Lid pocket big enough to store a helmet or many smaller items
Main compartment is “curved” which some might not like
No separation in main compartment (sleeping bag compartment)
The North Face Banchee 50 backpack provides great organizational features for weekend backpackers or extended backcountry trips. This pack performed well for those looking for numerous ways to organize and access their gear.
Storage The North Face Banchee 50 provided access into a large, main compartment through both a top storm-flap and a bottom zipper. The pack lacks a separate sleeping bag compartment, or divider, but in this size of pack I found this to be insignificant—I might would look for a divider in a larger pack. Because of the frame construction and lumbar support, the main compartment did feature a bit of a curve. I did not find this a hindrance, but could see where some users might not like this particular feature since it is harder to see the bottom of the pack under this construction.
The Banchee includes a side stretch pocket on each side of the pack that was large enough to securely store a 1-liter water bottle, but like most packs on the market, I found it difficult to retrieve a bottle from these pockets while on the fly.
The Banchee also sports a large front pocket that was large enough to store a small snow shovel, rain gear, water shoes, or other similar items, which I found very helpful. The two vertical zippered side pockets proved useful for storing extra clothing, snacks or food and other items that I wanted easy access to.
The Banchee uses a typical internal hydration sleeve to store up to a 3-liter hydration bladder. I discovered the large lid pocket, with its extra long zipper, could store items as large as a climbing helmet.
Comfort-Hip Belt The North Face Banchee 50 hipbelt has thick padding that wrapped around my waist and allowed for a comfortable fit. I also liked the zippered hipbelt pockets, which were large enough to store a small camera, GPS, or smartphone.
Back panel/Shoulder Straps The Banchee uses an oversized lumbar support that helped cradle my lower back, but also allowed for a mesh open area on the back panel that allowed good air flow. This helped keep me cooler in warmer conditions and during aerobic activities. The back panel also provided easy adjustment of torso length to allow for a good overall fit. The shoulder straps have solid padding, so they also fit comfortably.
Stability The North Face Banchee 50 proved to be stable and comfortable carrying loads up to 40 pounds. While on the move, the Banchee did not float on ascents or descents, or the occasional scramble. I found the Banchee to be capable of carrying loads in the 45 to 55 pound range, but at the those weights I did begin to feel more pressure in my shoulders and found the pack to begin to be less stable.
Durability The North Face Banchee 50 proved durable in a variety of conditions. The zippers, pockets and fabrics all performed well during weeks of rugged use. Discounting some normal wear and tear, I found the Banchee to be durable and rugged.