North Face Surge Backpack Review | More Than Just A Bag

Whether you’re looking for a new backpack for hiking or just need something to take to school, finding a comfortable backpack that won’t break the budget is key. You need something that will store your laptop, tablet, devices, cords, water bottles, and more while still being comfortable to wear.

The North Face Surge backpack is an exceptional bag with a roomy 31-liter capacity, a fleece-lined laptop sleeve, lots of compartments for organization, and extreme comfort with padded straps and FlexVent technology. You can add this backpack to your camping gear for a reasonable price.

What do you need to know about the North Face Surge backpack? Here is our detailed overview of everything to remember before making a purchase.

Our Verdict on the North Face Surge Backpack

We love the North Face Surge backpack for anyone who wants to take their laptops, tablets, and other electronics on long hikes with them.

It’s an affordable option to expand your camping gear without breaking the bank. When it comes to comfort, the Surge really shines.

With a glowing endorsement by the American Chiropractic Association and its FlexVent technology, you’ll find that this backpack is one of the more comfortable options on the market.

Plus, it has a sternum and hip strap to distribute the weight of a full pack more easily.

When you open up the backpack, you’ll be even more impressed with plenty of organizational features that keep your snacks, water bottles, tablets, and laptops separate.

If you want an affordable option that is extremely durable and water-resistant, the Surge has all of the features you’ve been looking for.

Competitors of the North Face Surge Backpack

ProductOverall ScoreBottom LinePrice
North Face Surge
North Face Surge
84Great space-saving option at a reasonable priceCheck Out on Amazon
  Competing Options 
Osprey Comet
Osprey Comet
N/ALarger laptop sleeveCheck Out on Amazon
North Face Recon
North Face Recon
N/ALighter weightCheck Out on Amazon
REI Trail 40
REI Trail 40
N/AGreat organizationCheck out on REI
Patagonia Refugio Daypack
Patagonia Refugio Daypack
N/ASmaller size yet still affordableCheck Out on Patagonia

Detailed Analysis of the North Face Surge Backpack

The Surge backpack from North Face is a great option for campers or students who want to keep their electronics safe.

It’s ideal for those with lots to carry with them because it has a spacious interior and is comfortable for long-term wear. Here is everything you need to know about this model.

1. North Face Surge Backpack

North Face Surge - Review

Overall Score: 84


  • Spacious interior with fleece-lined laptop sleeve
  • Great lumbar support and breathability
  • Excellent organization
  • Affordable


  • Can be a bit long and uncomfortable for shorter people
  • Tends to be stiff when not full

Features Summary

  • Several interior pockets with room to hold a laptop, tablet, water bottle, and more
  • Constructed from durable ripstop nylon and polyester
  • Padded straps and handle with FlexVent technology to keep you cool
  • Can cinch the bottom of the backpack to conserve space

Most people find the North Face Surge backpack a great option for packing full of your favorite items. It lends protection to electronics with its fleece-lined and padded pockets.

Whether you want a backpack for travel, school, or camping, the Surge could be the most durable, breathable, and comfortable backpack around.

The backpack really shines regarding how much space it can accommodate. At 31 liters, you’ll have no problem fitting all of your gear for a hiking trip or just a long commute.

It has many organizational elements to keep your snacks, pens, sunglasses and more in the right spot.

Given the price point of this backpack, you’ll be extremely satisfied to start packing it with all of your favorite gear.

2. North Face Surge Backpack Key Features

a. Size

Campers and hikers who want a roomy backpack that can store all the gear needed for a day on the trails will want to consider the North Face Surge backpack.

It boasts an extremely spacious interior that comes in at 31 liters. The overall dimensions of the backpack come in at 20 inches x 12 inches x 7 inches.

Despite its great overall size, you’ll be impressed by how little it weighs. At less than 3 pounds, you’ll be able to pack it to the brim without being weighed down.

Because this backpack allows you to store lots of goods, it’s also a great option for students.

It has a laptop compartment designed to accommodate a 15.6-inch laptop in addition to books and other materials.

Use this backpack for camping, hiking, schoolwork, or business, and you won’t be disappointed with the size or features. 

b. Organization

One of the highlights of the North Face Surge backpack is that it has tons of organization to keep your things right where they belong.

It is easy to divide the organizational system into three parts: laptop compartment, main pocket, and front pockets.

Laptop Compartment

The first thing to note is the laptop pocket, which allows you to take your work on the go. Another thing to note about the laptop compartment is how well-protected it is.

You won’t run the risk of damaging a laptop in this padded section. You’ll also love that this compartment is fleece-lined for added protection and to prevent your devices from getting scratched.

Note that you should be able to store a laptop and a tablet in this generously-sized pocket. Another benefit of the laptop sleeve is its compartment all to itself.

This is perfect for those who travel with it, as you can easily remove the laptop at any TSA checkpoint.

The Surge is a must-have backpack for anyone who plans to do some routine travel, as it boosts convenience and allows you to zoom through checkpoints faster.

Internal Pockets

After the laptop sleeve, you’ll want to know as much as possible about the interior organization of the bag.

We’ll walk you through what to expect in as much detail as possible, starting with the front pockets and working our way back to the laptop compartment at the back of the bag.

First, you’ll note that it has two vertical pockets on the outermost section of the backpack. The pockets are impressive, making them great for storing even the largest water bottle.

These are great for items you need easy access to or want to keep separate from other parts of your pack. Moving back is another pocket allowing you to organize your gear conveniently.

It has places to store your pens, zippered pockets for small items you don’t want to get loose, and space for a notebook, cords, or even electronic devices, as some pockets here are padded.

Last but not least, you’ll reach the backpack’s main compartment. This is a wide open space rather than the organizational system of the previous pocket.

Keep in mind that this bag is very deep, so small items in this compartment may get shuffled to the bottom of the bag, which can be a bit inconvenient.

One thing to note about the internal pockets is that they aren’t fully independent. If you store too many items in one pocket, you’ll have less space in the others.

Be cautious about how much you store in each pocket if you’re trying to make the most of your space.

Exterior Organization

While the internal pockets are quite impressive, you’ll be blown away by the external features that make this backpack even more functional.

A couple of the highlights to note about the bag’s exterior are the option for attaching small items with carabiners and a water bottle pocket with a stretchy elastic.

This gives you easy access to the items that you need most. Remember that your water bottle will be more secure if placed in the inside pocket.

Otherwise, when you set down the backpack or bend over to pick something up, it may slip out of these exterior pockets.

c. Material

The North Face Surge will be a great fit if you’re looking for a backpack that ranks high on durability.

As most have come to expect from this major name brand, it’s made of the highest quality materials – in this case, ripstop nylon.

This means that if your bag gets snagged on a branch while hiking, the tear won’t worsen.

The bag’s interior is equally high quality, polyester, and lined with fleece to protect your electronic devices and breakable goods like sunglasses.

The good news is that this backpack is also highly water-resistant.

If you’re out in the rain for an extended time, you might find that the water penetrates the backpack, but in light rains or for short periods, it will protect your gear.

This is particularly key if you’re traveling with lots of tech gadgets you want to protect from water.

d. Comfort

No matter where or how far you’ll be traveling, you want to ensure that the North Face Surge will be comfortable for long-term wear.

To that end, you’ll be happy to learn that this pack is certified by the American Chiropractic Association for its lumbar support.

This backpack will comfortably conform to the curves of your spine, but that isn’t all. The shoulder straps will be equally comfortable for you to carry because they are padded with foam.

Even if you pack the Surge to the brim, you should have an easy time carrying these chemise shoulder straps, especially if you need to use the sternum strap.

This gives you extra security and makes carrying a heavy backpack easier on your shoulders and back. The North Face Surge also has a hip belt to help distribute the weight of the backpack.

While it may not be padded or comfortable to wear for long periods, this is a great feature for someone concerned about how their back will feel at the end of a long day of hiking or a long commute.

One thing to note is that this backpack tends to be longer than some people are used to. If you are shorter, you might find the backpack extends too low on your back to be comfortable.

Consider trying on this backpack in-store before committing to purchasing, or be prepared to send it back if it doesn’t fit you comfortably.

If you’re concerned about the length of the backpack, consider purchasing the women’s version, which looks almost identical but is a bit shorter than the traditional one.


If you intend to wear this bag for a long time, breathability is one feature that you absolutely must consider.

The Surge’s back panel is well-known for its FlexVent technology, which many of the options from North Face have in common.

This is a distinct part of the backpack that runs down the length of the backpack and extends to the sides.

The purpose is to increase airflow while wearing it, keeping you from uncomfortable sweating and stickiness from carrying a traditional backpack for hours at a time.

Another thing to consider here is the shoulder straps. In addition to the padding that makes them extremely comfortable to wear, you’ll also find similar tech here to increase airflow around the shoulders.


One of the major complaints regarding the North Face Surge is that it tends to be a bit stiff. It might be uncomfortable to wear when it isn’t packed full of your gear.

Overall, most people find that the stiffness of the bag is tolerable when it has lots of items inside, but it can feel a bit more awkward when empty.

The final verdict is that this bag tends to be comfortable, but you’ll want to keep it packed as full as possible to avoid awkward shapes and carry experiences.

e. Convenience and Other Features


For those who head out on their own and want a small security measure, the backpack comes equipped with a whistle on the sternum strap.

While you might use this part of the pack to ward off a bear that wanders onto the trail, it can also be used if you feel unsafe with someone else.

Draw more attention to yourself with the loud whistle found here.

Compression Straps

Traveling in tight quarters can be a bit challenging if you have an especially full backpack. The North Face Surge tries to account for some of that hassle by installing compression straps at the bottom of the bag.

These compress the bottom of the bag, making it easier to carry and squeeze into tight spaces. 


If you have to pick up your bag and carry it for any reason, the handle is one feature you’ll want to take note of.

Much like the straps, it’s made of a padded material to give you a more comfortable grip on the backpack.

All you have to do is grab and go if you’re in a hurry, and you won’t have to worry about a cheap handle digging into the palm of your hand. 

f. Price

No North Face Surge review would be complete without discussing how much this backpack will set you back.

While it may not be the least expensive backpack on the market, it’s a real steal when you consider all the features this bag has.

Consider its organization and comfort, and you’ll be pleased to learn that this model won’t break the budget.

You won’t spend a small fortune on this pack and get something that will last you for years. It’s worth every penny of the investment.

Final Thoughts

The North Face Surge backpack is ideal for anyone with lots of things to carry and who wants to protect delicate items.

Affordable, lightweight, and spacious, this backpack is everything that you need for a day on the trails or for a long commute to work or school.

Having this piece of gear in your collection is worth the investment!

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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