Expert Review: The North Face Recon 30 BackpackPublished on 01/03/2023 · 4 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I was given in September of 2022.
All photos courtesy of Robert M.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I was given in September of 2022.
The North Face Recon Backpack is a well-constructed and comfortable daypack suited for both everyday use (EDC) and day hiking. However, it misses the mark in several key design elements that limit its overall usability.
About the backpack I own
- Model: The North Face Recon Backpacking
- Gender: Unisex
- Size: One size
- Pack capacity: 30 liters
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 225lbs
- Experience: 30+ years
- When I was given it: September 2022
- Length of trips: Day trips
- What I carried:
- Sleeping pad: N/A
- Sleeping bag: N/A
- Tent: N/A
- Other: Camelbak Eddy 27oz water bottle, Grayl Ultrapress water filter, first-aid supplies, various electronics, 15” HP Elitebook laptop, and other EDC gear.
- Total pack weight: Varied between 10lbs and 30lbs
- Used for: Everyday carry (EDC) and day hiking.
- Where I’ve used it: For daily EDC to and from work, and local hiking trails in Southeast Pennsylvania
- Terrain: Paved trails/sidewalks and dry dirt trails with lots of fallen leaves.
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Fall
How it performs
What I was looking for
I am always on the lookout for a new EDC backpack—especially one that can carry my 15” HP Elitebook laptop comfortably. Having a pack that can be used for both EDC and day hiking is also important to me. Previously I had been using a GORUCK GR1 (21L) for EDC and a Mystery Ranch Front for day hiking.
Why I chose this gear
I was provided this backpack for free with no obligation for a positive review. I accepted the pack based on it appearing to meet many of my needs in an EDC backpack.
What I love about it
- Durability: The Recon is primarily constructed of 210D recycled ripstop nylon—a material I consider more than adequate for an EDC backpack, and so far I have had no issues with its durability.
- Weight: Weighing in at 2lbs 9oz, the Recon is very lightweight for a 30L pack which makes carrying it over longer distances a bit more comfortable compared to similar packs.
- Suspension and comfort: The shoulder straps and back padding on the Recon are very comfortable, even when loaded down with close to 30lbs of gear. It also includes a removable one-inch webbing waist belt that I did not use.
- Features: I especially liked the separate laptop compartment that easily fits a 15” laptop (or a hydration reservoir) and the front stretch-mesh pocket that I used for carrying trauma supplies.
- Organization and pockets: The Recon features several separate zippered pockets, some with additional dividers inside, and a water bottle pocket on each side. There is also a set of straps on the bottom of the pack that would be useful for carrying larger items such as an ultralight chair, tripod, or for keeping a bulky jacket within easy reach.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Ease of use: I found the somewhat small gauge of the zippers on the smaller pockets to be difficult to use.
- Capacity: The stated capacity of the Recon is 30L, but I found it to only be able to carry as much gear as a 20–25L backpack. With all the smaller pockets and organizers built into the Recon, there is a lot of wasted space.
- Features: The placement of the side compression straps interferes with the opening and closing of the zippers on the main compartment. I also feel they are not needed at all based on the overall design of the pack.
- Organization and pockets: Several of the smaller organizer pockets are not very useful for organizing items and end up taking up space that can’t be used efficiently.
Favorite moment with this gear
No one moment stood out as especially memorable for me while testing out this pack for a little over a month, but it was nice to have a pack equally suited to EDC and day-hiking use.
Value for the money vs. other options
The North Face Recon is a good value based on its comfort and build quality. However, for its cost, I wish a bit more thought had gone into its overall design to better use the stated 30L capacity. Other backpacks that I’d consider would be the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 or the Osprey Talon 22 or 26.
The North Face Recon is a well-constructed and reasonably priced backpack for both EDC and day-hiking uses. However, several poor design features leaves it as an overall underperforming option in the 30L daypack category. I do not plan to continue to use the Recon as a daily pack, but could see it being a good choice for someone on a budget looking for a single backpack to use both for work/school and on the trail.