North Face Borealis

8.4 score
[Editors rating (8.4)] = (TheGearHunt) score (8.4)/10

Editor rating: 8.4 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
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North Face Borealis Review Facts

Everyone enjoys a good backpack, whether it is for hiking, traveling or everyday activities. We’ve looked at many, and we always try to find the best for any need you may have. The North Face Borealis is what has our attention for this review however and we want to start by looking at what this one is intended for, because when we consider the rest of our facts we want to be keeping in mind that the good it offers is in its intention. Why you may ask? Because, you can’t expect a roller skate to aid you in rock climbing, so to compare it to the boots that will, would be unfair. So, what, you may ask, exactly is the Borealis designed for? This design is intended for long-distance backpacking as well as for travel. It is built to hold the gear you may need comfortably and keep it safe. So, let us go into the details and see how it sizes up! Will this be the one that suits your travels, or will you need another? That is what our research will hopefully be able to answer for you today, and if it is not what you want, we are sure something else here on Gearhunt will be a perfect fit.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Well organized
  • Durable
  • Great protection for your laptop
  • Great everyday use
  • Water resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Competitors still better in some areas


This backpack has a multitude of pockets designed to hold your laptop, notebooks, and other items you may find necessary as you go. While it is intended for extended use, one of the major complaints is in its flexibility. Due to just how many pockets there are, it really can make things difficult if you need to quickly get to an item. While organized, you still have to go to the right spot. It also lacks the large compartment space you may need for carrying more materials or larger ones, such as clothing, blankets or other items that you may need while out on a hiking trip or backpacking. Having so many pockets to organize things, mean those pockets have less room and are not as flexible. We feel that this takes it from being a professional sporting pack for climbers and backpackers than to being more suited for traveling by some form of vehicle and simply keeping what you need on you instead of in a hotel room or wherever you may be spending your night. However, if what you need is a backpack for traveling a city, or even a day on campus - this will be perfect! Or if you are a writer or artist who wants to get the right scenery for inspiration, it is sure to get your laptop, camera, and or sketchbooks/notebooks right where you need to go safely!


The nylon materials of this backpack are designed for comfort, durability, and waterproofing. They are not uncomfortable nor too harsh and hold up quite well. It has bungee straps on the front to help support the weight and padded pockets on the inside for your things. This is one well-designed backpack. It also has several added support straps of durable material to use to create even more support on your body. On the back end, it even has a reflective material in case you are wearing it at night- on a bike or walking along the road to help keep you safe!


Keeping to what it was designed for, this backpack has a myriad of ways to assure you are comfortable, and that the weight is supported without relying all on one muscle group. While many pull at your shoulders or seem to stress a single spot on your back once you are carrying a certain amount of weight, this one gives you all sorts of ways to even things out and give a balanced grip to your carrying. It has the bungee support straps to allow for the front of the pack to hold up more, and a set of buckling straps that can go across your sternum to give even more balanced support. The compression straps also help you out, allowing you to adjust the load as you need to keep everything from becoming too much. Thicker straps also mean that you have more padding between you and the durable material needed to hold up when it comes to weight, this way they do not dig in. Though the padding in the back can be helpful under normal loads, though, it seems that for some, it can feel a little ‘too padded’ and dig in if you overload the backpack. Of course, the intention is not to carry everything but the kitchen sink- so if you are not planning to test just how much you can stuff into it, you probably will find this to be one of the most comfortable backpacks available.


This backpack is a tough one. Its nylon materials are durable and will definitely last you a good long time. With its added elastic support bands and well-built interior, this pack is not going to let you down on the time or weight test. It is also surprisingly good at keeping your things safe from harm. The padded interior pockets designed to protect your carry along electronics do their jobs, and when tested, the insides remained dry even after being covered in water. If you are wanting something to take on a flight or by bus, this pack will keep your things safe and dry for the trip. No worries about a drop tearing the fabric eater, it held up quite well even under the stress of a high drop.


As mentioned before, this is not intended to be an overload hauler for a backpack. While it carries quite a bit, one of the main things most found it fell short compared to others with was the fact that the many pockets feature to cut down on what could be easily carried. Of course, there will always be those who must know exactly how much they can stuff into it. Because of that, we want to give you its intended capacity. It has about 28 liters of room, which is huge for the fact that most have found it best used as a sort of travel laptop bag. That being said, there are only two large compartments, and one of them is intended exactly for that- your laptop. Most of the bag is made up of smaller organized pockets for items so you do not have to go digging really if you remember where each pocket is and what you put into it. The rest of the pack can still easily hold any needed textbooks or notebooks and even a few last-minute items. If you prefer to use it for hiking or do not need a laptop pocket, some have even converted the laptop pocket easily into a water bladder holder. Its got great use, as long as you keep in mind that just because something can hold it, doesn’t mean you should try to force it every single time.


While it is designed to be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to sporting goods, in the end, this backpack is not really the best at more adventurous or extreme sports users. Its best use comes in when you have a lot of travel that does not require the backpack to be where everything must fit. It is best suited for those who enjoy getting out once in a while or those students who need a great bag for traveling campus all day long. It can fit into other types of activities, and even hold its end for what it can do, the fact is there are better backpacks out there. There are a few of its traits that stuck out though, like its waterproofing, which is better than most, and the fact that its padding really does keep your electronics safer than other backpacks. In the end, the thought is- if it is not your only backpack for the journey, it probably is the best one for carrying things you need to keep safe from water or accidental drops from your shoulder to the ground. So, if you are looking for a backpack designed for long trips, but don’t need everything, this is the right one for you.


Style and design are not the same, so if you read somewhere that this pack looks like a normal backpack and no matter how many colors it has, it doesn’t change its shape- then they are right. If you want it to look different in some way other than color, no matter what backpack you are looking at, it is not going to have it. A different look in that way means the fundamental design is changed, and thus it is considered a different backpack line. Style is all in the color when it comes to this type of gear. For a backpack, this one has a lot of different styles to look at. Ten to be precise, and not just color, but pattern changes as well. While the design is more akin to your average college school backpack, it still has the function of a hiking pack as well. That said, it is likely to have one look you like. It offers up black, red and grey, black and blue, light blue and dark blue, white print with yellow, light mist grey and bright green, purple and baby blue, white (bigfoot) and cardinal red, pencil grey with blue, and finally Orange and soft red as its color combinations and possibilities. With that many choices, at least one should give you exactly the right flash- and you can’t say it lacks style!


This one has a lot of support, of course, if the design is for comfort like this one, that is to be expected. Comfort and support come hand in hand no matter what type of case you are looking for. In this case, it comes with extra padding, straps, and bungees to help you be able to stabilize and balance everything in your load, so it sits on your back without straining any one area. This pack features a strap around your sternum to help support it in the middle, bungees in the front which help to lift, support and balance weight and materials, compression straps which can be adjusted to shift the load to sit comfortably and padding on the back, so you don’t have to worry about anything accidentally digging in. Together all of this means you can maintain proper carrying without straining yourself out. Most everyone agreed that out of all those they tried in any competitive line this one ranked up near the top for both comfort and support. The only downside was when they chose to carry as much as they could stuff the pack with. When this was done a few said they felt the padding itself started to dog in. In our humble opinion, though, any overstuffed bag is going to end up with some sort of issue, and if your packing correctly, you won’t end up with a similar problem In a manner of speaking, overpacking to such a degree is actually improper use- and as with anything we review we point out that improper use isn’t what we want to measure anything by.


This is one of the key things about this pack. The Borealis is designed to be super organized. We feel this is a problem if you are looking to do long term jaunts into nature since when you put this much organization into a pack, you cut off the number of larger packing areas. If you need something that can keep art supplies or school supplies, a laptop and other essentials on you for a short trip or even just a day trip out, this is definitely worth it though. You won’t need to go fishing to find everything, and it even has side net areas for your water or drinking bottles as well.

Key Features

-Water resistant
-Protective padding

Bottom Line

If you need a backpack where you can keep everything organized whether for a short trip, a day trip or a simple hiking pack, this is a great choice. It is also a great everyday bag for those who carry more than most. The great part is, comparatively speaking, it is also resting at a price that is good for even the college student to afford!