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The North Face Surge

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: The North Face Surge overnight pack (35-49l)

Good, albeit confused product. Excellent construction, very comfortable, way too many pockets, and confusing purpose (not a hiking bag by any means).


  • Excellent build quality
  • Comfortable
  • Adjustable


  • An obscene amount of organizer pockets
  • Confused identity, it's a school/work bag pretending to be a hiking bag
  • Capacity hindered by over-compartamentalization (is that a word?)

This appears to be marketed as a do-it-all bag from urban to the hills. I would say that's a bit of a stretch. What this is is an ideal work/school bag with lots of organizer pockets, and a nice adjustable fit, particularly well suit to those of us who like to walk or bike longer distances to and from work.

It has excellent build and great comfort for that regard. There are WAY too many compartments for this to ever be considered as a reasonable bag for outdoor pursuits... which makes me wonder why there appears to be an ice-axe loop?????

If I were rating this as an urban work bag, then easily it is 4.5 stars and as good as anything I have ever used for that. If it was an outdoor bag, I would give it 1 star as it is borderline useless.

Fit and Comfort: The fit is very good for my frame (5'11", 200 lbs), and the adjustability is good making for excellent fit and comfortable wear. The venting is adequate for the purpose.

Capacity: The capacity feels smaller than it is because there are simply too many compartments, so you cant take anything substantially sized with you. However if all you need to take is a laptop, some files, a tablet, pens, etc... and a lunch, then the compartments work great.

Organization and accessibility: Even for an urban bag, it has way too many organizer pockets. I struggle to find enough things to put in there. Everything is however easily accessible.

Ride: bag remains comfortable/stable when loaded.

Compression: not many options, but works well enough.

Features: TOO MANY ORGANIZER POCKETS, bizzare ice axe loop???

Construction and Durability: Appears very well made, and has held up to daily use commuting/walking to work and as a carry-on for international travel. Looks as new after 1 year of use. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 90 dollars (Canadian)

17-inch computer space...not really... but...

LOVE the backpack. The color and the design are good and the comfort is up there too.

The only problem is that after looking on other sites for the laptop configurations, it was said that this backpack could hold a 17-inch computer... mmm not so much. I have a MacBook Pro 17 inch and the zipper was nowhere close to being able to close.

However after unstitching the inside and removing the foam protector that is sewn into the bottom of the laptop compartment, I was able to make my computer fit very nicely and without struggle. I don't camp and will use this for school so the alteration works in my benefit, but I definitely wouldn't do it if I planed on using it for more rugged outings.

Hope this helps anyone looking into this backpack for computer storage and transportation!

Price Paid: $114

Great new laptop backpack from North Face. Lots of internal pockets. Well padded straps and back panel. More space than the Recon with laptop. Well designed for the office and yet sporty features. The dedicated laptop pocket is great although a two-way zipper would be nice.

This is a long pack (20") and is not for anyone with a short torso.

Two complaints: the zippers on the main compartments catch on the fabric and don't work as smoothly as on some packs and the cylinder blue is rather drab for a company that typically has really nice color combinations for its popular packs.

Design: front loading
Size: 2050 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 3 main and two internal plus organizer panel
Max. Load Carried: 20lbs.
Height of Owner: 5' 9"
Price Paid: $109

Very good functional and well organized laptop and overnight pack for short and extended trips. Features multiple dedicated fleece-lined compartments including laptop, tablet, and documents sleeves, pockets for sunglasses, and phone and a padded top handle.


  • Functional storage
  • Well organized
  • Comfortable padding
  • Fleece-lined sleeves provide great protection against scratches
  • Medium size storage compartment separate from laptop/document compartment
  • Moisture wicking fabric


  • Not waterproof
  • A little on the heavy side

I recently purchased this pack and took it on a business trip to Japan. There was enough storage area to pack my 15-inch laptop, accessories, sunglasses, phone, wallet, notebook, toiletries, hat, and one set of clothes.

The shoulder straps are comfortable and carrying the bag onto the plane was easy—had no problems going through security. It worked out very well and I would recommend it to a friend.


Two months—extended international business trip and use it to carry my laptop to work every day.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $129

I wouldn't recommend it for hiking the Appalachian Trail or doing any serious climbing, but if you want an inexpensive and reliable pack look no further.


  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Deceptively spacious
  • Lightweight


  • Interior zippered pockets useless when fully loaded
  • Rear most zippers tend to creep down
  • Inner material between pockets could be more durable

I bought my Surge in I think 2009 and have used it nearly every day since. It's carried text books, camping and hiking gear. I've used to for dozens of trips some up to a week long, and now it holds my 30+ pounds of gear on my daily bike commutes to and from work.

I wouldn't recommend it for hiking the Appalachian Trail or doing any serious climbing, but if you want an inexpensive and reliable pack look no further.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $120

Please take a look at my video below. My backpack has little more than 1 year and already the rear bottom part is worn off. Wouldn't expect that from North Face.


  • Capacity


  • Material

Please take a look at this video. Picture speaks more than 1000 words..

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 120 USD

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Price MSRP: $115.00
Current Retail: $82.93-$139.00
Historic Range: $39.00-$139.00
Reviewers Paid: $109.00-$129.00
Weight 3 lb 1 oz / 1390 g
Capacity 2015 cu in / 33 L
Dimensions 20 in x 13.5 in x 9.5 in / 51 cm x 35 cm x 24 cm
Fabric 420D Nylon, 1680D Ballistics Nylon
Price MSRP: $115.00
Current Retail: $82.93-$83.00
Historic Range: $59.99-$139.00
Reviewers Paid: $114.00
Weight 3 lb / 1360 g
Capacity 1830 cu in / 30 L
Dimensions 18.5 in x 13 in x 9.5 in / 47 cm x 33 cm x 24 cm
Fabric 420D Nylon, 1680D Ballistics Nylon
Product Details from The North Face »

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