Active Junky testers were familiar with the Banchee line from years past. Embarking on multi-night trips in Utah’s canyon country solidified the lightweight 65L backpack as a top pick for longer wilderness forays. The ventilation-friendly frame and water-carrying capacity quickly won over testers unfamiliar with The North Face Banchee, especially when venturing into the driest of deserts.
Pros: The Optifit construction takes advantage of a slightly curved aluminum frame centered around a breathable mesh panel. Testers loved the security of the hip belt, but the greatest benefit of this innovative construction is enhanced, best-in-class airflow. Even on scorching desert climbs, sweaty back syndrome was avoided. Stretchy mesh pockets (two waterbottle holders and a “Beavertail” pocket) increase carrying capacity and adjust, on the fly, to the adventure at hand.
Cons: Buckles seemed a bit weak, and testers were nervous that the durability of the plastic fasteners wasn’t up to standard. Also, while the hip belt offered decent padding, the shoulders needed better cushioning when compared to the over-the-top cushiness of the Kelty.
Favorite Feature: Testers tied on their favorite Banchee feature. First, the bottom loop buckles permit a tent or sleeping pad to be fastened to the pack’s underside. Second, the water bottle stretch pockets, as they were designed better (for access, security and durability) than other packs under test.
Tester Quote: “I could comfortably fit all of my gear into this backpack on multi-day trips. And I liked the organization of the 8+ pockets as two outside zip pockets and the stretchy main outer pocket are great for wet or dirty gear.”
Bottom Line: At 65L, this The North Face backpack handles a range of trip lengths. With Optifit suspension, we recommend this for summer backpacking (due to the top-notch ventilation).
- Eight-plus total pockets
- Dynamic support frame
- Women's-specific Opti-Fit suspension system (adjustable)
- Adjustable sternum strap with whistle
- Top-loading with floating lid
- External-access tool keepers
- Breathable beaver-tail pocket
Size: 3967 cu in
Weight: 3 lbs 9 oz
Materials: 210D ripstop nylon