Originally designed as a lightweight backpack to tackle small day hikes, The North Face Recon Backpack has become a go-to option for many commuters thanks to its impressive versatility. The clever layout makes the most of the space inside so you’ll be able to fit more everyday carry than other bags of this size. The North Face has made no sacrifices when it comes to durability and protection so your belongings will stay safe inside and it will last years of daily use. We stuffed one with as much as we could fit inside, and took it on our commutes to give you our thoughts.
Looking at the exterior, it’s hard to tell just how much you can fit inside the backpack. Total capacity is an impressive 31 litres, but the extensive range of pockets and compartments let us customise the way we organised our everyday carry. We certainly weren’t expecting to fit so much in when we initially started using it but even now it still surprises to us how much it can fit. As it was primarily designed for outdoor use, The North Face Recon Backpack is constructed with thick durable 420D nylon, while the base is made from strong 1680D Ballistic Nylon. These materials are designed for heavy-duty use, they are more than up to the challenge of an urban commute.
There are several colourways to choose from so you should be able to find one that suits your personal tastes. Our favourite is the simple and unassuming design of the TNF Black. Here the straps, handles, pockets and zippers all feature a black-on-black colour scheme keeping the backpack’s aesthetic neat and tidy. If we were to take this pack on a top-secret recon mission, we certainly wouldn’t stand out, and we reckon we could carry a fair few gadgets as well.
Obviously, we’re not spies though so our everyday carry is what we actually need to transport, but it has to go somewhere. The front of The North Face Recon Backpack features an extendable mesh holder for quick access items, while two more mesh holders for drink bottles can be found either side. The mesh is extremely stretchy and we were able to squeeze an A4 Memo bottle into the side. Moving up, there is a small zip compartment that we found is ideal for storing sunglasses, a phone or the case for our Bose QC35 headphones.
We popped an iPad in the middle pocket which provided great protection, while we filled the compartments around it with stationery, cables, peripherals or any other small items. The back pocket has another padded sleeve that we slid our 15” MacBook Pro into. Being such a premium (and expensive) laptop, we’re constantly worried about it hitting the ground in any way. The North Face must share the same fears and have designed the sleeve so that the laptop is always suspended a couple of inches from the base of the backpack. This prevents the laptop ever coming into contact with the ground if dropped; a subtle but excellent design choice. There is also ample space to store clothing, lunchboxes, headphone cases and other larger peripherals. If you want to take the Recon for a day hike, the laptop sleeve can house a hydration bladder that routes to a tube port on the top of the bag.
There’s nothing worse than a zipper getting stuck when you’re trying to find something in a hurry. The North Face Recon Backpack features some heavy-duty zipper and zipper pulls that are designed to withstand daily use. They haven’t jammed once since we’ve been using the backpack and it’s extremely rare we’ve heard about it happening on one we’ve sold. The outer is also water resistant, and combined with the cleverly placed zip, covers your possessions, so they stay dry during a shower. Make sure you take an umbrella with you on rainy days though as the backpack is not waterproof, so you’ll still need to cover it with an umbrella through larger downpours.
The shoulder straps are heavily cushioned, and feature waist and sternum straps for added stability. Even with a fully loaded backpack it never felt like it weighed us down too much and that’s due to to the even dispersion of the backpack’s weight.
Sydney’s trains can be pretty unreliable, often running late and forcing us to sprint between platforms to connect. You’ve probably heard about, or experienced the extreme heat of our summers, so imagine how much sweat this unwanted workout produces. The North Face has implemented a technology into the shoulder straps and back cushioning of the Recon called FlexVent. This allows air ventilation between the bag and your body, and has probably prevented us from passing out on a few occasions.
So Who Is The North Face Recon For?
The versatility for The North Face Recon Backpack makes it ideal for a wide variety of users. The build quality is exceptional, and you should expect to get years of daily use out of it. It’s equally comfortable handling a day hike as it is your daily commute. If you’re someone who commutes to work everyday, but loves to get away for the weekend for an outdoor activity or a stay at a mates place, then The North Face Recon Backpack might be the ideal backpack for you.
Shop The North Face Recon here.