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North Face Recon Review | HileHighValley

North Face Recon Review | HileHighValley

North Face Recon Review

The North Face has been a household name among serious outdoor enthusiasts for over 45 years, providing high-quality, non-gimmicky mountain sports equipment to athletes everywhere who choose to live The North Face’s motto: “Never Stop Exploring”.  Although staying true to their roots as a company that provides the ultimate, authentic outdoor experience, they have expanded their product lines to include backpacks targeted to everyday school use that can pull double duty as daypacks for weekend hiking excursions.  Throughout our North Face Recon review we found this bag is one of these, created and manufactured with the same attention to quality, durability and practicality that has made The North Face so popular for so many years.


Price Level: Mid Range – Check Current Price Here



The North Face is in the unique position of having nine of their backpack brands – including the Recon – endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.  They achieved this by teaming up with a chiropractic sports physician, and under his direction, creating the FlexVentTM suspension system, which adds wide, padded, injection-molded shoulder straps and a solid, padded back to the bag.  The injection-molding shapes the straps so that the backpack is most comfortably worn on both shoulders, rather than hanging off of one, which is much better for your spine.  The padded mesh back panel features a “spine channel”, that helps the backpack maintain its shape while fitting to the contours of your body. If you have a heavy load to carry, the chest strap and the removable waist strap can help to keep the bag snugly attached and the weight evenly distributed.


Storage and Organization

No school backpack is complete without a dedicated space for your laptop, but the Recon goes one step further, providing separate fleece-lined, padded pockets for both a laptop (up to 15.6”) and a tablet.  In total, this backpack will hold a generous 31L of stuff. The main compartment, in addition to stowing your laptop, is large enough to hold up to four 1” binders plus a textbook.  The second compartment is an organizational dream, with dedicated space for your tablet and phone/ipod (both fleece-lined to prevent scratches), your calculator, wallet, keys, pens and pencils, and other miscellany.

On the front of the pack, there is a good-sized zippered fleece-lined pocket perfect for your phone or sunglasses, and a large stretch pocket that can hold a bicycle helmet or a soccer ball, or give you a place to stuff your jacket.  A stretchable mesh pocket on either side allows you to carry a couple 1L water bottles, or if you have a hydration system, a covered port in the main compartment allows you to bring the tube through while keeping the backpack fully zipped.

A handle on top makes it easy to tote the bag across the classroom, and a built-in whistle in the chest strap can call your friends to you whether you are lost in the mountains, or just across the quad.

Northface recon hiking backpack

Color Selection

Backpacks these days need to be more than just practical – they need to allow you to express your personality.  The North Face gets this, and offers you 25 different color choices.  You can pick from solid colors, two-tone backpacks, or textured designs from a brilliant yellow or vivid red, to an outdoorsy forest green or camo brown, to a work-appropriate black or navy.


Public Reviews

In this section of our review we look to the consumers to gain a better understanding of the product. We believe there is no better way to learn the quality of the product than through the end consumers. By talking to users of the product we believe we can get honest opinion of the product by those who use it. To do this we read through hundreds of consumer reviews form all over the web and summarize their thoughts. Here is what users of the North Face recon backpack had to say.


The Good

Comfortable and stylish

The North Face didn’t disappoint users when it came to comfort.  The FlexVentTM support system really is everything it is cracked up to be.  One user described it as a “secret weapon” and said it “will take the load off your back as if held up by someone behind you”.  People loved the color choices (the Cosmic Blue was particularly popular) and the look of the backpack.

Durable and high-quality

The zippers and buckles hold up well to daily use and the fabric stays clean.  Although not waterproof, the heavy nylon material is water-resistant and there are many stories of getting caught in the rain and coming through unscathed.  Damage to buckles and zippers is repaired free of charge under The North Face’s warranty.


The Bad


Since the most popular use for this backpack is daily school use, people complained frequently about how the backpack won’t sit readily on its base, but tends to roll over onto its front face.  The reason is the way the back panel is built to contour to the back.  The old days of backpacks that collapsed around the contents has gone away, but the tradeoff is the annoyance of leaning the backpack against something, or just letting it lay flat instead of trying to stand it up.

Won’t fit large laptops

The sleeve is sized to fit 15” laptops, and users say they’ve been able to fit their 15.6” laptops too.  But if you have a 17” laptop, this bag is not for you.  Remember that laptop sizes are based on the diagonal measure of the screen, so if your laptop is 15” wide, it won’t fit either!  The official size of the sleeve is 12.25” x 13” (so you can measure yours and see).


The North Face Recon Review


The North Face Recon FAQs

Is this backpack waterproof?

Water resistant, yes, waterproof, no.  If you are expecting to be in prolonged heavy rains with it, the Camelbak medium/large size raincover fits it.

Will it fit a 17” laptop?

No.  15.6” is the max.

How big is the front stretch pocket?

The backpack is advertised to hold a soccer ball or bike helmet in the front stretch pocket, and users agree that this is possible.  The other nice feature for bike riders and evening commuters is that there is reflective fabric on all sides of the backpack, so you can be seen from any angle.

Bang for your Buck

The North Face has a reputation for being expensive, but this is because their focus is on durability and high quality construction and materials, and those do not usually come cheap.  The North Face is the only backpack manufacturer currently endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, and they didn’t skimp on making the Recon backpack one of the most comfortable and versatile backpacks on the market today.  The strong warranty (lifetime against manufacturer defects) gives comfort that the money you put into this backpack is well spent.

The Verdict

This backpack is a high-quality, versatile book bag or hiking daypack that is a good value for its price.  Overall, this backpack is well-loved by its users, which are primarily students, with some outdoors enthusiasts looking for a solid daypack mixed in.  The comfort of the fit and the endorsement by the American Chiropractic Association should offer reassurance to parents and wearers alike that even heavy loads aren’t going to do any damage to your back.  Buy this backpack and learn first-hand why The North Face has so many dedicated fans.

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