The North Face Liberty
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $115
Very durable pack and has great access from the top. Does a great job for everything from an overnighter at a friend's house to an overnighter on the trail. Zipper isn't very durable or reliable.
- Tough as nails
- Very comfortable
- Easy top load pack
- ZIPPER IS WEAK!
- No side compartments
- Bare bones bag, no extras
Even though it says this is an overnight pack, I personally have cramed much more gear and food into it and used it for a good 3 days in the Catskills one July. The capacity is very misleading in a good way. The fit and comfort are great for a smaller pack, the pack rides very well and doesn't give hip hickeys.
It's a very simple one pocket top loading pack, tough to organize things with a one compartment top loading bag. The bag is going on its 15th year of use and now is semi-retired from outdoor use and is a solid backpack for school and an occasional rope bag.
If you're looking for a tough bag that can stand the test of time, with no frills and it is what it is, then here is your bag!
The only negative is the zipper has been replaced twice in 12 years, North Face is very good about standing by their products.
Design: top-loading daypack with framesheet
Size: ~2,000 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 35 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'0"
I bought this pack in the mid-nineties and for more than a decade it was my go-to pack for long day hikes, ice climbing, even carrying ski gear. The Liberty is spacious enough to carry enough gear for a lightweight overnight, but a good system of compression straps also allows it shrink down to manage small day-hiking loads.
While I prefer to pack everything I'm carrying inside the packbag when possible, the Liberty has plenty of exterior lash points: two ice axe loops, four daisy chains, a section of elastic cord to hold a jacket or helmet, and four compression straps that can double as ski lashing straps. Despite all that, it's still very much a no-frills pack, with a large main compartment and comfortably-sized top lid.
The only missing features I've wished for from time to time are water bottle pockets and a hydration port. (It's possible to use a hydration bladder, but the hose routing can be awkward, especially with a full pack.)
At two-and-a-half pounds this pack can't be considered lightweight by today's standards, but is reasonably light for its vintage, and the body of the pack has held up remarkably well to more than a decade of use and abuse.
The same cannot be said of the plastic framesheet, which cracked and broke after just a couple years' use. This is probably due to a design flaw exacerbated by my packing tendencies. The fixed top pocket hinges right at the top of the framesheet. When unbuckled (to access the main compartment), the top pocket flops over the front of the pack pulls down on the framesheet. When packed heavily, this bent the framesheet, eventually breaking it after repeated stress. I eventually learned that, with proper packing, the framesheet was not really necessary at all.
In the last year or so the nylon straps began to get noticeably stiffer with age, and the buckle on the top compression strap broke. I'm still using it for winter excursions, but have been using smaller, lighter pack (Macpac Kahu 22) for summer dayhikes and will probably be choosing a new winter pack soon.
Overall The North Face Liberty has been a solid, dependable, go-anywhere-do-anything pack that has served me well in a wide variety of conditions.
The Liberty is no longer being made; the most similar packs in the current The North Face line are the Spire 30, 33, and 38.
Design: Day pack
Size: 35 Litres
Number of Pockets: 1
Max. Load Carried: 15 kg
Height of Owner: 180cm
Price Paid: 35 pounds (GB)
I'm writing this review to save other people from buying this day pack. It's a pain in the arse, poorly designed and poorly made.
First thing, it has a lumbar support thing which just makes it feel like theres something sticking into your back.
Second thing, I put some stuff in it, picked it up and the top plastic strap attachment broke.
Third, the shock cord on the back won't hold crampons securely.
Fourthly, the ice axe attachment buckle is small and fiddly and in just the same place where the lid buckle comes down.
Fifth, the whole thing is so floppy that when its not fully full the ice axe droops and gets stuck on anything available.
Need I go on? Every time I use this pack it annoys me. Time to get another.
Design: rucksack with framesheet
Number of Pockets: 1 main with top pocket
Max. Load Carried: 35 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'5"
Price Paid: $115
I've used this pack for ice climbing, mountaineering, cragging, hiking, and light overnights and performs great for all of these tasks. Handy gear loops on waist belt for racking gear and ice tools. Plenty room, too! Has top compression strap for securing a rope.
Where to Buy
The North Face Liberty is not available from the stores we monitor.
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