North Face Recon

8.9 score
(TheGearHunt) score (8.9)/10

Our TheGearHunt score is based on 3 different factors: Editor's rating after in-depth testing. User ratings submitted on this page Overall score from the "reviewmeter" based on reviews across the web the weight of each factor is: 40% editor rating 15% user ratings 45% reviewmeter.
Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 2 user ratings
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North Face Recon Review Facts

Do you want to stick to one backpack? For a single backpack user, a large gadget compartment, and a quality build is needed. The North Face Recon backpack may be the answer. The large 31-liter capacity North Face Recon has enough space for a 15-inch laptop. Travel smarter with the North Face Recon backpack. The North Face Recon Backpack is an excellent selection for those looking for an all-around pack to take on short hikes, on trips and to work. With a score of ten denoting the best, one reviewer rated the North Face Recon in the following categories with these ratings - Comfort (7), Ease of use (9), Laptop protection (7), Storage (8), Style (6), and Water resistance (8).

The Recon is one of the highest rated laptop backpacks tested. It scored a bit low in some significant tested ratings. It scored high in water resistance, ease of use, and storage. The Recon is an excellent mix of well-thought-out organization and storage. The MSRP is squarely in the middle of the price spectrum for laptop backpacks. The high scores it received from reviewers indicate the bag is an excellent value. The North Face Recon was made with performance and comfort in mind. A top compartment has an organizer that makes tracing stationery, mobile phones, and electronics quick and easy. The spacious main compartment fits clothing, books, and other essential.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Compact
  • Easy access to top compartment organizer
  • Excellent water protection
  • Great organization and storage capacity
  • Made of lightweight nylon
  • Spacious panel-loading
  • Versatile
  • Dated style
  • Laptop protection could be better
  • Not recommended for laptops more than 15 inches wide


The Recon has an updated FlexVent suspension system that features a flexible yoke made of a highly breathable lumbar panel, a comfortable padded mesh back, and custom injection-molded shoulder straps.

There is a front compartment has a secure zip pocket, a penholder, and a padded tablet sleeve. Three hundred sixty degrees of reflectivity is created by the shoulder-strap webbing, water bottle tabs, and a bike-light loop.


A material update is comprised of a combination of polyester jacquard camo, 210D Cordura nylon ripstop, 500D nylon oxford slub, and 600D polyester toile. Water bottles can be carried in water bottle pockets made of stretch mesh.


The pack is a comfy fit. Testers thought it is among the most comfortable backpacks to wear while riding a bike or walking. The laptop, like the North Face Borealis, is exceptionally comfortable when compared to contenders evaluated by reviewers.

The shoulder straps are some of the most comfortable available. The straps are padded and have more suspension to make them comfortable. While the backpack has a sternum and waist strap, it must be emphasized they are straps rather than a full hip belt. For that reason, shoulder strap comfort is essential, especially when loads are heavy.

It is built with a back panel made of padded air-mesh that makes it easier to carry. The shoulder straps of the backpack are injection-molded which makes the bag comfortable and easy to take.

When carrying heavy items, a highly effective belt helps distribute the weight, making it comfortable to carry. The preferred fit and comfort are adjustable. It is removable when not being used. There is mesh in the back to make it more comfortable, especially in warm weather.


The backpack received high scores in the shower test and is recommended for those living in wet climates. When it comes to water resistance, Recon is among the top performers. The Recon seems very weather resistant.

All the seams are tightly stitched. The items inside could withstand a steady downpour. A durable water resistant coating has been applied that causes water to bead up and fall off almost immediately.

The coating needs to be reapplied after being used for some time. Well-designed flaps serve as water protective covers to the main compartment zippers that are potential leak points. The re-designed pack still uses the FlexVent suspension, but now has a flexible yoke. The yoke is where the shoulder straps meet.

The small straps of the Recon allow more flexibility. While one reviewer felt the backpack could offer better laptop protection, others gave it an eight out of ten score for laptop protection. There is room for improvement.

The rounded body is a small gripe from a reviewer who likes the backpack. A flat bottom would have been preferred so that the bag stands up straight when placed next to the user in an airport or train station.

The laptop pockets have been suspended, and the backplate padding stretches approximately three inches beneath the bottom of the pocket for the laptop. It is critical for ensuring the laptop is not damaged when the bag is placed on the ground.

It has two pockets on the side for things such as water bottles. Those pockets also have a very sturdy feel that equalizes the pressure across the bottle. There are also waist and chest straps for a more secure hold.


It has a 31-liter capacity that can accommodate a load of essential. A front stash pocket creates additional volume. The pouch can safely carry small-sized items if there is limited space in the main compartment.

The North Face Recon weighs about two and a half pounds. It is a large gadget backpack. The 31-liter capacity translates to 1831 cubic inches. The large front compartment isn’t dissected into small parts. It makes the most out of the available space.


It has a 31-liter capacity that can accommodate a load of essential. A front stash pocket creates additional volume. The pouch can safely carry small-sized items if there is limited space in the main compartment.

The North Face Recon weighs about two and a half pounds. It is a large gadget backpack. The 31-liter capacity translates to 1831 cubic inches. The large front compartment isn’t dissected into small parts. It makes the most out of the available space.

Items such as groceries can be stuffed inside. Multiple external pockets make it an excellent option for climbing and hiking in the outdoors. When hitting the trails, one of the compartments can hold a jacket. The pack serves a user well when in hiking in the mountains or woods.

The laptop sleeve can be used for a hydration bladder. It is a contender for use out in the woods. The pack is water bladder compatible and has extra external pockets for packing clothing. Two water bottles are located on the sides.

Users, who carry all sorts of things when commuting, like the versatility of the pack that can also be used as a day hiking pack. The style is appropriate for students, but maybe not for serious professionals. It is a great travel pack and an excellent option for commuters during wet weather.

For the child who could use some help keeping things straight, the numerous compartments of the Recon may be the answer. The backpack provides efficient service for any camping, hiking, or other kind of trip.

The Recon is a very light backpack which is useful since airlines started to weigh carry-ons. Those carrying a lot of electronics have a relatively heavy carry on bag. The lighter the bag is, the more items that can be taken without going over some kind of limit.


In 2018, the Recon received a redesign of materials, suspension pockets, and compartments without a price increase. It retails for $99. The pockets have been re-engineered. The North Face engineered the straps of the new Recon to be thinner at the top. The redesign has a new tablet sleeve capable of accommodating a 15-inch laptop.

A style is a matter or individual taste, but experts agree the Recon is one of the least stylish bags. With more than ten color schemes, it is likely consumers can find a pack to their liking. Colors include zinc gray/asphalt gray, moonlight ivory, molten red/cardinal red, ignition orange/burl orange, pillar beige/grit brown, diamond blue/current blue, black, bittersweet brown, anemone green/canopy green, and French pink.

The branded logo on the front was not well-received by a reviewer, because it is so bright. There are many color options from which to choose. On some options, the logo does not stand out as much. It is the school bag craved in elementary school when North Face was the pinnacle of outdoor style.

Styles evolve. It might be time this backpack took on a new look. The women’s model comes in different colors and has specific should straps and back panel. It has three compartments. The design is such that excellent use is made of the main compartment where a laptop, as well as clothes, can fit.

The other two pockets are mainly for tablets and smaller items. The front pocket is for quick reach items such as a passport or things that might be needed when traveling. When compared to other backpacks, the design with one large compartment and two small ones are preferred over a pack having three small compartments of equal size.

All the pockets are padded with fleece which is unnecessary but a nice touch. It gives the backpack a premium feel. The North Face brand is associated with high prices, but the Recon costs only about $100.


Both laptop sleeves are a bit snug which makes getting it out in a pinch difficult. Improvements would include straps to secure the laptop pocket instead of leaving the laptop free to shift. Even though the fit is snug for a 15-inch Macbook, it feels a bit unprotected from movement.

The sternum and waist straps aid in stabilizing the pack, mainly when riding a bike. They don’t add to the comfort. Kids who used the backpack complained that the extra side compression straps got in the way and the back pad felt stiff.

The padded compartment helps keep a tablet or laptop secure and safe. It ensures the device is well-protected from bumps and fall. It is located in the front of the pack for easy access. A padded mesh panel in the back has a spine channel that provides support and ventilation.

Unlike some pockets that have only a sturdy elastic strap with netting that provides little support, the sturdy equalizer pockets are a nice feature added by North Face. It is less likely that a water bottle will fall out of the compartment.


There are two large compartments in the Recon. One is meant for a laptop that also has plenty of room for other items such as books or a change of clothes. The smaller one is a padded fleece lined pocket for an electronic device or small tablet.

There is an internal organizer for loose items and pens to aid in staying organized. The outside of the pack has a small zippered pocket for holding items such as a phone or modest electronics.

It features external pockets large enough to hold extra clothes. There are two outer pockets for water bottles. For larger items, there is a front pouch that has clip access. The area is ideal for headphones. The feature was left out of small packs.

Key Features

* Two mesh water bottle pockets that double as multi-use pockets
* Breathable lumbar panel
* Custom injection-molded shoulder straps
* Dedicated, protective laptop compartment
* Extendable stash pocket in front
* Flexible yoke
* Internal organization front panel with a padded tablet sleeve, penholder, and secure zip pockets
* Large main compartment
* Padded mesh back panel
* Padded top handle
* Reflective shoulder strap webbing, water bottle tabs, and bike-light loop
* Sternum strap having whistle buckle
* Updated FlexVent suspension
* Women-specific model available

Bottom Line

The North Face Recon backpack is accommodating and comfortable for a busy, active lifestyle. There are two large compartments for storage. Everything needed for the day fits in the compartments.

The larger, main compartment can hold a 15-inch laptop. The smaller compartment can hold an 11-inch Chromebook or a tablet. While the North Face Recon hasn’t won any awards, it is an excellent pack and is highly recommended for laptop users.

It has plenty of storage. The backpack is versatile for trails and work. It is water resistant which is a great feature. The secondary compartment has an organizer that ensures items are organized and in good condition.

Keeping track of a wallet, electronics, a cell phone, pens, and other essentials is easy. The backpack has a spacious capacity and is comfortable to carry. The sturdy nylon body places it among the most durable bag available. The backpack offers reliable carriage and well-defined packing spaces. It was designed to suit students, day hikers, and regular travelers. The versatility of the pack is one of its best features.