User Review: The North Face Renegade
Number of Pockets: 4+mesh water bottle pockets on side
Max. Load Carried: 62
Height of Owner: 5'8"
Price Paid: $200
I have to admit, when I got this pack, after my initial excitement wore off, I was less than thrilled. I had a hard time fitting a 0-rated sleeping bag in the sleeping bag compartment, a bear canister in the bottom section and having ANY room at all left over for those incidentals like food, tent, gearm pad and clothes.
I usually backpack solo with two dogs, so I have to carry all my own gear. This would be a great pack if you have a partner who will take half the gear.
But someone recommended compression stuff sacks, which I use for my sleeping bag and clothes. Those helped a lot. My tent and sleeping bag get strapped to the sides with the compression straps, and everything fits ok, although a bit scrunchy. I think that the size large pack is probably a great choice for taller folks, but my medium size pack just doesn't use its space very well. I kind of wish they gave me a few fewer pockets and more space in the bigger compartments. BUT....
This pack fits like a slinky silk dress. Once I'm wearing it, I almost forget it's on. The suspension is great; even climbing tallus, crossing thigh-high rivers, etc, the pack moves with me. Even when I'm unevenly loaded with a 6lb tent strapped to one side and a thermarest strapped to the other side, the pack doesn't tilt to the heavier side.
Also, suspension and belt are adjustable in a lot of different places, so you can fiddle with the straps and adjust the load while you hike. The pack isn't billed as being particularly waterproof, but I've gotten caught in a few Pacific Northwest rainstorms without a pack cover and was pleased to see that none of the stuff inside got wet. The removable lid/lumbar pack is a nice touch for day hikes once base camp is set up, although the extra belt adds weight, and the lumbar pack isn't big enough for more than say a first aid kit, a jacket and a couple of power bars. So you still have to carry your water bottle somewhere else.
The zippers and hardware are good quality (even when the pack is overstuffed), which I expect (and pay for) from TNF. The seams are well sewn, so there's no unraveling even with constant abrasion.
So, overall, I've learned to pack smarter, attach more stuff to the outside, and fill the rain flap on the top section high. And I've learned to like this pack.
But I don't know that I'd recommend it to anyone whose height requires anything smaller than a Large.