The North Face Borealis Backpack Review (For Every Day Carry)

Stylish and versatile backpacks can help you go from the office to the outdoors without needing a detour. North Face is an iconic brand that has plenty of backpacks that look great and feel comfortable no matter what you do.  

This is the North Face Borealis backpack review for you if you are still on the fence. 

Unique Features of The North Face Borealis Backpack

Design & Comfort

The Borealis is more outdoorsy in aesthetic while maintaining a minimal and stylish approach to branding. There are five easy-to-access pockets with three on the main pack and two water bottle pockets for storage 

An overhauled suspension system and front elastic bungee system provide added support and storage, while the fleece padding in the pockets helps protect your things.  

FlexVent technology and a breathable lumbar panel help to keep you cool, while sternum straps and a removable waist belt keep your bag secure while on the go. Overall, this pack is great for everyday routines as well as hikes and bike rides. 

Size & Carrying Capacity  

In terms of size, there are two versions of the Borealis to consider: the men’s and the women’s.

While both are only slightly different, these differences matter. The North Face men's Borealis backpack has a 28-liter carrying capacity and is 19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches in dimensions.  

As for weight, it also weighs 12.45 ounces. On the other hand, the North Face women’s Borealis backpack holds 25 liters, weighs 9.62 ounces, and is 18.75 x 12.5 x 8 inches in dimension. 

the north face borealis backpack

Inside The Bag  

the north face borealis backpack inside

Let’s dive into the North Face Borealis main compartments and break them down.

There is a large main compartment with no organization and a slight false bottom.

A padded laptop sleeve lined with fleece is designed to keep your tablet or laptop safe.  

A small fleece-lined pocket protects your shades, while an organization compartment has plenty of room to store pens, electronic cables, and your phone. An additional zippered compartment has a key lash to keep your keys safe. 

Color & Style Options

In terms of color and style options, the North Face Borealis has a wide range to choose from both on North Face’s site and elsewhere. There are currently 15 color combinations available for the men’s model on Amazon and 38 colors in the women’s version. No matter your taste or personal preference, there is sure to be a Borealis that suits your style. 

Material & Zip Quality 

A wide range of materials is used to create the Borealis backpack. In terms of fabrics, North Face uses a combination of: 

  • 600D polyester
  • Nylon Oxford Slub 
  • 420D nylon 
  • 210 CORDURA ripstop nylon 
  • Polyester Jacquard camo (camouflage designs only) 

There is also nylon webbing and Duraflex buckles on the Borealis. Smooth YKK zippers keep everything secure while these materials ensure that the Borealis is durable as well as wrinkle, abrasion, and weather resistant.  

Our North Face Borealis Backpack Review

The North Face Women's Borealis, TNF Black,...
  • The North Face® Borealis features a sleek...
  • Women-specific fit.
  • FlexVent™ injection-molded shoulder straps...
  • Comfortable, padded Chemise back panel with...

Although the North Face Borealis backpack is more outdoorsy in style, that does not stop it from being functional enough to support you in the workweekWhether you choose the men’s or the women’s version, you will find five pockets to store your gear, plus a bungee and daisy chain system.  

FlexVent technology plus a breathable back panel help keep you cool on the move, and padded shoulder straps keep you supported. A removable waist belt and sternum strap are ready to keep your bag steady while cycling, while a top handle makes for easy grabbing in a rush. In terms of carrying capacity, the men’s can carry 28 liters, and the women’s can carry 25 liters 

This durable backpack uses a variety of materials that ensure that the Borealis is as durable and abrasion-resistant as possible. While it is water-resistant, the zippers can let water in despite the flaps covering them; consider picking up a backpack cover if you intend to battle the elements.  

In terms of colors, there are over 10 color combinations for the men’s version of the Borealis, while the women's version has a whopping 38 colors on Amazon. Overall, the Borealis is a stylish and functional backpack that would best suit an avid hiker or cycler in need of versatility.  

What We Like

  • Versatility 
  • Stylish design 
  • Useful organization and safety features 
  • Padded pockets 
  • Removable waist belt 

What We Didn’t Like 

  • Zippers could be more water-resistant 
  • Cannot wash in the washing machine 
  • Smaller carrying capacity for women 

Men's Vs Women's Borealis Backpacks: Key Differences

As we briefly mentioned above, there are a few key differences between the men's and women's versions of the North Face Borealis. The men's are both larger, heavier, and able to carry more in terms of capacity.  

On the other hand, the North Face Borealis women's backpack has a wider range of color combinations to choose from, has thinner shoulder straps, and is specifically designed to be comfortable and supportive to female bodies.  

While these differences may seem small, they do make an impact in terms of which one is right for you, your daily routine, and your body’s needs.  

hiker wearing a north face backpack

Price Guide & Sales Expectations 

In terms of price, the Borealis is typically priced at around $90; this is a reasonable price but is slightly higher than average for a similar quality backpack. North Face Borealis backpack sales are relatively common and help you snag a good deal.  

Looking on Amazon or other sites during specific times of the year, you can find the Borealis priced anywhere from $70-$25 depending on the sale. Some common times of year to expect a sale include back to school, Black Friday, New Year’s, and summer. 

Comparing with Other North Face Backpacks 

Borealis vs Recon 

THE NORTH FACE Women's Recon Backpack,...
  • The FlexVent suspension system features a...
  • Women-specific shoulder straps are flexible...
  • Dedicated, highly protective laptop...
  • Large main compartment for books and...

When comparing it to the Recon, the North Face Borealis backpack is a cheaper alternative that is smaller and more stylish with a lower carrying capacity. However, those are the main differences, with them sharing many similar features, including the removable belt, laptop sleeve, materials used, and FlexVent technology.  

Borealis vs Surge 

On Sale Today
THE NORTH FACE Surge Commuter Laptop...
  • SURGE CLASSIC. With a 31-liter volume, the...
  • FLEX VENT TECHNOLOGY. The FlexVent suspension...
  • TOTAL ORGANIZATION. This pack features a...
  • COMFORTABLE CARRY. For everyday, commuting or...

There are multiple differences to consider when choosing between the Borealis and the Surge. The Surge is a TSA-friendly backpack that has no bungee cords or daisy chain storage. However, it does have more space thanks to its larger size and plenty of compartments, making the Surge better suited to travel and daily use. The Borealis has better water protection, making it perfect for general adventuring and hiking. 

Borealis vs Jester 

The North Face Jester Backpack, TNF Black,...
  • Floating padded 15" laptop sleeve in main...
  • Main compartment has internal organization...
  • The Flex Vent suspension system boasts...
  • 360 degree reflective bike-light loop, water...

In terms of the Borealis and Jester, the Borealis has a larger laptop sleeve, various utility pockets, and a removable waist belt. The Borealis is also able to carry more in liters and uses more materials in its construction. The Jester by North Face is made using only recycled polyester and has a sternum strap like the Borealis. 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you wash a North Face Borealis backpack? 

According to North Face’s website, the best method for cleaning your North Face Borealis backpack is to spot clean it with a clean damp cloth and hang it to air dry. Fully submerging your Borealis in water is not recommended. 

Is North Face Borealis good for college? 

The Borealis can be an excellent choice for going to college. If you have a laptop that is 15 inches or smaller and do not mind a more outdoorsy aesthetic for your everyday routine, it could be right for you. 

Is North Face Borealis good for hiking? 

The North Face Borealis is an excellent choice for hiking. It has plenty of carrying capacity and features to incorporate a bladder and other essentials while on a wilderness adventure 

Is The Borealis backpack water-resistant? 

The materials used to create the Borealis are great in terms of water resistancehowever, the zips do let water in, even with the straps covering them. Be careful and consider investing in a backpack cover if necessary. 


Overall, the North Face Borealis luxe backpack is a fantastic choice for outdoorsy types who want a versatile and stylish backpack. However, make sure to take proper care of it and pay attention to sales to get the most bang for your buck. 

  • Updated October 28, 2021