Review: The North Face Borealis rucksack

My last backpack finally gave up the ghost a few months ago, leaving me and my stuff feeling unprotected and alone. So I was very excited about my lovely new The North Face Borealis 30 L Daypack, which sells at Web Togs for £58.49. Because I get excited about things like new gear. The Borealis looks great – spacious, padded, covered in toggles and bungees. But does it stand up to scrutiny?

The North Face Borealis review

The North Face Borealis review

The product description: “The North Face Borealis Daypack is a sleek, refined, 30L backpack that boasts two large pockets so you can stash gear quickly and hit the road. Suitable for both men and women, the main compartment is large enough to either hold a 17” laptop or a hydration pack.”

Test 1: Hiking
Lightweight, comfortable and with a clever foam back-saving panel, the Borealis is incredibly comfortable to carry around. I took it on a long walk to the beach, stuffed with goats cheese, towels and my wetsuit and it behaved itself perfectly. The shoulder straps mould well to the body and the bag can be clipped in front for extra support, and two bottle carriers and a myriad clips and hooks mean you can stash loads of extras – I carried my wet towel around attached to the front post-swim.

Test 2: Taking to work
The Borealis is a perfect laptop bag. The sturdy computer compartment is padded and strong and there’s more than enough room for assorted chargers, cables, books, folders and lunch. Good stuff.

Test 3: As an overnight bag
A tad too small to use for this purpose, as it’s a squeeze to fit shoes, jeans a tshirt and a jumper in – the two larger compartments aren’t huge. Take something bigger if you’re off camping for the night.

Test 4: In the bath
The Borealis, in its defence, does not claim to be waterproof, but that’s no reason not to subject it to wet stuff. It withstands rain perfectly well and washes clean of mud, but if you chuck it in a lake your stuff will get wet – it didn’t survive getting plunged into my bath.

Test 5: As a fashion accessory
Mixed reviews on this one. I absolutely love my yellow, red and purple number – it’s bright, fun and easy to spot. I have, however, had a male friend refuse to carry it for these very reasons. I also asked a female friend if she thought it looked cool and she laughed.
Well, I think it’s cool. I take it to Sainbury’s and feel proud of it. But if you want other people to carry it for you, you can always choose a more muted colour – the Borealis comes in chilli pepper red, deepwater blue, brown and a subtle, ninja-like black as well as my lovely ‘deep purple’ one.

Verdict: A fantastic medium-sized rucksack for versatile everyday use. Take it to work or for day trips and it’ll serve you well, come rain, shine or mud. It’ll be very kind to your back. Just don’t have a bath with it, okay?

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4 Comments

  1. dejian qiu
    January 21, 2012 / 10:37 am

    I bought mine over 2 years back. It is one of the most uncomfortable backpack I’ve ever used.

  2. October 20, 2013 / 2:51 am

    “Test 3: As an overnight bag – A tad too small to use for this purpose, as it’s a squeeze to fit shoes, jeans a tshirt and a jumper in – the two larger compartments aren’t huge. Take something bigger if you’re off camping for the night.”

    Really? You don’t manage to fit one night’s requirements into it? I went on a 6-day roadtrip with it, stuffed in two trousers, a jumper, four t-shirts, a towel, toilet bag and some smaller things. Maybe this is just a gender issue 😀

  3. sian
    October 20, 2013 / 7:29 pm

    Fair enough comment! I use mine all the time for weekends but I wouldn’t reccommend it to the world in general as an ‘overnight bag’.

  4. sian
    October 20, 2013 / 7:30 pm

    Sorry to hear that Dejian, it must depend on the individual. Mine is the comfiest I’ve ever had and I use it every day.