The North Face Shadow 40+10 ReviewAugust 25, 2016
- Light weight
- Great mobility
- Manages small loads well
- Uncomfortable with loads over 28 lbs.
- Limited organization
- Sternum strap anchoring prone to failure
The North Face Shadow 40+10 is essentially a roll top closure bag with a minimal frame. Those fringing on the ultralight movement and alpine addicts will appreciate the simplicity and all that goes with it. This pack is best for those with light and fast objectives where weight and mobility are the primary concerns.
The North Face Shadow 40+10 comfort comes more from its ability to move with the body and not so much from the capacity to transfer loads to the hips. The thin plastic frame sheet utilizes a steel wire loop on the perimeter to provide flexible support. Anything above 28 pounds stressed this arrangement to efficiently direct how the load sits, but it allowed the pack to twist and follow the torso closely. Overnight summer or light alpine loads allow this suspension design to shine. Light padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt provided ample comfort with these lighter loads, but anything more would require a mid-layer on the body for extra padding. The pack is available in S/M and L/XL: the hip belt on the L/XL pack barely cinched down tight enough for a 31” waist in summer clothes and a 21.5” back length was at the very upper limit of the pack’s longitudinal dimension.
The suspension design of the North Face Shadow 40+10 is minimalist. This wire bound plastic frame sheet can prove stable with lighter loads when combined with the compression system. The roll top closure, four side compression straps and vertical compression strap, combined with thoughtful packing, centralizes the load close to the frame sheet. When the load is managed in this manner, stability is good up to around the 28 pound mark during aggressive hiking and scrambling.
The 40L pack body has an extension sleeve that adds 10L to the carrying capacity of the North Face Shadow 40+10, plenty of volume for multi day missions. This volume can be managed well with the compression system, but weight distribution needs to be carefully monitored to ensure comfort and stability.
Durability is in the design of the North Face Shadow 40+10; less features means less things to break. The 210d main body has no zippers, only a roll top closure, with added screen print reinforcement in high abrasion areas. The bottom of the pack sports 210d ripstop fabric and all straps and buckles are full width. One nick: the sternum strap anchor popped off the first time it was used but reattached tool free in the field.
The North Face Shadow 40+10 sports a removable interior zippered pouch, small/flat zippered pockets at the nape of the neck and on each hip belt, hydration bladder sleeve/hang loop, and ice tool carriers. The frame sheet and hip belt padding can be jettisoned, resulting in a superlight day pack or summit pack.