Grads, Dads, Travelers – The North Face Borealis Backpack is Perfect for your Next Journey

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June and summer itself are rapidly approaching, and this means you need to start thinking and planning for upcoming travels and adventures, as well as recognizing those dads and grads in your life. These could be finding that perfect gift for high school or college graduates, or for that dad in your life who has wanderlust or just preparing for your next vacation or globe-trotting experience. Luckily, has you covered with a vast assortment of backpack types and styles. In fact, they sent me out The North Face Borealis to test out and review. By the way, I have a coupon code at the end of this backpack review! And, I must say, this is a great, all-around backpack for short trips or longer excursions. (*Disclosure below.)

Backpacks are a bit of a “thing” in my family. For starters, I absolutely love loading up my various packs as a sort of “tech go-bag.” They have to be able to hold my laptop and cables, batteries and papers, iPad, and other necessities. They have to be comfortable yet not too bulky or heavy. They have to be weather-proof for commuting in the rain, yet also look nice so that they could fit into a business environment. They must be well-designed to have many different compartments to hold various-sized items, and they must be well constructed to hold up to the tests of time. I’m always in search of the best backpacks to meet my needs!

But obviously, I’m not the only one who uses a backpack in my family. My high school girls are users and abusers of their backpacks. And honestly, I don’t know how their poor backs survive lugging multiple huge and heavy books (3-4) daily to and from school. By the end of the school season, their backpacks are pretty much destroyed (the one shown on the left above is actually a few years old). And if they aren’t destroyed, it is a testament to the manufacturer of the pack. Right now, they both have North Face backpacks. And, with just a few weeks left of school, their backpacks are still in one piece but starting to show the abuse they have gone through. 

So I thought, maybe I would load up The North Face Borealis backpack with some or all of the same items they carry to school daily. 

More About The North Face Borealis Backpack

For starters, the Borealis is more of a traveling pack than a go-to-school backpack. But, I thought that if it is designed for outdoors and carrying a load and gear, it might actually be ideal for kids going to school. 

First, let’s talk about size. This is a 28-liter pack which means that you can definitely load it up with all sorts of gear (e.g., books, papers, etc.) Having a larger size means that you can store a lot more stuff in it. But, loading up a backpack can come at a price, namely weight. I honestly don’t know how my kids can carry all of their books on their backs…I can barely lift the packs up. (Someday, perhaps all books will be digital, and they will only have to bring a single tablet that has all of their books digitally available.)

When you have a lot of weight, you need to be sure that the weight is evenly distributed across the shoulder straps and back. One thing that I have noticed that a lot of backpack wearers do is not lift the pack high enough on their backs. They don’t cinch up the shoulder straps. When a pack is riding lower on your back, it can actually do more damage than good and be hard on your back muscles. But yeah, I understand the concept of “looking cool” and wearing a backpack with one strap only or having it ride lower on the back. I was in high school once to…eons ago.

But, if you can convince your kids to wear the backpack correctly, you can actually carry quite a bit of weight and have that weight evenly distributed to avoid back strain. When looking at a backpack, also look at the shoulder strap padding as well as how the back of the backpack is (e.g., padded, ventilated, etc.). Non-padded straps can cut into your shoulders, making life miserable. And your back can get sweaty and hot if it doesn’t have good venting. Also, the Borealis has a stiff back in the form of hard, light-weight plastic which for extra support. This plastic shank of sorts also protects a laptop stored in the back pocket.

The North Face Borealis backpack has your back, so to speak, when it comes to padding and venting. The back panel is both padded and mesh, and the shoulder straps custom injected for better padding. The straps are also contoured for a better fit. And, there is a top, padded handle to make it easy to quickly grab without having to put it on. (Always get a backpack with a handle if you can!)

So, I’ve covered the padding and straps. What about the interior? 

The Borealis backpack checks off more items from my backpack required features. There is a padded, fleece-lined compartment that can hold a 15” laptop and protect it while being in transport. There is also another fleece-lined pocket that is zippered that can hold power cords or other items.

And, remember I mentioned I like having a tablet as well? There is also another fleece-lined pocket for that. You could, of course, put an old fashioned notebook in there as well.

My girls bring water bottles to school every day. This North Face backpack has a mesh bottle holder, in fact, there are two of them, which makes this pack suitable for a more extended outing (instead of just to and from school) where more hydration might be needed. 

There is also another external, fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses or other electronics. 

Lastly, let’s talk about how the Borealis is constructed. It is crafted from 210D Cordura nylon mini-ripstop which means it is an industrial-strength nylon weave. I have not tested this pack in the rain, but I will assume that it is water- or weather-resistant. Unless the weave is extremely tight, it won’t be water-proof. 

Also, on the front of the pack, there is a bungee weave that lets you put additional gear on the outside of the backpack. There is a waist belt (removable) as well as a sternum-strap for your chest to secure the pack when walking, preventing it from bouncing around. 

And, since I’m talking about kids and potentially using the Borealis as a school backpack, there are reflective parts of the pack as well.

Journeying with the North Face Borealis Backpack

So I have outlined one great use case for the Borealis backpack, as a back-to-school pack. But, school is ending soon, so probably the LAST THING your kids want to think about is getting a pack for back-to-school. As you can see from the specs of the Borealis, this is an ideal backpack for many types of adventure (or dad-ventures – think Father’s Day). 

Perhaps a graduate is heading out for some backpacking adventures in the world somewhere, the Borealis is a perfect one-day pack to use. You could use it as an overnight pack as well. But if you are backpacking around Europe or elsewhere, you probably will want something a bit larger. I remember backpacking and seeing people with large frame backpacks but also with smaller packs strapped to their fronts. The Borealis might be a bit too big for that, but if you have room, it’s a great day pack to use.

On, the North Face Borealis retails currently for $89.00, and there are several color options available (Fir Green Camo/New Taupe Green, High Rise Grey Light Heather/Mid Grey, New Taupe Green/TNF Black, or what I have shown here – TNF Black). And, if you use this coupon code – Zevn752N – you get an extra 5% off all sales AND you get Free Shipping!

As you think about the perfect graduation or Father’s Day gift, or perhaps you will be doing some traveling this summer, you may want to take a look at the North Face Borealis as it is an excellent all-around pack to have. I will definitely be taking it on my next adventure!

HTD says: has a huge selection of all types of backpacks. The North Face Borealis is a perfect, all-around pack for school or day-traveling adventures with plenty of compartments and capacity for all types of school, tech, or travel gear.

HighTechDad's Ratings
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Family-Friendly
  • Price Point
  • Features

Summary has a huge selection of all types of backpacks. The North Face Borealis is a perfect, all-around pack for school or day-traveling adventures with plenty of compartments and capacity for all types of school, tech, or travel gear. The Borealis is a great, all-around backpack which can be used for school or day hikes. There is plenty of room for books, laptop (has a dedicated and protected compartment for it), and other gear. Nice to have the bungee weave on the outside to attach a jacket. Fairly reasonably priced but a bit more expensive than other backpacks out there – but this is due to the great construction and durability of North Face products. This backpack is quite comfortable to wear, even when it is loaded up with heavy school books. The weight is nicely distributed with good padding on the shoulder straps.


  • Very spacious
  • Well constructed
  • Protects tech (laptop) well
  • Comfortable


  • No dedicated compartment for lunch bag unless you stuff in the main compartment

Global Product Review Disclosure

Disclosure: This is a global disclosure for product review articles on HighTechDad. It does not apply to Automobile reviews and there are other exceptions. Therefore, it may or may not be applicable to this particular article. I may have a material connection because I may have received a sample of a product for consideration in preparing to review the product and write this or other content. I was/am not expected to return the item after my review period. All opinions within this and other articles are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. Also, some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate” or “advertising” links. These may be automatically created or placed by me manually. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (sometimes but not necessarily the product or service being reviewed), I will receive a small affiliate or advertising commission. More information can be found on my About page.

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About HighTechDad

Michael Sheehan (“HighTechDad”) is an avid technologist, writer, journalist, content marketer, blogger, tech influencer, social media pundit, loving husband and father of 3 beautiful girls living in the San Francisco Bay Area. This site covers technology, consumer electronics, Parent Tech, SmartHomes, cloud computing, gadgets, software, hardware, parenting “hacks,” and other tips & tricks.

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