User Review: The North Face Big Shot
Design: Day pack
Number of Pockets: 10-12
Max. Load Carried: 25 lbs. (three gallons of milk)
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $89
Out of 10, I would give this a 9. I've had the bag for a couple of months now - and it's held its own very well in both environments.
I have carried around my laptop, tools (wrenches, pump, repair kit) for my mountain bike, books for class, and folders. I have a cell phone pouch clipped to the front, it performs marvelously. The hip and sternum straps are highly useful when on your bike, keeping the load from shifting around too much.
I regularly fit 3 gallons of milk inside (with a few books at the same time), when I make a grocery run on the way back from work or school (on my motorcycle or mountain bike). The overlapping pockets in the back are useful for holding my laptop cords and bike tools.
I don't use the inside pockets / pouches much. They aren't very accessible when you are running with a full load. The side pouches comfortably hold my Nalgenes, even with the insulating covers on the bottles. Since the hip straps aren't padded, it's probably not a good idea to hike it with heavy loads for more than a day.
In the field I guess I would wish for a little more air circulation in the back area (but I don't know of any backpacks that are dual-purpose that are much better). I sweat like crazy when it's warm/hot, and this pack really holds in the heat for me. The daisy-chain straps on the back are sturdy enough.
There is also a hole in the top near the carrying strap for a hydration pouch - which I haven't used yet (I have Nalgenes, and a 100 oz. Camelbak pack when I need lots of water.) The hydration pack would fit in the lap-top sleeve in a pinch. You could easily fit the makings for a picnic in here, pack up for a day trip (maybe even a short overnighter -- unless you're Bear Grylls, in which case you can make your own pack out of vines, mud, and moss).
Fits my bike helmet inside when I'm running light around campus, and I clip it securely to the outside when I'm running a heavier load.
I recommend the back to the average college student who would take it outdoors on the weekend. I would also recommend water-proofing it with Camp-Dry, and spray the zippers with it too to prevent wear-and tear from dust / road-grime.