82


  • A decent level of organizational features
  • Good central main space for camping gear
  • Useful bungee mesh for outside storage


  • Doesn’t always self stand
  • Too small for long-term travel
  • Some zippers may be too easy to open
  • No waist belt
  • Laptop sleeve may be redundant for hikers and campers

Features Summary

  • Two main pockets
  • Front bungee mesh
  • Side pockets for water bottles
  • Comfortable suspension system

As far as North Face bags go, this one has a relatively simple design.

Nonetheless, it’s still well thought through and will give campers and hikers the benefit of some organizational structure while allowing the freedom to pack larger and bulkier items in the main compartment without being restricted by unnecessary added features. 

If you’re looking for a larger backpack for overnight camping, the Jester may not be for you since the relatively small size and lack of a waist belt may make it inappropriate for carrying lots of camping gear.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect if you purchase a North Face Jester backpack.

2. North Face Jester Backpack Key Features

a. Size

At 28L, the Jester is the perfect size for a large day bag with a good amount of room in the main compartment for bulkier items like extra clothes or food.

Unless you’re an extremely minimal packer, you won’t have enough space to bring a whole host of camping gear or clothes for a longer trip.

If you’re looking for an average-sized day pack, then the Jester will have plenty of room for you, but it’s not going to be ideal for those seeking a bigger solution.

Although there’s a bungee net on the front of the bag for extra storage and some small clips on the shoulder straps to add a keychain or accessories, there’s no real facility to attach extra pieces of kit to the bag, like a sleeping bag or a tent.

So you won’t be able to eke out extra space by attaching extras, saving the inner space for other items. 

b. Organization

With two main spaces and side pockets, there isn’t a huge amount of organizational design in the Jester. However, we believe there can be such a thing as over-design.

Sometimes, simplicity is key, and this isn’t the kind of backpack where you have multiple pockets that you forget are there and never use!

Front Pocket

We’ll consider the front pocket first and foremost. This is where most of the organizing happens.

One of the most noticeable features of the bag at first glance is the bungee mesh that takes up the pack’s front panel.

Simple yet extremely useful, the bungee can easily stow any clothes, like a sweater, that you want to take on and off throughout the day or even a hat in sunny or cold weather.

Since you don’t need to open up any compartments to get access, the bungee is an excellent easy-grab solution for items that don’t need to be hidden or secured inside.

Once you open up the front pocket, you’ll notice several features, including a larger zippered pocket and smaller slip-in sections.

While the zippered pocket is perfect for storing your valuables which need to be kept secure, the slip-in pockets can be used to usefully divide up your other items, perhaps electronics, battery packs, or hiking kit like a compass.

It is worth noting that some users have commented on the lack of giving in the slip-in pockets, so there’s not a lot of flexibility for squeezing in bigger items.

In addition, two slip-in pockets are pen-sized, which may not be useful for campers and hikers but will certainly be suitable for students and workers.

Main Compartment

The main compartment is one of the major selling points of this pack. It’s large, with only one protected laptop sleeve to divide the space.

While this compartment is intended for books and documents, it’s also great news for hikers and campers.

Although the organizational structure is useful, sometimes we just need adequate space to store bulk items, clothing, or kit.

Since the central space in the Jester is of a good size, you can even use packing cubes or your own organized system to order your kit.

For those looking to bring their electronics, the laptop sleeve within the main compartment is protected enough to stop the damage from bumps (although not major collisions!).

For campers or hikers who leave their computers at home, this section could double as a map holder or other important, flat gear like your hydration bladder.

Both compartments of the Jester have a wide opening system, whereby you have more than just top-side access to your belongings.

This has both advantages and disadvantages. Since you can open the compartments almost fully, it makes accessing the items at the bottom much easier without needing to turn out all of your things.

It does mean, however, that you should be careful when opening either of the pockets since it’s also possible that your belongings can fall out.

It’s best to either open gradually or do it when your backpack is set down somewhere stable where you can keep an eye on any escaping items. 

Side Pockets

Finally, two handy side pockets can be used for your water bottle or an umbrella to complete the Jester tour if you’re expecting showers.

While this is a standard feature in many bags these days, it’s still undoubtedly useful and means that this ‘student’ bag can also function well as a hiking pack with easy access to hydration as you need it.

One issue with the side pockets is that they do not have a firm grip, so you’ll need to keep an eye on their belongings. Don’t use them to store valuable items you can’t live without!

c. Material

Made from 600D polyester that has been recycled, the Jester also has a weather-proof coating to offer protection from the elements, although it’s not recommended that you test it in heavy rain.

The polyester outer layer makes for a soft finish that’s smooth and comfortable to the touch and has a nice aesthetic.

Since there are only two compartments in this bag, we think this makes for a sleek-looking design appropriate for any situation, regardless of whether it’s for leisure or work.

d. Comfort

Comfort is where North Face backpacks come into their own. The shoulder straps are well-padded and comfortable to wear for long periods.

The addition of a buckle-able sternum strap also makes for added comfort while worn. This is non-removable, though, which may be somewhat of an annoyance for those who prefer not to use it.

Unlike other backpacks of a similar size (like the Borealis), there is no waist strap, so if you prefer to spread the weight more evenly over your body, another pack may be a better choice.

In terms of the suspension system this has been designed to perfection and ratified by the American Chiropractic Association for extra reassurance for those concerned about back problems.

As with other well-made packs, a breathable and ventilated back panel makes for easy wear even over a longer period. However, this will not always perform well in high-temperature locations.

This is set up in two comfortable columns with spaces for air flow in between.

You shouldn’t need to think twice about using this comfortably for a day hike, although you may miss a waist-belt feature if you’re undertaking a camping trip that requires a decent amount of bulky or heavy gear.

As well as the unisex option, a women’s version is available with a specifically designed suspension system, giving you a range of sizes to try for compatibility.

e. Convenience and other features

One of the more interesting features of the Jester, which lets it stand out from the crowd a little, is that it has two top handles rather than one.

The idea is that this helps give the bag extra balance when carrying it from the top rather than on your shoulders, and it makes it more comfortable to carry by hand when necessary.

North Face also claims that the pack can stand without any support, which is, in theory, a great benefit if you just need to set it down when you’re on the go.

In reality, however, this depends greatly on what you have in your pack and the shape.

If you’ve got a stable weight at the bottom of the main compartment, it’s far more likely to stand upright on its own than if you’ve filled it with a jacket or something lightweight.

Depending on availability, there’s also a sizable collection of color schemes.

Whether you’re after something eye-catching and bright, or a bag that’s more subdued and muted, you’ll be able to find a Jester in a color set that suits you.

f. Durability and warranty

As with all North Face gear, there’s a certain expectation regarding quality and durability, and thankfully, the Jester meets those expectations.

This bag is intended for school use and may not be as heavy-duty as some of their packs aimed at adventure activities.

Nevertheless, the nylon material is tough enough to withstand most scratches or tears from any scrambling up and down less accessible trails when you’re out hiking.

As with other North Face products, you will get a lifetime guarantee on your backpack so you can embrace your adventurous spirit, with the comforting thought that North Face will undertake any repairs if there are problems with the materials the backpack is made with or if any workmanship issues that affect the longevity of your bag.

You’ll get free returns if you purchase your bag directly from North Face. 

g. Pricing

While there are cheaper options on the market for those searching for a truly budget backpack, we don’t think the North Face Jester should be considered expensive in terms of value for money.

The Jester costs $75 at full price, which is less than some of their other 28L backpack options, for example, the Borealis.

For the price, you’ll get a high-quality backpack that will be far more comfortable than many other budget options and a practical and sleek-looking companion for both a hike and an excursion into the city.

North Face Jester Is Great if You Don’t Want to Spend Too Much!

Though it may not be appropriate for longer camping trips, if you’re after a large-sized day pack with some organizational features at a reasonable price, the North Face Jester is an excellent option that comes highly recommended for hikers, students, and commuters alike.

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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