The North Face Prophet 100 is a ‘black hole’ of a bag, that will fit anything you could possibly want to bring along, although its size and sturdiness come with a hefty price tag.
The North Face Prophet 100 sports a very secure, flat, back-pad system that effectively prevented items with boxy corners from jabbing us in the back while testing. That flat padding design, though, prevented air to flow to the back. With no other ventilation features, the Prophet nearly always left us with a huge sweaty wet patch on our backs. Other comfort features earned higher marks. The pack’s load lifter straps were easy to adjust quickly, and torso length adjustment proved quick and easy as well, accommodating testers ranging from 5’6” to 6’1”. The frame is a 4-sided box of rounded aluminum stays, which provided flex while also locking down big loads up to 60+ pounds.
The North Face Prophet 100 is a cavernous bag that fits all the gear you’d want to bring on a trek. At 100 liters, it’s the largest pack we’ve tested. That large size was good for gear shuttles on mountaineering expeditions where getting more packed on each load means fewer trips back and forth. It also works well for the backpacking trip where you want to bring along all the camp comforts. There are two buckled straps on either side that lock down the load well for comfortable carrying. The top of the body compartment has two independent drawstring closures, meaning this pack can expand way up if need be. There is no main compartment divider. There are three rows of tethers on the top pocket, suitable for solar panels or drying socks.
The North Face Prophet 100 takes top honors for stability. The waist belt has a bit of pivot, although we would prefer more given how overloaded this bag proved to get. The pack’s main compartment expands upwards a lot, so if it’s overpacked it can get top heavy and unwieldy depending on how it’s loaded. Other than those potential pitfalls, the Prophet’s square body shape tended to be well to balanced when loaded. The square bottom serves as an effective seat if it is packed right. The lack of excessive exterior pockets helps prevent catching protruding tree branches and the like.
The North Face Prophet 100 earned the distinction of being the most durable pack in this group, even if it does come at a cost of weight. It’s a tank, with a few features packed in that highlight trends that are affecting all packs. First, the pack utilizes Dyneema, a fiber that is popular in the climbing world for light draws and runners. An exterior treatment applied to the pack’s top pocket and body increased the pack’s abrasion- and water-resistance
At $399, The North Face Prophet 100 is the most expensive pack in the test group. The pack sports a huge outer sleeve that opens outwards, via zipper, offering clear access to anything inside. The sleeve is reinforced enough to take a pair of crampons, which means that this would be a good bag to move mountaineering camps or to take up to the snow line. There are no tent straps on the bottom. There is one gear loop, on the right side of the waist belt, and the other side has a small zippered pouch. There are two water bottle sleeves that most people should be able to get to with the bag loaded and on the back.
Scott Morris guides backpacking expeditions and hiking trips for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He is a writer, traveler, and runner. Scott tests backpacking equipment.